Friday Photos: An Intimate Literary Affair

Wednesday evening this past week saw mom and me off to attend a book reading. Our uptown bookseller, Words Worth Books, regularly hosts series of author events. As part of their spring series, “Words Worth Hearing,” Sarah Hampson and Judy Fong Bates were on the menu for Wednesday evening. As you know, the Toronto Globe and Mail is my favourite newspaper, bar none. Sarah Hampson is a Life section columnist – I read her columns without fail, whenever she’s in the paper. Judy Fong Bates is a novelist – a few years ago, I read her book “Midnight at the Dragon Cafe,” and found it to be a wonderful read.

So! When I saw that both of these women were on the agenda for Wednesday evening, I immediately asked mom if she would accompany me. Being a huge reader herself, mom readily agreed to accompany me.

I had assumed that the author event would take place at the Princess Twin Cinema, based on the information on our tickets. So both of us were a little surprised to find our venue was actually next door, at the Princess Cafe. Previous Words Worth-sponsored readings that we have attended have been quite large gatherings – several hundred people at times. Well, we were the first to arrive Wednesday evening, and in total there were probably about 30 people! That ended working in our favour, as I had the opportunity to approach both Sarah Hampson and Judy Fong Bates and request a photo:

Globe readers: do you recognize Sarah from her newspaper column photo?

Judy Fong Bates: a tiny dynamo with a flair for the dramatic!

Judy presented first and talked about her new memoir, “The Year of Finding Memory“. I appreciated her comments on the Asian experience: she was the only non-white child growing up in her small hometown. Judy provided a window into some of her feelings and thoughts as she grew up with this identity.

We had seats no further than 2 metres from the microphone!

Sarah also has written a memoir: Happily Ever After Marriage. Frankly, in her post-divorce themed columns in the Globe, I have often found Sarah’s voice to be brittle, a tad strident, with a bitter edge. She could not be more different in person! I was so impressed with her humour, warmth and also by the honesty with which she spoke of life after divorce. (Her off-on-a-tangent tale of interviewing Leonard Cohen was a highlight, too!). I will be reading her future columns with a new eye.

The Cafe provided a very "art house" atmosphere to the book readings

Both writers graciously responded in the short Q & A session which followed their brief presentations. All too quickly, our literary event was over! Now to get my hands on their books!…

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