Saturday, April 9, 2011


The publication of Every Time We Say Goodbye has not been easy for my parents, given that I borrowed (stole) parts of their histories and reshaped (hammered and chipped, chopped and screwed) them to fit into a novel. In my anxiety over how they might feel after reading my book, I wrote imaginary blurbs from both of them:
“Well, it’s a very nice book, but I don’t know why she couldn’t write about vampires. They're very popular. And she’d make more money too!” – The Author’s Mother
“I swear I didn’t know the car was stolen.” The Author’s Father
My parents split up when I was two. I’m now 46 and can only remember seeing them in the same room on a handful of occasions (funeral, graduation, my first book launch). Even when they are in the same room, they don’t really talk (for personal reasons which cannot be explored in this public forum, and besides I already wrote a novel about it).
So estranged are they that it was a shock for my son to realize their connection. “Wait a minute,” he said when he was about six. “Grandma Judy and Grandpa Jimmy used to be...married?”
And so I was delighted when they seemed to enter into a playful rivalry over book sales at two readings in their respective cities.
In the Soo, my mother mailed out postcards of the book cover, called friends, family, and absolute strangers, and liaised with staff at the public library, where the reading was being held.
In Toronto, my father emailed invitations, called friends, printed up postcards of the book cover, and worked with staff at Ben McNally’s bookstore, where the event was being held.
At the Soo reading, the room was packed; the novel sold out and the booksellers had to resort to selling copies of my Bhutan memoir.  In Toronto, the room was packed, and people bought both the novel and the memoir. At the end of the evening, my father tallied up the numbers: he was up by one book. But when I conveyed this fact to my mother, she said I’d miscounted. "Congratulate your father on his success," she said, "but I won by ten books." 
No, it's not time to cue the Reconciliation Score, but in my family, that counts as conversation.
At least they'll have something to talk about at the next launch.

No comments:

Post a Comment