amongst books

amongst books

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ray Robertson at Plan 99 at the Manx Pub

Saturday afternoon. I really like this venue and this series. It’s at the right time for me, Saturday afternoons. Charles and I like to go early to get our favourite spot and drink a few pints beforehand. Today we watched a family chitchat over tea and lunch. They were playing Monopoly. The very young boy, probably about five or six, had a few Monopoly bills folded in his hand and said to his father, “here’s some money for the table.” Made me smile.

Ray Robertson is a South Western Ontario writer from Chatham, Ontario. “What Happened Later” (Thomas Allen Publishers, 2007) is his sixth book of fiction. He also has a collection of non-fiction essays on writers and writing and writes book reviews for the Globe and Mail.

I have to admit I had never heard of Robertson (see Charles' photo of him from the event), which is why I go to Plan 99 when I have the chance, to get exposure to folks I don’t know about. “What Happened Later” is in part a look at what happened to Jack Kerouac later in his life, after the success of “On the Road” combined with the story of a young South Western Ontario man, not accidentally named Ray. I enjoyed Robertson’s reading. The book sounds interesting with lots of humour and some darkness, always a good combination. A scene about receiving a French GI Joe for Christmas as a child was particularly amusing.

One of the reasons I went to the reading is because I’m a Keroauc enthusiast and have even written an erotic story that talks about him. So I’m curious as to how Robertson approaches Keroauc in his book as both a well-known literary figure and a fictional charcter. Where does he make stuff up and where does he use fact?

A lot of the stuff on Kerouac sounded like it had been well researched. Kinda cool to hear about Kerouac as a fictional character. The book takes us on Kerouac’s last road trip, to Riviere-du-Loup to connect with his French Canadian roots.

The book seems to be generating some buzz, perhaps especially because this year is the fiftieth anniversary of"On the Road." I’m looking forward to reading Robertson's book and plan to dip into some of his other books too.

Next up at Plan 99 is John Metcalf on September 29. He’s launching his book, “Shut up, he explained," which is part memoir, part travel book apparently (the only thing I could find out about it by googling as about the cover) Still it's John Metcalf and he's usually entertaining.

See you there.

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