amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Cocktales at the Ottawa International Writers Festival

this event took place on Sunday, April 30, 2012 at Venus Envy with readings by Tamara Faith Berger, Nerys Parry, Daniel Allen Cox & Jasmine Aziz. Megan Butcher was also scheduled to read, but unfortunately  couldn't be there.

i had the pleasure of hosting this event at the spring festival. i thought i'd post my intro here, including the truncated bios of the authors from the festival site, for those who couldn't be there & also for those who were there & would like to read it. i've included Megan's intro too, simply because i want to celebrate & inform you about her excellent writing.

before the reading i had the chance to read all of the books--thanks to the Writers Festival-- & i enjoyed them immensely. here's the intro...

cocks pissing on 16-year old girls, cuckolded cocks, flutes, cock-like, shoving into cunts, cocks in pink lubey sleeves that fly out of control & hit our protagonist in the eye, overheated cocks, cocks that tease...

tales of clandestine rendezvous on hotel rooftops, sex toy parties, tales of death by fire, water, earth & wind, tales of uncontrollable urges, lethal desires, bruises, blood, rape, murder, bubble bath, pasta salad...

surprising twists & turns, fugues, awakenings, explosions, teen porn, sk8r boys

From Key West, Florida to Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, Calgary, the Kootenays, from New York to Los Angeles, in airports, elevators,  garbage dumpsters, motel rooms, libraries, hospitals, film sets  & a suburban living room

ball gags, boxes of tea, moths, vibrators, ocarinas, spilled chutney, manta rays, Glenlivet, supreme assholes, nice white teeth, samosa cunnilingus, clits, black light bowling, bunnies, steel cabinets, xylophones, zippers being slowly pulled down
humour, compassion, betrayal, wit, wonder, grief, sex, yes….plenty of sex, &
most of all compelling stories crafted by our readers this evening.
Jasmine Aziz is a retired vibrator seller.  She worked as a consultant for four years doing in-home party presentations.  In that time she met many amazing and diverse women and was inspired by them to write a novel that would help both men and women navigate the subtle complexities of the modern woman's life.  Her debut novel, "Sex & Samosas" was released in October 2011 and sold out its first print run in only 4 months. The Citizen's review said "What saves the book from deteriorating into the gratuitousness or banality often found in chick lit is the earnest way the sex scenes are treated - with information, kindness and hilarity - and the surprisingly poignant family anecdotes."
In "Sex and Samosas," a sex toy party is the impetus for Leena's sexual awakening.  To do so she has to overcome the traditional values of her South Asian family, self-esteem issues about body image, and shyness with her husband Manny. The resulting journey is turbulent with lots of humour and misunderstandings along the way, but ultimately acceptance & orgasms.
Nerys Parry's debut novel, "Man & Other Natural Disasters," was a finalist for the Colophon Prize and tied for seventh in the Giller Prize Reader’s Choice Awards. Her writing has been described as “gorgeous throughout,” “compulsive reading, “engaging and thoughtful," and has been shortlisted for  several awards, including the Kenneth R. Wilson Canadian Business Press, Event Creative Non-Fiction, and FreeFall’s Fall Fiction Awards.
In "Man and Other Natural Disasters, "Nerys Parry offers us stories within stories. Simon Peter repairs broken book spines and torn pages in the Calgary City Library & lives with his senile & aging roommate Claude. Minerva, a young co-op student at the library, is the catalyst for his awakening. I found this book impossible to put down.
Megan Butcher is a librarian, sex educator and writer. She's the author of three chapbooks, most recently "Here, There Home," as well as co-author of a zine entitled "A Guide to the Mannerly Wooing and Winning of the Object of Your Affection. Her work has also appeared in Herizons, Capital Xtra, Ottawa Xpress and SMUT Magazine.
I've been smitten with Megan since I first heard her read, sometime in the early aughts, could have been at the former Dirty Girls, a series run by Nichole McGill. Matthew Firth said Megan's poetry chapbook, "this is what she said," published in 2004 was "a perfect mix of blunt sexual imagery and sharp concise language." Her story, "The Apiary," which appears in the Cleis Press "Best Bondage Erotica 2011," is sensual and steamy. Megan specializes in brief, erotic scenes that engage all the senses, whether it be the scent of wild onions or acrid sweat, or the image of someone bound in a chair, their short, blunt tongue stretching to meet a clit. In "Here, There, Home," Megan is the master of the vignette. She takes us to airports, to airplane bathrooms on erotic plane trips from Ottawa to New York to Amsterdam to Toykyo to Montreal. In clear, straight-forward prose, Megan gets straight to the kink. In these sexual quickies, Megan gives us a bon voyage.
Daniel Allen Cox is a Canadian novelist shortlisted twice for a Lambda Literary Award.AfterElton.com named Daniel one of its “Favorite Gay Canucks.” He was a columnist for Xtra Ottawa from 2008 to 2011. He lives in Montreal, where he works as a writing mentor. He's the author of "Tattoo This Madness In" (Dusty Owl Press), "Shuck," "Krakow Melt" & "Basement of Wolves," the last three published by Arsenal Pulp Press.
I've had a mad crush on Daniel since I first heard him read about smurfs and Jehovas Witnesses from Tattoo This Madness In at a Writers Festival event  in 2007. & the crush only deepened with his next novels. Whenever I read one of Daniel Allen Cox's novels, I feel as if I am in a conversation with a fucked up & brilliant friend. His books are always eloquent, poetic, turbulent and engrossing, allowing us to satisfy our voyeuristic curiosity about worlds we haven't a clue about . His writing is cinematic & visceral. I can still see in my mind's eye, the main character's house on fire in all its hideous beauty from "Krakow Melt." In Xtra, Daniel said "“Sex and writing are both always on my mind... “Text is like fluid, so it’s inherently sexual. When bodies are interacting with text, whether writing, editing, translating or consuming, it’s like the exchange of bodily fluids. In my life, both sex and writing are liberating. So I like to mix them up and see what happens. The results, I hope, are sexy. Whatever they are, I get off on the process.”
In "Basement of Wolves" the main character Michael David is an actor who has just turned 40 & questioning his self worth after he loses a role to another actor. He's hired to work on a bizarre film with an eccentric director  who works with no script, changes the plot without warning. When the film is over, an encounter with a potential stalker, sends Michael David into hiding.  The book is a gritty, dreamy, witty, zany and humorous parody of the film industry, of popular culture, of hotels, of internet hook-ups  and of relationships.  It's a study in the loneliness of celebrity & the dangers of smoking. Its dark & twisted paths make unexpected turns.  
Tamara Faith Berger was born in Toronto. She wrote porn stories for a living and attempted to make dirty films before publishing her first book, Lie with Me, in 1999. In 2004, The Way of the Whore, her second book, was published. In 2005, Lie with Me was made into a film. Maidenhead is her third book. Berger is presently working on a novel about a Russian hired killer. She is a graduate student at UBC working on her Masters of Fine Arts.
Mix a little Georges Bataille with 21st century sensibilities & you have Maidenhead, a molotov cocktail. Imagine an innocent young girl in a Victorian erotic novel led into sexual corruption by a svengali, then give her intelligence, raw hunger, a will of her own & Internet porn & see what transpires…In her Globe & Mail Review, Sheila Heiti said "With so much focus in our world on what young female sexuality ideally looks like, it’s a relief to see this portrait of what young female sexuality honestly feels like. Maidenhead is a mesmerizing and important novel, lying somewhere between the wilds of Judy Blume, Girls Gone Wild and Michel Foucault. It’s a thrilling, enlightening and really hot place to be.
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& due to nerves, aside from mangling names, i didn't spend enough time on thanks, so here's what i would have said at the end..
thanks to Sean Wilson of the Ottawa International Writers Festival for inviting me to host this event & to the festival in general for giving a home to all forms of literature. thanks to this event's predecessor, Transgress, which took place for a number of years at the festival & was organized by Capital Xtra. given the excellent turn out at Cocktales, it's clear once again that opportunities to hear authors read boundary pushing literature are needed & that this literature is well received by audiences & readers. the event was held at the wonderful Venus Envy, Ottawa's best & most welcoming sex shop for all.

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