Booked! Winter 2015/16

By now, you’ve likely realized that Fernie is a lot more than just a fantastic ski hill. There is also a vibrant arts scene, brought together by a confluence of staunch arts appreciators, talented artists and a welcoming, relaxed place for artists to visit.

It is this stew that has made Fernie’s authors series – Booked! is now in its third successful season – a must-do series of events over winter. Hosted in the stunning Fernie Heritage Library, Booked! welcomes some of Canada’s literary stars. Booked! events are exactly that – events. Local caterers and shops, like Le Grande Fromage, provide munchies. Local bands perform before and after the author’s presentation. And the presentation itself is often moderated by Fernie’s own literary star, novelist Angie Abdou (The Bone Cage, Between). The series has brought in the likes of Alison Pick, Timothy Taylor and Will Ferguson. This year’s series began with poet Christian Bök and ends with the singular Shelagh Rogers.

Kara Stanley comes to Fernie in October with her moving memoir Fallen: A Trauma, A Marriage and the Transformative Power of Music. Stanley’s story follows how she and her husband re-invented their lives after he suffered a traumatic brain and spinal cord injury. Beginning with the harrowing discovery that her husband was being airlifted from the Sunshine Coast to Vancouver, Stanley’s narrative is gripping and heart-wrenching. It is the unknowing: not knowing whether her husband, Simon Paradis, will live or die; not knowing if he will live, but in a coma; not knowing if his brain injury will render him helpless.

The tension eases, though, as Paradis, begins his long road to recovery, first awakening from a coma then awakening into his self. Together, Stanley and Paradis face the challenges of what their new lives will look like, from finding a new, accessible house to the constant physical rehabilitation to the inevitable change in marital dynamic. While these challenges are intense in themselves, they feel a welcome respite from unknowing part of the journey.

 

Their transformation has much to do with music, which has been a part of Paradis’ life since childhood. He was in a band, and all he wanted was a chance to play again – on a stage, with his buddies.  The transformation also has a lot to do with Stanley’s ability to write her story down. It is through her journey of trying to understand her new circumstances that her readers can identify with the complex emotions this trek provoked. And it is in her sharing that we can summon the strength to face our own challenges. Fallen will likely bring you to tears, but it will also inspire.

In January, Fernie welcomes Raziel Reid. His book When Everything Feels Like the Movies was heartily championed by Lainey Lui on the 2015 Canada Reads. At that time, the book was also experiencing a bit of backlash from readers who felt that its subject matter and language was much too adult to carry the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. There was a (fortunately) failed attempt to force Reid return his GG prize and money. The upside to the backlash was the discussions that were hatched: is the Children’s Literature category too broad? is young adult fiction eclipsing other genres in its innovation? and so on.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies won’t be an easy read for some people – and not for the language, even. Reid’s main characters Jude and Angela aren’t entirely easy to like. But it is in this where the magic lies. Reid shows us how easy it is to fall into bully mode. As a reader, we may not agree with their choices, like their language or be in harmony with their worldviews – but Jude and Angela aren’t evil. They’re just teenagers trying to figure out where they fit in, in a small town where being different isn’t cool.

In the end When Everything Feels Like the Movies shows us that people are much more complex than we often give them credit for being. There is often a lot more going on under the surface than most people let on. We’re all living in our own little movies.

Shelagh Rogers, real Canadian royalty, comes to Fernie in April. The CBC host of The Next Chapter and former host of Sounds Like Canada, is sure to have many stories to bring along with her own writing. I don’t think that I am alone in saying that it will be a real honour to host her in Fernie.

Booked! dates (all at the Fernie Heritage Library):

  • Thursday, October 15 • 7pm • Kara Stanley
  • Friday, January 15 • 7pm • Raziel Reid
  • Friday, April 8 • 7pm • Shelagh Rogers