Friday, July 04, 2008

Teach them well

This afternoon, I was a guest speaker at a Jr. Authors camp run by the Harbourfront Centre and held at Fort York.

It was a messy business, with keeners and eye-rollers/yawners alike among the two dozen or so kids I talked to. At one extreme was the kid who said she'd just finished To Kill a Mockingbird and wanted to be a journalist covering international affairs, at the other was the kid who couldn't think of a single book he'd been able to finish.

I think it went okay in the end. If I didn't exactly have them standing on their chairs and singing the praises of the Chekhovian approach to storytelling – the question "what genre do you write in?" sparked an awkward attempt on my part to define literary fiction, that imaginative realm where, in kids' minds at least, there's nothin' doin' – I at least had them engaged more often than I had originally feared walking in there. As if to prove my meanie reviewer opinion that people should hate books as hard as they love them, the most vocal and passionate exchanges occurred when I asked what books they found totally boring.

(They were too young yet to shout out, "Yours!")

The highlight of the visit, for some of the kids, was my admission that I couldn't read much from A Week of This due to all the swears, and the impromptu search through my copy of the book by some of the boys for the forbidden words.

It was like a very modest and slightly surreal tribute to the late George Carlin.

(Thanks to Jen T. and Hbfront for the invite.)

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