Independent fiction takes the stage at Starlight

Coach House Books, ECW Press and Indie Press collaborated their efforts to put together a night of indie fiction and poetry at the Starlight Lounge in Waterloo on Monday night.

It was a demonstration of the Canadian literary arts through a collection of writings from six authors, each with their own reading styles.

This event has been taking place in Waterloo every few years, changing the venue between Starlight and the Jane Bond.

The event was free to the public, encouraging everyone to come and scope out the independent publications.

Most of the authors originated in the Toronto area, but some came as far as St. John’s to share original pieces and poems. Guests and authors alike mingled before the performances got underway.

The night began with Natalee Caple who read from her book, The Semiconducting Dictionary, which is about a woman living as a self-loathing man.

Following her was Dorothy Ellen Palmer, reading excerpts from her book When Fenelon Falls. Utilizing quirky plays on words and Canadiana-related puns, she recited a portion of her story about a family going for a drive.

George Murray was up next with his book Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms. He elicited the most laughs of the night as he read snippets of his “aphorisms.”

His time on stage was impressive as he selected some of his 409 unique aphorisms to share with the crowd. Murray confided to the audience that he composed the collection when he was “feeling self-conscious.”

His aphorisms ranged from thought-provoking statements like “Anger without determination is just resignation” and the funnier phrases like, “The slot machine is the idiots ATM.”

During a short intermission, Words Worth Books had copies of the authors’ works available for purchase.

Cordelia Strube resumed the night of readings after the break. Her novel Lemon is currently longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was also shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award.

Lemon has stirred controversy with its gritty depiction of adolescence, though Strube believes this is part of the book’s success.

She remarked that the goal of an author is “to write about the world as [they] see it.”

Strube stated, “We live in this culture where people say ‘don’t worry, be happy’ when there is a lot that isn’t working.”

This is the premise for her novel, which follows 16-year old Lemon, who is a cynical but intelligent teenager.

Carrying on the evening, Gary Barwin’s (The Porcupinity of the Stars) described himself as the “poetic baloney” in between the novel readers, which grabbed the audiences’ laughter and attention from the get-go. The selected poems he read centered mostly around his family.

Last but not least was Sheila Heti who read from her novel How Should a Person Be? which blends the line between novel and autobiography.

Heti’s book was an appropriate ending to a night of excellent indie fiction.

Each individual author tackled challenging topics and shed light on ideas that often gets left out from mainstream publications.

With such witty, entertaining and enlightening guests, the event was an enlightening and successful evening for everyone involved.