Montreal Noir at Blue Met

Our second event took place on Saturday night during the Blue Met festival. For me, it was the culmination of a very, very long day. Long and full of interesting activities.

It started off at 9 a.m. with the Jane Austen Breakfast Salon, which took place at the hotel’s restaurant. What better way to start the day than to chat about Jane Austen and her characters while nibbling on chocolatines and sipping Earl Grey tea. Not exactly scones and preserves, but quite fun nonetheless. Though I thought I was a big fan of Jane Austen, I realized on Saturday that I knew very little about her and her books (did you know there was a Jane Austen Society and that it had a group in Montreal?). I felt like a Star Wars fan at a Star Trek convention. As a side note, have you seen the Jane Austen’s Fight Club video?

After this stimulating conversation led by Amanda Cockburn, I met with Vanessa Bonneau (the mRb associate editor) and we went to the first of two Joyce Carol Oates interviews. Full disclosure: I’ve never read Joyce Carol Oates and I’d never heard her speak, but I had heard that her work was dark and that she didn’t want to talk about her crime novels, so I expected someone who was very difficult to interview, but I oh so wrong. She’s extremely voluble and sharp. Jack Kirchoff asked simple questions, even half-questions at times, and off she went, entertaining her audience in the process. Like most of the audience, I later squeezed myself into the tiny bookstore to buy a couple of her books and to get them signed. I haven’t started them yet, but I did get my first taste of Oates last night at the performance of The Eclipse.

After attending a post-punk literary show featuring Michael Mirolla, Alan Lord and Liz Worth, I, myself, read during the AICW event (The Internment of the Italian Canadians during WWII). For those who don’t know, Guernica Editions recently published two books, Behind Barbed Wired and Beyond Barbed Wire, on the internment of Italian-Canadians during WWII. The first book contains creative work while the second one contains essays. These books are free, they are meant to make people aware of these events, and you can download an ePub version on Guernica’s website.

On the verge of passing out, I ate gluten-free pasta with Lara de Beaupré (the mRb publisher) before getting ready for our very own event, Montreal Noir: The City’s Forgotten Pulp Past. The event featured a panel discussion on 1950s pulp fiction written in Montreal led by Brian Busby (Consulting Editor for Véhicule Press‘s Ricochet Books). The panelists included Trevor Ferguson who displayed his excellent knowledge of Montreal’s history, Will Straw who knows way too much about Allo Police, and Jim Napier who is saddened by Montreal’s new lack of style. Who, indeed, would write a novel around a lifeless Starbuck’s? The highlight of the evening, however, was undoubtedly Marcel Jeannin‘s reading of three excerpts. In full 1950s detective garb, Jeannin regaled us with an account of a trek up the hill to Westmount (Hot Freeze, by Martin Brett), the discovery of a body (The Crime on Cote des Neiges, by David Montrose), and the description of a brothel (The Excecutioners, by Brian Moore).

Our next event: a re-enactment of Claire Holden Rothman‘s The Heart Specialist.