World famous in Finchley, as The Goons used to say of Neddy Seagoon. Or, as Doug Ford might say, on the other, more retarded hand: ‘Wouldn’t know her if I passed her in the street.’
Who, you might ask? Anne-Marie MacDonald, that’s who. Shows how much I know, fresh as I am off the metaphorical boat. But she is speaking tonight at the Toronto Reference Library on Yonge Street – hosted by Matt Galloway of CBC’s Metro Morning – and we all know him. So it’s a toss-up, who Rob and I have really come to see – but it’s A-M McD who has just published a novel, her first in eleven years. She is also a playwright, actor and broadcaster – they say. Adult Onset, ahem, is the title.
The performance, when it happens – and it is a performance – is bravura. Our actor/author is a live-wire, a performer, and the bits she reads from her novel are contemporary-urban, funny, all the right laughs and sound-bites. Apparently there is a darker undercurrent to the narrative – drawing on her personal story of coming out as a lesbian, being the mother of two adopted children, etc etc – but this is not included in the reading, though alluded to in conversation.
With the smooth, charming, silver tongued Galloway.
There is a long line-up at the microphone at question time (the room, by the way, is packed). All women. Questions about the craft of writing and the ambivalent feelings some women have about children and motherhood – life and fiction seamlessly blended, as they appear to be in MacDonald’s novel. The biggest laugh is for the last questioner, who gushes at Matt Galloway before lobbing her tennis ball at the author. Everyone applauds, smiles – Galloway, as I said, is a charmer – a rock star.
Clearly, there are lots of people here who are going to buy the book, and enjoy it. No harm in that, and good luck to our writer.
But ‘world famous in Canada’? I guess so. Not sure this product will travel, though. Strikes me as perishable.