Nino Ricci, who won the Governor-Generals Award in 1991 for
his first novel, Lives of the Saints, when he was fresh out of
Concordias creative writing program, is turning heads once again.
He has written a novel called Testament that takes for its subject
the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Ricci told Martin Levin of The Globe
and Mail Books, that the idea had been brewing for 20-odd years,
back to my childhood obession with the stories of the Bible.
I was interested in how you define spirituality and what happens
when you go back to the source. Also, what role Christianity plays in
our own culture, and how serious talk about it is so rare. It seems we
are ready to talk openly about the most intimate personal things, but
spiritual matters are off-limits in polite company, almost an embarrassment.
The Toronto Star reported that Ricci got a whopping advance for
the book and the subsequent books in the first trilogy: $500,000. It was
enough to lure him away from his former publishers, McClelland and Stewart.
Neil Bissoondath has used his teaching stint at Concordia in the early
1990s as the inspiration for a new novel, his fourth, called Doing
the Heart Good (Cormorant Books). In it, a fictional retired Concordia
English professor called Alastair Mackenzie faces the tensions of English-French
relations in the period leading up to the 1995 referendum. Bissoondath
was born in the Caribbean and lived in Toronto before coming to Quebec.
Now he is perfectly bilingual, married to a francophone, and living and
teaching in Quebec City.
However, his portrayal of an old-school Montreal anglophone is nuanced.
Bryan Demchinsky, reviewing the novel in The Gazette, said, His
character is presented in respectful, even affectionate, terms.
Catherine Kidd figured in writer/photographer Monique Dykstras
Eye on Montreal feature in the Sunday, May 5, Gazette.
Kidd, a writer/performer who graduated from and has taught in the creative
writing unit at Concordia, talked about the obsession and discipline of
It took six years to write my novel Bestial Rooms,
she said. I didnt read a single novel during those six years.I
didnt want other fictional voices crossing over and interfering
with my work.
When its going well, it feels like something is moving through
you. Youre like a secretarial clairvoyant trying to pay attention,
writing everything down.
Kidd says that if she couldnt perform her stories, she probably
Creative writing instructor Trevor Ferguson, well known as a novelist,
is also a playwright.
Long, Long, Short, Long ring a bell? How about this? Toooot,
toooot, toot, toooot. Its an express train, coming round the
track. Its also the name of a play that opens June 28 at the Monument
National in a production by Infinitheatre, directed by Guy Sprung.
Ferguson spent part of his youth working in Canadas rugged interior,
and that period has been the inspiration for much of his work, including
the prizewinning novel, The Timekeeper. Ferguson has written eight
novels in all, including two thrillers under the pseudonym John Farrow,
City of Ice and Ice Lake.
Here is Infinitheatres description of Long, Long, Short, Long.
Its 1967. Five men are living in a bunk car in the wilds of
northern B.C. building a railway bridge: young and old, hopeful and desperate,
intelligent and simple-minded, ambitious and content, a pan-Canadian combination
of race and roots, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, WASP. Their struggle is
to discern worth in their lives and in their labour.
Before that production, Infinitheatre will present The November Company
in The Qualities of Zero, a successful play by Jason Richmond,
who studied acting at Concordia. In the company are a number of Concordians,
including John Mountsteven, Sarah Blumel, Catherine Tassé and retired
English professor Harry Hill.
The Qualities of Zero runs June 6-23 and Long, Long, Short, Long runs
from June 28 to July 14, both in the du Maurier Theatre of the Monument
National on St. Lawrence Blvd. For tickets, call 987-1774.
Catherine Kidd will perform from Bestial Rooms on Friday, May 31, at the
Shout at Eternity art event, Bain St. Michel, 5300 St. Dominique St. For
more information, call 937-2054.