Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dude, Ian Rankin's TOTALLY gonna be at IFOA: On authors and celebrity

I like IFOA ( Toronto's International Festival of Authors). It's like my film festival. Y'know how people go all agog when they spot a celebrity, crying "ooo! did I just see the back of Brad Pitt's cap?!"

Yah, well my celebrities are AUTHORS! Especially Mr. Rock Star Himself, Ian Rankin.

Ian Rankin is my absolute FAVOURITE author to see read live. Hands down.

Tell you why:

Remember in the days of yore when poets were seen as rockstars? I'm thinking early Romantics like the James Dean-esque Byron; Coleridge; Wordsworth--- and all the girls would flit their fans and dab at their cheeks and swoon ---- the 19th Century equivalent of the Beatles, per se?

This is not a trend that has easily died.

Take Neil Gaiman: tickets to one of his events sell out in a snap. You know he will show up all cool and calculated with overlong hair and the collar of his leather coat snapped up over a black t-shirt and rock the party with some quick jokes and dramatic reading.

Take Terry Pratchett: I have never seen him in person but I know that my friends have waited hours for autographs ( he signs every one ). In fact, in both cases, for the aforementioned, a typical venue would not suffice. Appearances are moved to churches; large auditoriums; venues where people can spill out into vestries and down outward stairs.

Ian Rankin is like my rockstar. The first signing of his I ever went to was at a pub on the Danforth. Every one was laughing and drinking and talking and some of Rebus/ Rankin's favourite rock ( perhaps this is why I connote rockstar here; his unabashed love for rock music) was droning a pulse in the background as he nonchalantly played xs and os in my copy of "Rebus: The Early Years."

Authors are, for the most part, bookish people. And sometimes, as stereotype dictates, they are a little...how d'you say it.....erm.... socially eccentric. Their profession, for the most part, does not dictate they be strong minglers or public speakers and their oddities come across blazingly in person.

Other authors, like the ones I have mentioned, make personal appearance a part of the reading experience ( take that Russell Smith).

You wait in line for hours for an autograph with other die hard fans and, if you're me, you feel oddly fulfilled. My upbringing didn't leave a lot of leeway for rock concerts and celebrity squealing. I reserve it for signings ( well....signing[singular].... mostly Rankin) and personal appearances and readings.

That's not to say that every author is the atypical example of a great celebrity rock star.

I have attended plenty of lectures at IFOA where my eyes glared over at the empty amnesty/PEN chair; or to the gleam of the Globe interviewer's flourescently lit specs.

But, Ian Rankin is a sure fire hit! He's a hoot to hear read live and he completely engages himself in his text. He doesn't saturate his time at the front with anecdotes on the craft; so much as how he gets into the grittier side of Rebus' psyche and ...when he reads.... he seems so integrated with his character you forget which is which.

Do you have a favourite author to see in person?

It makes me cringe to think of Atwood's long pen and its attempt to sever the vital connection between reader and writer. How then could IFOA roll around siphoning fall from the colourful harbour to an exhilerating literary experience making the geekiest of book geeks *raises hand unabashedly* grab a book or two and run to a round-table?

NOTE: If you live in Canada and have never attended IFOA you are missing out. There are writers of all genres and calibres and there is definitely a subject to peak every interest. A world class event..... with rock stars!


Court said...

What? No mention of *gasp* touching his sleeve?? ;)

Jess said...

I still intend to come to IFOA with you some year. Just so you're aware.