UBC Library and Archives

Robson Reading Series Presents Andrew Kaufman, Camille Martin and Barry Webster Kaufman, Andrew; Martin, Camille; Webster, Barry


Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre as part of the Robson Reading Series. Andrew Kaufman’s Born Weird tells the tale of the Weird family who have always been a little off, but not one of them ever suspected that they’d been cursed by their grandmother, Annie Weird. Now Annie is dying and she has one last request: for her far-flung grandchildren to assemble in her hospital room so that at the moment of her death, she can lift these blessings-turned-curses. What follows is a quest like no other, tearing up highways and racing through airports, from a sketchy Winnipeg nursing home to the small island kingdom of Upliffta, from the family’s crumbling ancestral Toronto mansion to a motel called Love. The title of Camille Martin’s latest book of poetry, Looms, signifies the weaving tool as well as the shadowing appearance of something, These “woven tales” were inspired by Barbara Guest’s statement that a tale “doesn’t tell the truth about itself; it tells us what it dreams about.” The strands of their surreal allegories converse, one idea giving rise to another, and the paths of their dialogue become the fabric of the narrative. In a second meaning, something that looms remains in a state of imminent arrival. Such are these tales, like parables with infinitely deferred lessons. In Barry Webster‘s latest novel, The Lava in My Bones, a frustrated Canadian geologist studying global warming becomes obsessed with eating rocks after embarking on his first same-sex relationship in Europe. Back home, his young sister is a high-school girl who suddenly starts to ooze honey through her pores, an affliction that attracts hordes of bees as well as her male classmates but ultimately turns her into a social pariah. Meanwhile, their obsessive Pentecostal mother repeatedly calls on the Holy Spirit to rid her family of demons. The siblings are reunited on a ship bound for Europe where they hope to start a new life, but are unaware that their disguised mother is also on board and plotting to win back their souls, with the help of the Virgin Mary.

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