you can put anything in a book

Last month I went to the marvelous Prince Edward County Authors Festival in Picton, Ontario and got to hear JonArno Lawson read from his newest book, Enjoy it While it Hurts.

I’ll confess I was confused. Lawson read aphorisms and limericks. He read a poem his son had composed. The middle section of the book is, he told us, a picture book with illustrations he drew himself.

Was this a book for kids or adults? Was it fiction or poetry? Who would have published such a (seeming) mishmash?

Wolsak & Wynn published it, that’s who–and they did a beautiful job.The blurb on their website describes the book like this: “Enjoy It While It Hurts is an edifying miscellany of quarrelsome quips, holiday oddities, benevolent advice, curious thoughts and comically apocalyptic melancholia.”

Lawson’s reading was one of the most inspiring and educational moments of the festival for me, because it shook up my notions of how a book has to look if it wants to see print nowadays.

My amie d’ecriture Jill Margo is working on what she’s calling an “open form” novel that incorporates fiction, memoir, cultural commentary and various essay forms. She recommended I read David Shields’ excellent book Reality Hunger, a manifesto about the lively and productive grey area between “reality” genres and fiction, which Shields claims is where all the most exciting work is being produced these days.

Reality_HRforRetinal-246x380  Thank you JonArno, Jill, and David. The way your work breaks the rules feels to me like freedom and fun. And what more could any writer possibly ask for?

P.S: the Jill Margo Mini-Mag is chock-full of inspiring stories, hilarity and excellent advice for writers. Click here to sign up for free weekly inbox delivery!

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