With this year’s edition of the Word on the Street festival set to run from September 28 to 30, we asked some of the writers on the wildly diverse bill to tell us about the reading experiences that shaped them. Which book left deep impressions early on? Which one overhauled the way they see and think about the world, and set them on a path to a literary life?
Here’s what Annabel Lyon told us. Lyon is the Vancouver-based author of the internationally acclaimed 2009 novel The Golden Mean, as well as its much-anticipated follow-up, The Sweet Girl, due out later this month.
She’ll be reading from her work at 1 p.m. on September 30, in the Authors Tent outside the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
In January 1989, when I was 18, my family was preparing to move from Calgary to Vancouver. As temperatures hit the mid minus-30s and tempers hit new nadirs, I buried myself in Günter Grass's The Tin Drum.
This was my first experience of magic realism, and it changed my understanding of reading and writing as profoundly as anything I've read since. I kept thinking, "You can say that? You can do that?"
I knew already I wanted to write, and that novel made me realize all that was possible in fiction—a realization that was both exhilarating and daunting. Perhaps more than anything, Grass's novel schooled me in ambition.