The Book That Changed Your Life: Bill Cosgrave

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      The Word Vancouver festival’s annual free celebration of all things literary begins today (September 15) with eight poets reading their prize-winning work, starting at 6 p.m. The festival continues until September 27.

      At its heart is, as always, a wide-ranging roster of authors.

      The Georgia Straight approached a group of these writers and asked them to describe their most their most significant experiences as readers. Which books fired up their desire to become authors themselves? Which ones resonated in a life-changing way?

      Here’s what Kelowna-based writer Bill Cosgrave told us. His memoir, Love Her Madly: Jim Morrison, Mary and Me, recalled times spent with a music legend before he was famous. Cosgrave will be reading from his work at 7 p.m. on September 20.

      I don’t have a particular book that was so pivotal that it changed my life. In Cold Blood was so compelling that I couldn’t put it down. When I finished it in a hotel room in Aspen at 3 a.m. I placed the book on the night stand, lay my head on the pillow. Staring at the ceiling I began to sense a cold, ominous presence. Standing at the foot of my bed were the two terrifying killers with their knives and guns. Every detail of their faces and clothes was in living colour. They were so menacing that I slowly reached for the phone connected to the front desk. “Help!” is all I could utter. I heard footsteps running down the hall. As soon as there was a knock on the door, the killers disappeared. Truman Capote didn’t change my life, but his book forever changed my appreciation of writing genius.

      Portnoy’s Complaint was a game changer. Eugène Ionesco had me laughing so hard during a flight that a concerned flight attendant asked me if I was alright. Every Carl Hiaasen, Elmore Leonard, Ian Fleming, John D. MacDonald book. Michael Ondaatje. Monty Python. Oliver Sacks. Everything I’ve read must’ve changed me incrementally, but not one changed me pivotally.

      See Word Vancouver's schedule here.