The book that changed your life: Michael V. Smith

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      The Word Vancouver festival is set for its 2015 edition with a huge, genre-spanning program of authors, appearing at venues around town from September 23 to 27.

      The Straight asked a group of these writers to tell us about their most meaningful reading experiences. Which books shaped their imaginations early on? Which ones expanded their ideas of what the written word can do?

      Here’s what Kelowna poet and novelist Michael V. Smith told us. Smith is the author of such titles as Cumberland and Progress. He’ll read from his latest work, My Body Is Yours, at 4:30 p.m. on September 27, on the Canada Writes stage outside the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

      It might seem a far stretch to say that my tell-all memoir, My Body Is Yours, detailing my years struggling with masculinity—which includes a few decades on the merry-go-round of addictive behaviours, suicidal tendencies, and body dysmorphia—maps a direct line to Anne of Green Gables. But it’s true.

      I was a fey kid on the playground of boys, all of whom seemed to be faster, rougher, and happier. Anne, too, was prone to saying the wrong things, doing the wrong things, unsure of the rules. Her hair marked her as a freak just as my high-pitched voice damned me.

      Anne is a book of feelings, for the outsider. I knew this Anne, who was desperate for a place to call her own, dying to be understood, starved for love. The day I read Matthew’s death, I could hear my parents preparing to argue in the kitchen. I sobbed so hard as Anne received the news in that back field that I hid in my bedroom. Every few seconds I had to stop to wipe my tear-blind eyes.

      In short, Montgomery’s book showed me my future. Love was easy to find. It was right there in my hands, in the tidy pages of a book.