The book that changed your life: Michael Christie

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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 Galiano Island’s Michael Christie told us. He’s the author of the award-winning short-story collection The Beggar’s Garden and the novel If I Fall, If I Die. He’ll read from his work at 3:10 p.m. on September 27, on the Authors’ Words stage outside the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

      As a boy, you could usually find me under my covers with a dimming flashlight, up way past bedtime. There I read my stack of Calvin and Hobbes anthologies until their pages came unglued and my mother had to buy me a second set.

      I pored over every page, every panel, every twistedly hilarious expression on Calvin’s face. Debatably the greatest comic of all time, Calvin and Hobbes (in my humble opinion) belongs on a shelf next to Proust, Virginia Woolf, and Chekhov. Though I rarely followed Calvin’s high-minded soliloquies (things get close to university-level existentialism whenever he careens downhill in his wagon, readers will recall…), it was the energy and humanity of this destructively sweet little boy, with his make-believe tiger and wonderfully deranged imagination, that single-handedly convinced me that maybe these book things weren’t just torture devices created by teachers and librarians. That there was joy and wonder and hilarity to be found within them. And that this world was mine to explore freely. All I needed was a flashlight.