The book that changed your life: Dina Del Bucchia

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      The annual Word Vancouver festival is back again with a massively varied menu of author readings, workshops, and events, set to run at venues around town from September 24 to 28. As part of the runup, we asked some of the writers on the bill to tell us about the reading experiences that shaped them. Which books gripped their imaginations early on? Which ones showed them what words can be made to do?

      Here’s what Vancouver’s Dina Del Bucchia told us. She’s a short-story writer, podcaster, Fringe Fest performer, and Real Vancouver Writers’ Series coordinator, not to mention the author of the poetry collection Coping With Emotions and Otters. She’ll read from her latest collection, Blind Items, at 2:45 p.m. on September 28, in the fest’s Poetry on the Bus venue outside the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

      Orlando (the Marmalade Cat) Keeps a Dog, by Kathleen Hale. I’ve been talking about his book a lot lately and for good reason. It’s a damn delight.

      Orlando (the Marmalade Cat) Keeps a Dog (1949) is as ridiculous and wonderful as the title suggests. Written and illustrated by Kathleen Hale, who created a whole Orlando series, this book is witty, odd, hilarious, and charming. Orlando’s wife goes on a shopping spree for a dog-walking outfit and their youngest kitten, Tinkle, pouts and writes poetry because no one is paying attention to him. Cats, fashion, sulky poets! It’s all the things I love. You can write about anything you like and with as much crazy as you like. My grandma read it to me many times and I was always entertained by the family of cats who enlist a standard poodle to be their pet. Though it’s out of print and that paperback copy is long lost I can still recite passages from memory.

      As an adult I discovered that Kathleen Hale was in tight with Vanessa Bell and was a super great, smart, funny lady and if one can’t aspire to that then screw it. And if anyone has a copy for me I would be a most grateful lady.

      Ruth Skinner