Ann-Marie MacDonald had it all in her head.
Conjuring ideas for her next book, the author and mom of two took a peek at her pantry. Dinner loomed and she didn’t have a plan. Wait-there’s pasta. It was right there all along, right in front of her. A staple ever ready, a story already swirling.
MacDonald’s Adult Onset is a parallel universe to her own, an “unconscious psychic joke” on herself, as she told an audience of booklovers at Grano restaurant last night in Toronto. The long awaited third novel was started when MacDonald’s youngest child was five. Her kids were in school full time. Fresh from the “toddler trenches”, she had discovered, despite intentions to be “the world’s best parent”, unprocessed demons threatening to derail domestic peace. So began the story of a successful Toronto writer, trying to balance creative pursuits and parenting, and discovering deep cracks and fissures.
More overtly personal than her first two novels, this story, says MacDonald, was crafted to occur over one week of a woman’s life, a week where outsiders saw no change but internally, an entire struggle unfolded.
Who does this Canadian treasure write for? A “tender, compassionate ghost over her shoulder”, the reader, always the reader- for writing, says this author, playwright and actor, is a performance for others. Macdonald lists meditation, travel and psychotherapy as things she does for herself but writing? The story doesn’t exist until in the hands of her readers.
It’s so much fun reading to people, so much easier than writing!
Fun? Forget stuffy book launches full of Author performing Readings. Instead, there we gathered, imbibing copious amounts of wine over multiple courses, sharing long tables and stories, in this great mid-Toronto gem that only pretends to be a terrific dining establishment.
Grano is, of course, a cultural hub, owner Roberto Martella the impresario. Why else to explain the sweet addition of an operatic aria, thrown in for good measure by a charming waiter, serenading us all with two gorgeous arias, one to begin the evening, and another to conclude?
Nice bookends indeed.
Now to read the book…happy me.