Last year, on March 16th, I wrote a post on this blog about some of the authors who have driven with me in my car. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being the passenger in a car driven by an author as we travelled to Fernie, BC, for the annual Fernie Writers’ Conference.
Aritha asked me not to tell you the truth about her when I said I would be recommending her books this week in my ABC Friday Reads posting. After all, she said, “all writers lie.” But my mother, who coincidentally shared the same birthday with Aritha, told me I must never lie – and I always did whatever my mother said I should.
Yeah, right! I’m a writer. I agree with Aritha.
The fact is, though, that I have known Aritha van Herk since 1979 when she won the Seal First Novel Award for Judith, the first year the prize was awarded. Her sales rep at that time was Bertha Hanson, who became my mentor when I later began working as a sales rep for Dennis Johnson, the publisher of Red Deer College Press and Aritha’s publisher for Places Far From Ellesmere and Restlessness, plus a reprint of No Fixed Address. Our lives and careers have intersected over the decades, but yesterday was the first time we have ever driven anywhere together. Aritha is here at the conference to teach a class and deliver the keynote address this evening. I am here to help Carolyn Nikodym, the conference director, and to take Aritha’s class. So far, it’s been a GREAT conference!
As for the lies… I’m sorry, Aritha. I just can’t fabricate anything about you that would be believable. I am compelled to tell the truth – you are an inspiration as a writer, a gifted teacher who truly cares about your students and their writing, a passionate reader, and a fierce defender of the arts and culture. And a very safe driver who takes directions well from your appointed navigator. Thank you!
So this week I recommend the body of work written and published by Aritha van Herk, and direct you to the listing on Wikipedia for a complete bibliography, because Aritha once said that everything about her on Wikipedia is all lies…
I just finished ‘Restlessness’ by Aritha Van Herk: my first novel by her, and I find her prose mesmerising, truthful to life and very poignant.