Friday, September 25, 2009

Year of the Flood

I was listening to CBC Radio 2 with half an ear as Tom Allan was talking about the launch of Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood. Something about readings accompanied by choral singers. It sounded innovative and off-beat, and also hard to pull off.

By fate's slight of hand, my friend Ross called and asked whether I'd like 2 tickets to the launch that was being held within 2 hours of curtain call. How could I say no? The only challenge was how to fill the second seat - luckily one of my neighbours was willing and available.

Just before heading out I learned the international launch was in Scotland, in a church. The Canadian launch was in Ottawa, in a church. And here we were travelling to St. James Cathedral in downtown Toronto. Obviously not a coincidence, this preference for religious venues.

Irreverent yes, but holy serious... the novel takes on nothing less than a pandemic that challenges the existence of the human race. Strong female characters quest for meaning and survival (somehow strangely familiar.....).

Haven't read the book yet, but it was great to get a glimpse of the characters through live performances as selections from the novel were read. We are introduced to two characters: one a trapeze dancer from a sex club, the other a woman keeping herself alive by eating natural beauty treatments in a salon. I want to know what happens next!

A chorus of singers performed hymns that preface the chapters. Songs about Gardeners, God and the dilemma of predators and prey. At the end of the evening's performance, a procession was led down the centre aisle, calling everyone to participate and rejoice.

Check out the website for the book and if you dare - arrange and perform your own version of the hymns and post on YouTube.

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