Chris Benjamin: Bloggin' from the Road - Part 2

Drive-by Saviours author and book-touring machine Chris Benjamin is still out on the road! Here’s his latest report from the road.

I’m writing from Lachutes, Quebec, about 40 km northwest of Montreal. A good friend of mine is Superintendent of a golf course here and he’s putting me up. Tonight, (Thurs Oct 14), I read at 8:00pm in Montreal, at Argo Bookshop, 1915 Ste Catherine W. There will be three writers reading tonight, starting at 7:30 pm. Also up will be Susan Gillis, author of Volta, and Claudia Coutu Radmore, author of A Minute or Two/Without Remembering. Hopefully more authors means more people, more energy.

It’s been thrilling meeting book lovers in small towns and large cities. In Lindsay, at Kent Books, we had a small crowd of five, but somehow sold 10 books. In Kingston, at the Princess St Indigo Bookstore, I didn’t read at all, but signed and sold 10 more books to a sparse crowd on Thanksgiving Day. I met aspiring writers, a military woman who blogs with Chatelaine, and one very young woman who has her first book coming out, about a girl battling with anorexia, later this year. Her mother did most of the talking but you could tell how excited they were. Some folks were kind enough to want to support a first-time novelist, others had heard of the book and were keen to read it. The staff were particularly supportive and several of them bought copies.

My host in Kingston, friend and prolific freelancer Meredith Dault, organized a Thanksgiving Monday potluck and let me read to an intimate and highly receptive audience. They were mostly cultural studies grad students so it was slightly nerve wracking and their questions were astute. I’ll have to steal some of them for future book club questions.

At Octopus Books in Ottawa (where even the t-shirts lean left), I was given the warmest welcome I could imagine from Jenn Farr, who does promotions for the store. “Your not the Chris Benjamin are you? You are? Hoorayyyyyyyy!!! Would you like some apple cidar?” It was a small but enthusiastic crowd, including a woman I’d met in Kingston who lived in Ottawa. (My first groupie? Nah, just a kind book-lover with two gorgeous black labs.) Jenn video’d the whole thing and hopefully it’ll end up on Octopus’ website.

That night I stayed with a friend of mine who I met in Indonesia, where the seeds of Drive-by Saviours were sewn in the form of graduate research. I had an ‘I really hope I got this right’ moment with her at the reading. There was little time to talk old times though because her three-year old had a lot on his mind, including the complete lyrics to K’naan’s ‘Waving Flag’.

Boarding the train early the next morning I felt a bit like the lyrics to that Credence song ‘Playing in a Traveling Band’: take me to the next show / baggage gone, oh well / someone got excited / had to call the state militia / gotta move

OK, maybe not quite that dramatic but the stop-and-go can be a bit jarring. It’s nice to have two whole nights in Quebec. The reunions, reminiscing and celebration continue as I introduce my creation to Eastern Canada, and hope people take notice.

Posted on October 14th, 2010

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