26@26: Claire Vaye Watkins & Zoe Whittall

@ - MT
Series Pass $89
Single Ticket $15
Online
@ - MT
Single Ticket: Oct 19 Zoe Whittall & Claire Vaye Watkins
$14.29 + GST
26@26 Series Pass
$84.76 + GST

Hungry for timely? Penetrating? Provocative? Cinematic? The prescient Claire Vaye Watkins and Zoe Whittall deliver all of the above in two of fall's most anticipated reads: fearless novels that deliver exhilarating gut punches. This pairing of North American powerhouses is a MUST see. 

The one-hour livestream event on Wordfest.com starts at 7:00 PM MT and will be hosted by Shelley Youngblut. (The pre-show begins at 6:50 PM.) The day after the show, we'll email you our unique Digital Doggie Bag, featuring links and extras sparked by the conversation. 

Can't watch live? Want to rewatch? Purchasing the 26@26 series pass or a single ticket gives you exclusive access to this show on demand until midnight on April 30, 2022. 

We’re grateful to Penguin Random House Canada & HarperCollins Canada for making it possible for us to connect you with Claire Vaye Watkins & Zoe Whittall. 

About Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins is the author of the novel Gold Fame Citrus and the short story collection Battleborn, winner of the Story Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award, and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among other prizes. A National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, Watkins is a professor at the University of California Irvine and lives in Twenty-nine Palms, California.

About I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness

Boldly imagined and authoritatively told, this ambitious novel reminds us that Watkins is one of the most visionary writers working today." –Esquire

A darkly funny, soul-rending novel of love in an epoch of collapse – one woman’s furious revisiting of family, marriage, work, sex, and motherhood.

Since my baby was born, I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things. a) As much as I ever did. b) Not quite as much now. c) Not so much now. d) Not at all.

Leaving behind her husband and their baby daughter, a writer gets on a flight for a speaking engagement in Reno, not carrying much besides a breast pump and a spiraling case of postpartum depression. Her temporary escape from domestic duties and an opportunity to reconnect with old friends mutates into an extended romp away from the confines of marriage and motherhood, and a seemingly bottomless descent into the past. Deep in the Mojave Desert where she grew up, she meets her ghosts at every turn: the first love whose self-destruction still haunts her; her father, a member of the most famous cult in American history; her mother, whose native spark gutters with every passing year. She can’t go back in time to make any of it right, but what exactly is her way forward? Alone in the wilderness, at last she begins to make herself at home in the world.

Bold, tender, and often hilarious, I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness reaffirms Claire Vaye Watkins as one of the signal writers of our time.

About Zoe Whittall

Zoe Whittall's third novel, The Best Kind of People is currently being adapted for limited series by director Sarah Polley. It was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, named Indigo’s #1 Book of 2016, a Heather’s Pick, and a Best Book of the Year by the Walrus, the Globe and MailToronto Life and the National Post. Her second novel, Holding Still for as Long as Possible, won a Lambda Literary Award for trans fiction and was an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book. Her debut novel, Bottle Rocket Hearts, won the Dayne Ogilvie Prize and is being adapted for screen.

In 2014, Whittall sold her first sitcom, Breaking, to CTV, and recently optioned the half-hour comedy Wellville to CBC. She has worked as a TV writer on the Emmy Award–winning comedy Schitt’s Creek and the Baroness Von Sketch Show, for which she won a 2018 Canadian Screen Award. She has written three volumes of poetry, most recently an anniversary reissue of The Emily Valentine Poems.

Whittall was born on a sheep farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, has an MFA from the University of Guelph, and has called Toronto home since 1997. 

About The Spectacular

Both raw and refined, The Spectacular is an insightful, poignant exploration of family and relationships from one of my favorite writers working today. A multi-generational story that’s fully alive" Iain Reid, author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things

It’s taboo to regret motherhood. But what would happen if you did? Shifting perspectives and time periods, The Spectacular is a multi-generational story exploring sexuality, gender and the weight of reproductive freedoms, from the author of The Best Kind of People. 

It’s 1997 and Missy’s band has finally hit the big time as they tour across America. At twenty-two years old, Missy gets on stage every night and plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. Missy is the only girl in the band and she’s determined to party just as hard as everyone else, loving and leaving someone in every town. But then a forgotten party favour strands her at the border. 

Forty-something Carola is just surfacing from a sex scandal at the yoga centre where she has been living, when she sees her daughter, Missy, for the first time in ten years on the cover of a music magazine. 

Ruth is eighty-three and planning her return to the Turkish seaside village where she spent her childhood. But when her granddaughter Missy winds up crashing at her house, she decides it’s time that the strong and stubborn women in her family find a way to understand each other again. 

In her new book, by turns sharp and provocative, Zoe Whittall captures three generations of very different women who struggle to build an authentic life in the absence of traditional familial and marital structures. Definitions of family, romance, gender and love will radically change as they seek out lives that are nothing less than spectacular. 

About Host Shelley Youngblut

Shelley Youngblut is the CEO & Creative Ringleader of Wordfest. She was the recipient of the 2020 Calgary Award for Community Achievement in the Arts and the 2018 Rozsa Award for Arts Leadership. She also won the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Western Magazine Awards. 

Youngblut was the founding editor of Calgary’s award-winning Swerve magazine and has created magazines for ESPN, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Nickelodeon, Western Living, and The Globe and Mail. A former pop-culture correspondent for ABC World News Now and Canada Am, she is now often unconventionally opinionated on CBC Calgary’s Eyeopener.

Follow her on Twitter @youngblut and Instagram @youngblutshelley.

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