Can you talk a little about two of your books; ‘Rising’ and ‘Darwin’s Moving’?
Both books were somewhat accidental. I was in Toronto promoting my previous book when the flood struck, and during the train ride back west I had time to kill, which turned into thinking about writing a book about the disaster. I got back to Calgary at the end of June and immediately began work on ‘Rising’, and I started working part time for Darwin’s Moving again, three days a week in order to pay my bills. The book took a year, and it was during that extended period of moving furniture that I started pulling together assorted thoughts about how the moving industry reflected class divides in an interesting way. Some months after ‘Rising’ was published, I began work on ‘Darwin’s Moving’.
Are the two books connected?
They are very different books, but in both cases I wanted to elevate lesser-known stories and attempt to examine big themes (disaster and loss; classism, addiction) by focusing on individual narratives. Rising had numerous story lines, so there was only so much detail I could go into with each. Darwin’s Moving, however, was more focused and I was able to explore in detail the lives and backgrounds of three men.
Any new or upcoming projects on which you’re working?
I’ve been solely focused on longform freelance work since ‘Darwin’s Moving’ and ‘Roots’ came out in September 2017. I regularly have articles published in various places. I keep a list with links on my website. I have a couple ideas for further books, but I’ll keep those under my hat for now.
Why does a literate community matter to you? Why now, in particular?
There are many kinds of literacy that are important to a healthy community. Being able to read, of course, is fundamental to understanding the world — but so is the ability to think critically about ideas presented to you. Media literacy and internet literacy are also crucial tools, as so much of our information comes from online sources. But perhaps the most important aspect of literacy is a varied reading diet in order to take in as many ideas, viewpoints and styles as possible. The more people read, and read widely, the healthier, more informed, and more humane a community is.
What do you believe would most impactful to the cause of ensuring a literate Calgary society?
Good question. Speaking from a position of admitted ignorance about what is available, I would say programs to engage youth in reading as early as possible; supports for immigrants and newcomers not fluent in English nor familiar with navigating Canadian society; and all the resources we can collectively muster. I personally think it’s nuts that our flagship multi-million-dollar library closes at 6 pm on Fridays and opens at noon on weekends because our prosperous community declines to fund it properly. I know that’s not Calgary Reads specific, but I like complaining to a like-minded audience.
Taylor Lambert is an award-winning Calgary-based writer whose work is primarily focused in creative nonfiction and literary journalism. Taylor also produces the podcast: The Calgarian