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Literary Lecture Series 2019-20 (thursdays)

September 19 clock 07:30 PM

Venue

Heliconian Hall
Toronto, ON

plus Radar

Ticket Booth

Includes 13% HST (108122466RT0001)

Subscription For 9 Lectures

Presented by:

The Heliconian Club

Event Details

This popular series has been described as a cross between a traditional book club and a university course without exams.  This year it will consist of two separate series consisting of nine two-hour sessions, each including a lecture, question period and refreshments. Both series run from September 2019 to June 2020.  

Subscription cost for non-members of the Heliconian Club is $235 including HST (108122466RT0001) and a $15 Capital Improvement fee. 

2019-20 Thursday Events:

  • September 19Kerri SakamotoFloating City
  • October  17 -  Sarah Henstra: The Red Word
  • November 7 -  Helen Humphreys: Machine Without Horses
  • January 23 -  Judy RebickHeroes In My Head: A Memoir
  • February 27 -  David Bezmozgis: Immigrant City
  • March 26 -  Michael Crummey: The Innocents
  • April 23 - Cecil Foster: They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and The Birth of Modern Canada
  • May 7 - Jennifer Robson: The Gown
  • June 4 - Patrick Radden Keefe: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland with Suanne Kelmann.

Featured Program

  • September 19 - Kerri Sakamoto: Floating City

               Frankie Hanesaka isn't afraid of a little hard work. An industrious boy, if haunted by the mysterious figures of his mother's past in Japan, he grows up in a floating house in the harbour of Port Alberni, BC. With all the Japanese bachelors passing through town to work in the logging camps and lumber mills, maybe he could build a hotel on the water, too. But then the war comes, and Frankie finds himself in a mountain internment camp, his small dreams of success dashed by the great tides of history. 
     After the war, Frankie tries his luck in Toronto, where possibility awaits in the form of a patron who teaches him how to turn effort into money, and a starry-eyed architect who teaches Frankie something harder to come by: the ability to dream big. Buckminster Fuller's role as Frankie's outsized spiritual mentor is one of just many real-life touchstones and extraordinary points of colour in this fairytale-like story about family, ambition and the costs of turning our backs on history and home.

  • October 17 -Sarah Henstra: The Red Word

Winner of the 2018 Governor-General’s Literary Award for Fiction.

 A smart, dark, and take-no-prisoners look at rape culture and the extremes to which ideology can go, The Red Word is a campus novel like no other. As her sophomore year begins, Karen enters into the back-to-school revelry—particularly at Gamma Beta Chi. When she wakes up one morning on the lawn of Raghurst, a house of radical feminists, she gets a crash course in the state of feminist activism on campus.Despite continuing to party there and dating one of the brothers, Karen is equally seduced by the intellectual stimulation and indomitable spirit of the Raghurst women. Karen finds herself caught between two increasingly polarized camps, ringleader housemate, Dyann, believes she has hit on the perfect way to expose and bring down the fraternity as a symbol of rape culture—but the war between the houses will exact a terrible price.

  • November 7 - Helen Humphreys: Machine Without Horses

A seasoned writer stumbles across an obituary and imagination is sparked. The brief words of memoriam describe a woman who was both extraordinary—eccentric, revered in her field, a renowned expert—but also utterly ordinary. How does a writer, intrigued by all that isn’t said, create a story, or capture an unknowable woman and all the secret passions, choices and compromises that make up a life? In Machine Without Horses, Helen Humphreys explores the real life and the imagined internal life of the famous and famously private salmon-fly dresser, Megan Boyd, a craftswoman who worked for sixty years out of a bare-bones cottage in a small village in the north of Scotland. Humphreys, both present in the story and its architect, reveals with her inimitable style the complicated emotional landscape that can exist under even the most constant surface.

  • January 23 - Judy Rebick: Heroes In My Head: A Memoir

 In this riveting memoir, renowned feminist, Judy Rebick, tells the story of the eleven personalities she developed in order to help her cope with, and survive, childhood sexual abuse. In Heroes in My Head, Rebick chronicles her struggle with depression in the 1980s, when she became a high-profile spokesperson for the pro-choice movement during the fight to legalize abortion. It was in the 1990s, when she took on her biggest challenge as a public figure by becoming president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, that her memories began to surface and became too persistent to ignore.

  • February 27 - David Bezmozgis: Immigrant City             

In the title story, a father and his young daughter stumble into a bizarre version of his immigrant childhood. A mysterious tech conference brings a writer to Montreal where he discovers new designs on the past in “How it Used to Be.” A grandfather’s Yiddish letters expose a love affair and a wartime secret in “Little Rooster.” In “Roman’s Song,” Roman’s desire to help a new immigrant brings him into contact with a sordid underworld. At his father’s request, Victor returns to Riga, the city of his birth, and has his loyalties tested by the man he might have been in “A New Gravestone for an Old Grave.” And, in the noir-inspired “The Russian Riviera,” Kostya leaves Russia to pursue a boxing career only to find himself working as a doorman in a garish nightclub in the Toronto suburbs. In these deeply-felt, slyly humorous stories, Bezmozgis pleads no special causes but presents immigrant characters with all their contradictions and complexities, their earnest and divided hearts.    

  • March 26 - Michael Crummey: The Innocents

A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland's northern coastline. Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean, by a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity. Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family's boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to keep them. As they fight for their own survival through years of meagre catches and storms and ravaging illness, it is their fierce loyalty to each other that motivates and sustains them. But as seasons pass and they wade deeper into the mystery of their own natures, even that loyalty will be tested.

  • April 23 - Cecil Foster: They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and The Birth of Modern Canada

Smartly dressed and smiling, Canada’s black train porters were a familiar sight to the average passenger-yet their minority status rendered them politically invisible, second-class in the social imagination that determined who was and who was not considered Canadian. Subjected to gruelling shifts and unreasonable standards-a passenger missing his stop was a dismissable offense-the so called Pullmen of the country’s rail lines were denied secure positions and prohibited from bringing their families to Canada. Cecil Foster argues that it was their struggle against a racist Dominion that laid the groundwork for the multicultural nation we have today.

  • May 7 - Jennifer Robson: The Gown

London 1947: Though the war ended two years ago, England’s recovery has been difficult. But the nation’s spirits are lifted when Buckingham Palace announces the engagement of Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. For Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, colleagues at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell, the upcoming wedding is more than a celebration. The talented embroiderers have been chosen to create the beautiful, intricate stitching that will adorn the royal bride’s wedding gown. It is an extraordinary opportunity for an ordinary working-class English girl and a French émigrée who survived the Nazis. Toronto, 2016: Intrigued by the exquisite set of hand-stitched flowers she has inherited from her late grandmother, Heather Mackenzie discovers the embroideries match the motifs decorating Queen Elizabeth II’s stunning gown from her wedding almost seventy years before. Among her grandmother’s possessions, she also finds an old photo of Nan with Miriam Dassin, a celebrated artist and Holocaust survivor. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess these embroidered treasures? What was her connection to Miriam Dassin, and why did Nan never mention her? Yearning to know more about her grandmother’s past and the mystery of the embroideries, Heather travels to London.

  • June 4 - Patrick Radden Keefe: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland with Suanne Kelmann.

In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville's children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress--with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes. Patrick Radden Keefe uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders. Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.