Friday, October 4, 2013

Ania Szado

Ania Szado graduated from the Ontario College of Art and the University of British Columbia. Her first novel, Beginning of Was, was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Her writing has appeared in numerous periodicals, including The Globe and Mail, Flare, and This Magazine.

Szado's latest novel is Studio Saint-Ex.

A couple of weeks ago I asked the author about what she was reading.  Her reply:
For the first time in my life, I've been reading along a theme of sorts. It started with Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers, an exquisitely deadpan, darkly comic story of two Old West guns-for-hire. I enjoyed this homage to the Western, but realized I knew nothing of the genre itself. So I picked up Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove—and could hardly bear to put it down. I was taken aback by how thoroughly it (and the character Augustus McCrae) drew me in. Months later, I still miss the experience of being in the middle of it.

I hoped for the same immense pull from True Grit by Charles Portis, and was highly impressed by it, yet I was able to let go upon finishing the book. So then I veered into the rural territory of Daniel Woodrell's incredible, claustrophobic Winter's Bone, and Brad Smith's three "country noir" Virgil Cain books: Red Means Run, Crow's Landing, and Shoot the Dog. Smith's Virgil, a ballplayer turned farmer, is sharp, taciturn, and compelling.

Somewhere in there, I went back to reading John Steinbeck... and saw that my early enthusiasm for his work had prepared me for this return to the land and the characters who inhabit it on horseback, tractor or pickup truck. I read Of Mice and Men, then (with some hesitation) began Travels with Charley. And—to my surprise—I loved Travels with Charley. I fell for the author himself. Nonfiction or fiction, or something in between, the book's carefully crafted John Steinbeck is a delightful, canny, somewhat reluctant loner.

I see now that I have probably been pursuing a character type rather than a genre. I suspect I'm trying to track down another McCrae.
Visit Ania Szado's website.

The Page 69 Test: Studio Saint-Ex.

--Marshal Zeringue