Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February Lit Saloon Recap: Reading, Drinking and Fighting

Last Thursday night’s Artery Literary Saloon was packed with nail-biting excitement. We assembled a stellar panel of U of A English prof Rob Appleford, author Marina Endicott, book seller Laurie Greenwood, librarian Amanda Bird and CBC's Chris Martin as moderator / instigator to discuss the Canada Reads 2010 selections and debate the whole notion of contests like Canada Reads from all different perspectives. Our loyal audience of Saloon goers cheered and boo’d as they saw fit, and CBC Radio Edmonton taped the whole dang thing for posterity. Frankly, we all worked up quite a thirst.

Luckily, CBC Radio wine columnist, contributing editor of Tidings magazine and Edmonton wine store owner, Gurvinder Bhatia, was there. He was in charge of finding the perfect wine for each of the five books, staking out new and unexplored territory in the field of book and wine matching. Us being us – remember December’s ultra-competitive book-smelling competition? – we made a contest out of it.

At the beginning of the evening, we snared our three Instant Wine Experts (IWEs): author Myrna Kostash, Edmonton Litfest producer David Chereos, and manager of the Whitemud branch of the Edmonton Public Library, Jason Openo. We set them up wtih splashes of all five wines. We opened the bar to all in attendance and the literary proceedings began in earnest. Our panelists read selections from the five books. Gurvinder took us through a sniffing, swirling and a careful tasting of each. The IWEs also chimed in, describing the five wines in excruciating literary style. Finally ballots were cast. Against all odds, we had a winner, and many who came close. As usual, we were loaded with prizes.

Want to drink your way through the Canada Reads 2010 book list? Here are Gurvinder’s wine picks, with some choice oeno-literary commentary by our IWEs. (Note, we all had had quite a bit of wine by this point!)

Drink Renwood Vineyards Old Vines Zinfandel as you read Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald.

“Heavy tannins redolent with shadow and shot through with irreducible hope…” DC

“Fruit, oak, tannins, well-balanced, and deep. A great example of its genre.” JO

Drink Small Gully Shiraz “The Formula” as you read Generation X by Douglas Coupland.

“Good nose, big mouthfeel…almost harsh in a dangerous way.” MK

“Intellectually pixieish” DC

Drink Fabiano Valpolicella Classico Superiore Negraro Ripassato as you read Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott.

“Like Audrey Tatou, this wine matures from sip to sip. Soft and silky.” MK

“Flights of alchohol-infused glee…” DC

Drink JoieFarm A Noble Blend as you read The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy.

“Like Gwyneth Paltrow. It gets nicer the more you drink it.” MK

“A mishmash of style and ideas.” DC

“Would either be great on a sweltering summer day or with berries at the end of the day when you’re ready to call it quits and cuddle.” JO

Drink Black Lagoon Chardonnay as you read Nikolski by Nicholas Dickner.

“Darker than expected.” DC

“Like Mel Gibson or Hugh Grant.” MK

If you want to recreate this at home, all of these five wines are available at Vinomania wine store.

Thanks to the various entities who donated prizes to our February Saloon: Mission Hill Family Estate for the bottle of 2007 Pinot Noir, Sandhill Book Marketing for the donation of Wisewoman's Cookery: Food Sex Magic & Merriment, Fork in the Road winery for the bottle of Oliver Block 249 Red, and CBC Edmonton for the box sets of the Canada Reads Selections and ultra-cool courier bags loaded with goodies.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February's here and the Literary Saloon is back and looking for a fight!

This month at the Literary Saloon we bring you Canada Reads: the Onstage Tussle. A glittering panel of local big-mouths/hot-shots including our own Canada Reads nominee Marina Endicott will face off against one another in response to the CBC-inspired provocation: "Literature is Not a Game. . .or is it?' CBC radio itself will be there manning the spitbuckets and recording the action as it unfolds.

On the table: What's the deal with the whole Canada Reads thing anyway? Is it good for Canadian literature? Why can't I, as a proud Canadian and CBC listener, just read what I want? Who is this Jian Ghomeshi guy? Why is his hair like that? Can I have more wine?

And the answer to that last question is Yes! By all means! Because the evening will also feature a wine-tasting with CBC wine columnist Gurvinder Bhatia, who'll be helping us pair each of the Canada Reads nominated books with an appropriate wine selection. Drinking and books--it just doesn't get any better.

And just to top things of, a quick hit of the amazing local artist, illustrator and gadabout Raymond Biesinger "who likes conceptualizing, minimalism, art, and progressive politics." And also. . .wine! (We assume).

And, oh my god, the prizes people. More prizes at this Saloon than any Saloon hence. And you *know* how much we like giving prizes. We're talking TWO complete sets of the Canada Reads books to give away and TWO wine-related gift packages as well.

So, come. Get angry along with our panel. Get tipsy with Gurvinder. Get conceptual with Raymond. Get in on it while the gettin's good.