The summer solstice marked the final evening of our 20th Grimsby Author Series season! We were joined by Ashley Audrain, author of The Push who reminds us of the interpretations and perceptions of motherhood while Thomas King, creator of Sufferance, explores our ties to the finite world and how we cooperate together as we move through life.
Six months after her child was born Ashley Audrain took the leap to challenge the realities of motherhood and the ideals that are expected from it. She did this in the form of her first novel, The Push. Formerly the publicity director of Penguin Books Canada, Audrain set out to create a compulsive page-turning read that would spark the conversation around motherhood beyond those who birth a child. The Push was written scene by scene about the fears and constructs of taking on a new role as a woman. “The real experience is vastly different than what you grow up learning it should look like…you are giving everything from love, to nourishment to time and there are little things left of you,” Audrain admits. She writes with astute detail about the profound transformation demanded from one’s body and the understanding that is often overlooked when such tremendous changes take place beyond your physicality.
"The real experience is vastly different than what you grow up learning it should look like...you are giving everything from love, to nourishment to time and there are little things left of you."
The Push is a series of vignettes that poignantly showcase the before and after, the loss of identity and the diminishing sanity of Blythe Connor, mother to Violet and wife of Fox. She begins to question what she understood of motherhood and how to navigate a new chapter of her life where everyone has an opinion and holds her to exhaustive standards. Blythe does not connect with her daughter Violet who is distant and unaffectionate, much like her ties to her own mother and Blythe is convinced that something is not right. Fox, her husband, does not acknowledge her concerns about Violet and sees her as his struggling wife. It is not until their son Sam is born that Blythe feels a deeper attachment. What do you do when you can’t live up to the expectations of becoming a new mother? Or when what you thought is layered with fears, challenges and uncertainty?
Thomas King has transformed his love of writing between novels, short stories, children’s books, television and more. He is regarded as one of the most exceptional contemporary Aboriginal writers in North America. King uses the analogy of a front load washing machine to describe the American political scene; a circular motion that keeps going round and round where nothing ever happens and we don’t see beyond to the larger problems. That is what he wanted to try with Jeremiah Camp, the main character of his new novel Sufferance. “If I have to suffer this modern contemporary world, why shouldn’t my characters?” he asked when prompted to describe his similarities to Camp. King explained that by looking at society with reason and intelligence it can be observed that you can predict what might happen.
“If I have to suffer this modern contemporary world, why shouldn’t my characters?”
As a Forecaster, Jeremiah has the ability to notice patterns among the day-to-day cooperation of society to inform the opportunities taken by the rich and powerful. Overcome, Camp eventually flees to an old residential school on an Indian reserve with the hopes of hiding out of sight from the company who formerly employed him, the Locken Group. But before running away, Camp’s forecast produced a list of billionaires who are now suddenly dying off and he is tracked down for his skills. When referring to the phrase that got the book going, ‘We exist at the sufferance of others,’ King responded with, “Groups like billionaires think that they move and think on their own and are self-sustaining,” and reminds the reader that participation and understanding are necessary when it comes to how we treat people. Thomas King is fierce in his narrative about the imbalance within humanity that was created by privilege and power.
As the 20th anniversary season comes to a close, a big thank you is reserved for the sponsors of the Grimsby Author Series who have supported this series throughout its impressive run. We look forward to the 21st season which will kick-off in the fall over Zoom.
Thank you to Harbour Estates Winery, the Hamilton Philharmonic and Objects to Desire for being a part of our final event this season. We are proud to have our series take place on National Indigenous Peoples’ Day as we reflect on the treaty agreement of sharing the land, side by side. Thank you to our authors, Ashley Audrain of The Push and Thomas King author of Sufferance for joining us, we wish you continued success! Our wonderful Epic Books of Hamilton will have copies available for purchase.
This blog post was written by our wonderful guest blogger Teanne Teeft, thanks Teanne!