On Tuesday November 11, K.D Miller was the guest writer at the English Department’s Writer’s Reading Series.
Lewis Macleod, of course, began the evening by making everyone who attended feel (as they should) as though they were the elite of our society, stating, “If you think the grass is greener somewhere else, you are wrong, it is greener where you are.”
And with that, Miller took to the podium thanking Peterborough and Trent for hosting her first night in this great (and elite, of course) community and introduced her book to us. “I wrote a book about a church and it took off, I don’t know,” laughed Miller. “Maybe only in Canada.” And without further ado, Miller began to read to us.
All Saints is a collection of short stories recently written by Miller, and also, as Macleod found, a very successful all girl band from the 1990s (we concluded that there is no relation between the two).
The first of the short stories in All Saints, titled “Barney,” is the one that Miller read. “Barney” tells the story of a man quite simply building a room. However, as the story goes on we learn that though he is “simply” building a room, there is nothing simple about it.
A very fitting story to read on Remembrance Day, “Garth”—the man telling the story—is a war veteran. We learn that after 60 years, he is building this room for his best friend Barney, with whom he fought.
What Miller does though is very interesting. With a completely captivating reading voice, Miller pulls her audience and readers into the mind of Garth as a way of understanding that even after 60 years since the war, life is not the same, and some people don’t come back as the same person who left. For Garth this room really is a hobby, and he tells his wife: “We can rent it out.”
For anyone who has ever taken on a project that is as mammoth as building a room, we know that we will never finish it. This is the impression we get about Garth’s room; he is never going to finish it, and the beautiful thing is that he doesn’t need to.
Miller has created this project and this room as a means for Garth to escape his mind and memories because sometimes remembering is just too hard. This room becomes therapy for Garth, and is a way of showing readers the struggle that veterans endure trying to reintegrate into society.
This is a challenge that is perhaps sometimes forgotten. Barney is a beautiful story by Miller, with nine more compelling stories to follow it. All of the stories in this book are connected as they follow the lives of people who belong to an Anglican congregation, All Saints.
Having Miller read for us was absolutely wonderful. Being able to ask questions is such a neat way of getting inside a writer’s head, and being allowed in is a great privilege.
Every writer has a process and it was so lovely to hear Miller’s; where she had to go in her mind to create the stories that she has. Absolutely wonderful.
It cannot be said enough how amazing these readings put on by the English Department are, and there is only one more left.
On Wednesday November 19, writer Jonathan Bennett will be reading at Traill College. These events are free with an amazing reception afterwards at BE at The Trend with many, many, many tasty treats.
If you haven’t been able to make it out yet, or are just hearing about the series now, you have one more chance to participate.
To be able to listen to and chat with successful writers is like a dream come true, and is always a great reminder that you can do it too!