Pan Lit Games: Synchronized Swimming

July 21, 2015

All Lit Up has long been a supporter of Synchronized Reading, in all its forms: turning pages in perfect harmony, lipsyncing to audiobooks, and, one of our favourite columns to write: Read This, Then That. By extension, we’re also big fans of the sport of Synchronized Swimming, and RTTT resembles it by pairing two (or more) books that really go together. Work on that eggbeater, gelatine your hair, and get ready to see which group was the most N’SYNC.

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All Lit Up has long been a supporter of Synchronized Reading, in all its forms: turning pages in perfect harmony, lipsyncing to audiobooks, and, one of our favourite columns to write:  Read This, Then That. By extension, we’re also big fans of the sport of Synchronized Swimming, and RTTT resembles it by pairing two (or more) books that really go together. Work on that eggbeater,  gelatine your hair, and get ready to see which group was the most N’SYNC.

Our first synchronized pair have got some serious dysfunction going on: you might call them the Chris Kirkpatrick of the group. The Tartarus House on Crab by George Szanto (Brindle & Glass) and Prairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi (Goose Lane Editions) have burst from the pool in a complicated embrace that might only end in heartbreak. Their routine seems determined to right wrongs in the respective family histories depicted by the books, those of Jack Tartarus, the man determined to destroy the house he thinks killed his parents, and Egg Murakami, the young girl desperately trying to keep hers from falling apart. View their routine, here.

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Equally fraught is the new-adult pairing of Carafola by Christine Miscione (Mansfield Press) and The Guy Who Pumps Your Gas Hates You by Sean Trinder (NeWest Press). Both protagonists – Carafola’s melancholy unnamed Narrator and TGWPYGHY’s hilarious Brendan – are treading water, so to speak. Narrator’s suffered a bad break-up and moved back in with her parents, and Brendan’s pumping gas for the former classmates who’ve outgrown him. When writing is introduced to both of them, their routine suddenly sparkles. You can watch how that plays out, here.

Next up: the very mysterious throwback crime routine of Portrait of a Scandal by Elaine Kalman Naves (Vehicule Press) and Who Killed Janet Smith? by Ed Starkins (Anvil Press). Set entirely to the Pink Panther soundtrack and respectively set in Montreal and Vancouver, these Canadian true crime stories ensnare and thrill their audiences, revealing betrayal, women’s history, conspiracy, and fame. Don’t miss their routine, here.

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With a splash, the Namibia-setting’ed Counting Teeth by Peter Midgley (Wolsak & Wynn) and The Witchdoctor’s Bones by Lisa de Nikolits (Inanna Publications) enter the pool. While the latter is fictional, and the former non-, their routine lines up perfectly in their accurate, glittering portrayals of Namibian urban and wild life. Counting Teeth is a travel memoir steeped in equal parts nostalgia and disillusionment, as author Midgley shares in his birthplace with his daughter, Sinead. de Nikolits’ Namibia is a darkly comic look at how people can be dangerous, regardless of setting. Their routine is here, and a must-watch.

Our final routine is...wait...what’s this? No fewer than eight lit swimmers have burst from the centre of the pool, six spinning a tight leg-circle (we’re almost certain that’s the term) around two George Bowering titles. Now, they’ve split into two: on the one side there’s Words, Words, Words by George Bowering (New Star Books), flanked by Love at Last Sight by Thea Bowering (NeWest Press), The Martyrology by bpNichol (Coach House Books) and Mirror on the Floor by George Bowering (Anvil Press). On the other, The Diamond Alphabet by Bowering again (BookThug), is in a diamond arrangement with What's the Score? by David McFadden (Mansfield Press), North of California St. by George Stanley (New Star Books) and Love and Tribal Baseball by Susan Andrews Grace (Buschek Books).

This multi-author, multi-publisher routine, a spiderweb of George Bowering’s works, themes, and friends, has taken the win through sheer force of team members (in fact, maybe someone should have checked the rulebook on that one). But, we think all these pairings are worthy of the Pan Lit Synchro field. If you want to check out the rest of our events, you can do so here.


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