LUNCH WITH MICHAEL ONDAATJE

 

img_2991

Last week I had lunch with Michael Ondaatje.

Lunch in a warm, comfortable  pub in Toronto’s  Cabbagetown.  House On Parliament is the kind of place where old friends linger and talk into the quiet after-noon.  Across from our table tucked into a corner sat two elegant white-haired gentlemen.  One looked very familiar.    “That’s Michael Ondaatje”, said my dining companion.   My heart skipped a beat.  Sitting just a few feet away from me was a writer who had written books so extraordinary, so evocative their imagery has become part of me.

“She had always wanted words, she loved them, grew up on them.  Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” -Michael Ondaatje, THE ENGLISH PATIENT.

Set in Tuscany THE ENGLISH PATIENT is the tale of a passionate love affair during the brutal conflict of the Second World War.  It was awarded The Booker Prize.   The movie received nine Academy Awards.

Lankan-born Canadian Michael Ondaatje is a poet, novelist, filmmaker, editor.  He is five times winner of the Governor General’s Award, The Giller Prize, The Booker Prize, the Prix Médicis étranger.  He is an office of the Order of Canada, making him one of Canada’s most celebrated living author.

“He came to this country like a torch on fire and swallowed air as he walked forward and he gave out light.” -Michael Ondaatje, IN THE SKIN OF A LION.

In l989 I was riding the ferry to Salt Spring Island.  Desperate for something to read I searched the book store shelves for a novel to fill the hours of travel.  IN THE SKIN OF A LION – the title intrigued me.   A love story and a mystery set in the turbulent 20’s and 30’s in Toronto.  I began to read and  left behind the boat passengers, the flapping sea birds.  I was IN THE SKIN OF A LION.

I passed by his table as we left the pub.  I stopped and quietly said “Thank You”.  He smiled and replied “Your welcome”.

On my bookshelves a few of the novels  by Michael Ondaatje – The Cat’s table,  In the Skin of a Lion,  Anil’s Ghost,  Divisadero,  Running in the Family,  The Collected works of Billy the Kid,  Coming Through the Slaughter.  And …

“If I were a cinnamon peeler

I would ride your bed

and leave the yellow bark dust

on your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek.

You could never walk through the market

without the profession of my fingers

floating over you.  The blind

would stumble certain of whom

they approached

though you may bathe

under rain gutters, monsoons.”

– Michael Ondaatje THE CINNAMON PEELER

 

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “LUNCH WITH MICHAEL ONDAATJE

  1. How exciting to see a favorite author so close and enjoying the same pub as you! I loved reading “The English Patient” (better than the movie!) but have not read any other of his novels. Will have to check them out. I could not have passed without saying something either. A “thank you” was enough!

    • Jo Nell dear girl pick up IN THE SKIN OF A LION. It is the book that started my love for M. Ondaatje’s writing. I would have loved to have taken a university class from him. He was teaching at York University in Toronto when that book was published. XX Virginia

  2. How wonderful! Sounds like you had a good time in Toronto! I was, of course, enjoying the company of my niece (her birthday & Hallow’een) and family in Winnipeg. One very interesting situation was that I was reunited with a childhood friend that I haven’t seen since I was 11.
    I would have liked to have met you. Cabbagetown is a very neat area of this city!
    I really like this post! xoxo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s