Reading at the Ottawa Jail Hostel Sun May 26

I’ll be reading in Ottawa as a guest of the Order of the Dusty Owl on Sunday May 26th. Here’s the press release.


Michelle Butler Hallett will read in Ottawa on Sunday, May 26, as part of The Order of the Dusty Owl Reading Series, at the Mugshots Courtyard, Ottawa Jail Hostel. She’s joined by Ottawa classical musician Matthew Larkin.

Michelle Butler Hallett is known across Canada for inventive, challenging, and morally engaged literary fiction. Her story collection The shadow side of grace (2006) earned a very favourable review in The Globe and Mail. Her first novel, Double-blind (2007), narrated by an American psychiatrist working under MK-Ultra protocol, was shortlisted for the 2008 Sunburst Award. The jury remarked: “Sanity, madness, torture in the name of science—Double-blind is wonderfully original while chillingly based in history. It really shook us up. Through the chronically self-deceived mind of the narrator, the novel delves into profound questions of ethics in a morally ambiguous world, and comes up with tragically ironic answers. The writing is incredibly layered, with metaphor and symbol perfectly balanced against the hard neutrality of scientific language.” Sky Waves (2008), set in Newfoundland against the development of radio, saw Butler Hallett melding form with themes, telling the novel’s stories in 98 non-linear but intricately connected short chapters like a row of mesh in a fishing net – a worked net, and a network. Amanda Tripp in The Maple Tree Literary Supplement called the novel “a dynamic and shape-shifting work that redefines the project of storytelling, which complicates oral/aural tradition.” In 2011, Butler Hallett published deluded your sailors, a novel which Jonathan Ball in The Winnipeg Review calls “ambitious and fierce,” noting its challenges to accepted ideas of what Canlit is: “It seems curious that Canadian literature has suffered this book to live.” Daniel Cameron in Event called deluded your sailors a “genre-hopping behemoth” that shows “imaginative breadth and stylistic inventiveness.” With two different yet deeply related story timelines, deluded your sailors wrestles with questions of history, identity, and healing. Cameron concludes that “Butler Hallett deserves credit for her immense vision. The novel’s form may be challenging because its underlying questions are formidable: How much of who we are is defined by our collective past? What if that past is a lie, a forgery? What solace can be found in sailing the shifting seas of memory?”

Michelle Butler Hallett lives in St. John’s.

The Order of the Dusty Owl Reading Series gets underway at 3:00pm, and admission is free.


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