(Joan Burgess photo provided by author)
A book tour can be a discombobulating experience at the best of times. But coming home to promote a frank memoir can take the absurdity to another level. Consider my stop in Winnipeg on the Who Killed Mom? tour. Publisher Greystone/Douglas & McIntyre put me up in the grand old Fort Garry Hotel. I'd stayed there once before--sort of. Once after a night of drunken rambling with teenage hoodlum pals, we sneaked into a ballroom at the Fort Garry and crashed on a stage. To my relief there was no 35-year-old bill awaiting me at the check-in.
While Who Killed Mom? is primarily a story of my late mother, it is also a personal memoir of my delinquent youth (hence the stress-related shortening of Mom's years). Thus my return to Manitoba for the book tour has had some moments of dissonance. One day in my hometown of Brandon started with an interview at CKLQ Radio--a station where I'd once been fired for drinking on the job. From there I went to speak at Brandon University, a place I had left decades before with a meagre handful of credits, earned in between booze-ups.
Not all of the memories were of the embarrassing variety though. When I arrived at BU to address a room full of people--many of them family friends for whom the book's stories would be augmented by cherished personal reminiscences of my mother--I was startled to realize I recognized the place. It had been in this same room two years earlier that we had gathered after my mother's funeral. Mom had always wanted a nice wine-and-cheese get together for her friends and loved ones, and the little party had been held right here. Now here I was again, talking once more about that remarkable woman, my mother, Joan Burgess. Couldn't be more perfect.
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