On Tuesday, November 30, 2010 I attended a book reading of Colleen Sydor's new book for young adults: The McGillicuddy Book of Personal Records at McNally Robinson in Grant Park.
The reading took place in the Prairie Ink restaurant. The crowd was mostly older people, and a large portion seemed to know Sydor personally.
This is the first novel Sydor has ever written. She described how the story had become the boss of the book in her process of writing it. She also described the eerie feeling that she got when she wrote the book that she had written it before in a past life. She felt like she was more remembering the story than making it up. This experience confirmed her belief in reincarnation as she feels she writes this same story every lifetime. "It might be up there with War and Peace," one lifetime said Sydor.
Sydor was dressed in head to toe black as she dedicated the reading to all the dogs the people in the audience had.
The main character of Sydor's new book, Lee is a 13-year-old boy who tries to set personal records. He also collects personal quotes. He tries to set personal records because he is waiting for something to be good at.
My favourite scene Sydor read was when Ronda, a young girl in the book, is trapped at the bottom of a well and Lee is trying to pull her up by a rope. The interesting thing was the Lee was describing a scene from Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." The clear connection between the current scene in the book, Lee holding a rope, and the old man holding a rope with a large fish on the end in Hemingway's novel. I think it is a clever spot in the story and introduces the element of allegory to young adults, the intended audience for the book.
I also enjoyed the fact that she started and ended each chapter in the book with quotes from E.E. Cummings, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sue Murphy, and Robert Frost.
My favourite quote was "You can't win 'em all" which was very true for one of the sections of the book she read and so true in life.