Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Favourite images from favourite novels

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Imagery is essential to fiction. My favourite images are the ones that begin simply then grow and expand and press themselves out to the point, often, of magic realism. Infused in these images is the essential premise of the story, the core value of a character or the key to the world in which the story occurs. And through these images, the reader (or audience) can reach a level of understand which cannot be articulated in any other way.

These are a few of my favourite images from some of my favourite novels:

In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje: Worker Nicholas Temelcoff diving into mid-air from the Bloor Street Viaduct like a prehistoric creature.

Fall on your Knees by Anne Marie MacDonald: Young Francis walking out into the night with new born twins under her arms then baptizing them in the river.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: A barrel of wine tumbling over and spilling onto the pavement – people flock to the flowing wine and try to drink it or cup it into buckets; some lap it off the pavement like dogs. The resemble a pack of animals after a kill.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: Mrs. Havisham.

Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King: A First Nations painter moves into an abandoned church in the prairies and paints the outside of the church in blues and yellows to camouflage it in the landscape. His so effectively disappears the church, people walk into it before they see it.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marques: Rebeca compulsively eating soil.

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill: A captive on a slave boat throws her newborn overboard.

I'll think of more the moment I publish this.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Erin Shields

Erin Shields is a playwright and actor who most recently won the Governor General's Award for her play If We Were Birds (Playwrights Canada Press). She is a founding member of Groundwater Productions through which she creates, develops and produces much of her work.

Go to Erin Shields’s Author Page