Hello dear readers, writers and those who are both,
Oscar Invites You to a Conversation
I began writing Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas while in London in 2007. In late 2012, I created Oscar’s Salon — a new interactive publishing form I find provocative, even magical. Every month, I invite a guest writer or artist to dialogue with or bounce off of my excerpt. You, the readers, have also become a vital part of this exchange through your online comments.
On March 14, 2017, Oscar’s Salon finale features a behind-the-scenes look at my great Oscar Team that enabled me to produce and promote the monthly Salon. Below is the full list of 50 Guest Writers and Artists and 41 Featured Readers from December 2012 – March 2017.
I am particularly eager to hear from those of you who have read both Oscars. How is your experience of each similar? Different?
I am always intrigued to read your thoughts.
We—myself along with the guest writers and artists—are all ears! Tell us about your experiences of, and thoughts about, “the Oscars” ( the digital salon Oscar and/or the book Oscar) in the comment box that follows the Featured Reader.
-Betsy ala Oscar
50 Guest Writers and Guest Artists
Click on their name to reach the Oscar post that contains their work.
41 Featured Readers
Click on their name to reach the Oscar post that contains their work.
Latest Excerpts from the book, Oscar of Between
Librairie Le Port de tête on Mont-Royal: Carla Harryman reading from her new book Adorno’s Noise, Gail Scott presiding. When Carla reads from final section, “Headless Heads,” Oscar reverberates, shifts in folding chair, spreads her knees apart to rest her forearms on tops of her thighs and looks down at the old pine floor. Carla’s piece riffing off everything from Max Ernst’s La femmes 100 têtes! to Blake’s “The Ghost of a Flea” to Richter’s painting “Betty” (his daughter the model for adult head on butcher’s paper).
The paper is coarse and browned with time. She reads the first page, a Short Biography. The sentence “Recurring bouts of madness plagued both her childhood and married life and in April 1941 Virginia Woolf took her life” startles Oscar with its confident use of the term “madness.”
2003. Shock. Press Gang (a major feminist publisher) bankrupt. Rita and Oscar organize the Press Gang Authors Benefit Reading.
The Western Front is packed.
Below, the sidewalk is filled with those who couldn’t get in but refuse to leave. After each set, the authors go down and give their readings again.
During the intermission, several younger feminist writers seek Oscar out and ask, “This is amazing! Why doesn’t this happen more often?”
It was imminent. How imminent Oscar couldn’t tell. What to do? Drive around the island yelling out the window: “Watch out! A woman is going to be murdered”?
No one would take her seriously. Oscar could scarcely take herself seriously. It persisted: it was going to happen. There was nothing she could do to prevent it.
Sharon had sought out Oscar as an editorial consultant for her increasingly unconventional scholarly writing not long before she was diagnosed. Two of Sharon’s central concerns were traumatic ignorance and memorialization of violent deaths.
Oscar, preparing for the conference, fails (once again) to turn down the volume before the CBC’s top story begins: Seventy-two people have been shot while attending the new Batman movie…
Recently back from Berlin, Oscar commenting to Rahat that strategies of camouflage promote forgetting. And although she had no direct connection to WWII, it seems to be in Oscar’s DNA, and she’d wanted to go to Berlin for years; needed to draw closer to its reality.
(has been known to wear coloured contacts)
(May 29, 2014 family has made another plea
“She was the life of our family…
we’re never going to give up.”)
For blocks and blocks they are everywhere. All are duplicates except one that only appears once. Her thirteen-year old son remains thankfully oblivious.
black polo shoes
with white trim
August 18th, 2011
Oscar got it wrong, Munch’s figure not standing on a bridge but a path.
Both spaces of between with a difference between them.
It doesn’t end there. It never ends there.
Since Oscar returned home, the dismemberment murder in Montreal. Videoed and posted on the Internet. Reported to the police. The police dismissed it as fake.
We don’t want to believe it. Seldom believe it.
As they walk toward the main gate to leave, Ingrid and Oscar notice an agitated exchange between caretaker and a man while his two women companions look on. Nearing their clutch, Ingrid understands enough German to realize he’s refusing to wear a kippah. Refusing, also, to leave. Insult; assault. Continues.
Oscar is a music lover. When my web team Zsuzsi and John sent me this time zone image (see below) a while ago I was surprised, delighted, but didn't quite know what to say (was I understanding it correctly?). Recently, we had a conversation and I asked them to post it...
3 a.m. deep-sleep-sound sleep impact/shock glass-shatter-scatters across floor. Oscar bolts upright — entire body listens — entry? shouting? Just back from Berlin. Artist’s brass cobblestones embedded in sidewalks here & there in front of flats Jews pulled out of — name, birth date, abduction date, camp name, extermination date inscribed — sudden intimacy of those numbers those names that flat — taking you off guard.
Eager to sit at the top of the spiral stairs – sip her tea in sun’s caress – Oscar heads for the kitchen. Hears that the women next door are already smoking and talking on their balcony. On the fulcrum of post-Friday night & pre-Saturday night, Oscar notes how their conversation is animated with possibilities.
Pintxos. Cuisine espagnole with Nicole last night. Each pintxo an exquisite petit monde presented at a leisurely pace as our conversation stretched over three hours. Both compliment one another on “how very good you look.” Oscar, who enjoys testing gros & petit theories with Nicole now postulates how Montrealers’ lapsed Catholicism infuses their love of quotidian ritual and sensibilities.
Arc of memory leaps to just over a year ago – the phone call – one of Oscar’s students had died. Counseling had been arranged, Oscar had told her student she’d go to the next immigration lawyer appointment with her, pleaded with her, “Don’t give up. Write about it – they can’t take that away from you – don’t give them that power.” But the vortex was unrelenting. For days after the phone call, Oscar feels it in her body – the how – before police confirm it. Her student had jumped. Jumped from her eight floor balcony. No turning back.
604-681-1111. Yellow Taxi: “I’d like a cab for 9:30 at 1484 Charles Street, please.” The dispatcher replies “For Betsy?” [Oscar on their database] “Yes.” Despite the fact that Oscar is eager for her writing retreat she finds it hard to leave. Oscar could explain this to herself – it’s finally summer in Vancouver, or it’s intoxicatingly peaceful now that the construction is done – but it’s simply that she loves her home; home her closest companion.
Then there’s the gun. In its dusty, fake-alligator-hide case. She’s been in a quandary about it for years. How to get rid of a gun? There’s the practicality of the dilemma but also the emotional trigger it sets off.In the twelfth year of Oscar’s life her Aunt Lyla advised Oscar’s mother to send Oscar (perhaps a too solitary girl of the farm and woods) to the YWCA summer camp. This is when she first encountered the fierce jockeying for popularity among girls — girls from cities and large towns who had attended the camp before and who came with friends.
Oscar. Divesting. Again. In 2006 it was 700 books to the Saskatoon Public Library. One year later, it was giving, selling, and donating 60% of her belongings from her rental near Main on 22nd in order to fit into her little apartment. Two years later, it’s the emptying out her self-storage unit on Wall Street. Self-storage. Commonplace term unheard of a few decades ago.
March 2009. Sunlight on sheet of writing paper reminiscent of Montreal but different. Here – being Vancouver – it being morning sun. There it was afternoon through window overlooking rue Boyer. Here, this light warm, diffuse. There, it was focused, almost blaring through glass. Oscar thinking on memory and membership. Recalling Simon McBurney startling audience at a Jewish Book Fair panel a year ago when asked how it felt to be back in London again (having just arrived from the airport).