Transcript: Katherine Govier | Jan 14, 1997

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and a guest sitting in a filming studio: “Katherine Govier. Writer.”

The set is dark, with black walls and a wooden ladder.

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a black suit, gray checkered shirt, and brick-red tie.

He says WELCOME TO DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
I'M NORMALLY NOT A FAN OF
LISTS, BUT I CAME ACROSS
ONE THAT I LIKED.
AND IT REFERRED TO THE
THREE BIG WOMEN OF
CANADIAN LITERATURE:
MARGARET ATWOOD, ALICE
MUNRO, AND THE LADY YOU ARE
ABOUT TO MEET.
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH KATHERINE GOVIER.

Katherine is in her late forties, with wavy blond hair in a bob. She’s wearing a patterned red velvet blazer over a dark gray shirt.

Richard continues KATHERINE, WELCOME
TO DIALOGUE.

Katherine says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Richard says I WAS READING YOUR LATEST
BOOK,
ANGEL WALK,
AND MY WIFE SAW ME DOGGEDLY
STAYING WITH IT, AND READING
IT IN ODD FRAGMENTS ON THE
STREETCAR, AND IN BED
AT NIGHT, AND IN THE
MORNING WHEN I WOKE UP.
AND SHE FINALLY SAID,
I HAVE TO ASK YOU,
WHAT IS THIS BOOK ABOUT?
AND I PAUSED BECAUSE IT'S
ABOUT MANY THINGS WE'LL TALK
ABOUT SHORTLY, BUT I SAID,
I THINK IT'S ABOUT AN
EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN, AS
THE LEADING CHARACTER.
WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT?

Katherine says YES, YEAH.
IT'S ABOUT CORINE DITCHBURN.
SHE
IS
THE BOOK.
HER LIFE IS THE BOOK.
AND WE CAN DESCRIBE IT AS
BEING A NOVEL ABOUT WAR,
A NOVEL ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY, A
NOVEL ABOUT HISTORY, A NOVEL
ABOUT SONS AND
MOTHERS, OR WHATEVER,
BUT SHE DOMINATES THE BOOK.
SHE STRIDES THROUGH THE BOOK.
IT'S HER LIFE IN HER LENS
THAT WE ARE LOOKING AT.

Richard says WHAT I'M CURIOUS IS
SUCH A COMPLEX, COMPLETE,
ALL-CONSUMING CHARACTER IS
THIS CANADIAN WOMAN WHO MAKES
A CAREER AS A PHOTOGRAPHER,
ESPECIALLY AS A WAR
PHOTOGRAPHER IN WORLD WAR II,
AND HAS SO MANY LAYERS,
AS WE SAID.
LAYERS OF PARENTHOOD AND
ABANDONMENT, AND LOVE AND LUST
AND EVERYTHING.
WHERE DOES SHE
START IN YOUR BRAIN?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Katherine Govier. Writer."

Katherine says SHE STARTED IN MY BRAIN, I
CAN ALMOST TELL YOU THE DAY
AND THE DATE.
I WAS IN GEORGIAN
BAY FOR THE SUMMER,
AFTER HAVING SPENT
A YEAR IN ENGLAND.
AND I WAS MOURNING, IN A WAY,
THE FACT I WASN'T LIVING IN
LONDON IN THE CENTRE OF
CULTURE AND SOPHISTICATION
AND THEATRE AND
LITERATURE, AND SO ON.
BUT I WAS KNOWING THAT WHAT
WE HAVE, INSTEAD, IS THIS
INCREDIBLE ROCK, YOU KNOW?
THE WILDERNESS, THE NEWNESS,
THE NOT HAVING BEEN WRITTEN ON.
SO I SAW THESE TWO POLES.
AND I THOUGHT, WHAT A FABULOUS
LIFE, REALLY, TO BE ABLE TO
ALTERNATE BETWEEN
THESE TWO POLES.
AND AS I WAS THINKING THAT,
UP IN MY MIND IN A CANOE
PADDLED THIS WOMAN.
YOU KNOW?
SHE REALLY JUST CAME UP.
AND I COULD SEE HER IN HER
CANOE WITH HER CAMERA.
SHE WAS OUT THERE TAKING
PICTURES OF EVERYTHING WHEN THE
WATER IS SO STILL, SO YOU
CAN SEE THE TWO HALVES,
THE REFLECTIONS IN
THE WATER AND ABOVE.
AND I VERY QUICKLY
REALIZED WHO SHE COULD BE.
SHE COULD BE ALMOST A
MEMBER OF MY FAMILY.
SHE WAS BORN UP THERE IN THE
EARLY PART OF THE CENTURY.
MY GREAT GRANDPARENTS
HOMESTEADED AROUND NOBEL,
ONTARIO, AND MY GRANDFATHER
LIVED IN PARRY SOUND,
ULTIMATELY LEFT IT, BUT
I KNOW THOSE PEOPLE.
SHE WAS A METHODIST,
PROTESTANT, SORT OF FIERCE,
DETERMINED, INDEPENDENT
PERFECTIONIST WOMAN WITH A
DIFFERENCE, WITH A NEED TO
BREAK OUT OF THAT AND SORT OF
SEE THE REST OF THE WORLD.
SO THERE SHE WAS,
SHE JUST BECAME.
AND FOR YEARS, I TALKED ABOUT
CORINE DITCHBURN THIS, AND
CORINE DITCHBURN THAT, AND
PEOPLE WOULD ALWAYS ASK ME,
WELL, IS THERE A REAL
CORINE DITCHBURN?
WELL, NO.
EXCEPT HERE.

Richard says THERE FOR TIMES WHEN I WAS
READING THE BOOK I ACTUALLY
THOUGHT, MAYBE THIS IS A
HISTORICAL CHARACTER BECAUSE
THERE ARE REAL CHARACTERS,
WE'LL TALK ABOUT, AND REAL
EVENTS THAT HAPPEN.
BUT YOU SAW THIS PHOTOGRAPHER.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO PLACE
THE BOOK CHRONOLOGICALLY WHERE
IT WAS, WHICH IS, YOU KNOW,
FROM THE 1920s TO ROUGHLY THE
PRESENT DAY?
AND THE BULK OF IT HAPPENING
IN JUST THE BEGINNING AND
JUST END OF THE
SECOND WORLD WAR?

Katherine says I DECIDED THAT BECAUSE I
KNEW SHE WAS AN OLD WOMAN.
I WAS DEALING WITH AN OLD
WOMAN AND HER MEMORIES.
AND, OF COURSE, ANYONE WHO'S
LIVED THROUGH THIS CENTURY,
HAVING BEEN BORN ROUGHLY NEAR
THE MIDDLE OF IT, OR THE
MIDDLE OF, SAY, THE SECOND
DECADE, AND HAS LIVED TO NOW,
THE CENTRAL EVENT IN THEIR
LIFE WAS THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
TOO, I WANTED TO KNOW MORE
ABOUT THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
I FEEL AS THIS CENTURY IS
FOLDING ITS TENTS, AS I'VE
SAID BEFORE, THAT WE ARE
LOOKING BACK TO TRY TO
UNDERSTAND WHERE IT WAS.
I WAS BORN AFTER THE WAR.
MY PARENTS DIDN'T
FIGHT IN THE WAR.
BUT EVEN ME, IN MY LITTLE
BEDROOM THERE IN EDMONTON,
ALBERTA, IN THE '50s, I WOULD
LIE ON MY BACK AS I SAW THE
BEAMS OF LIGHT GO OVER ON
THE CEILINGS FROM THE CARS,
I WOULD THINK, IT'S THE
GERMANS, THEY'RE MARCHING,
AND THE STREET LIGHTS ARE
FLICKERING OFF THEIR HELMETS.
YOU KNOW?
IT WAS AS IF THIS WAR HAD
HAPPENED BEFORE MY TIME.
IT PERMEATED
EVERYTHING WE DID.
THE WAY OUR FAMILIES LIVED,
THE STYLES OF DRESS, ALL THE
ADULTS HAD THESE SECRET
UNKNOWN LIVES DEALING WITH
WAR, WHICH THEY
HADN'T TOLD US.

Richard says SOMEONE SAYS, I THINK IT'S
TYKE, THE YOUNG MAN, WHEN HIS
MOTHER FINALLY RETURNS, AND HE
EMBRACES HER, AND SHE STARTS
TO WEEP SO MUCH BECAUSE THE
MOMENT WHERE HE GOES TO JUMP
UP AND THROW HIMSELF AROUND
HER AND SUSPEND HIMSELF
REMINDS HER OF DEAD SOLDIERS.
AND SHE STARTS TO WEEP, AND HE
STAYS VERY STILL BECAUSE AS
HE SAID, HE KNOWS NO ONE
COMES BACK FROM THE WAR WHOLE.
THAT'S WHAT THE WHOLE
GENERATION HAS TO DEAL WITH.

Katherine says AND I DON'T THINK THEY DID.
EVEN THE ONES WHO DID COME
BACK WHOLE DIDN'T REALLY COME
BACK WHOLE, IF THEY
APPEARED TO BE WHOLE.
THEY WERE RIVETED AND RIVEN
WITH HORRID MEMORIES AND,
YOU KNOW, DAMAGE TO THEIR
SOUL, REALLY, IN A SENSE,
WHICH I THINK WAS UNSHAREABLE.

Richard says NOW, WHAT'S INTERESTING ABOUT
THE BOOK, MANY THINGS ARE,
BUT IS THE WAY YOU CHOSE TO
STRUCTURE IT, WHICH IS, AT
THIS LATE POINT IN HER LIFE
AND, FINALLY, THE GREAT SHOW IS
BEING DONE OF HER PHOTOGRAPHS.
SOME OF THEM BEING RELEASED
FOR THE FIRST TIME.
AND HER SON, WHO IS NICKNAMED
TYKE, AND REMAINS TYKE,
ALTHOUGH IT'S CHRISTOPHER,
I BELIEVE, RIGHT?

Katherine says RIGHT.

Richard says IS PUTTING TOGETHER THE
COLLECTION AND TALKING TO HER
ABOUT IT.
AND MANY OF THE CHAPTERS BEGIN
WITH A DESCRIPTION OF THE
PHOTO THAT YOU'LL SEE.
BLACK AND WHITE, 1946, THIS
AND THAT, AND THEN THE COPY
THAT WILL BE WRITTEN
ABOUT IT UNDERNEATH.
BUT WE NEVER SEE THE PHOTOS.
AND IT'S KIND OF A REAL -- OF
COURSE WE CAN'T BECAUSE THEY
ARE IMAGINARY, BUT THAT'S A
REAL DARING THING TO BEGIN
BY LISTING PHOTOS
WE NEVER SEE.
WHAT MADE YOU DO THAT?

Katherine says WELL, THE NOVEL IS, IT
REALLY IS A RETROSPECTIVE.
IT'S PICTURES AT AN
EXHIBITION, IN A WAY.
WE ARE WALKING THROUGH THIS
NOVEL, AND EACH PICTURE
THERE IS A FRACTION OF
A SECOND OF HER LIFE.
AND SO FROM THAT FRACTION OF
A SECTION, FROM THAT SLICE,
YOU KNOW, IT'S A WAY
FOR US TO STEP IN.
IT'S AS IF WE STEPPED THROUGH
THE PICTURE INTO THAT EVENT.
I JUST HAD THE IDEA
THAT WAS A WAY TO PUT
THE NOVEL TOGETHER.
THAT WOULD BE HOW SHE
WOULD SEE HER LIFE.
YOU KNOW, MEMORY IS
SO FRAGILE, IN A WAY,
AND IT'S SO OVERTAKEN.
EVEN HER MEMORIES OF WHERE SHE
WAS NOW HAVE BEEN SOMEWHAT
OVERTAKEN BY THE PHOTOGRAPH
SHE BROUGHT BACK.

Richard says RIGHT.

Katherine says OF THAT MOMENT.
SO HERE IS HER LIFE, A SERIES
OF PHOTOGRAPHS, AND THAT'S
WHY I HUNG IT THAT WAY.
I HUNG THE NOVEL, AS
IF IT WERE AN ART SHOW.

Richard says WHAT ALSO HAPPENS THAT IS
GREAT IS SOME CHAPTERS BEGIN
WITH A PICTURE THAT SETS THE
SCENE, LIKE HERE YOU ARE IN
THIS LOCATION, AND IT'S
A PORTRAIT OF SO AND SO,
AND IT TAKES YOU
INTO THE CHAPTER.
BUT THERE'S OTHERS, FOR
EXAMPLE, WHEN REG, THE WAR
CORRESPONDENT, IS SHOT BY A
SNIPER AND KNOCKED OUT OF
ACTION, AND SHE HAS A PHOTO
THAT CATCHES THE MOMENT
OF HIM BEING SHOT.
THE CHAPTER BEGINS WITH THAT
PICTURE AND THE DESCRIPTION
OF IT, BUT HE DOESN'T GET SHOT
'TIL LATER IN THE CHAPTER,
AND YOU ARE THERE WAITING
FOR HIM TO BE SHOT.
AND A GREAT TENSION OCCURS.
AND YOU THINK, YOU KNOW,
SOMETIMES YOU PULL US IN,
AND SOMETIMES YOU TAKE US OUT.
ARE YOU DELIBERATELY
DOING THIS?

Katherine says WELL, WE HAD A LOT OF FUN
PLAYING WITH WHERE THE
PHOTOGRAPHS WOULD
GO, YOU KNOW?
YES, IT'S DELIBERATE, IN A
SENSE, THAT YOU KNOW THAT HAS
HAPPENED, SO YOU WAIT FOR IT.

Richard says RIGHT.

Katherine says BUT YOU DON'T WANT TO
GIVE EVERYTHING AWAY.
SO AT SOME POINTS, YOU CAN'T
KNOW THAT HAS HAPPENED ALREADY.
YOU HAVE A PICTURE WHICH IS
MORE BEHIND WHAT IT DESCRIBES,
OR RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE
OF WHAT IT DESCRIBES.
IT BECAME A KIND OF
EXTRA LAYER OF SUSPENSE,
IF YOU WOULD LIKE.

Richard says RIGHT.
IT'S LIKE HITCHCOCK ONCE SAID,
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SURPRISE
AND SUSPENSE IS SURPRISE IS
PEOPLE ARE SITTING AROUND A
TABLE AND A BOMB
EXPLODES AND KILLS THEM.
SUSPENSE IS YOU BEGIN WITH A
SHOT OF THE BOMB UNDER THE
TABLE, AND WAIT
FOR IT TO GO OFF.
SO YOU DID BOTH WITH THIS.
I'M MAKING IT SOUND LIKE IS
A WAR BOOK, AND IT ISN'T.
I MEAN, A LOT OF
IT TAKES PLACE THERE.
BUT I'D SAY, EVEN MORE THAN A
WAR STORY, IT'S A LOVE STORY.

Katherine says I WOULD AGREE WITH YOU.

Richard says AND CORY HAS THE MOST BIZARRE
AFFAIR, I HAVE TO TELL YOU,
IT'S VERY BIZARRE, WITH
A MAN NAMED ALBERT BLOOM.
I THINK HE CALLS HIMSELF THE
RAG AND BONES MAN OF THE
BRITISH ARTS WORLD.
AND HE'S KIND OF SOMEBODY
ALMOST THAT'S STEPPED OUT
OF THE HORSE'S MOUTH.
YOU KNOW, HE'S AN ALCOHOLIC,
AND HE'S IRRESPONSIBLE,
AND HE'S KIND OF
A VERY SAVAGE PAINTER.
AND THEY DRIFT TOGETHER.
AND HE'S MARRIED, AND HIS
WIFE IS PRESENT ALL THE TIME.
AGAIN, I'M VERY CURIOUS WHERE
SUCH A TRULY ODD, UNIQUE
CHARACTER, CAME FROM?

Katherine says WELL, ALBERT, I THINK
IF THERE'S ANYONE...
WELL, ALBERT IS JUST
THE ARTIST, TO ME.
MAYBE A LITTLE BIT LIKE THE
BRITISH ARTIST WALTER SICKERT
WHO WAS RATHER A SAVAGE
CHARACTER, AND WHO HAD THE
SAME TENDENCY OF PAINTING
WOMEN IN RUEFUL POSES,
PRESUMABLY AFTER SEXUAL
CONGRESS HAD TAKEN PLACE.
HE CAME INTO CORY'S
LIFE AS A MENTOR.
I MEAN, SHE CAME FROM
THIS VERY STRICT AND
UNSOPHISTICATED PART OF THE
WORLD, IN PARRY SOUND, BECAUSE
SHE HAD ARTISTIC DESIRE, AND
HER GREAT AUNT KNEW THAT.
HER GREAT AUNT SORT OF PUT
HER TOGETHER WITH PEOPLE WHO
MIGHT TEACH HER SOMETHING.
ALBERT AND HIS WIFE, IN FACT,
BOTH HIS WIFE, OPENED CORY'S
EYES TO THE NOTION PEOPLE
LIVED THEIR LIVES AS ARTISTS.
SOMETHING IN HER FAMILY
WOULD HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED
A COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME,
A FRAUD, LETTING DOWN
THE SIDE, WHATEVER.
THEY ACTUALLY SAT IN PUBS AND
TALKED ABOUT ART AND SO ON.
SO FOR HER, SHE WAS WILLING
TO ALMOST GIVE UP ANYTHING
TO JOIN THAT CROWD.
IT WAS ALMOST AS IF ALBERT AND
LIZ BECAME PARENTS, IN A WAY,
TO CORY.
BUT THEN, SHE FELL
IN LOVE WITH ALBERT.
THEY SPOKE TO ONE ANOTHER.
ALTHOUGH THEY WERE
VERY DIFFERENT.
HE WAS FROM THE OLD WORLD.
HE WAS CONNECTED
TO THE OLD MASTERS.
PAINTING, HIS ART FORM,
PAINTING, WAS THE HIGHEST ART.
HER ART FORM, PHOTOGRAPHY,
WAS BRAND NEW.
AND AT THAT POINT,
PHOTOGRAPHERS WERE REALLY
BASICALLY CONSIDERED,
CERTAINLY BY PAINTERS,
AS ASSISTANTS.
SOMEONE WHO WENT OUT
AND DID THE LEG WORK.
GET ME A SNAP OF THAT,
THEN I'LL PAINT IT.
AND SHE WAS FROM
THE NEW WORLD.
SO SHE HAD ALL THIS TO BUILD,
AND HE HAD ALL THIS TO GIVE.
AND THOUGH IT WAS, AS YOU SAY,
SAVAGE, IT'S USUALLY SAVAGE
IN A MENTOR RELATION
WHEN THE MENTEE SUCCEEDS.

Richard says IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE ONE
LINE I JOTTED DOWN FROM THE
BOOK IS SHE SAID SHE HAD BEEN
ENLARGED BY HIS ADORATION,
AND SHE HAD BEEN DIMINISHED
BY HIS JUDGMENT.

Katherine says YEAH.

Richard says HE LOVED HER A GREAT DEAL.
HE WANTED A LOT FOR HER, BUT
HE IS SO RUTHLESS WITH HER.
TIME AND TIME AGAIN IN THE
BOOK, HE KEEPS COMING BACK
AND CUTTING HER DOWN,
CUTTING HER TO THE QUICK.
AND BY THE TIME IT HAPPENS,
THE THIRD OR FOURTH TIME,
WE, THE READERS, DON'T KNOW
WHETHER HE'S DOING IT FOR HER
OWN GOOD, OR OUT OF JEALOUSY,
OR OUT OF SAVAGERY, OR FOR WHAT?
AND YET THEY HAD BEEN SO
TENDER TO EACH OTHER.

Katherine says WELL, I THINK THAT'S THE
TWO FACES OF LOVE LIKE THIS.
I THINK, FOR THE
OLDER ARTIST, IT WAS
AT THE SAME TIME AGGRANDIZING.
HE FELT WONDERFUL TO HAVE THIS
ADORING YOUNG FEMALE AROUND,
BUT IT'S VERY THREATENING.
IT WAS A THREAT.
AND HE FELT HE WAS
ON THE WAY OUT.
HE HAD BEEN A WAR ARTIST
IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR.
HE HAD BEEN TO THE FRONT.
NOW HE'S GOT TO SEE WOMEN, OF
ALL THINGS, THIS YOUNG WOMAN IS
GETTING ON A UNIFORM AND GOING
OFF TO DO WHAT MEN HAD DONE.
AND KNOWING, AS HE KNEW, THAT
HER ART WAS REALLY BECOMING,
THE SECOND WORLD WAR WAS A
PHOTOGRAPHER'S WAR, YOU KNOW?
AND IT WAS MORE AND
MORE TAKING OVER.
HE FEELS HE IS SLIDING AWAY.
SO OF COURSE IT IS
THREATENING, AND HE IS CRUEL.

Richard says IT'S WONDERFUL, OF COURSE, HE
SAVES ALL OF THE PAPERS FROM
LONDON THAT HAVE HER PICTURES
IN IT, AND HE FLINGS THEM UP
AT YOU ONE AT A TIME SAYING,
'YOU'VE MADE THIS MAN A GOD,
YOU'VE PUT A HALO AROUND
THIS MAN, THIS IS WHAT
YOU THINK OF WAR?
WAR IS TERRIBLE'?
AND SHE SAID, I THINK
IT'S TERRIBLE, TOO.
BUT THEY GO BACK AND FORTH.
NOW, AGAIN, WE'RE BACK TO WAR
AGAIN, WHICH HAPPENS IN THE
BOOK, BUT THE LOVE SECTION,
ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY
PASSAGES IN THE BOOK IS WHEN
YOU KNOW ALBERT AND CORY ARE
GOING TO FINALLY PHYSICALLY
MAKE LOVE, AFTER THEY'VE
FALLEN IN LOVE WITH EACH
OTHER, AND THEY GO OFF
ON A TRIP TO THE
LAKE DISTRICT.
AND IT KEEPS GETTING
POSTPONED, AND POSTPONED,
BY ALBERT.
I MEAN, WE'RE GOING TO WAIT
FOR THIS, WE'RE GOING
TO WAIT FOR THAT.
AND, FINALLY, THEY GO OUT AT
NIGHT, AND IN AN INCREDIBLY
SENSUAL SCENE, HE POSSESSES
HER, OUT IN THE OPEN AT NIGHT.
AND IT'S TAKEN A GREAT WHILE
TO GET THERE, AND WHEN IT
HAPPENS, FOR ONCE YOU FEEL
IT IS THE SHATTERING EVENT,
AND THE THUNDERING EVENT
THAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE.
WHY DOES ALBERT GO
THROUGH THAT STRATEGY?

Katherine says HE'S A MADMAN.
HE WANTS EVERYTHING
TO BE PERFECT.
AT ONE POINT HE SAYS TO HER, I
THINK, OH, I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE
LIKE ME, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO
SETTLE FOR HALF MEASURES.
YOU WANT THE WHOLE THING.
SO THEY'VE HAD TO SET THIS UP
AND, YOU KNOW, LEAVE TOWN, AND
THEN THEY HAVE TO CLIMB THE
APPROPRIATE HILL, RIGHT TO THE
TOP OF THE HILL, AND NOT STOP
HALFWAY, AND ALL OF THAT.
HE'S A PLAYFUL MAN, WITH
A GREAT SENSE OF DRAMA.
GREAT SENSE OF DRAMA.
AND SHE IS, AFTER ALL,
SOMETHING THAT HE WILL CARRY
TO HIS GRAVE, AS HE SAYS,
RIGHT FROM THE START.
PERHAPS, YOU'LL BE SOMEONE I
CARRY WITH ME TO MY GRAVE.
AND FOR EACH OTHER, DESPITE
THE TERRORS OF THAT LOVE AFFAIR,
THEY LITERALLY SPEAK TO
ONE ANOTHER UNTIL THE END
OF THEIR LIVES.

Richard says AND, OF COURSE, WHAT'S
INTERESTING, THIS IS WHERE A
NOVEL HAS AN ADVANTAGE OVER
TELEVISION AND THE MOVIES IS
THAT ESTHETICALLY
ALBERT IS FALLING APART.
I MEAN, HE'S NO GREAT PHYSICAL
SHAKES, NEVER WAS TO BEGIN WITH.
HE'S A MESS, IS DIRTY, IS
SLOPPY, IS USUALLY DRUNK,
AND CORY IS THIS
BRIGHT YOUNG ANGEL.
BUT BY THE TIME YOU FINISH
DESCRIBING IT, YOU NEVER FEEL
DISTASTE ABOUT THEM COUPLING
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THEY LOVE
EACH OTHER AND NEED
EACH OTHER SO MUCH.

Katherine says IT'S SEDUCTION BY
TALENT, IN A SENSE.
YOU CAN SEE THE POWER OF EACH
OF THEIR ARTISTIC DRIVE AND
CONNECTING AND DISAGREEING,
AND FIRING EACH OTHER.
OH, I DON'T FIND ALBERT
DISTASTEFUL AT ALL.
THINK HE'S, YOU KNOW...

Richard says I KIND OF KEPT WANTING
TO GIVE HIM A BATH,
I HAVE TO BE HONEST.

Katherine says HE WASN'T REALLY DIRTY.
HE DID HAVE A LOT OF TOBACCO.

Richard says YES, THAT WAS IT.

Katherine says AROUND ON HIS...

Richard says WHAT'S ALSO FASCINATING IS
AFTER THIS LONG EXTENDED FIRST
LOVEMAKING SEQUENCE, WHICH
TAKES FOREVER, THEY ARE
OBLIGED TO HAVE TO HAVE THEIR
AFFAIRS QUICKLY IN A STUDIO.
IN FACT, THERE'S ONE SEQUENCE,
I READ THROUGH THE PAGE, AND
I WENT, MY GOD, WHY IS THAT
SO BREATHTAKINGLY EROTIC,
AND IT TOOK THREE LINES?
AND IT'S A SCENE WHERE ALBERT
says, OH, I DON'T THINK --
I'M TOO OLD, I WON'T BE ABLE
TO TAKE CARE OF YOU ANYMORE.
AND CORY IMMEDIATELY
DEMONSTRATES HOW HE CAN.
AND IT'S LIKE, IT TAKES LESS
TIME TO READ THAN IT'S TAKING
ME TO DESCRIBE IT, AND YOU'RE
INTO THIS INCREDIBLE SEX SCENE,
AND THEN IT'S OVER.
AND FROM THERE ON, THE
SEX IS VERY IMPORTANT,
BUT IT HAPPENS LIKE THAT.
AND IT HAPPENS LIKE THAT
ALL THROUGHOUT THE BOOK.

Katherine says IT'S STOLEN MOMENTS.
THERE IS SOMETHING, OF COURSE,
VERY EXCITING ABOUT THAT.

Richard says BUT THE LOVE SCENES WITH THE
TWO OTHER YOUNGER MEN, MORE
OF HER CONTEMPORARIES THAT
CORY HAS IN THE BOOK ARE
WILDLY DIFFERENT.
IN TERMS OF, THEY LACK
THE PHYSICAL PASSION.
NOW, WAS THAT A
DELIBERATE CALL, AS WELL?

Katherine says DEFINITELY.
THEY WERE THE MEN WHO MIGHT
HAVE BEEN HER LOVERS,
WHO OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN BY
ALL NORMAL MEASUREMENT.
REG, THE LOVELY WAR
CORRESPONDENT WHO ADORED HER
FROM THE START.
BUT SHE WAS TOO
IMPATIENT FOR THAT.
SHE DID NOT WANT
TO BE LOOKED AFTER.
SHE DID NOT WANT SOMEONE
TO BE PROTECTING HER.
AND SHE HAD ALBERT
IN HER MIND.
ALBERT WITH ALL THE
RICHES HE HAD TO OFFER
OF HIS KNOWLEDGE
AND HIS ART.
AND THEN RED DEER.

Richard says SO-CALLED THE YOUNG
SOLDIER BECAUSE HE'S
FROM RED DEER, ALBERTA.

Katherine says YEAH, THE ONE WHO SHE REALLY
LOVED OUT OF COMPASSION.
THERE WAS NOTHING THAT
MEASURED UP TO IT FOR HER.
AND SIMPLY MEANS SHE WAS
NOT YOUR USUAL PERSON.

Richard says NOW, THE THIRD LEVEL THAT
GETS ADDED TO THE BOOK, WE'VE
GOT THE LOVE, AND WE'VE
GOT THE WAR, IS WITH ALBERT,
SHE HAS A CHILD, WHO WE'VE
MENTIONED SO FAR, CHRISTOPHER,
WHO THEY CALL TYKE
FOR MOST OF THE BOOK.
AND SHE GOES BACK TO
CANADA TO HAVE HIM.
AND SHE USES HIM TO GET TO
ANOTHER SEQUENCE THAT I THINK
IS ONE OF THE OTHER PIVOTAL
ONES IN THE BOOK, AND IT'S
WHERE THE TITLE COMES FROM.
I MEAN, WHEN YOU FIRST SAY TO
PEOPLE THIS BOOK IS CALLED
ANGEL WALK.
AND THEY SAY OH.
AND YOU SAY IT'S ABOUT A
PHOTOGRAPHER, AND IT DEALS
WITH WORLD WAR II.
AND THEY GO OH, AND YOU KEEP
WAITING FOR WHERE DOES THE
TITLE COME?
AND THE TITLE COMES WHEN YOU
ARE IN AN EXPLOSIVES PLANT
BACK IN CANADA, BEFORE SHE
HEADS OFF, AND SHE'S GETTING
HER TOUR OF THE PLANT, I
BELIEVE IT'S THE FIRST DAY
THERE, AND THERE'S A
BRIDGE, RIGHT, IS IT...?

Katherine says IT'S A LITTLE PATHWAY.

Richard says PATHWAY ACROSS.
AND ONE OF THE MEN SAYS --
SHE ASKS WHAT IT'S CALLED,
AND HE SAYS --

Katherine says HE SAYS THIS
IS ANGEL WALK.
THIS IS WHERE THE CART
CARRYING THE TNT, WHICH CAME
IN ON THE TRAINS, HAD TO BE
TRANSPORTED ACROSS TO THE SHEDS.

Richard says AND IT'S ANGEL WALK BECAUSE
ONE SPARK AND YOU'RE IN HEAVEN.

Katherine says AND YOU'RE IN THE ANGELS.

Richard says WHICH OF COURSE PRESAGES
AN EVENT THAT DOES HAPPEN
IN THE CAMP.
BUT SHE USES HER
SON TO GET THE JOB.
SHE BRINGS HIM ALONG
AND NURSES HIM.
BECAUSE EVERYONE IS
FIGHTING FOR THESE JOBS.
SHE NURSES HIM, AND HE
MISBEHAVES, AND THEN THERE'S
THIS ODD RELATIONSHIP WHERE
SHE HAS THE YOUNG BOY, AND
ABANDONS HIM, AND GOES BACK TO
BECOME THE WAR PHOTOGRAPHER.
AND SHE KEEPS REGRETTING IT,
AND SHE KEEPS THINKING ABOUT IT.
THERE'S A LINE SHE
says, 'SHE LEFT PEOPLE.
THAT WAS WHAT SHE DID.
IT HAD BECOME HER NAME'.
IS CORY IRRESPONSIBLE?
OR WHY DOES SHE LEAVE ALBERT
TO GO TO HAVE TYKE, LEAVE TYKE
TO GO TO THE WAR, LEAVE THE
WAR, SHE
DOES
KEEP LEAVING.

Katherine says SHE DOES LEAVE PEOPLE.
PARTLY BECAUSE SHE'S
THE ARTIST THAT SHE IS.
THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT
WHAT SUSTAINS HER.
THE ONGOING THREAD IN
HER LIFE IS HER NEED
TO BE WHERE SHE SHOULD BE,
TO TAKE THESE PHOTOGRAPHS.
SHE LEAVES THEM PHYSICALLY,
BUT SHE NEVER LEAVES THEM
IN HER HEART.
AND SHE'S EXTREMELY PASSIONATE
AND LOYAL PERSON.
TO LEAVE A CHILD IS, OF COURSE,
A HUGE TABOO FOR A WOMAN.
MANY MEN LEFT THEIR
CHILDREN TO GO TO WAR.
THIS WAS DELIBERATE
ON MY PART, IN A WAY.
LET'S NOT HAVE HER NOT HAVE
A CHILD, WHICH I WOULD BE,
I SUPPOSE, NORMAL.
BUT HAVE ONE
AND LEAVE HIM.
AND THAT'S WHY HE'S TYKE
BECAUSE HE REALLY BECOMES
EVERYBODY'S CHILD.
SHE LEAVES HIM IN THIS ISLAND
COMMUNITY IN GEORGIAN BAY,
WHERE A LOT OF NATIVES AND
NON-NATIVES LIVE TOGETHER,
AND HE JUST KIND OF... HE'S
AN ADORABLE GOLDEN BOY.
AND HE BECOMES
EVERYBODY'S CHILD.
SO HE'S TYKE.
SHE COMES BACK.
SHE LEAVES HIM FOR,
WHAT, FIVE YEARS.
THEIR RELATIONSHIP IS
NEVER REALLY THE SAME.
AND IT IS PARTLY WHAT YOU SAY,
THAT SHE HAS ALWAYS USED HIM.
SHE USED HIM TO GET HER JOB
BECAUSE HE WOULD EMBARRASS THE
MANAGERS INTO DEALING WITH HER
BECAUSE -- SHE USED HIM TO
GET PHOTOGRAPHS.
THE ONE SCENE OF THE DREAM
CATCHER, WHERE SHE SEES HIM
HAVING A NIGHTMARE.
HE'S UNDER A MOSQUITO NET, AND
HE'S STRETCHING AND PUSHING,
AND THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL SHAPE.
SO BEFORE SHE COMFORTS HIM,
SHE GETS THE PHOTOGRAPH.

Richard says SOMETHING ABOUT TYKE IS
HE IS ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO
PERPLEXES ME IN THE BOOK
BECAUSE THEY KEEP REFERRING TO
HIM AS THIS GOLDEN BOY, AND
HE'S ONE WITH NATURE, AND
CHARMING AND HANDSOME, AND
THEN WE SEE LITTLE SNAPSHOTS
OF HIM WHERE HE'S WITH A
COMMUNE FOR A WHILE IN THE LATE
'70s, BUT THEN WE MEET HIM IN
THE PRESENT DAY, AND WE'RE
GIVEN TO UNDERSTAND HE'S KIND
OF LIKE ALMOST A HOLLOW MAN.
HE'S DESCRIBED IN PHYSICALLY
NOT RIVETTING TERMS ANYMORE.
HE CERTAINLY DIDN'T GROW
TO BE A GOLDEN ADULT.

Katherine says NO.
BUT GOLDEN BOYS DON'T.

Richard says THERE'S PASSING REFERENCES
TO HIM BEING GAY.
AND THAT'S WHY HE
TURNED OUT THAT WAY.
WHAT ARE WE SAYING ABOUT WHAT
HAPPENED TO CHRISTOPHER?
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BOY?

Katherine says I DON'T THINK
HE'S A DISASTER.
I DON'T THINK HE'S SOMEONE
YOU WOULD HOLD UP AS SAYING
THIS PERSON'S TRAGEDY IS THE
FACT THAT HIS MOTHER LEFT.
HE'S A MAN WHO PERHAPS
NEVER REACHED HIS OWN
FULLEST POTENTIAL.
HE HAS STAYED WITH HIS MOTHER.
HE'S IN CHARGE OF HER PAPER.
HE IS WORKING THROUGH THE
RETROSPECTIVE WITH HER.
MOSTLY, FOR HER, IT'S
HER WISH THAT NOW, FINALLY,
HE SHOULD KNOW HER STORY.
HE'S NEVER KNOWN.
HE'S A BOY WHO GREW UP WITHOUT
A FATHER AT ALL BECAUSE ALBERT
DIDN'T ACKNOWLEDGE HIM.
BUT HE'S RATHER A
WONDERFUL FELLOW.
HE'S A KIND...
I MEAN, HE'S LEARNED TO LOVE
THIS WOMAN WHO, HE SAYS,
HE HAS ALWAYS SEEN MORE
AS A PERSON WITH A TITLE
THAN AS HIS MOTHER.
HE'S THE SON OF AN ARTIST.
HE'S THE SON OF
A FAMOUS ARTIST.
HOW BAD HAS IT BEEN FOR HIM?
WELL, MAYBE NOT ALL THAT BAD.
HE FEELS PRIVILEGED
TO HAVE BEEN NEAR HER.
THEY HAD THEIR MAGICAL
YEARS OF SURVIVING TOGETHER
ON THE ISLAND.
HE'S CERTAINLY DIFFERENT THAN
HE WOULD HAVE BEEN HAD HE HAD
AN ORDINARY MOTHER.
BUT I DON'T REGARD
HIM AS A KIND OF --

Richard says NOT A FAILED PERSON?

Katherine says NOT AT ALL.
BUT HE IS A PERSON WHO DIDN'T
FLY OFF TO BECOME WHATEVER
HIS DREAM MIGHT HAVE BEEN.
BUT THEN NOT EVERYONE CAN.
IT SEEMS TO ME, AROUND THE ONE
PERSON WHO DOES, THERE ARE
USUALLY THE PEOPLE WHO DON'T,
WHO TAKE SECOND PLACE.

Richard says ANOTHER GREAT LINE, CORY
REALIZES, WHERE SHE SAID,
MY CHILD WAS A WEIGHT, YES, BUT
NONE OF US ARE LIGHTER THAN AIR.
WE'RE ALL CARRYING
BAGGAGE WITH US.

Katherine says RIGHT.
AND THAT WAS HER WEIGHT.
WHAT SHE WANTED, HER RAGE
AFTER HAVING TYKE WAS SHE FELT
SHE WAS OUT OF THE WORLD.

Richard says RIGHT.

Katherine says SHE WAS STUCK WITH THIS BABY.
HE HAD HIS SCHEDULES.
THE WAR WAS GOING ON
OVER THERE IN EUROPE.
SHE WANTED TO GET THERE.
SHE WANTED TO SEE IT.
SHE WANTED TO SEE ALBERT.
AND GETTING THE JOB IN THE
AMMUNITIONS FACTORY WAS SORT
OF A WAY BACK INTO THE WORLD.
SHE NEEDED TO BE IN THE WORLD.

Richard says SHE SAYS AT ONE POINT SHE
THOUGHT SHE COULD WATCH THE
WAR FROM THE SIDELINES,
BUT SHE CAME TO REALIZE
THERE WERE NO SIDELINES.

Katherine says THERE WERE NO SIDELINES.

Richard says THE OTHER LEVEL OF THE BOOK,
WE'VE GONE THROUGH THE WAR
AND THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER, AND
THE LOVE, AND THIS IS A FUN
ONE, BUT A TRICKY ONE TO
TALK TO YOU ABOUT, IS THE
CHARACTER OF LORD
BEAVERBROOK APPEARS.

Katherine says YES.

Richard says AND THE REASON IT'S TRICKY
IS HE'S PRESENTED IN TWO
SIDES, AS A DUPLICITOUS
BUT CHARMING BUT AWFUL BUT
WONDERFUL PERSON, BUT HE
KEEPS CALLING JOURNALISM
THE BLACK ART.
NOW, AS SOMEBODY WHO IS
MARRIED TO THE PUBLISHER OF
THE TORONTO STAR, HOW
DO YOU CALL JOURNALISM
THE BLACK ART?

Katherine says I DON'T CALL JOURNALISM
THE BLACK ART.
LORD BEAVERBROOK DOES.
AND LORD BEAVERBROOK DID.

Richard says RIGHT.
DO YOU THINK IT
IS A BLACK ART?

Katherine says DO I THINK IT'S A BLACK ART?
I KNOW WHAT HE
WAS TALKING ABOUT.
I KNOW THE SENSE THAT HE'S
TALKING ABOUT OF IT BEING A
KIND OF BLACK MAGIC.
IT GIVES THE
PRACTITIONERS A MAGIC.
OR PEOPLE SEE THEM
AS HAVING MAGIC.
THE POWER THAT'S INVOLVED IN
IT OF CREATING, OR SEEMING TO
CREATE STARS, CREATING LIVES
FOR PEOPLE, MAKING EVENTS
HAPPEN THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN.
MAKING EVENTS THAT DID HAPPEN
NOT HAPPEN BECAUSE THEY DON'T
GET REFLECTED IN THE MEDIA.
AND BEAVERBROOK WAS SOMEONE
WHO PLAYED THOSE CARDS TO THE
HILT, PARTICULARLY BEFORE
THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
BY THE TIME CORY GOT BACK
INTO THE WAR, HE WAS REALLY
A HAS-BEEN ON THAT FRONT.

Richard says HE KEEPS INVITING
PEOPLE OUT TO HIS ESTATE,
AND THEY WATCH
DESTRY RIDES
AGAIN,
OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Katherine says HE WATCHED
DESTRY
RIDES AGAIN.
THAT'S TRUE, BY THE WAY.
I READ A LOT ABOUT
BEAVERBROOK, AND YES, AS A
NEWSPAPER PUBLISHER, HE WAS A
TRICKSTER, AND HE WAS OFTEN
BLAMED FOR DESTROYING
PEOPLE'S LIVES.
AGAIN, IT'S PART
OF THIS BLACK ART.
YOU SEE, HE DIDN'T
DESTROY ANYONE'S LIFE.
PEOPLE WOULD BE ATTRACTED TO
THE MONEY OR THE WHATEVER, AND
THEY WOULD DO WHAT HE SAID,
AND THEY WOULD FALL FOR IT
AND, ULTIMATELY, IT
WOULDN'T WORK OUT.
BUT THAT WAS THEIR DECISION.
AND CORY SAW THAT RIGHT ON.
SHE DIDN'T -- WHEN THERE IS
SOMEONE WITH A LOT OF POWER
LIKE THAT, IT IS VERY TEMPTING
FOR OTHERS AROUND TO TAKE
NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR
THEIR ACTIONS, RIGHT?
CORY UNDERSTOOD THAT.

Richard says HOW COME HE'S THE ONE FAMOUS
RECOGNIZABLE CHARACTER WHO
ACTUALLY IS A MAJOR
CHARACTER IN THE BOOK.
WHY LORD BEAVERBROOK?

Katherine says I COULDN'T DO IT WITHOUT HIM.
AND I'LL TELL YOU WHY I
COULDN'T DO IT WITHOUT HIM
BECAUSE CORY HAD TO
GET INTO THE WAR.
SHE WAS A WOMAN.
SHE HAD A CAMERA.
I SEARCHED ARCHIVALLY AND
IN THE MILITARY HISTORY AND
STUFF HOW TO DO THAT.
SHE COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT BY
JOINING THE CANADIAN FORCES.
WE DID TRAIN PHOTOGRAPHERS.
THERE'S ONE ON THE
COVER OF THE BOOK.
BUT THEY WENT TO
ENGLAND AND THEY DID MOSTLY
SERVICEMEN'S TEAS.
NONE OF THEM WAS EVER
SENT INTO ACTION.
BUT BY '43, MEDIA WOMEN
WERE GETTING INTO ACTION.
SO SHE HAD TO GO
JOIN THE MEDIUM.
WHO DID SHE KNOW?
WHAT WOULD HER
CONNECTION BE IN LONDON?
IT HAD TO BE LORD BEAVERBROOK.
SO THAT'S WHY HE APPEARS.
HE WAS, IN FACT, AS AN
OWNER OF
THE DAILY EXPRESS,
ABLE TO SEND
HER OVER THERE.
AND SHE HAD A
CONNECTION WITH HIM.
HE JUST BECAME THE POINT
IN THE BOOK, PLUS, HE'S A
WONDERFUL CHARACTER.
I'M SURPRISED HE ISN'T
IN ALL KINDS OF
PEOPLE'S BOOKS, REALLY.
HE WAS A LOVER OF LIFE.
HE CONSTANTLY HAD PEOPLE
AROUND HIM INTERESTING PEOPLE,
TOLD STORIES, TRIED TO, YOU
KNOW, MANIPULATE EVENTS.

Richard says THERE'S ONE THING, WHEN YOU
GET TO ALL THIS COMPLEX STORY,
I DON'T WANT VIEWERS TO THINK
THE STORY IS HARD TO KEEP
TRACK OF BECAUSE IT'S VERY
EASY TO FOLLOW, BUT YOU HAVE
A PHOTOGRAPHER IN WAR, AND A
NEWSPAPER MAGNATE, AND LOVE
AFFAIRS AND CHILDREN AND
EVERYTHING, BUT AT THE END, AS
EVERYONE'S LIVES START WINDING
DOWN, WHAT I LOVE BEST ABOUT
THE BOOK IS EVERYBODY
GRADUALLY REACHES A
KIND OF ACCEPTANCE AND AN
UNDERSTANDING, AND ALFRED,
BEFORE HE DIES, SENDS
A GREAT LETTER ABOUT HOW
HE ACCEPTS THINGS.
AND CORY, AT ONE POINT SAYS,
I'M QUOTING YOU HERE --
“OUR LIVES HAVE
THEIR LIMITS.
EVERY DAY IS ONE
OFF THE TOTAL.
THE TROUBLE IS YOU DON'T KNOW
HOW MANY YOU HAD TO BEGIN WITH.”
AND I GUESS IF I TOOK
SOMETHING AWAY FROM THE BOOK,
THAT WAS THAT.
IS THAT THE KIND OF THING
YOU WANT US TO TAKE AWAY?

Katherine says IN A WAY, I DO.
ALBERT SAID THAT WHAT HE
LEARNED IN THE WAR WAS
HOW EASY IT WAS TO DIE.
IT'S NOT HARD.
HE SAID, I THOUGHT MAYBE,
I'D BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO DIE,
BUT IT'S THE EASIEST THING
IN THE WORLD, TO DIE.
AND I GUESS ONCE YOU'VE
LEARNED THAT, YOU THINK,
WELL, LIVING IS
WHAT'S IMPORTANT.
CORY NEVER WANTED TO DIE, AND
DID SEE, IN THE WAR, THAT SHE
HAD FINITE TIME BECAUSE
PEOPLE AROUND THERE DID.
THE EXPRESSION WAS
YOUR NUMBER IS UP.

Richard says RIGHT.

Katherine says WELL, YOUR NUMBER WASN'T UP.

Richard says AND CORY HAD A FASCINATING
LIFE IN A FASCINATING BOOK.

Katherine says YEAH.

Richard says KATHERINE GOVIER, THANK
YOU FOR COMING HERE TODAY.

Katherine says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Richard faces the screen and shows the book, which has a yellow cover.

He says
ANGEL WALK,
BY KATHERINE
GOVIER, IS PUBLISHED BY
LITTLE BROWN AND COMPANY.
FOR
DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1996, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Katherine Govier