Transcript: David MacFarlane | Sep 26, 1999

(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 at a restaurant table as two assistants fix their microphones: “David MacFarlane. Author.”

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 gray suit, gray shirt, and spotted gray tie.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
MY NEXT GUEST IS A GENTLEMAN
WHO IS CELEBRATED FOR HIS WORK
BETWEEN HARD COVERS, AND
BETWEEN EXTREMELY SOFT COVERS
OF THE DAILY NEWSPAPER.
HE WRITES THE CHEAP SEATS
COLUMN FOR
THE GLOBE AND MAIL.
AND HIS OTHER WRITINGS INCLUDE
THE MUCH PRAISED BOOK
THE DANGER TREE.
WITH ME NOW IS
DAVID MACFARLANE.

David is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short curly salt and pepper hair. He’s wearing rounded glasses, a black velvet coat, a pale blue shirt, and a horizontally striped black and white tie.

Richard continues DAVID, WELCOME TO THE SHOW.

David says RICHARD.

Richard says WANT TO TALK ABOUT YOUR
NEW BOOK,
SUMMER GONE.
AND THIS SEEMS TO BE A VERY
APPROPRIATE TIME OF YEAR TO BE
TALKING ABOUT THE LAPSE
OF SUMMER, SITTING HERE
IN THE FALL, WITH THE
LAST OF THE BARBECUES
PUT AWAY AND EVERYTHING.
I REMEMBER HAVING
CONVERSATIONS WITH YOU,
OH, QUITE A FEW YEARS AGO,
ABOUT THE MYTH OF THE SUMMER
COTTAGE, AND THE CENTRALITY
OF SUMMER IN OUR LIVES.
HAS THAT ALWAYS BEEN
IMPORTANT TO YOU?

David says IT HAS.
I WENT TO CAMP WHEN I WAS A
KID, A CAMP IN GEORGIAN BAY.
AND I WENT FOR ABOUT
FOUR OF FIVE YEARS.
AND I'D NEVER
BEEN THERE BEFORE.
OUR FAMILY, WE WEREN'T COTTAGE
PEOPLE, SO I DIDN'T HAVE ANY
EXPOSURE TO THE NORTH.
AND WHEN I WENT THERE FOR THE
FIRST TIME, WHEN I WAS SEVEN
YEARS OLD, I WAS JUST SO
STRUCK WITH THE BEAUTY
OF THE PLACE.
I MEAN, EVEN AT SEVEN, I
JUST FOUND IT ASTONISHING.
AND IT'S KIND OF
STAYED WITH ME.
IT'S REALLY MEANT A LOT
TO ME OVER THE YEARS.

Richard says IS IT THE SOLITUDE OR THE
NATURE, OR WHAT IS IT ABOUT IT?

David says I THINK THE
LANDSCAPE, YOU KNOW?
THIS CAMP WAS IN GEORGIAN BAY,
AND GEORGIAN BAY REMAINS A
PLACE THAT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT TO ME.
SOMEONE SAID SOMETHING
TO ME REALLY INTERESTING
THAT STRUCK HOME.
SAID WHEN HE GOES TO GEORGIAN
BAY, HE FEELS A BALANCE THAT
HE DOESN'T FEEL ANYWHERE ELSE.
A BALANCE BETWEEN
SKY, LAND, AND WATER.
AND AS SOON AS HE SAID THAT,
I REALIZED THAT'S RIGHT.
IN MY BOOK, I DON'T CALL
IT GEORGIAN BAY, BUT IT'S
CERTAINLY BASED
ON GEORGIAN BAY.

Richard says THE TOPOGRAPHY
SOUNDS LIKE IT.
IT'S THE PSYCHOLOGICAL GAP,
THIS PROGRAM IS GOING TO
ONTARIO AUDIENCES, SO THEY'LL
UNDERSTAND WHAT WE MEAN WHEN
WE SAY PEOPLE WHO 'SUMMER', OR
COTTAGE IN ONTARIO, LARGELY
DIVIDE THEMSELVES BETWEEN THE
NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN GROUP.
YOU EITHER ARE A MUSKOKAITE,
OR A GEORGIAN BAYITE.
AND IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE
THE GEORGIAN BAY PEOPLE SEEM
TO TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU TALKED
ABOUT, WHICH IS ALL THE
ELEMENTS OF NATURE COMING
TOGETHER AND CONSPIRING TO
MAKE ONE FEEL WHOLE.
SO, IRONICALLY, YOU'VE PUT
A HERO IN THIS KIND OF A
SITUATION, WHO SPENDS HIS
WHOLE LIFE TRYING TO FEEL
WHOLE AND PUTTING
THINGS TOGETHER.
LET'S TALK ABOUT HIM.
HIS NAME'S BAY,
BAY NEWLING.
AND IF I WERE TO SAY HE
WAS AN ARCHETYPAL WASP,
WOULD YOU SHOOT ME DOWN?

David says NO.
NO, NO.
HE'S A BIT OF AN ASPIRING
ARCHETYPAL WASP.

They both chuckle.

Richard says WASP WANNABE, AS MY
DAUGHTER WOULD SAY.
OKAY, YES.

David says YEAH.
AND HE'S SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T
REALLY HAVE THE EXPERIENCE OF
THOSE SUMMERS.
IS VERY ENVIOUS OF PEOPLE WHO
HAVE THAT SUMMER AFTER SUMMER
AFTER SUMMER EXPERIENCE.
HE GOES TO CAMP, BUT UNLIKE
A LOT OF PEOPLE, UNLIKE ME,
HE'S ONLY ALLOWED TO GO FOR
ONE SUMMER AS A YOUNG BOY.
AND THIS ONE SUMMER SORT OF
HAUNTS HIM FOR THE REST
OF HIS LIFE.

Richard says IT DOES.
AGAIN, THERE'S SOME
BEAUTIFULLY OBSERVED STUFF
ABOUT THE OUTSIDER.
I RECALL ONE SCENE IN
PARTICULAR WHERE THEY ARE ALL
SITTING AROUND TALKING ABOUT
THE SPORTS THEY ALL PLAY WHEN
THEY ARE BACK HOME.
AND OF COURSE, HE COMES FROM
A FAIRLY TOUGHISH SCHOOL, AND
THERE'S NOT A LOT, YOU KNOW,
IT'S NOT PRIVATE SCHOOLBOY
STUFF, AND HE SAID,
WELL, WE PLAY TAG.
AND THE KIDS JUST
GO AFTER HIM.
OH, ARE YOU ON THE FIRST
TEAM, WHAT DO YOU DO?
AND HE LIES THERE IN THE DARK
AFTERWARDS WITH TEARS RUNNING
DOWN HIS FACE.
NOW, YOU WERE AN
INSIDER AT THE CAMP.
WAS THERE A BOY
LIKE THAT THERE?
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GO PUT
THE OUTSIDER IN INSTEAD?

David says WELL THERE ARE
ALWAYS BOYS LIKE THAT.
THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE WHO
IS DREADFULLY HOMESICK.
AND EVEN BOYS WHO MAINTAIN
THEY ARE NOT HOMESICK, AT
THAT AGE, HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE
OF HOMESICKNESS AT CAMP IN
THOSE FIRST FEW SUMMERS.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT
STRUCK ME IS THAT EXPERIENCE
OF HOMESICKNESS, WHEN I
BEGAN TO THINK ABOUT IT,
I REALIZED, EVEN AS AN ADULT,
AND AS AN ADULT ENCOUNTERING
ALL OF THE SAD THINGS ADULTS
ENCOUNTER -- DEATHS OF PARENTS,
DEATHS OF FRIENDS, ALL THAT
SORT OF ADULT STUFF -- THERE'S
NEVER AN EXPERIENCE OF
SADNESS THAT QUITE IS AS
VISCERAL AS THAT
SENSE OF BEING HOMESICK
WHEN YOU'RE A KID.
YOU NEVER FEEL
QUITE THAT SAD.
AND IT STRUCK ME THAT IT --
IT STRUCK ME AS INTERESTING
THAT AS A KID, I SOMEHOW
LINKED THAT SADNESS WITH AN
APPREHENSION OF BEAUTY OF
THE LANDSCAPE AROUND ME.
THE TWO BECAME INTERTWINED
EVEN AT AGE SEVEN, EIGHT,
NINE, SO I WOULD LOOK AT THAT
LANDSCAPE OF GEORGIAN BAY,
AND I WOULD THINK IT WAS
BEAUTIFUL IN A WAY THAT WAS
EXTRAORDINARY TO ME, AND YET,
WITHIN IT WAS SOMETHING VERY,
VERY SAD.
AND THAT HAS TO DO WITH
ALL KINDS OF THINGS.
BUT IT HAS TO DO IN LARGE
PART WITH THE BREVITY OF
A NORTHERN SUMMER.
AND THAT'S WHAT, TO A LARGE
DEGREE, THIS BOOK IS ABOUT.
THAT WE, IN CANADA, HAVE
A BEAUTIFUL SUMMER THAT'S
REALLY, IN SOME WAYS, A MORE
EXTRAORDINARY SUMMER THAN MANY
PLACES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD,
AND YET, IT IS SO SHORT.
IT IS SO SHORT, REALLY, IT'S
OVER ALMOST BEFORE YOU REALIZE
IT'S UPON US.
AND THAT SEEMED TO ME, AS I
GROW OLDER, REALLY WHAT LIFE IS.
THAT BY THE TIME YOU THINK
YOU'VE SORT OF FIGURED
IT OUT, IT'S --

Richard says WHAT DOES JONI MITCHELL
SAY, 'DON'T IT ALWAYS SEEM
TO GO, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT
YOU'VE GOT 'TIL IT GONE'?

A caption appears on screen. It reads “David MacFarlane. Author.”

David says YEAH.
SO THIS ALSO TIES IN WITH
EXACTLY WITH THAT JONI MITCHELL
THOUGHT, NOT ONLY IS IT
JUST IN TERMS OF TIME,
OVER VERY QUICKLY, THAT
THROUGH ENVIRONMENTAL
DEGRADATION, THAT WE
REALLY ARE LOSING IT.
AND SO THAT'S A THEME THAT'S
IN THE BOOK, AS WELL, THAT THE
KIND OF PLACE THAT I KNEW AS A
KID IN THE '50s, EARLY '60s,
IN GEORGIAN BAY, AT A SUMMER
CAMP, THAT WAS REALLY ALMOST
WILDERNESS, IS NOW REALLY
NOT WILDERNESS AT ALL.
IT'S ABOUT POWERBOATS AND
CRUISERS AND JET SKIS AND
NOISE, AND STUFF THAT WE TAKE
FROM THE CITY AND TAKE UP NORTH.
AND EVENTUALLY ERADICATE THE
CHARM OF WHAT THAT PLACE WAS
ALL ABOUT.
IN OUR PARENTS' GENERATION,
WITHOUT IRONY, THEY REFER TO
THAT PART OF THE WORLD
AS GOD'S COUNTRY.

Richard says RIGHT.

David says WELL, YOU'D NEVER CALL
MUSKOKA GOD'S COUNTRY NOW.
AND EVEN PARTS OF GEORGIAN
BAY YOU WOULDN'T CALL GOD'S
COUNTRY NOW.
BUT I THINK THAT A GENERATION
AGO, THERE WAS REALLY A
CONNECTION BETWEEN THE
SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THAT
LANDSCAPE AND THAT
KIND OF SUMMER HOLIDAY.

Richard says DAVID, I WANT TO COME BACK
TO WHAT YOU TALKED ABOUT, THE
SIMULTANEOUS APPREHENSION OF
BEAUTY, AND GREAT PROFOUND
FEELING OF HOMESICKNESS THAT
THROUGHOUT THIS BOOK, THERE
SEEMS TO BE A TUG WITH EVERY
TIME SOMEBODY IS ABOUT TO FEEL
SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL, OR SEE
SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL, THERE'S
ALSO AN INTIMATION OF
MORTALITY OR DEATH, OR
SOMETHING WRONG GOING ON.
I THINK ABOUT ONE PIVOTAL
ANECDOTE THAT CENTRES IN THE
BOOK WHERE A PERSON TALKS
ABOUT HOW, I WON'T REVEAL WHO
THE CHARACTERS ARE, BUT THEY
TALK ABOUT HOW THEY REALIZED
THEY WERE ABOUT TO FALL IN LOVE
WITH EACH OTHER AT THE MOMENT
SOMEONE ELSE DROPS DEAD A
FEW FEET AWAY FROM THEM.
AND THERE'S ANOTHER SEQUENCE
ABOUT, I REALIZE THIS SHORT
PERFECT TIME WAS JUST
GOING TO FLOAT BY.
EVERYTHING IS NOT JUST
BEAUTIFUL AND FLEETING,
BUT BEAUTIFUL AND
TOUCHED BY DEATH.
IS THAT PART OF THE SUMMER
THING, OR IS THAT YET ANOTHER
AREA IN YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS?

David says WELL, PROBABLY BOTH.
BUT IT'S CERTAINLY PART
OF THE SUMMER THING.
AND I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING
THAT IN LITERARY TERMS,
CANADIANS SHARE WITH RUSSIANS,
SIMPLY BECAUSE IN RUSSIAN
LITERATURE, YOU FIND THIS
AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN,
THIS SENSE OF A BRIEF MOMENT
OF SUNSHINE AND WARMTH AND
HAPPINESS, AT THE DACHA, AND
THAT'S SOMETHING WE CANADIANS
HAVE, AS WELL.
SO I THINK THAT'S REALLY
ABSOLUTELY THERE IN MY
CONSCIOUSNESS, BUT IN
CANADIANS' CONSCIOUSNESS
IN GENERAL.
THAT YOU GO TO A SUMMER PLACE,
AND AS YOU ARE ENJOYING IT,
AS YOU ARE ENJOYING YOUR
SUMMER HOLIDAY, AS YOU ARE
APPREHENDING THE BEAUTY AROUND
YOU, CONSTANTLY AWARE OF THE
FACT THAT YOUR HOLIDAY
IS ONLY TWO WEEKS LONG.
OR EVEN IF YOU ARE LUCKY
ENOUGH TO HAVE A TWO-MONTH
HOLIDAY, THAT LABOUR DAY WILL
ARRIVE SOONER THAN YOU EXPECT.
AND ALL AROUND YOU, IN AN
ONTARIO SUMMER, THE SIGNS ARE
THERE, YOU KNOW?
FAIRLY EARLY IN AUGUST, YOU
START TO FEEL A CHILL IN THE
AIR WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN.

Richard says SOME OF THE LEAVES
EVEN START TURNING.

David says THAT'S RIGHT.
AND YOU FIND YOURSELF
THINKING, OH, NO, NOT SO SOON.
IT CAN'T BE SO SOON.
BUT, OF COURSE,
IT
IS
THAT SOON.
AND I THINK THAT THE REASON
THE BEAUTY IS AS POTENT AS
IT IS IS BECAUSE IT'S
AS BRIEF AS IT IS.
AND THAT SEEMS TO ME, AS I WAS
FORMULATING THIS BOOK, SEEMED
TO ME TO BE THE PERFECT
METAPHOR FOR WHAT LIFE IS.
LIFE WOULDN'T HAVE THE
POIGNANCY, THE BEAUTY, THE
EVERYTHING THAT IT HAS, IF WE
WEREN'T ALL CONSCIOUS OF THE
FACT THAT IT WAS GOING TO END
RATHER SOONER THAN WE WOULD
LIKE IT TO.

Richard says BECAUSE IT ENDS SO QUICKLY,
EVERYTHING ENDS SO QUICKLY,
THERE'S A GREAT DEAL OF
ANECDOTAL TRANSFERAL
IN THIS BOOK.
PEOPLE ARE EITHER TELLING
THINGS THAT HAPPENED, OR THEY
ARE RELAYING THINGS THE
WAY THEY WANT TO HAPPEN.
I THINK BACK TO YOUNG BAY
IN HIS ONE SUMMER AT CAMP.
AS SOMETHING IS GOING ON,
DELIBERATELY ONE WAY THAT'S
NOT FAVOURABLE TO HIM, HE'S
THINKING HOW HE'S GOING TO
TRANSFORM IT WHEN HE TELLS
IT TO THE KIDS IN SCHOOL
THE NEXT FALL.
AND, IN A WAY, THE HUGE
CENTERPIECE THAT FRAMES THE
BOOK IS LATE IN HIS LIFE, BAY
TAKES HIS SON CAZ OUT ON A
CANOE TRIP, AND THEY BOND
TOGETHER, BUT THERE IS THE
OBLIGATORY STORIES OF
SUMMER HAVE TO BE TOLD.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA OF
HAVING BAY TAKE HIS SON OUT,
AND USE THAT AS THE STORY
TELLING DEVICE, IN A WAY?

David says WELL, IT'S THE STORY
OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
AND IT'S THREE DAYS
IN THE WILDERNESS.
AND IT'S MORIAH, MORIAH
ISLANDS IN THE BOOK.
SO WHAT STRUCK ME, I'VE ALWAYS
BEEN TERRIFIED, EVEN AS A
KID, I WAS TERRIFIED
BY THAT STORY.
ABRAHAM IS TOLD BY GOD TO TAKE
HIS SON ISAAC AND SACRIFICE
HIS SON, AND HIS ONE SON, HIS
ONE CHILD, ALSO A MIRACULOUS
CHILD, BECAUSE ABRAHAM AND
HIS WIFE SARAH HAD ISAAC WHEN
THEY WERE QUITE ELDERLY.
IN FACT, REALLY ELDERLY.

Richard says AND THE WIFE IS SARAH HERE.

David says SARAH, YEAH.
SO WHAT I FOUND MYSELF
THINKING WAS THAT THAT
EXPERIENCE OF ABRAHAM AND
ISAAC GOING OUT INTO THE
WILDERNESS, ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT TERRIFIED ME AS A KID
WHEN I HEARD THAT STORY IS
THERE IS NO INDICATION IN THE
BIBLICAL TELLING OF THE
STORY THAT THEY TALKED ABOUT
ANYTHING AT ALL WHILE THEY
TRUDGED THROUGH THE WILDERNESS
ON THE WAY TO WHAT ABRAHAM
THINKS IS HIS SON'S EXECUTION
AT HIS OWN HAND.
THEY HAVE A VERY KIND OF
FORMAL RELATIONSHIP SO ONE
GATHERS WHEN YOU
READ THE BIBLE.
SO I THOUGHT THIS IS WHAT
FATHERS AND SONS ARE ALWAYS
ALL ABOUT.
THIS LACK OF COMMUNICATION.
THIS INABILITY.
HOWEVER MUCH THEY MIGHT WANT
TO CONNECT TO ONE ANOTHER
BECAUSE OF THAT PROBLEMATIC
DIFFERENCE OF AGE WHEN A KID
IS JUST BECOMING SEXUALLY
AWARE, THE CONCERNS THE FATHER
HAS AS AN ADULT MEANS THEY
DON'T TALK TO ONE ANOTHER THE
WAY THAT THEY WANT TO TALK.
SO I HAD IN MY MIND THIS
NOTION OF A FATHER AND A SON
HEADING OUT INTO THE
WILDERNESS WANTING TO CONNECT,
BUT BEING IN SOME
WAY UNABLE TO.
THE OTHER THING THAT REALLY
STRUCK ME ABOUT THAT STORY,
THE ABRAHAM AND ISAAC STORY,
IS I BEGAN TO TRY TO SEE IT
FROM ABRAHAM'S POINT OF VIEW.
MAYBE THAT'S BECAUSE
I'M A PARENT NOW.

Richard says RIGHT.

David says AND WHEN YOU READ THE STORY
AS A KID, OF COURSE YOU SEE IT
FROM THE KID'S POINT OF VIEW.
YOU THINK, WOW,
WHAT A WEIRD GUY.
LIKE HE DECIDES HE'S GOING
TO TAKE ME OUT INTO THE
WILDERNESS AND KILL ME BECAUSE
GOD HAS TOLD -- YOU KNOW,
IT'S A BIT -- BUT IF YOU
THINK OF IT FROM ABRAHAM'S
POINT OF VIEW, WHICH IS WHAT
KIERKEGAARD DID, AND ACCEPT
THE FACT THAT ABRAHAM DOES
IN FACT SPEAK TO GOD, IF YOU
TAKE THAT AS A GIVEN, THEN
THE THOUGHT OF THOSE
THREE DAYS ARE TERRIFYING.
EVERY INSTINCT MUST HAVE BEEN
TELLING ABRAHAM TO PRAY TO
GOD TO ASK FOR
SOME WAY OUT HERE.
AND YET, IT IS GOD WHO
HAS PUT THIS INTO MOTION.
SO THE NOTION OF NOTHINGNESS,
OF NULLITY, OF EMPTINESS, AND
I SUPPOSE AN EXISTENTIAL WAY,
IS MY TRYING TO IMAGINE THAT
EMPTINESS THAT ABRAHAM, A HOLY
MAN, A GODLY MAN, MUST HAVE
FELT WALKING INTO THE
WILDERNESS TO KILL HIS SON.

Richard says BUT OUR CHARACTER HERE, BAY,
IS NOT A HOLY MAN, IS NOT A
GODLY MAN, IS A HIGHLY
CONFLICTED INDIVIDUAL.
SO WHAT'S ON HIS MIND AS HE'S
GOING INTO THE WILDERNESS
WITH HIS SON?

David says I THINK, WELL, THIS
INABILITY TO COMMUNICATE.
THIS INABILITY TO -- BAY IS
TORTURED BY THE FACT HE CAN'T
PASS ON SUMMERS TO HIS SON.
THERE'S NO FAMILY COTTAGE.
THERE'S NO TRADITION EVEN.
THEY HAVE THIS ONE SUMMER --
BAY HAS ONE SUMMER AT CAMP,
THEN THEY HAVE ONE SUMMER
WHERE THEY RENT A COTTAGE.

Richard says AND THE EVENTS OF THAT ONE
SUMMER WIND UP DESTROYING
THE MARRIAGE.

David says THAT'S RIGHT.
SO BAY, WITH THE BEST OF
INTENTIONS, TRYING TO
ESTABLISH SOME KIND OF
SUMMER TRADITION, IS UNABLE
TO PASS ANYTHING
ON TO HIS SON.
BAY ENDS UP DESTROYING
THE FAMILY SUMMER.
YET HE IS THE ONE WHO IS
TORTURED BY THIS SENSE,
WE CAN'T JUST HAVE ONE SUMMER.
THE ONLY REASON SUMMERS ARE
MEANINGFUL IS IF THEY REPEAT
ONE AFTER ANOTHER AFTER
ANOTHER, SO AS A FAMILY, YOU
GO BACK TO THE SAME PLEASE,
YOU SEE THE SAME ISLAND, AND
YOU SEE THE SAME WATER, AND
YOU SEE THE SAME PEOPLE,
AND YOU DO THE SAME THING,
SUMMER AFTER SUMMER.
IF IT'S JUST ONE SUMMER,
IT BECOMES MEANINGLESS.
IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS
THAT BEGINS AND ENDS
ALMOST IMMEDIATELY.
SO HE'S TORTURED BY THIS AS
THEY GO OFF THINKING THIS
CANOE TRIP IS SOME WAY OF
GIVING TO HIS SON SOME SENSE
OF WHAT HE THINKS
SUMMER IS ALL ABOUT.
SO THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT'S AT WORK THERE.
THE OTHER THING, WHICH I THINK
IS PART OF THE ABRAHAM AND
ISAAC STORY, IS THAT I THINK
ALL PARENTS END UP SACRIFICING
THEIR CHILDREN ON THE
ALTAR OF EXPERIENCE.
AT SOME POINT, YOU HAVE TO
JUST LET YOUR CHILD...
YOU HAVE TO INTRODUCE
YOUR CHILD TO EXPERIENCE,
AND THEN LET THEM GO.

Richard says LET THEM DO IT.

David says AND I THINK THAT'S WHERE THE
STORY HAS ITS RESONANCE,
THE BIBLICAL STORY HAS ITS
RESONANCE IN MY STORY.

Richard says IS THERE A REASON YOU
CHOSE -- CAZ HAS A
PARTICULAR DISABILITY.
HE'S ABLE TO COMMUNICATE VERY
WELL, AND HE SEES THINGS IN
TERMS OF COMIC STRIPS AND
MOVIES AND TALKS A LOT,
BUT ACTUAL, THE WRITING-READING
EXPERIENCE IS NOT GREAT
WITH HIM.
HIS DAD IS CONVENTIONALLY VERY
GOOD AT ALL OF THOSE THINGS.
IS THAT THE REASON YOU GAVE
HIM THAT PARTICULAR DISABILITY?

David says IN PART, YEAH, YEAH BECAUSE I
WANTED TO HAVE SOME, I WANTED
TO DELINEATE THE DISTINCTION
BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM.
BAY COMES FROM A KIND OF --
HIS BACKGROUND IS LITERARY.
HE'S AN EDITOR OF A MAGAZINE.
HIS SON IS SOMEONE WHO IS A
RELUCTANT READER WHO USES --
I THINK THERE'S A LINE IN THE
BOOK SAYS GETTING AN ADJECTIVE
OUT OF HIM WAS
LIKE PULLING TEETH.
SO THAT WAS TO DRAW THAT
DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE TWO.
ALSO, IN PART, I THINK
BECAUSE THE BOOK, AS A WHOLE,
REFLECTS BAY'S SENSIBILITY.
AND I WANTED TO HAVE SOME
OTHER MORE DIRECT KIND OF ABC
SORT OF LINE GOING ON.

Richard says THERE'S A LINE EARLY IN THE
BOOK THAT ALSO GRABBED ME.
WE GO FROM THE FUTURE TO THE
PAST, AND THE PAST TO THE
FUTURE, THE FUTURE TO THE
PAST, BACK AND FORTH, AND NO
MENTION OF THE PRESENT.
WHY?

David says WELL BECAUSE THE PRESENT, I
WISH I COULD QUOTE FROM THE
FOUR QUARTETS ACCURATELY, BUT
ELIOT SAID IT BEST ABOUT HOW
THE PRESENT DISAPPEARS
IMMEDIATELY INTO THE PAST
AND INTO THE FUTURE.
THERE IS, ESSENTIALLY,
NO PRESENT.
THERE'S NO PRESENT NOW.
SOON AS I SAY THAT, IT'S OVER.
AND THAT'S WHAT HAUNTS ME, AND
WHAT HAUNTS BAY ABOUT SUMMER,
ABOUT PARTICULARLY
CANADIAN SUMMERS.
THAT PRESENT OF A SUMMER THAT
YOU LOOK FORWARD TO AS WE
LEAD UP TO SUMMER, THAT YOU
REFLECT ON AS WE MOVE AWAY
FROM SUMMER IN SEPTEMBER,
IS A PRESENT THAT'S ALMOST
IMPOSSIBLE TO HOLD.
SO WHAT YOU RAISE WHEN YOU
MENTION THIS BUSINESS OF
SHIFTING BACK AND FORTH IN
TIME, FROM PAST AND FUTURE,
THE METAPHOR FOR THAT WITHIN
THE BOOK IS THE GOOD OLD
J STROKE, THE
CANOEING J STROKE.
WHICH HAS TWO ELEMENTS.
IT HAS A PADDLING STROKE, A
FORE STROKE, WHICH IF YOU DO
IT WITHOUT CORRECTION, WILL
JUST VEER THE CANOE OFF
IN ONE DIRECTION.
BUT THE J STROKE HAS THIS PRY
WITHIN IT THAT PULLS IT BACK.
SO THERE'S THE PAST,
THERE'S THE PRESENT.
AND WHAT YOU TRY TO DO WHEN
YOU ARE PADDLING A CANOE
CORRECTLY, WHICH I DON'T
ALWAYS DO, IS TRY TO FIND THAT
VERY, VERY, VERY FINE BALANCE
WHERE YOUR J STROKE IS
NEITHER PURELY A FORWARD
STROKE, NOR PURELY A BACKWARD
STROKE, BUT IT FINDS, THE
KEEL OF THE CANOE FINDS THAT
BALANCE WHERE IT
HOLDS THAT LINE.

Richard says ANOTHER SECTION ABOUT LOOKING
AT THE PAST, WHICH HELD ME
TREMENDOUSLY IN THE BOOK, PART
OF SUMMER CAMP IS GHOST STORIES.
AND BAY IS RECALLING A GHOST
STORY THAT WAS TOLD ON A
PARTICULAR NIGHT, AND THEY ARE
TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW THE
GHOST STORY WAS PULLED OFF
BECAUSE THERE WERE EFFECTS
HAPPENING OUT ON THE LAKE,
WHICH EVERYBODY LATER THOUGHT
ONE OF THE COUNSELLORS
MUST HAVE DONE.
AND YEARS LATER, BAY RECREATES
IT BY GOING AROUND THE CIRCLE
BECAUSE HE REMEMBERED THEY WERE
ALL SINGING THE SAME CAMP SONG,
I'M SURE WE'VE ALL SUNG
IT, ABOUT YOU CAN'T GET TO
HEAVEN IN SO AND SO'S CAR,
ETC. AND HE REMEMBERS, YEARS
LATER, ALL THE VERSES, RIGHT?
SO HE CAN FIGURE OUT THAT,
INDEED, NO COUNSELLOR WAS
MISSING, AND IT MUST
HAVE BEEN MAGIC.
THAT SEEMED SO
ACCURATELY OBSERVED.
DID ANYTHING LIKE THAT
EVER HAPPEN TO YOU?
OR IS THAT PURELY
OUT OF THE BRAIN?

David says ELEMENTS, THINGS LIKE
THAT DID HAPPEN TO ME.
AND ONE WAS EXACTLY THAT.
A GHOST STORY TOLD AT CAMP,
PROBABLY MY FIRST YEAR AT
CAMP, SO I WAS
SEVEN YEARS OLD.
I REMEMBER THERE WAS A
COUNSELLOR AT THIS CAMP, AND
HE WAS FROM KENTUCKY, OF ALL
PLACES, AND HIS NAME WAS
BAILEY CARLYLE, WHICH I ALWAYS
THOUGHT WAS A GREAT NAME.
AND HE HAD A WONDERFUL ACCENT.
AND HE TOLD A TYPICAL CAMP
STORY ABOUT THE MAD HUNTER
AND, YOU KNOW, I DON'T KNOW...
BUT PART OF THE STORY WAS THAT
AT NIGHT, YOU COULD HEAR THIS
CANOE GO BY IF YOU LISTEN
CAREFULLY ON A CERTAIN KIND OF
NIGHT, YOU'D HEAR THE CANOE
GOING BY.
AND WHAT HAPPENED WAS, WHEN WE
WENT BACK TO OUR CABIN, AFTER
THE CANOE TRIP, WE WOULD LIE
IN OUR CABIN AND, SURE ENOUGH,
YOU WOULD HEAR WHAT
SOUNDED LIKE A PADDLE.
AND IT TERRIFIED,
JUST TERRIFIED US.
WELL, IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME,
AS IT TAKES BAY IN THE BOOK,
A LONG TIME TO FIGURE OUT
THAT WHAT HE WAS HEARING WAS
JUST A LITTLE SOUND THAT FISH
JUMP WHEN THEY JUMP AT THE MOON.
SO THAT DID HAPPEN.
AND THE BUSINESS OF
REMEMBERING THINGS, THAT COMES
UP A LOT AGAIN AND AGAIN.
AND THE NARRATOR TALKS ABOUT
HOW WE REMEMBER THINGS THE WAY
HYPNOTISTS HELP
RECONSTRUCT CRIMES.
AND THE WAY THEY DO THAT IS
THEY TAKE A FRAGMENT OF A
MEMORY THAT SOMEONE REMEMBERS,
AND THEY USE THAT AS SORT OF
A STEPPINGSTONE TO A
LITTLE OTHER MEMORY.
AND THEY PUT IT
TOGETHER THAT WAY.
AND I HAVE HAD THE EXPERIENCE
OF ONE TIME WITH A FRIEND,
WALKING BY THE PUBLIC
SCHOOL THAT WE WENT TO,
AND DISCOVERING, TO OUR
ASTONISHMENT, BETWEEN THE TWO
OF US, WE COULD ACTUALLY GO
UP AND DOWN THE ROWS OF THE
GRADE ONE CLASSROOM AND
REMEMBER THE NAMES OF THE
KIDS WHO WERE
SITTING IN THE ROW.
NOW, IF YOU HAD ASKED ME
BEFORE THAT MOMENT WHETHER I
COULD REMEMBER ANY NAMES
OF ANY KIDS IN GRADE ONE,
NO, I WOULDN'T.
BUT SOMEHOW, ONCE WE GOT THE
FIRST ONE, WE'D SAY, NOW, WHO
WAS THAT GIRL WITH THE BLONDE
HAIR WHO ALWAYS WORE THE
WHITE SWEATERS WHO SAT
IN THE SECOND SEAT?
AND SO WE DISCOVERED THAT
IT ACTUALLY WAS POSSIBLE TO
RECONSTRUCT A MEMORY THAT WAY.
SO THAT WAS PART OF WHAT
CAME INTO THIS BUSINESS OF
REMEMBERING BY GOING AROUND
THE CIRCLE OF FACES AND
THINKING, THEY WERE THERE,
THEY WERE THERE, SO THERE
WASN'T ANYONE OUT IN A CANOE.

Richard says ONE OF THE MOST INTENTLY
REMEMBERED CHARACTERS IN THE
BOOK IS THE COUNSELLOR FROM
BAY'S SUMMER, LARK, I BELIEVE.

David says YEAH.

Richard says YEAH.
AND HE JUST STANDS OUT
EXTREMELY CLEARLY, THE WAY
YOU DESCRIBE HIM.
HIS PHYSICAL APPEARANCE.
THE WAY HIS HAIR WAS A LITTLE
LONGER THAN EVERYBODY ELSE,
AND A LITTLE SHAGGY, AND THE
WAY HE SANG AT CAMPFIRE,
AND HE HAD GREAT PRESENCE.
AND HE ACQUIRES A LOT OF
WEIGHT IN BAY'S LIFE.
AND, IN FACT, FOR VARIOUS
PLOT TWISTS I WON'T GO INTO,
HIS PRESENCE COMES BACK
AND TOUCHES BAY LATER ON,
AGAIN AND AGAIN.
BY THERE'S ONE
VERY PIVOTAL SCENE.
BAY IS ABOUT TO BE BIT BY A
SNAKE, AND LARK RESCUES HIM
FROM THE SNAKE.
WHICH IS A SCENE RAMPANT WITH
FREUDIAN OVERTONES TO START
WITH, BESIDES BEING SOMETHING
THAT WOULD LITERALLY HAPPEN
UP THERE.
BUT THERE'S KIND OF A MIST
AROUND THE END OF THE SCENE.
HOW DOES THE SCENE END?

David says THE SCENE ENDS WITH THE BOY,
BAY, AS A YOUNG BOY, IS TAKEN
OUT SWIMMING BY HIS
COUNSELLOR, LARK.
AND LARK IS ONE OF THOSE
PEOPLE THAT A YOUNG BOY
ENCOUNTERS WHO IS AN
ASTONISHINGLY BEAUTIFUL,
ATTRACTIVE FIGURE.
BAY, AT THAT TIME, IS A BOY
WHO'S JUST ON THE VERY VERGE
OF HIS SEXUAL AWAKENING.
AND I REMEMBER THAT
TIME REALLY WELL.
I REMEMBER A MOMENT IN MY LIFE
WHEN EVERYTHING WAS SEXUALLY
ELECTRIC, AND YET NOTHING WAS,
BECAUSE I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND
WHAT THAT MEANT.
SO I SORT OF HAVE THIS MEMORY
OF ONE SUMMER KIND OF ALMOST
EVERYTHING SHIMMERING.
SO THERE WAS NO SUCH THING, AT
SOME LEVEL, OF HOMOSEXUALITY
OR HETEROSEXUALITY.
EVERYTHING WAS SEXUAL.
SO BECAUSE LARK, AT THAT BEING
A TEENAGE GUY, AND BEING THE
SORT OF PERSON THAT A YOUNG
BOY WOULD ASPIRE TO BE,
STRONG, GOOD LOOKING, THERE
IS A SEXUAL ATTRACTION THERE.
IT'S NOTHING THAT IS EVER
FULFILLED, AND IT'S IN A WAY A
KIND OF, NOT EXACTLY A RED
HERRING, BUT IT'S JUST...
IT JUST IS WHAT IT IS.
LARK IS AN ATTRACTIVE GUY,
AND THE YOUNG BOY RECOGNIZES
THE ATTRACTION AND FEELS
IN SOME WAY THE ELECTRICITY.
SO THAT SCENE THAT YOU
DESCRIBE, THE BOY SITS DOWN,
HE'S GETTING UNDRESSED TO GO
SWIMMING, AND HE SITS DOWN,
AND HE HAPPENS TO SIT DOWN
AT A SPOT IN THE SHADE OF A
JUNIPER BUSH, THERE'S
A RATTLESNAKE.
IN GEORGIAN BAY THERE ARE
EVEN STILL A FEW LEFT.
AND THE BOY IS SITTING IN SUCH
A POSITION THAT IN ORDER TO
MOVE AWAY FROM THE SNAKE, HE
WOULD HAVE TO JUST SHIFT HIS
WEIGHT BACK SLIGHTLY WITHIN
STRIKING DISTANCE OF THE SNAKE.
SO WHAT HAPPENS IS LARK IS IN
FRONT OF HIM, UNDRESSED FOR A
SWIM, AND HAS TO REACH TOWARDS
HIM TO GRAB HIM, TO PULL HIM
AWAY FROM THE SNAKE.
SO THAT MOMENT OF THE YOUNG
BOY SITTING THERE WITH THIS
IDOL OF HIS, THIS TEENAGER,
NAKED, REACHING TOWARD HIM,
IS AN INCREDIBLY CONFUSING
MOMENT FOR THE KID.
HE DOESN'T QUITE REALIZE
WHAT'S GOING ON, BUT IT'S IN A
WAY A SORT OF MAGICAL MOMENT.
SO THE BOY IS PULLED AWAY
SUCCESSFULLY FROM THE SNAKE.
BUT WHEN IT HAPPENS, LARK IS
BITTEN ON THE BACK OF HIS ARM
BY THE SNAKE.

Richard says BUT THAT'S WHERE
IT KIND OF ENDS.
THE REASON I MENTION THAT IS,
AS YOU'RE DESCRIBING AGAIN,
AND MY READING OF IT,
IT'S AN INCREDIBLY POWERFUL
AND VIVID SCENE.
YET LATER ON, WHEN OUR LEADING
CHARACTER, BAY, HAS ONE
DISASTROUS AFFAIR,
HETEROSEXUAL AFFAIR, LATER IN
HIS CAREER, THE THINGS LEADING
UP TO THE AFFAIR ARE ALL VERY
CLEARLY SPELLED OUT, AND AFTER
THE AFFAIR, IS VERY CLEARLY
SPELLED OUT BUT, IRONICALLY,
THE SIMILAR MOMENT WHERE HE
WOULD HAVE BEEN CONSUMMATING
THE RELATIONSHIP, SUCH AS IT
WERE, HAPPENS OFF CAMERA,
OFF SCREEN, OFF PAGE.
HOW COME?

David says WELL, AS I SET OUT TO WRITE
THAT SCENE, I FOUND THAT'S
WHAT INTERESTED ME.
WHAT INTERESTED ME IS THE
MOMENTS LEADING UP TO
ADULTERY, THE MOMENTS AFTER
THE AFFAIR THAT RESULT IN
DISCOVERY BY THE WIFE, ETC.
BUT IN AN ODD WAY, IN RELATION
TO WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THE
REST OF THE BOOK, THE ACTUAL
CONSUMMATION OF THE AFFAIR
WAS IRRELEVANT TO ME.
WHAT REALLY INTRIGUED ME WERE
THOSE MOMENTS WHERE A MAN IS
THINKING, WILL I, WON'T I?
TEMPTING.
THAT MOMENT OF TEMPTATION THAT
INTRIGUED ME AS A WRITER.
SO AS YOU SAY, IT
HAPPENS OFF CAMERA.

Richard says THE WHOLE LANDSCAPE OF
THE BOOK, YOU MENTIONED A
CHEKOVIAN TONE BEFORE, WHICH IS
DEFINITELY THERE, AND I ALSO
THOUGHT, IN ANOTHER WORLD,
SOME OF THESE ARE JOHN
CHEEVERESQUE PEOPLE FROM THE
'50s, YET THEY ARE MOVING IN A
UNIQUELY CANADIAN SITUATION.
THE CANOEING, THE GEORGIAN
BAY, THE COTTAGE CULTURE,
ALL OF THIS.
YOU'VE GOT A CANADIAN
INFLUENCE, A RUSSIAN INFLUENCE,
AN AMERICAN INFLUENCE, BUT
OVER ALL THREE OF THOSE AUTHORS
I MENTIONED, DAVID
MACFARLANE, JOHN CHEEVER,
ANTONIN CHEKOV,
THERE'S A GREAT SADNESS.
I FOUND THERE TO BE A
GREAT MELANCHOLY SADNESS
OVER THE BOOK.
IS THAT WHAT YOU INTENDED?

David says YEAH.
I LIKE THE JOHN CHEEVER,
ANTONIN CHEKOV,
DAVID MACFARLANE LINE.
BUT, YEAH.
AND I'M NOT INVENTING THAT.
READERS MIGHT SAY, THIS IS TOO
MUCH, AND TOO SAD, OR DOES
EVERYBODY HAVE TO
DIE, OR WHATEVER?
BUT ONE OF MY CLEAREST
MEMORIES AS A CHILD GOING UP
TO GEORGIAN BAY, AND ONE OF
THE THINGS THAT HAUNTS ME
STILL BECAUSE WE NOW TAKE OUR
KIDS UP TO A LITTLE PLACE IN
GEORGIAN BAY, A LITTLE BIT
NORTH OF WHERE I WAS, IS THIS
INTERWEAVING OF MELANCHOLY,
OF SADNESS, AND OF BEAUTY.
I FIND IT HARD, ACTUALLY,
TO LOOK AT A GEORGIAN BAY
LANDSCAPE AND NOT HAVE THAT
SENSATION OF HAPPINESS TO BE
THERE, OF BEING THRILLED BY
THE BEAUTY OF THE PLACE,
AND YET, A SADNESS.

Richard says ONE OF THE THINGS I LOVE MOST
ABOUT YOUR BOOK WAS THAT
MADE UP OF INCIDENTS AND COMMON
PLACES WE THINK WE'VE ALL
TOUCHED IN OUR LIVES,
YOU WEAVE THIS WEB OF A
COMBINATION, AS YOU SAID
BEFORE, OF BEAUTY AND
MELANCHOLY, AND
SADNESS AND LONGING.
AND IT'S VERY, VERY
EFFECTIVE INDEED.
AND I WANT TO
THANK YOU FOR IT.

David says THANK YOU.

Richard says DAVID MACFARLANE,
THANKS VERY MUCH.

He faces the screen and concludes
FOR
DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Special thanks to Zucca Restaurant.”

Dialogue. A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1999, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: David MacFarlane