EMWF Panel: Great Expectations 

Thursday June 11, 8:00 p.m. EST (online)

Presenters: Rachel Matlow, Dead Mom Walking, Michelle Parise, Alone: A Love Story, and Alison Wearing, Moments of Glad Grace
Host: Karma Brown, journalist and bestselling author of Recipe for a Perfect Wife

How do we recalibrate when life goes off script? Sometimes our reactions to life's messy twists and turns can take us by surprise. The authors of these three entertaining new memoirs each tackle their unique situations with honesty, courage, and heartfelt humour. Join them as they discuss the great expectations placed on people, relationships, and the moments in our lives when our road and roles are altered by time and circumstance.

This event will include closed captioning.

Dead Mom Walking
By Rachel Matlow

Published by Viking (Penguin Random House)

When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Rachel Matlow is concerned but hopeful. It's Stage 1, so her mom will get surgery and everything will go back to normal. But growing up in Rachel's family, there was no normal. Elaine, an alternative school teacher and self-help junkie, was never a capital M "Mommy"--she spent more time meditating than packing lunches--and Rachel, who played hockey with the boys and refused to ever wear a dress, was no ordinary daughter.

When Elaine decides to forgo conventional treatment and heal herself naturally, Rachel is forced to ponder whether the very things that made her mom so special--her independent spirit, her belief in being the author of her own story--are what will ultimately kill her. As the cancer progresses, so does Elaine's conviction in doing things her way. She assembles a dream team of alternative healers, gulps down herbal tinctures with every meal, and talks (with respect) to her cancer cells. Anxious and confused, Rachel is torn between indulging her pie-in-the-sky pursuits (ayahuasca and all) and pleading with the person who's taking her mother away.

With irreverence and honesty--and a little help from Elaine's journals and self-published dating guide, plus hours of conversations recorded in her dying days--Matlow brings her inimitable mother to life on the page. Dead Mom Walking is the hilarious and heartfelt story of what happens when two people who've always written their own script go head to head with each other, and with life's least forgiving plot device.

Rachel Matlow (she/her/they/them) was a long-time producer on the arts and culture program Q on CBC Radio, where she also worked on Spark and The Sunday Edition. Her audio documentary "Dead Mom Talking" won a 2016 Third Coast award and a 2017 Gabriel award. She has written for The Globe and Mail, National Post, and The Believer. She plays chess every weekend and is forever planning her next long-distance hike.

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Alone: A Love Story
By Michelle Parise
Published by Dundurn

A memoir of falling in love, the fallout of infidelity, and everything messy in between — and the inspiration behind the hit CBC podcast.

The church wedding, the new house, a beautiful baby … Michelle was sold a dream and bought into it. But one day, nine years in, she wakes up in an empty bed, and The Husband isn't there. Then, he drops The Bomb — he was having an affair with a woman at work.

Adrift and on the edge of forty — fuelled by grief, booze, and one-night stands — Michelle battles the monster she calls Loneliness, juggling being a part-time parent and part-time partier. Though dangerously close to rock bottom, Michelle takes a chance on love again with a dashing but complicated man — The Man with the White Shirt.

Michelle, an expert in "emotional forensics," dives into the wreckage with candour and humour, uncovering a story about falling in and out of love, divorce, single parenthood, and the messy world of dating. What she finds, beneath it all, is life and the courage to face it alone.

Michelle Parise is an award-winning journalist, writer, and performer. She has worked for the CBC for more than two decades, in everything from children’s television to music programming and documentary making, as well as at the helm of many national radio programs. She’s also a soccer player, parent, and champion campfire builder. The daughter of Italian immigrants, she was born and raised in Toronto where she still lives today.

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Moments of Glad Grace
By Alison Wearing
Published by ECW Press

Moments of Glad Grace is a moving and witty memoir of aging, familial love, and the hunt for roots and belonging. The story begins as a trip from Canada to Ireland in search of genealogical data and documents. Being 80 and in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, Joe invites his daughter Alison to come along as his research assistant, which might have worked very well had she any interest — any at all — in genealogy.

Very quickly, the father-daughter pilgrimage becomes more comical than fruitful, more of a bittersweet adventure than a studious mission. And rather than rigorous genealogy, their explorations move into the realm of family and forgiveness, the primal search for identity and belonging, and questions about responsibility to our ancestors and the extent to which we are shaped by the people who came before us.

Though continually bursting with humor, Moments of Glad Grace ultimately becomes a song of appreciation for the precious and limited time we have with our parents, the small moments we share, and the gifts of transcendence we might find there.

Alison Wearing is the bestselling author of Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, an Indigo Top 50 pick shortlisted for the Edna Staebler Prize and longlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize, and Honeymoon in Purdah: An Iranian Journey. She teaches, performs solo multimedia plays, and leads writing workshops internationally.

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Karma Brown is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of the novels Recipe for a Perfect Wife, Come Away With Me, The Choices We Make, In This Moment, and The Life Lucy Knew. In addition to her novels, Brown's writing has appeared in publications such as Self, Redbook, Canadian Living, Today's Parent, and Chatelaine.

Want a copy of the books featured on this panel?

The Bookshelf (Guelph) is our bookselling partner for this event. If you would like to purchase a copy of one of the books from this event, you can order online at bookshelf.ca or phone 519-821-3311 x1. Free shipping or curbside delivery in Guelph. $10.00 shipping cost outside of Guelph.

Thank you to our supporters:
The Angel Gabriel Foundation, The Canada Council for the Arts, The Department of Canadian Heritage, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, Open Book, The Ontario Arts Council, The Pollock Family Fund and Wellington County.