When Chelsea Pike saw on Grant Lawrence’s Facebook page that he was coming to the Kootenays, she clicked the “Like” button to give him some encouragement. A few days later, she invited him to Nakusp. He replied to her message, inviting her and her book club to the reading that had been organized with the Nakusp Public Library. She was overjoyed to hear he was coming.
Chelsea was especially excited because his book, Adventures in Solitude: What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck, was her book club pick for the month of October. Not many book clubs get to cap off their month of reading with a visit from the author.
Grant Lawrence is a CBC Radio Host, and his suave and well-paced delivery had the Nakusp audience of 40 people in stitches for over an hour. “I loved being in Nakusp,” he said later, and when asked why ours was such a great conclusion to his Kootenay tour, he said, “People laughed!”
Grant’s book describes his life-long relationship with Desolation Sound, a marine park located between Vancouver Island and the BC Mainland. The Lawrence family’s first visits took place in the 1970’s when Grant’s parents bought a large piece of land there, hoping to subdivide and sell lots to city people looking for summer retreats. By way of context, the Sound was named by Captain George Vancouver who, while searching up every single dead-end inlet for the elusive Northwest Passage, had no idea how far he was from his destination. Its name and remoteness were both likely contributors to slow sales for the Lawrence subdivisions, and so the Sound continued to be a paradise for the hippies who contributed so much to Grant’s childhood and education.
Grant’s first story described the family’s first race to catch the ferry: there’s vomit, a Beach Boys soundtrack, and a father’s foot that refuses to come off the gas pedal in case the family misses the ferry (which they do — but only because there’s not enough room on the boat). Grant then introduced the audience to Russell Letawski, a Wall Street banker turned westcoast hippie, who was squatting the land the Lawrence family had purchased. Letawski became Grant’s lifelong friend and was responsible, said Grant, for introducing him to counter-culture. Projected onto the screen in the log cabin atmosphere of the Nakusp Senior’s Centre, Russell looks at home, standing beared, hatted, overalled, and booted with his hands in his back pockets.
Grant’s funniest story of the afternoon was the tale of the family’s first invitation to a community potluck. His reading began: “Pot would in fact be the keyword to Aldo’s potluck invitation.” The potluck ends for the family with a quick exit and Grant’s father muttering “that the party had been an unpleasant cross between Helter Skelter, Apocalypse Now and a National Geographic special on orangutans.”
The final story of the afternoon was about Grant’s recent return to Desolation Sound with his wife, musician Jill Barber. He showed a short film they made together, and told a lovely story about dolphins frolicking in the bay.
Grant’s book is available at the library, and pairs nicely with a book called Adult Child of Hippies by Willow Yamauchi. The library would like to thank all the people who came, the volunteers who baked, Harbour Publishing for its help with promotion, and the Kootenay Library Federation for their support.
We’d also like to thank Chelsea, and while we’re not sure what her next book club pick will be, we hope her future choices have these kinds of consequences, too.