Mary Soderstrom is a Montréal writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her recent books include the novel After Surfing Ocean Beach (Dundurn Press, May 2004) and the short story collection The Truth Is (Oberon Press, 2000) which are suggested for school visits. Her latest books are The Violets of Usambara (Cormorant Books, 2008) and The Walkable City: From Haussmann's Boulevards to Jane Jacobs' Streets and Beyond (Véhicule Press, 2008). In all, she has published 11 books, and has been shortlisted for several prizes. Her reporting and short stories have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The North American Review, and Grain.
After Surfing Ocean Beach
The Truth Is
*These titles have been suggested by the author based on the activities that he/she proposes to students.
It is, however, up to teachers to verify whether the titles are appropriate for their groups (age and education level, specific context, etc.).
Teaching staff are invited to contact the author for clarification on this aspect and assistance in preparing their groups for his/her visit.
The groups that she proposes to meet in the Writers at School program will be in the last two year of high school, but they will still be in the throes of adolescence. They are not necessarily easy to reach because their own lives are so much more interesting or absorbing than school.
Examples of activities
Before she meets with the group, students should read at least one short story from The Truth Is or a section from After Surfing Ocean Beach to be determined by her and the teacher beforehand. Then the young people could be asked to transform an incident from their own lives into a “story”, something that isn't “true”. Ideally, she'd be given these texts ahead of time and be able to refer to them in the classroom. Her visit would begin with a short reading from her work. Then she'd talk about what lies behind the selection: real incidents and imaginary ones, the wondering that goes on before the writing, how to find the moment when a story begins. If the students had written their own texts, she'd talk about them too, and ask for volunteers to read their work. The aim of the exercise would be to look at fiction as a path to the heart of feeling, situation or experience, and at writing a story as a way of making sense out of life.
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Secondary 3, Secondary 4, Secondary 5
In every regions