Last night, sipping a scotch and digesting my meal of Alberta beef and Saskatchewan mushrooms, I laughed like crazy reading David W. McFadden's An Innocent in Ireland. Here's a voice I can use, I thought: innocent, apparently without intent, alert, ever-willing to assemble truth from imagination as much as observation. And as I say, funny as hell.
I knew McFadden a little when he was one of my teachers in Nelson in '81-'82. He'd show up for class, often late, with his briefcase, which he'd set on top of the table. He'd reach in and pull out a book, and start talking about whatever came up at that moment. (I remember thinking it was like a circus act, in a happy way: a small car would appear in the ring, and one clown after another would emerge from it.) It was always fun, as I recall, if a little frustrating for anyone who preferred more systematic approaches to learning.
I've said many times that most of what I know as a writer comes from my three teachers in Nelson: Wah (the materiality of language itself), Wayman (naming the conditions of ordinary life as directly as possible), McFadden (imagine, fool around).