Novelist gives moving evocation of friendship during writers’ series

On Nov. 6, York’s Canadian Writers in Person course and reading series presented Professor Richard Teleky (right), novelist and coordinator of York’s Creative Writing Program in the Humanities Division, Faculty of Arts. Series organizer John Unrau of the English Department, Atkinson School of Arts & Letters, sent the following report about the event to YFile.

The fourth reading in this year’s Canadian Writers in Person Series was given by Richard Teleky. His second novel, Pack Up the Moon, is a deeply moving evocation of the friendship between the gay male protagonist and a woman who becomes for some years his confidante and soulmate.

The novel’s account of the abrupt ending of this friendship because of the jealousy of the woman’s fiancee evoked a strong response in many of Teleky’s readers, and led to an animated discussion.

Despite the tragic core of the story, Pack Up the Moon is full of humorous and witty touches. It is also a penetrating study of aspects of Roman Catholic thinking which relate to issues involving gender and sexual preference.

In answering one question, Teleky spoke of the connection between his work and that of a number of 20th-century Catholic novelists, including Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene.

A book-signing session followed, during which many in the audience had further conversations with the author.

As an editor, Teleky has worked with many of Canada’s leading writers. He edited, with Marie-Claire Blais, The Oxford Book of French-Canadian Short Stories (1983). He has also written Hungarian Rhapsodies: Essays on Ethnicity, Identity and Culture (1987); and The Paris Years of Rosie Kamin: A Novel (1998), winner of the Harold Ribalow Prize for the best novel of 1999 and named one of the best books of the year by the Philadelphia Enquirer and the Toronto Star.

The Canadian Writers in Person series of public readings at York, which is free and open to the public, is also part of an introductory course on Canadian literature.