Inverness writer Frank Macdonald headlines an evening of literary and musical entertainment being planned by the Rotary Club of Port Hawkesbury. Macdonald will be joined by Gaelic songstress Joanne MacIntyre and West Mabou fiddler-dancer Melody Cameron and her husband, guitarist Derrick Cameron. Rotary Club president Patrick Lamey announced that the proceeds from the event will go toward the club’s support of the community effort to revitalize the MacQuarrie Street recreation area.
Frank Macdonald’s Cape Breton novels A Forest for Calum and A Possible Madness have both won him international acclaim, and his years as publisher and columnist of the award-winning weekly Inverness Oran have made him one of the island’s best-loved writers.
Both novels, published by Cape Breton University Press, have in turn been nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the largest and most international prize of its kind. Both were also finalists for Atlantic Book awards.
“Frank Macdonald’s strong attachment with community and culture in all of his writing resonates for us as Rotarians and as actively engaged citizens,” says Lamey.
“And the powerful environmental theme and activism of A Possible Madness make for a strong connection with the goals of the revitalization of the playground and recreation areas of our community,” he added.
Rotarian Lamey says the Port Hawkesbury Playground project is a grass-roots community effort that the local Rotary Club is whole-heartedly behind. In progress, plans call for the purchase and installation of updated playground equipment, and a walking path complete with fitness stations. Discussions have also included a “splashpad” and an off-leash dog park.
Macdonald’s A Possible Madness tells the story of the fictional town of Shean, a small town of depleted resources and shrinking population. In their efforts to revitalize the town’s economy, politicians try to marginalize a few voices of dissent, including the local newspaper – but some voices are not easily silenced.
Macdonald’s gift for character development draws the reader into a scenario played out in countless rural communities across the country. Last year, A Possible Madness was selected as required reading for an MBA course on public policy in Edmonton, AB.
The lessons learned from A Possible Madness are not wasted on Macdonald’s local readership either. A handmade sign nailed to a roadside tree on Route 19 just east of Inverness practically shouted “Stop the Fracking Madness”, homage to the novel’s “madness” and a reference to the highly charged debate over a drilling method known as fracking (hydraulic fracturing).
While Frank Macdonald is quick to point out his book is a work of fiction, testimonials from readers suggest that it resonates as an account of the manner in which politicians and corporations are sometimes in conflict with communities. Linden MacIntyre, author of The Bishop’s Man and Why Men Lie says A Possible Madness is “all too plausible”. The Chronicle Herald called the book “a cautionary tale with impeccable timing”. Its nomination for the IMPAC Dublin award speaks for itself.
“Of course, there is only support for the playground project, not conflict,” Lamey clarifies.
“The novel’s strong pro-environment, pro-community sentiment and Frank Macdonald’s popularity with local audiences are a great fit for the fundraising event,” he said.
Tickets for Frank Macdonald and Musical Friends: An evening of Stories, Song and Supper—March 2, 6pm social, 6:30 dinner at the Nova Scotia Community College Strait Campus—are $40 per person and available from Rotarians, MacIsaac’s Variety in Port Hawkesbury, or by calling 870-1610, 625-5345 or 625-3179.