Monday, 14 April 2014

Literary Trivia Quiz @ North Shore Writer's Festival

Sadly, it is an event held but once a year, but a quiz I had this much fun at deserves a writeup of its own.

The Ambiance: Located in the Atrium across the street from the North Vancouver Public Library, the quiz was held in very comfortable confines - a reserved table for each of the 20 teams, a bowl of pretzels, a paper table cloth to doodle on with attendant pencil crayons, and friendly beer and wine prices. CBC personality Grant Lawrence, hot on the heels of a reading from his new book, did an fantastic job of hosting. There were a few technical difficulties which resulted in a bit of a late start, but no one seemed too perturbed - until we had to clear out at the end. And did I mention the trophy? No? Well, there was a trophy. Easily the most impressive trophy I've seen at a quiz night. 2 and a half feet of glory, wrought in imitation gold.

The Main Event: The quiz itself was 3 rounds, and veterans of The Cascade Room's once and hopefully future quiz would have surely recognized the format and answer sheet. The first round was a mix of literature questions and trivia questions with a literary introduction. Round 2 saw a rather fun picture round with follow-up questions, and the third round, well, it was the third round.

To expand on the third round: there are a couple of ways of interpreting the phrase North Shore Writers Festival Literary Trivia Night. The most naive interpretation is that it is a literal trivia night at the NSWF. The next, probably that it is a Writer's Festival trivia night, held on the North Shore. But, the final, terrible truth was this: It is a a literary trivia night about North Shore Writers. The third round consisted of questions based on works of North Shore writers, a brilliant touch to remind us of where we were, and why. The questions were tough, responded to with general acclaim from the locals, and went a long way to deciding the victor.  Rightfully so, I say. The quiz writer promised me that next year would not have so many questions on North Vancouver's literary pedigree, but brushing up on your Douglas Coupland and Malcolm Lowry couldn't hurt.

I haven't mentioned the quiz's writer, Julie Backer, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Kindly One herself. On top of writing an excellent, difficult, and balanced quiz, she was on hand to adjudicate any answering disputes. Woe to the team that asked for her mercy, as more often than not the vengeful Eumenide would descend, scorpion whip poised, and deny their petition. It was a harsh, yet fair justice. I appreciated it, but I can't imagine everyone did. So next year, make sure you know your John Kennedy Toole from your Timmy O'Toole, your Hester Prynne from your John Prine.

The Movie Version: An excellent quiz that, like any narrow focus quiz, is a challenge and a lot of fun. If you like reading, there's no good reason you should miss this.

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