MABOU: Frank Macdonald, who had two novels in the running for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and who won the Best Canadian Play at the Liverpool International Theatre Festival, is the real deal when it comes to writing. He’s also one of the funniest people in eastern Canada.
Macdonald recently visited the Mabou branch of the Eastern counties regional library. With him was a copy of his latest novel, The Smeltdog Man.
The novel tells the tale of how a Cape Bretoner stumbled upon a recipe for what became Canada’s most successful fast-food franchise. The novel is high comedy, but Macdonald’s ability to flesh-out personal relationships – often complicated ones — sits at the foreground of the story.
The writer told attendees that the idea for The Smeltdog Man came to him back in the summer of 1968, when he and a couple of friends were sitting in the parking lot of Inverness’ J&H Dinner. It was a good place to hangout, Macdonald said, but it wasn’t the best spot when it came to burgers.
“Out in Strathlorne was a family, the Daigles, who had a food bus,” Macdonald said. “They made great hamburgers so, when the subject of food came up, I told my buddies that I didn’t care what they wanted to eat – I wanted to go out to the diner.
“They were making smeltdogs out there.”
Macdonald might have initially had a juicy burger on his mind, but a practical joke was even more mouthwatering.
“They deep-fry them, they de-bone them, and they put them in hotdog buns,” Macdonald said. “They put cheese on them and other stuff. They’re really, really good. So I’d like to get a couple of smeltdogs.”
The friends agree to drive to the Strathlorne food truck, where Macdonald asked one of his buddies to do the ordering. Due to Macdonald’s praise of smeltdogs, his buddies decided they’d like to try the culinary treat as well.
“We couldn’t hear the conversation,” Macdonald said of his friend bent down to the food truck window, placing the order. “But all of a sudden, he hit a karate stance at this little girl who was staring at him in horror. He came back with nothing.”
That practical joke sat in Macdonald’s mind for many moons, and it eventually became his fourth novel.
Macdonald wasn’t the only writer at the reading, as Anne Levesque was also attending. Levesque will be doing a reading from her novel. Lucy Cloud, at the tenth annual Canada Day Literary Festival held at Coady Tompkins Memorial Library in Margaree.
Both Smeltdog Man and Lucy Cloud are available by visiting capebretonbooks.com.