Toronto’s Word on the Street. Great weather means an attendance ten times the rain-swept version. Queen’s Park looks perfect with crowds of adults and kids and dogs and tents, prompting the question: why doesn’t the city make more frequent use of this fine, central park?
A series of “firsts” for me. The very first public reading from my book, and it takes place in a tent labelled (are you ready?) “Vibrant Voices Of Ontario.” The tent is flatteringly full, and Stuart Woods of Quill & Quire introduces me efficiently. I explain that my book is a series of profiles of authors that I edited, but that I’ve chosen to read the book’s Epilogue, “What Happens After My Book Is Published?”, which consists of the Awful Warnings I used to give to first-time authors. As usual, most of the crowd laughs happily at the examples of Murphy’s Law in action – and authors and publishers shake their heads in sad recognition.
The second “first” is that, after a “Q and A session,” I am led to the “Authors Signing Tent.” There I shyly sign seven (maybe even eight!) copies, and find myself guiltily resenting the pals who stand at the front of the line to chat, not buy. As the line-up disappears I have time to notice that within twenty metres is the superb black statue of my old friend Al Purdy, characteristically in a relaxed sitting pose, his hair drooping to the very life. I published him at M&S and, in addition to routine, in-office chats, we became friends after I went out to High Park to support him at a sweltering outdoor reading. Backstage, I remember, he was really glad to see me, and we both were bathed in sweat. I hope that the campaign run by Jean Baird to try to preserve his A-frame house in Prince Edward County is going well. I should have done more to help.
There’s still time though, and efforts to save the house continue. On November 23, Margaret Atwood is giving a special presentation at Picton’s Regent Theatre. Her provocatively titled presentation “Bulldozing the Mind: The Assault on Cultural and Rural Heritage” follows a reception with Ms. Atwood at Books & Company featuring County food and wine. More details can be found here.
— Douglas Gibson