Aargh, I am so bad at keeping a regular blog. I mean, not that it has ever been my intention to blog daily or weekly or anything, but this is a bit ridiculous. ALSO, there are things I want to tell you. So here it is, how I spent my summer vacation, part 2 of 3.
After that amazing Graphic Medicine conference in Chicago (that was summer vacation part 1), I came home for a little bit and then went to Toronto, Kingston and Montreal…
In Toronto, Julie Wilson hosted a conversation with me and Andrew Westoll at Ben McNally Books called “You Think You Know Me But You Have No Idea.” Andrew and I read from our work and talked about what it’s like to publish memoir, how the portrayal of yourself in your book is different from the Real You. The title of the event sounds a bit hostile, but really it didn’t turn out that way. Check out reports on the panel from Canadian Bookshelf and The Toronto Quarterly. Highlights of the evening included meeting the incredible Julie Wilson in person for the first time, and my agent Samantha Haywood, too! (Get a sense of Sam’s passion for publishing in this great interview on Open Book Toronto.) Andrew Westoll and I have written very different books but we think along the same lines when it comes to shaping narrative from life experience.
In Kingston, the wonderful essayist and lovely friend Susan Olding and I did a version of the same event at the tiny Novel Idea Bookstore, and managed to cram an attentive (and patient) audience into the narrow spaces between immovable bookshelves and we stacked books and small tables creatively to make a perfect stand for the projector. I love doing readings in little bookstores where you have to figure out how to make everything work with the space you have — there is always someone in the crowd with good spatial sense and/or expertise with projectors and the experience of setting everything up together creates a sweet atmosphere for reading and talking and answering questions. Highlights included seeing the wonderful art and writing that Susan’s young daughter Maia has been creating, and being in the city where Alias Grace was set. I just read Alias Grace this spring and am somewhat haunted by Grace Marks and her murdering ways.
Last but not least, I took the train to Montreal (broken air conditioning on the train + worst day of heat wave = completely hideous arrival in the most aggressively stylish city in Canada, but oh well). There I did a reading at the Yellow Door Coffeehouse with a small but extremely smart audience who asked great questions and took me out for Ethiopian food. I lived in Montreal in the late 80s and early 90s. Things are different but that electric, crackling energy that I remember is the same (that energy that made me think the people in Vancouver were in a coma or something when I first moved here). My favourite night included walking by a park where Judas Priest videos were playing on a large screen, continuing on through the dancing crowds of the Nuits d’Afrique festival, and then running back to my hotel through a wild thunderstorm.
You can read a bit about my reading on the wonderful blog, She Reads and Reads, and I had a coffee in Old Montreal with Ian McGillis, who wrote a lovely review of Tangles back in December. You can read his interview with me on the Montreal Gazette blog. I also met up with my dad in Montreal!
We went to the D&Q bookstore! And found Tangles on the shelf! I bought Ivan Brunetti’s Cartooning and Hilary Chute’s Graphic Women and a bunch of mini-comics from the awesome Life and Times of Butch Dykes series. And more! Until I regained a semblance of self-control and frugality.
Oh, were you wondering what my cute dad looks like? Well here he is!