Been in Toronto for most of a week, book-touring. Last night read at an IFOA event in Hamilton with my fellow Anansi authors Lynn Coady, Stephen Kellman and Patrick DeWitt.
It was an excellent event at an art gallery in Hamilton, an old steel-mill town, but on the ride home we were all so exhausted from hearing ourselves talk that there was not a word spoken in the van during the 45-minute ride across the monstrous Greater Toronto sprawl.
BTW if any Torontonians are looking for signed first editions of The O'Briens, there are a few at Book City, on Bloor St., and at the Indigo store on Bay Street, downtown.
I spent most of today on foot, hiking between various meetings, and enjoying the October light and some of Toronto's neighbourhoods and buildings. My favorite neighbourhood is Wychwood Park, a bit of countryside tucked away in the middle of west end Toronto. No trophy homes, though. And lots of trees. A Canadian hardwood forest in the middle of this enormous, noisy town.
I found lots of buildings from different eras around the University of Toronto that were impressive. The Leslie Dan Pharmacy Bldg., corner of University Ave. and College Street, certainly caught my eye. During the Seventies, when I was starting to analyze my responses to buildings, most new buildings, especially in Canada, were brutal. It was a terrible time for architecture, and for Canadian cities, which were being built in hideous, urine-colored concrete.
I still feel exactly the same way about the architecture of that era--we can't tear it down fast enough, as far as I'm concerned--but there have certainly been lots of graceful new buildings since then, and it's always encouraging to see a powerful statement of the modernist aesthetic, especially when it's not an office tower.
Also much liked this U of T building (below): the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research:
The best thing about Toronto are the neighborhoods and while I walked from a meeting at College and Bathurst to another in Rosedale, I kept to the quiet and shady streets of The Annex neighborhood, which are thriving but don't feel triumphalist, yet, though I realize even the homeliest house in this part of town is well over a million dollars. Mostly they are simple, not particularly well-built houses from the 1880s-1920s. Almost all red brick, of an Ontario clay quite different from Montreal red brick. So much red brick that when I spotted this little yellow house, I had to catch it.
- Brooklin, Maine, United States
- We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine, and an '86 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of '97 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 24 years--we're recyclers. I've published a book of stories NIGHT DRIVING (1987), and 2 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), and THE O'BRIENS, which came out in the US (Pantheon) and Canada (House of Anansi) in 2012. A book of stories TRAVELLING LIGHT comes out in May 2013. More of my book stuff at www.peterbehrens.org I'm a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13.