Radio On

By the water

Vince Tinguely is kind enough to interview Jenner-Brooke Berger and I on Tuesday November 2 for his radio show on CKUT (90.3 FM in Montreal), The Kitchen Bang Bang Law. We’ll be on around 12:30 pm to talk about our books, and I’ll read a little something from mine. I’ll post links to it afterwards if you miss it.

Edited to add: The interview is online here: We come in at the 29 minute mark, so skip ahead.

Montreal and Toronto book launches!


For awhile the thought of a book launch made me nervous. Not just reading in front of everyone, but the logistics of it, all the inviting and planning and figuring out what to wear. And what to read. And, I don’t know, it’s a book, just buy it and read it curled up in bed or on the subway to work and why do I have to be involved anyway?

(In the only creative writing workshop I took in university, we did a small unit on reading out loud, and our prof assigned each of us a passage from a classic text to read to the class. I got something from Moby Dick. He gave me a B. In a class of easy A’s, I understood the underlying message: You suck at reading out loud. I think I’ve improved since then.)

Now that plans have fallen into place (thanks to Nic and Jenner), I’m excited for the launches planned in Montreal and Toronto, to enjoy everything about them, even the nervousness. It’s good for the character to be nervous sometimes.

So, details! The amazing Jenner Brooke-Berger is going to drive down from Halifax to launch with me in Montreal. She’s the editor of Rememberer (the other fall 2010 Invisible release, remember? No? Buy a copy of the book then!). I’ll read from my book, she’ll read from Rememberer (and maybe some other contributors will join us), you can pick up copies of the book and you’ll have a great time.

TV and JBB(This is what Jenner and I look like.)


Friday November 5, 2010
Drawn & Quarterly, 211 Bernard Ouest
Double launch!
6:30-9:30 pm

Facebook invitation here:!/event.php?eid=101613523241948


Monday November 8, 2010
Dora Keogh Pub, 141 Danforth Ave.
7:00 pm


Hosted by The Fine Print:

Facebook invitation here:!/event.php?eid=164378236920509

There might be a Rememberer party in Toronto too. If not, they’ll launch on Monday as well. I’ll keep you posted, as always.

Weekend in Toronto, update

Purple tightsWearing purple tights on a rainy evening

Back from a few days in Toronto. Some book/zine related highlights:

- First bookstore sighting at Book City on Bloor! Maybe I propped them up in front of John Updike for a better photo. Maybe.

Book sighting at Book City!

- Zines! I came home with fantastic new (to me) zines from Chris, Sarah, Maranda and more.  Amy (Twelve oh Two distro), and Francois (Great Worm Express Distribution) organized a mid-afternoon social, and I listened to Sarah and Chris read hilarious, passionate excerpts from early issues of their zines in the charming Naco Cafe while outside it rained and rained. Later on I met/caught up with various Broken Pencil staff, like Lindsay (who I’d met years ago when we were still just kids making zines), Hal (who was the first person to ever send me a letter saying “Hey, I’m going to publish something you wrote”) and Nathaniel (who organized the Radical Reading Series).

Nic & I at Canzine

- Canzine was just as I remembered: overwhelming, exhausting, fun. I felt like a grown-up and refrained from eating candy the whole day. I tabled with Nic for Invisible, and occasionally made people feel slightly awkward when I’d exclaim, “Hey, I wrote that!” when they’d  pick up my book and flip through it. (Note: sometimes awkwardness/guilt helps sell books.) It was lovely meeting people who stopped by the table. Every so often a familiar face would pop up, like Jaime, who used to make the most beautiful zines and now runs an equally beautiful photography business with her husband Joseph, or Laura Jane (who is working on a book with Liz that I can’t wait to one day hold in my hands), or Jen (who brought me homemade cookies and a card with my ISBN # typed on the front).

Reading at Canzine

-  The reading was fun too. I took advantage of Canzine to read my zine essay, “We Should Make Things” from the Shameless Anthology. My parents were in the audience, which was nice of them considering that they’re not used to sitting through poetry readings. (Thank you to Emily for saving them seats!) It was especially nice reading with some writers I’ve seen in Montreal before, like Natalie Zed and Damian Rogers.

So, yes, it was a great weekend. I might not be happy with Toronto’s newly elected mayor, but I always find it hard to leave the city either way. (But I will be back in 2 weeks for the book launch!) (P.S. More pictures on Flickr.)

Book update: Books or Zines

On Friday in Montreal it was a horrible rainy day. After work, I walked to the metro in that rain, but it had developed into the kind of rainstorm where your umbrella keeps turning inside out in the wind, and then you realize you’re going to get wet no matter what, so you put away your sad, broken-spoked umbrella, turn up the music in your earphones and curse a lot.

But it wasn’t so bad because I was holding 2 plastic bags filled with boxes of freshly copied zines and when I came home Andrew said, “Hello, published author!” and showed me my books, which had arrived in the mail that morning. I said, “I think I’m going to cry” and, given that my hair was a wet, frizzy mess and I was holding this droopy umbrella and too many bags, he thought something was wrong. “What happened?!” he asked, worried. “I’m HAPPY!” I said. I mean, obviously.

Things I Made

So now I have two new things I’ve made sitting in a pile on the kitchen table. You’ve heard a lot about the book, so here’s something about the new zine.

Places & Things

I keep thinking I won’t make another zine, but then, eventually I do. And because I wanted to write about my time in Greece in a tangible format and not just on this site, I put together a zine as well. Places & Things is mostly about Greece, but also other places I visited, and there are recipes too. This summer I read The Alice B Toklas Cookbook, and the zine owes a lot to that. Have you read it? It’s my favourite kind of food writing – more emphasis on the words than the practicality of the recipes. And this is even better because it’s filled with charming stories about Alice and Gertrude Stein travelling around France. There are recipes like “Bass for Picasso” and instructions for cooking 100 frog legs.  My zine (and recipes) are nowhere near as extravagant, but I respectfully borrowed Ms. Toklas’ format.

You can buy the zine from me here. I like to trade too if you want to go that route. You can also get it from me in person at Canzine in Toronto next Sunday or at Expozine in Montreal in a few weeks.

Oh, and I’ve been updating the book section of the site, so check it out if you have questions about getting a copy of it for yourself.

Book update: My first review

I’ll write a longer post shortly, but for now here’s a copy of the first review of Bats or Swallows, which appears in Atlantic Books Canada. It makes me happy, I’ll admit. (The book is officially out on October 15th – 2 more days!)

(Click to enlarge and read.)

Also: Montreal! The reading will be on Friday, November 5, 2010 at Drawn & Quarterly. More details will come, but save the date, please.

Making things

I started work again last week, and am remembering the good and bad things associated with so much structured time: the pleasure of being busy, but also getting worn out by it; feeling virtuous when I remember to pack a lunch, but savouring a few moments of calm when I escape on my own; after work drinks with friends; weekend brunch.

And balancing writing while you work full-time: I’m easing into that too. To tell you the truth, I haven’t written much since returning in mid-September. I spent one afternoon writing a very rough draft of a new story, but it still needs a lot of work. I’ve been getting some ideas and scribbling them on post-it notes, but they don’t count as actual work. They’re more like bait – I have things to work on if I want to, if I can figure out a way to organize my time. I’m giving myself some breathing room from my novel, too. I need distance and told myself to leave it alone until the end of the month. Even reading has taken a bit of a back seat – I can’t seem to sink into a book these days. While I wait for my latest online order to ship, which includes books that will snap me out of my reading funk like Darcie’s (It’s out! Buy it!) and Sheila Heti’s newest, “How Should A Person Be?”, I’m reading essays from Jonathan Ames’ “The Double Life is Twice As Good”, which I downloaded to my Iphone and is perfect for metro commutes.

Working on a zine

This weekend, I relaxed into something other than writing and started laying out the zine I mentioned a few weeks ago. There was no writing left to do, just the tangible, visual stuff: cutting up the text, choosing images, figuring out the most efficient way to lay it out. I worked on the kitchen table for awhile, and when that got messy, moved to the floor.

Word on the Street(My dear friend Emily snapped this at Word on the Street last week)

I feel like I keep dangling these projects in front of you without telling you how you can actually get them. So here’s a run-down:

  • I’ve compiled ordering information for Bats or Swallows over here, along with details about readings: It’s now available for sale on the Invisible site, and if you’ve ordered it from Amazon, I’m told copies are starting to ship. Some people got copies at Word on the Street last week in Toronto.
  • The zine won’t be available until Canzine on October 24, and you’ll be able to buy copies of it directly from me.

The Toronto launch for the book is a go on November 8th. We’re figuring out the Montreal launch. I’ll be travelling to New York City at the end of November (for an unrelated fun reason that I’ll give you details for in a bit), and I really want to do a reading there. If anyone has any tips for that, let me know. At the very least I can do one while waiting in line for a Shake Shack burger, no? I still haven’t gone. Two birds, one stone.