Back to work, back to NYC

Expozine table

After the book launches died down, I spent a long day at Expozine in Montreal, where I shared a table with Molly, who I’ve known through zines since we were both in high school. We used to write letters to each other because neither of us had an email address – that’s how far back we go. I picked up some beautiful zines, which I should tell you about one of these days. There’s been a revival of sorts among zinesters I used to know, and there’s something very comforting about it.

Recent books

I’ve also picked up these books at various readings or zine fairs, and I’m slowly working my way through the pile. (So far I have very good things to say about Sheila Heti’s newest, “Three Deaths” by Josip Novakovitch and the poems in “The Lateral” by Jake Kennedy.)

And finally, for the first time since I left Greece in September, I pulled out a copy of my novel draft and read all 70,000+ words, after which I realized how much work I had to do, got tired, and baked a batch of Madeleines, and then some weirdly flat whole wheat chocolate chip cookies and then a big pot of boeuf bourguignon instead of tackling edits. And then I got really full over the shock and went back to work. I’m feeling stubborn about this particular project.

Actually, there’s one thing I can do to get away from fretting about a book that no one really cares about: skip town and head to New York City. Naturally, right? So, this Saturday, Andrew and I are flying to NYC where we’re looking forward to hanging out with Soraya, eating as much amazing food as possible, visiting the Stieglitz/Strand exhibit happening at the Met, etc. But the real reason for the trip is this:

Elevator Alley
60 pages, 20 color photographs, published by Furnace Press, NY
A photo documentation and critical analysis of the largely derelict Childs Street grain elevators in Buffalo’s First Ward, Elevator Alley tackles the history, present and future of the giant structures that played a central role in Buffalo’sindustrial development and subsequent decline.

Andrew took all the photographs and Michael Cook wrote all the text. (For those keeping score, Andrew and Michael have collaborated once before on um, criminal charges.) The book is being launched, along with 2 others, on Tuesday November 30th at 3rd Ward in Brooklyn. If you’re in the area, please come – it will be fun, there will be booze, Andrew and Michael will present their work, and you can get a copy of a truly gorgeous book.

More info about Elevator Alley:

These past few months have been an excellent period for book publishing in the Emond-Vlassopoulos household, and we hope to the trend continues far into the future.

Recap: Toronto pt. 2

Rememberer launch!

I can’t believe that these Toronto book launches were only a little more than a week ago – it feels like it’s been ages since then. But, before it slips away, let’s get it down on paper.

Rememberer launch!Jenner addresses the crowd

So, Katie and Jenner organized a separate Rememberer launch the next day, which was a fantastic idea – double the parties! It was held at 107 Shaw, a gallery space at the corner of Queen and Shaw. It’s a perfect spot for a reading/party: a DJ set up at the front, the room was a good size, and the sweet gallery owners had enough PBR on hand for the crowd. There was even a resident cat.

Rememberer launch!Katie reads

It was nice to get the chance to read my Rememberer story and the group of people assembled were good listeners. But it was even better getting the chance to really concentrate on Jenner and Katie’s readings. I’d been a bundle of nerves at the previous two readings and found it hard to concentrate, but on Tuesday evening I was relaxed enough to really pay attention. Their stories are beautiful, as are the rest in Rememberer, so please buy a copy if you haven’t already.

The rest of my trip to Toronto was filled with things like brunch at tried and true places like Aunties & Uncles and The Rosedale Diner, some pizza from Pizzeria Libretto, hanging out with my parents, book buying at Book City, etc. I sometimes miss Toronto more than other times, and this was one of those instances when it hurt my heart a little to leave.

Recap: Toronto, part 1


Andrew and I left for Toronto early Sunday morning after the Montreal launch. It was a gorgeous, crisp day, and we took our favourite Montreal-Toronto detour along the 1000 Islands Parkway to break up the monotony of the 401. As we were driving, we noticed that A&E Books, a tiny bookstore housed on the second floor of a house, had their OPEN flag waving on the side of the road. The store has been closed every time we’ve passed it in the past year or two, so we took advantage of it to stop in and browse the books. I ended up with a Norton Anthology of personal essays and Andrew found a book of early Montreal history. Next up was a lunch break for burgers in Kingston, and then we arrived in Toronto where my mother was waiting with dinner for us as well. Oh, Toronto.

The nice thing about the launch in Toronto was that I didn’t have to work while I was there. I slept in and  Andrew and I had brunch at Mitzi’s Cafe, which is always sunny and bright and has the best oatmeal pancakes. We  had time to check out Jon Muldoon’s exhibit “Buried Waters”, which is currently on display at GalleryWest (1332 Queen St W). Jon, a friend, is an underground photographer, and the owner of the gallery was nice enough to let us in to look at the photos even though the gallery was closed. The photos looked gorgeous, and I highly recommend checking them out while you have the chance.

As the day progressed, I started feeling a little more nervous, and so when Andrew left for a meeting, I brought myself to a cafe on Baldwin Street, sat at a table with a pretty table cloth and a vase of flowers and bought myself a glass of red wine. The sun was starting to set outside, and the cafe had big windows, and it was a nice, quiet moment, a good way to gather my thoughts.

Toronto launch!
The Toronto launch for Bats or Swallows was held at the Dora Keogh, a small pub on the Danforth. It was the perfect size – not too big – and well lit, and I appreciated having good bar access. I loved the diversity of people who came to this launch: My mother and her friends, so many wonderful friends I’ve made over the years because of the Internet or zines, my childhood best friend and her brother (who I hadn’t seen in maybe 10 years), writing group friends, a contingent of urban/underground explorers, people I’d met simply because of the book. It was amazing, and my only regret is that I didn’t get the chance to talk long enough with those who were there (or take enough photos with them).

Toronto launch!

Nic, in perfect publisher form, brought Jenner and I roses, which is the kind of thing that makes me choked up. Jenner was kind enough to read her story from Rememberer, and then I read from Bats or Swallows. It was a bit strange reading in a bar – there are bound to be talking people in the back – but it was still a good experience, and the closest I’ll ever get to my teenage rock star fantasies.

Toronto launch!

Afterwards, I flitted around and talked to different people, gave more hugs, signed some books. On the drive back to my parents’ house, Andrew and I stopped at a McDonalds for the perfect late night snack, and there was a line-up of teenaged boys shuffling their way into the Future Shop nearby, each of them excited to buy whatever game had been released at midnight. We sat huddled in the car, sharing a Big Mac between us and watching these boys, and it was hilarious and wonderful. I’d gotten the seriousness out of my system after the launch in Montreal, and this was just pure fun, the entire, long day.

Thanks to Nic for organizing, obviously, and Jenner for reading at the last minute, and to Rupert from Ben McNally Books who was manning the book table all night too. (P.S. Toronto folks can buy signed copies of the book from Ben McNally.)

Again, photos from Andrew.

Samantha wrote a lovely recap about the night as well:

Recap: Montreal launch

Montreal launch!Bow on my dress + books in the background

The book launches are over and I’m back in Montreal. The past few days have been so great. Overwhelming in a good way – full of fun and so many hugs, but also occasionally nerve-wracking. I want to record what they were like because I want to remember. Who knows when I’ll have another book published, if ever, so I really want to enjoy it. (I don’t mean that in a doomsday kind of way, but the process of creating a book is so long that it could be years and years and years before I get the opportunity again.) (I hope it’s not that long.)

I’ll start with Montreal.

Montreal launch!The crowd at D&Q. I especially like this photo because Kenneth & I were discussing Lesley‘s surprise party, which was held the next evening, and I was pretty excited about it.

The Montreal launch was held at Drawn & Quarterly on Friday night, and I only spent a few hours at work before admitting that my concentration was shot. My co-workers are wonderful, and many even attended the launch, so no one minded when I snuck out in the early afternoon.

Montreal launch!Signing books and Caro‘s excited face in the background!

Drawn & Quarterly is only a short walk from where I live, and it’s one of my favourite bookstores, cozy and full of beautiful books, and the staff is always friendly. Jenner arrived soon afterwards (we were meeting for the first time!), and we poured plastic cups of red wine and unboxed bottles of beer for guests. It was a rainy, blustery day in Montreal and I was curious about who would brave the awful weather, but slowly the bookstore started filling up. It is such a nice feeling to see a room full of people you know or kind of know or don’t know at all, browsing through books, sometimes yours, waiting for you to start reading.

Montreal launch!Jenner reading from the intro to Rememberer

Jenner and Katie read from Rememberer, and I read from Bats or Swallows. The bookstore is a good atmosphere for reading – everyone pays attention (or at least is polite enough to act like they are). I was pleasantly thrown off when people laughed at the parts they were supposed to. (For those familiar with the book, I’ve been reading from “My Son, the Magician”.) After it was over, I signed books, chatted and contributed in finishing off the booze supply. Later I met with my best friends for a dinner at Senzala down the street for celebratory Brazillian food.

Montreal launch!

But let me tell you: when I got home on Friday night, just after midnight with mascara-smeary eyes and red wine stained lips, I was exhausted, exhilarated, tipsy, but also suddenly drained. I’d been trying my best to not be overtly nervous about everything, but after it was over and I was at home, I let myself acknowledge that in addition to the happy-excited-grateful feelings, I’d also been nervous and stressed out. It was a bit of a delayed reaction, and it felt really intense at the time, as things tend to feel when it’s after midnight and what you really should be doing is sleeping. But, I got it out of my system and woke up feeling an uncomplicated, easy happiness. I woke up wanting a greasy brunch. So I had one.

Andrew took these photos, naturally.

Caroline also did a lovely recap of the Montreal launch over here:

Launches ahoy!

Party time

Montreal: Friday November 5, Drawn & Quarterly – be there!!/event.php?eid=101613523241948&index=1

Toronto: Monday November 8, Dora Keogh – be there!!/event.php?eid=164378236920509&index=1

And… Toronto: If you can’t make it on Monday or if you want to see me another night or if you just wanna come to a good party, Katie, one of the contributers in Rememberer helped organize a launch for it on Tuesday November 9. 107 Shaw Gallery – be there!  I’ll be reading at this too.!/event.php?eid=103456643056575