echoic mimic

Things have been kind of quiet on my front (slowly chugging away on some writing, preparing for year-end in my daytime accountant life, enjoying this last gasp of summer), but I quickly wanted to tell you about what you should do this Sunday October 2, 2011 if you live in Montreal:

Come to The Sparrow, buy yourself a few drinks and listen to a mind blowing line up of readers, one of whom is especially dear to me, Lesley Trites. You might also know her from her wine blog, Girl on Wine. Lesley and I have been literary sidekicks since we both moved to Montreal 5 years ago, and sidekicks in general for a few more years before that. We’ve read each others’ first drafts, been to countless poetry readings where we didn’t know anyone else but each other, drank many bottles of wine, and shared many milestones in each other’s lives (she was in my wedding!). So, yeah, you can say we’re tight. Which is why I’m so excited and happy about the launch of her first book of poetry, echoic mimic, which is being published by Snare Books. Lesley’s poetry is beautiful and surprising, and echoic mimic captures this perfectly. From the description of the book, it’s a “mixed-genre long poem whose narrative thread follows the tumultuous life of a girl named Ada through a complicated love-hate relationship with her small hometown and its inhabitants, as she leaves to land wide-eyed in a new big city.”

I’m going to do an uninterview with Lesley in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that as well, but in the meantime check out her site for details about readings she’ll be doing in the near future and how to order her book.

Scrapbook #21: Summer 2011

picnic

I’m trying to pretend it’s still summer, but the mornings are especially chilly and it’s dark by 8 pm, so I’m ready to admit that fine, we have moved into early fall. But this summer? It was a nice one. Quiet. It was a summer of eating dinner outdoors. Many on our own balcony, but probably even more in parks. I can’t count the amount of meals we had at Parc Jeanne Mance, either at a picnic table or sitting in the grass, usually by the tennis courts. We would go to the grocery or get take out, stop at the SAQ for a bottle of wine, and head over to the park with 2 glasses, a knife, maybe plates or a cutting board if we remembered. We usually forgot. Sometimes we would forget the glasses too, no matter how many time we’ve done this. There were other parks too. Poutine in Parc Lafontaine. Pizza by the canal at Atwater Market. On the hottest day of the year we got takeout and ate it on the grass in Parc Laurier and there were so many others around us, everyone avoiding their unairconditioned homes.

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There was also lots of ice cream, thanks to the fact that I live within a 10 minute radius from the best ice cream places in Montreal. My favourite is Kem CoBa, which is conveniently also the closest. Their soft serve was amazing.

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There was a lot of travel. San Diego, Las Vegas, the desert, Toronto on many occasions for weddings or meeting new friends, a camping trip in Vermont, the State Fair in  Syracuse, a cottage weekend in Magog. Weekends in Montreal felt kind of precious and rare.

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I didn’t write much. I brought a massive print out of my novel on vacation to San Diego thinking it would be the perfect place to work on it – I could laze out in the backyard and read through it, take notes. But I didn’t touch it and then I didn’t touch it for the month of July and half of August. We needed a break from each other. I am happy to report that we’ve reconciled. I missed it.

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I read novels written by women. I kind of consciously did that. The Keep and The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan, The Wife and The 10 Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer, Torch by Cheryl Strayed, The Astral by Kate Christensen. The Chairs Are Where the People Go by Sheila Heti, although that wasn’t a novel and it’s co-authored by Misha Glouberman, who is not a woman. I either felt like gulping down books in a few days or not reading them at all.  And I listened mostly to “Defender” by Bird of Youth, the new Snailhouse album and old CD’s in the car because my iPhone converter broke and I haven’t replaced it. And we’ve been playing guitar a lot at home, so maybe there hasn’t been a lot of new music, but there’s still been a lot of music.

So yes. It was a nice summer. Let’s see what the fall brings.

Style sheets

Book Club Buddy is a great site where you can read interviews with writers and find out information about their books. I recently did a little interview with them and you have until Wednesday at midnight to enter a contest where you can win a free (free!) copy of my book. Head on over for details!

photo(I saw my book at the library for the first time ever on the weekend, so I took a photo.)

Recently Lindsey and Samantha posted fascinating entries about their short story collections: lists of characters, first sentences, word count, etc. I love reading these details – there’s something so satisfying about systematically breaking down a bunch of words into something tangible like that. I currently don’t have enough short stories on the go to do a similar sort of summary (the rough-rough-rough drafts slowly taking shape on my computer aren’t ready for it) and I’m still feeling a little too superstitious about my novel to talk about it too much (although the first sentence of the novel is from the story “Swimming Lessons” in Bats or Swallows and goes: My father drowned in the Aegean Sea, fifty nautical miles northeast of the port of Piraeus.)

Reading their lists reminded me of the style sheet for my book. I wasn’t familiar with style sheets until the late editing stages of Bats or Swallows, but I thought it was such a neat little document. It basically formalizes the little quirks used in the book to make sure they’re consistent throughout.

For example:

Special symbols
European Diacritics (é, è, etc.)

Numbers
all numbers are spelt out with the exception of:
5×10 foot and 10×30 feet in “Art History”
3:15 in “Bats or Swallows”

Canadian spelling (double vowels, consonants, etc.)

Special notes
TGAOTU and GATOU in “A Secret Handshake”
Supreme Being “A Secret Handshake”
Being Prepared in “Baby Teeth”
Straight Edge “What Counts”
Ways To Feel Better in “Bats or Swallows”
Letters capitalized, not spelled out: A, O, Z in “Hushpuppies” and O, W in “Swimming Lessons”

And then there’s a kind of glossary broken down by letter. My favourites are

F
Fair Isle
the Falls (Niagara)
FedEx
fetus
Fibonacci
Fourth of July
Francophone
freak-out
Freemason
fresh-faced
frosty

P
pancit
passive-aggressive
pay phone
photo shoot
polyamoury
pothead
Prime Minister
puffed-up
purple-tinted

S
Sanskrit
sceptical
sex life
sing-songy
shivasana
shoo-in
soulmates
spycam
squelchy
strip mall
subdivision
Swiss Army knife

It’s strange, but from these brief notes and lists of letters, you can infer a lot about the kind of things I write about in the book.

Scrapbook #20: Let's go to the Fair!

pork

With Labour Day approaching, Andrew and I felt like taking a little trip. We weren’t sure where to go, but decided that it had to be relatively close to Montreal, in America, and somewhere we’ve never been. A few days before the weekend, Andrew said, “I know, let’s go to Syracuse, New York!” and I said “….”. But then he told me we could eat at Dinosaur BBQ and stay at an art deco hotel and I said “Okay!”. And then when we found out that the New York State Fair was also going in Syracuse, well, I ran to the car.

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