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.
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).
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.
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: http://clockandbell.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/teris-book-launch/