I had the pleasure of attending “The Word on the Street” in Toronto on Sunday afternoon. Canada’s largest annual book and magazine festival, WOTS brings together Canadian authors, publishers, performers, literacy organizations, and lovers of the printed word. University Avenue from Bloor to south of Queen’s Park was closed to traffic to allow for event tents, author signing tents, the marketplace, and performance stages, on the street and in the park.
With only 3 hours to spend, I had to pick and choose carefully, knowing I couldn’t possibly see all the authors or visit all the booths. I visited the Cooks ‘n Books Stage to watch Elizabeth Baird’s delightful baking demo of “Witch’s Finger” cookies. Chefs Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann signed my purchased copy of their new cookbook, Earth to Table.
Over at the CBC Stage, host Jian Ghomeshi interviewed: Canada Reads 2009 panelist Nicholas Campbell, defender of Gil Adamson’s The Outlander; Canada Reads 2008 panelists Dave Bidini (Paul Quarrington’s King Leary) and Jemini (Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring); and Canada Reads 2009 nominated author, Brian Francis (for his novel Fruit). Campbell and Jemini both reported feeling a strong sense of ownership of their selections, as if the books were their own creation. In answer to Ghomeshi’s question — what makes a book “Canadian” — panelists agreed that the book needed to resonate with the reader both by touching their own life experiences and by offering recognizable places – if not identifiable locations, then settings that could conjure up familiar places.
Next up, in the Comics and Graphic Novels tent, three works, set in Canada, were presented by their creators. Willow Dawson recently received a Toronto Arts Council grant, so her webcomic, 100 Mile House, will be further developed and eventually published in hard copy format.
Jeff Lemire, author of the Essex County graphic novel trilogy, spoke of the heavy influence real places in southwestern Ontario (Essex County primarily) and the fishing village near North Bay where he vacationed every summer growing up have had on his work. The co-op, the hockey rink, the corner store where he used to buy comic books….
Evan Munday’s Quarter-Life Crisis: Only the Good Die Yung, takes place in post-apocalyptic Toronto, where only the 25 year-olds survived, but must avoid the Rogers, a paramilitary group housed at the Skydome. Familiar Toronto streetscapes, a decapitated CN Tower, and numerous other familiar references, make this a fun read. I’m looking forward to further installments.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )