Friday, January 19, 2007

Winter Reading and Writing

What a busy fall! Between teaching the Imagining Toronto course and the Kensington Market field research course, and doing a bunch of talks (1, 2, and 3) and publishing articles and a book chapter and writing for Reading Toronto every Tuesday, I haven't had much time to update here.

And this winter I'm even busier, pushing forward with the Imagining Toronto manuscript and farming out chapters for publication, and a more personal work tentatively called Acts of Salvage (excerpts from which appear occasionally at Reading Toronto ... here and here and here) and continuing to write short pieces for Spacing magazine as long as they'll have them and teaching a writing course at York called The Naked City and another course on theories of space and place and so on and so forth.

I'm also kept busy re-filling the bird feeder outside my office window every two or three days, now that whole charms of finches and sparrows have discovered it.

But at my desk, and on the subway, and in the bathtub on cold winter evenings with a glass of Bailey's, I am continuing to read (almost) every piece of Toronto literature I can get my hands on.

Recent, planned, and ongoing reads:

Sally Gibson's excellent Inside Toronto: Urban Interiors 1880s to 1920s (Cormorant, 2006), which I have reviewed here.

Gordon Stewart Anderson's The Toronto You are Leaving (Untroubled Heart, 2006), a novel about young gay men's experiences in Toronto during the 1970s, which I'll be reading shortly and will review for Reading Toronto soon.

Tanya Huff's funny and faintly frightening Blood Price (Daw, 1991), a detective/vampire novel set in Toronto, featuring a nearsighted ex-cop who teams up with a vampire who writes bodice rippers to hunt a demon. I almost never read genre fiction except under duress or for research purposes, but this one's really good (it's the first novel of Huff's Vicky Nelson series). Apparently there's a television series in production. Believe it or not, there is a huge list of detective / mystery / urban fantasy novels featuring Toronto (if you're interested in reading some of it, send me an email and I'll send you a list).

I've also dipped into Trevor Cole's The Fearsome Particles (McClelland & Stewart, 2006) and Vincent Lam's Giller Prize winning Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (Random House, 2005).

This morning I came across reference to a new Toronto novel, John Miller's A Sharp Intake of Breath (Dundurn, 2007), which is set in 1930s Toronto and features both Kensington Market and Emma Goldman (a winning combination if there ever was one). I've ordered the book today and look forward to reading and reviewing it.

Otherwise, I'm reading much of the scholarly literature on space and place (Yi-Fu Tuan, Edward Casey, Heidegger [of course], Henri Lefebvre, Edward Soja, Gaston Bachelard, Michel de Certeau, Doreen Massey, Ted Relph, etc. etc.)

And a few other books I've picked up and am reading, most notably Arman Marie Leroi's Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body (Viking, 2003), appropriate because I have recently re-read Katherine Dunn's Geek Love; and Robert Polhemus' Lot's Daughters: Sex, Redemption, and Women's Quest for Authority (Stanford University Press, 2005), an interesting study about what younger women seek from older men (a book which has caused me to start guiltily from time to time, given that my close male friends tend to be much older, and I'm married to someone nearly a decade my senior ... not that I have an Electra complex ... I hope).

And today in the mail I hope to receive Alberto Manguel's The Library at Night (Knopf, 2006). Usually I want to smack Manguel for self-indulgence, but this time I'll go along with the guilty pleasure. It's supposed to snow today, meaning that it will be perfect weather for bathtub reading.

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