fun stuff, literary event

The Event: Rare Stories and Rarer Tea with Jeff Fuchs

On Wednesday, November 7th I had to chance to see new art, have a chat with a rather incredible man in Shangri-La, and sample a tea that may never before have been tasted in Canada. . .

Tea and art aficionados mingle and taste tea on the lower level of the Ars Nova gallery.

This will come as a shock to you: one of my passions is great storytelling. I know, I know, I hide it well, don’t I? One of my other passions, which you may also have heard me talk about in person or on Twitter, is tea. Toronto is home to dozens of tea shops, each different from the last. Over the years, my palate for loose-leaf tea has become more and more refined. I admit it, I’m a bit of a tea snob.

I’m even part of a tea club, which meets all over the city to check out tea purveyors and taste their wares, try out different afternoon tea services, go to seminars, and just have all kinds of fun to do with tea. One of the places we often meet is the Tea Emporium, which features artwork by Canadian author/photographer/explorer/tea-freak Jeff Fuchs. Our group jumped at the chance to see Jeff’s newest photograph exhibit at the Ars Nova gallery, especially when we heard what else the evening had to offer: a talk with Jeff in Yunnan and the launch of a very special subscription service called Jalam Teas.

Continue reading “The Event: Rare Stories and Rarer Tea with Jeff Fuchs”

Cloud Atlas Readalong

Cloud Atlas Readalong Part 12: Final Thoughts

Introduction
Part 1: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (first half)
Part 2: Letters from Zedelghem (first half)
Part 3: Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (first half)
Part 4: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (first half)
Part 5: An Orison of Sonmi~451 (first half)
Part 6: Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After (whole story)
Part 7: An Orison of Sonmi~451 (second half)
Part 8: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (second half)
Part 9: Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (second half)
Part 10: Letters from Zedelghem (second half)
Part 11: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (second half)

Final Thoughts

What a difference twelve weeks of reading, thinking, and discussion can make. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of this book from the first time round. I remembered how much of the book was about the predatory nature of human beings, and that it was an exercise in writing in different genres with different voices. I knew that the stories were barely connected (or so I thought!) and that they were possibly about reincarnation, or at least about the overall human experience.

I wasn’t wrong, but my understanding was much shallower than I realized. I began to have an inkling about that when I read David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten a year later. With so many little connections fizzing throughout that book (including appearances by Timbo Cavendish and Luisa Rey from Cloud Atlas!)I wondered how much else was going on in Cloud Atlas than perhaps I’d first noticed in just a regular reading.

Continue reading “Cloud Atlas Readalong Part 12: Final Thoughts”

fun stuff, miscellaneous

Turning 30: the 30 books that have shaped the reader and person I am

Today I turn 30. I love birthdays for the chance to celebrate with friends and also to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going. I thought it fitting to take a look back today at the 30 books that have shaped me, books that I’ve adored or obsessed about over the years, books that have shifted the way I’ve thought about reading and life in some way. These are not necessarily the books that make up my all-time favourites list now, or even books that I think are the best written. These are the books, in roughly chronological reading order, that mattered to me at particular times in my life, that have influenced the reader and the person I have become.

Continue reading “Turning 30: the 30 books that have shaped the reader and person I am”

fun stuff, guest post

Guest Post by Alex Hoffman: How much do people actually like Giller Prize winners?

Alex Hoffman, who tweets as @thatguyalex and blogs at graphicnovelguy.wordpress.com, runs the Metro Toronto Book Club and is the owner of many signed books and even more opinions. With the approach of the Giller announcement this evening, he asked if he could do a guest post. The floor is his. . . 

With the imminent announcement of either 419 by Will Ferguson or Ru by Kim Thuy as the 2012 winner, I decided to ruminate on some Giller questions through a guest post here on EditorialEyes.

Do Giller Winners become popular reads?


Continue reading “Guest Post by Alex Hoffman: How much do people actually like Giller Prize winners?”

Cloud Atlas Readalong

Cloud Atlas Readalong Part 11: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (second half)

Introduction
Part 1: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (first half)
Part 2: Letters from Zedelghem (first half)
Part 3: Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (first half)
Part 4: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (first half)
Part 5: An Orison of Sonmi~451 (first half)
Part 6: Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After (whole story)
Part 7: An Orison of Sonmi~451 (second half)
Part 8: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (second half)
Part 9: Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (second half)
Part 10: Letters from Zedelghem (second half)

Part 11: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (second half)

The Story So Far . . .
Here we are, back where we started eleven weeks ago, back to the interrupted passage from Sunday, December 8th. The Prophetess lands at the isle of Raiatea, part of the Society Islands (the better known of which is Tahiti). There Adam Ewing and Dr. Henry Goose are invited by Captain Molyneux and first-mate Mr. Boerhaave ashore. Adam smells a rat but goes ahead. They’ve landed at a small settlement called Nazareth, in Bethlehem Bay, which at first seems deserted. Boerhaave suggests that with twenty men and twenty muskets, the island could be there’s. Adam feels “a loamy breathlessness” and compares his vigour on the Chatham Isles to the toll the Parasite has taken on him.

The people of Nazareth appear out of the church, and the captain is introduced to Preacher Horrox, the authority in the area. Molyneux plays up the God-fearing nature of his crew, and they are invited to the Horroxes’ home for lunch. Molyneux flatters him and asks how the Indians are kept in line. They work of their own free will, the preacher claims, and Molyneux intimates that a business proposition, bringing the fruits of this Eden to Adam’s San Francisco, could be in his interest.

Bora Bora and Raiatea Islands. Image from Wikipedia.org

Continue reading “Cloud Atlas Readalong Part 11: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (second half)”

literary event

The Event: Michael Chabon and Junot Díaz at IFOA 2012

Junot Diaz, about to shake my hand. All photographs by Alexander Hoffman.

The International Festival of Authors couldn’t have picked a better duo for one of their opening events: Junot Díaz (This is how You Lose Her, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) and Michael Chabon (Telegraph Avenue, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union), talking about their books, the nature of fiction, the problems of modern book criticism (or lack thereof), writing women, writing race, the awesomeness of Michael Ondaatje, and the double standard in genre fiction. They also read from their books, took audience questions, and were terribly funny and swore a lot. As you might guess, it was a hell of a good 90-minute session.

“Are you ready for some literature?” asked moderator Siri Agrell, author and columnist who was hilarious in her own right and held her own against her formidable guests. The sold out crowd most certainly was. The opening night buzz was palpable (made even cooler for my friend and I by a heated debate about whether the gentleman waiting in line in front of us was Michael Ondaatje. It was. I’d expect him to get his own IFOA throne or something, but he queued along with us normal folk to go and see a lit event. So cool!)

Continue reading “The Event: Michael Chabon and Junot Díaz at IFOA 2012”

literary event

The Event: Rick Mercer and Aislin at Toronto Reference Library’s Appel Salon

Rick Mercer and Terry Mosher at the Appel Salon.
All photographs taken by Alexander Hoffman.

“I want to be you when I grow up.”
– Rick Mercer to Terry Mosher, Oct. 18, 2012

This will surprise no one in Canada, but it has to be said: Rick Mercer is a funny, funny man. He, along with Terry Mosher (aka Aislin), appeared at Toronto Reference Library as part of the Star Talks program at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon. And he had the sold-out crowd paralyzed with belly laughs all evening.

Mr. Mercer took to the stage after an introduction by writer, critic, and purveyor of arts and pop culture Geoff Pevere, who also acted as moderator for the discussion in the evening’s second half. Exuding energy and charm, Rick seemed genuinely pleased to be with us as he settled comfortably behind the podium. Looking around, he said, “Wow. A library with a bar!” He hung out at the library a lot when he was a kid, he said, so much so that his dad warned him he’d start suffering from Old Book Lung, but the libraries of his youth never had a bar in them.

Continue reading “The Event: Rick Mercer and Aislin at Toronto Reference Library’s Appel Salon”