Living in the barbaric suburbs makes it difficult to find books. Yes, there’s always the internet, but sometimes one just needs an actual bookstore: it’s a pilgrimage thing. (No, Chapters doesn’t count as “an actual bookstore”.) One of my favourite pilgrimages begins at ABC (the closest to Bloor/Yonge subway), moves on to Glad Day and ends at Eliot’s (the closest to Wellesley station–it’s all about geography).
The proprietors of these stores either know me or are familiar with me. The first shop and the last get assailed with a “do you have this” list, and are able to brush off my frustration if my demands are not met. Glad Day gets held to a different standard, and I insist they give me suggestions.
The people at Glad Day must be quite subtle in their eye-rolling, etc: I never notice it. They do their very best to recommend something–anything–that might appease my literary persnicketiness. My last trip there bagged three books: L’Asphyxie, Therese and Isabelle, and What We All Long For. I love the first, enjoyed the second, and was bored by the third. This is unfortunate because I really wanted to say I liked that book. Dionne Brand is a good poet, but she is not a good novelist. Neither the characters nor the plot developed: it just took 300 pages to tell the reader everything. (That said, I did reread the occasional line that demonstrated her poetic abilities: “Anyone walking by would see a girl thin and sickled against a maple, resounding its stillness and winter quiescence” (Brand, 250). )
The quest for adept female writers continues.