Rust is a Form of Fire – Joe Fiorito (2015, Guernica Editions Inc., Ontario)
Joe Fiorito, a long-time columnist for the popular newspaper the Toronto Star, offers up what he calls “non-narrative non-fiction” to capture a microcosm within the city of Toronto, Canada. Over the course of three days, he spent several hours sitting near the intersection of Victoria and Queen in the bustling metropolis, and recorded all of his observations of the scenes around him: snippets of conversations, what people were wearing, what they were drinking or eating, what the temperature was, interesting features about buildings around him…you name it. Along the way, he reveals a fascinating portrait of the multiculturalism of the city, of the street people, the poor and ill, the tourists and the urbanites, the babies and the elderly, the workers in the jobs (both mundane and high-powered) – everyone who makes up the personality of the city. It’s a simple concept, but the result is utterly absorbing, and I can’t help but wonder what other writers would come up with if they conducted a similar experiment in other cities of the world.
Nocturne: Dream Recipes – Isol (2012, Groundwood Books, Toronto)
I found this curious little black book (complete with built in cardboard stand) in the children’s section of the library I work in. Created by Argentine author and illustrator Isol, Nocturne has black pages with whimsical glow-in-the-dark drawings. Each page contains a “dream recipe” and the idea is that you pick a page you want to dream about, charge it up in sunlight during the day, and then set the book on the nightstand when you fall asleep to “inspire” your nocturnal wanderings. Cute, right? Uh, maybe not so much…the first page I opened to contained “the dream of the dead singer,” complete with a drawing of a woman weeping and a gentleman smoking a cigarette as they gaze into the coffin containing the grinning body. The second one I turned to was “the dream of the door that should not be opened.” Now, if you were a child – or even an adult – with the kind of imagination I have, this one would ensure that you didn’t sleep for weeks.
They’re not all macabre like that, though – there’s “the dream of the cat who smelled the tuna casserole” and “the cozy, warm dream” and “the dream of going far away,” which is the one I set up to try one night. (I didn’t dream that night…not anything that I can recall, anyway).
While I’m thinking this book is a little too scary for (some) kids – and me! – I can suggest another excellent use for it: if you’re a writer, you could treat it like a series of writing prompts for those days when you’re a little stuck. Could be fun!
Joyland – Stephen King (2013, Hard Case Crime, Titan Books, London)
Not the master’s finest by any stretch, but of course I was instantly sucked in and transported to Joyland: the smell of the corndogs and fried chicken, the delighted shouts of the riders on the Ferris wheel, the pop of the guns in the shooting gallery. Oh yeah, and of course, there are a few ghosts, a carnival psychic who may really have the gift of sight, a sick child and his beautiful tortured mother, and a teenager with a broken heart. It’s nothing new, but it’s good fun all the same.
An annual event in Calgary and Banff, WordFest is a six-day extravaganza of all things related to writing, drawing writers and readers from all over the world together for workshops, readings and other events. In 2012, WordFest runs from October 9-14. You can check out their website for more information and the very exciting festival line-up.
Every year, prior to the festival, they put out a call for volunteer readers, who read and review the many books that are considered for inclusion in the event. I was able to squish a small contribution into my schedule: Continue reading