As wintry cold and snow descended on the transportation burrows through which writers on book tours scamper, bringing joyful words of hope and cheer to shivering readers huddling in the darkness and chill, the Year of the Flood Tour wound to a close amid some last hurrahs. The two final events were:
1. Ben McNally’s Books and Brunch, on Sunday, December 6, at the King Edward Hotel, in which a room packed with happy croissant-inhalers saw Ben put on his light-up Xmas tie to introduce four writers, each of whom gave an account of self and book for ten minutes. Pictured here, along with the mess Margaret made on the tablecloth with her organic coffee – after which she then forgot the coffee-maker – are The McBenster himself, in red shirt; Graeme Gibson, with The Bedside Book of Birds, which on that very day got a stellar review in The New York Times Book Review; Edward Rutherford, with New York: The Novel, another blockbuster from the author of Sarum and London; and Toby Lester, with The Fourth Part of the World, about the wondrous map that first showed the Pacific Ocean. A good time and fruit salad was had by all.
2. Then, on December 8, Graeme and I took the Via train to Windsor –@ 4 hours, the same amount of time it takes us to drive there, and much more restful – for an evening event at the Caboto Club put on in aid of the Windsor Bookfest by Martin Deck, the University of Windsor Bookstore’s secret treasure. Martin is one of the most dedicated bookpeople we know. Every spring, he comes over to Pelee Island and sells the books at the SpringSong migration festival (second weekend in May, thus May 7, 8, and 9 in 2010) — green bird race for the Botham Cup, banquet on the Saturday featuring Celebrity Writer and Celebrity Birder; book early, it sells out, Pelee Island Heritage Centre, www.peleeislandmuseum.ca). Martin is out and about in all sorts of ways, really knows and loves the books, and is much appreciated by publishers and writers.
After doing a short TV interview for Entertainment Windsor – belly dancers as a rule, we were told — we were introduced by Paul Vasey, novelist and well-known CBC voice – he always MCs for SpringSong, too, and is unparalleled, though sometimes mischievous. I took his picture afterwards and he said he hoped he had a criminal air. (Fat chance eh?) But speaking of criminal airs, our old friend, poet and Black Moss publisher Marty Gervais, was there, and I bought his terrific local-history book about the roadhouses and rumrunners in Windsor during Prohibition: The Rumrunners: A Prohibition Scrapbook. (Biblioasis.) Great stuff –lots of pictures. How wicked Windsor was!
In the afternoon I did an interview for The Drive Magazine about environmental things in Essex Country – especially ERCA and Ken Schmidt. It’s been a long time coming, but there is now momentum in this wonderful sun-rich region, which has lost 95%of its original Carolinian forest but is thinking hard about recovery. “This country is so temperate, so fertile and so beautiful that it may justly be called The Earthly Paradise of North America.” – Antoine de Cadillac, 1702.
We took the Via train back – here are some pictures of friendly Via staff, and some more pictures of the winter landscape unfolding. And so we bid farewell to The 2009 Tour, even as we bid hello to the big stacks of backlog work awaiting us…. Happy Holiday Reading!