The Society of Experience Chosen As Must-Read By Harper’s Bazaar

I cannot believe how the stars aligned for this, but Harper’s Bazaar – a massive, Hearst-owned fashion and lifestyle magazine – put out a list of their Top 15 “must-reads” for the fall of 2015. And I’m #11. Along with Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Patti Smith, Isabel Allende, David Mitchell, and I’ve lost my mind. It’s the only debut novel on the entire list (and the third Canadian title)!

Link: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/art-books-music/g6211/best-fall-2015-books/

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Limits

I don’t typically work from home when I’m writing fiction. Too many distractions which are almost purely mental (as opposed to audible or visual). Reminders of things that need cleaning, fixing, adjustment. Things I’ve put off seemingly forever.

I typically write in coffee shops, sometimes the odd bar. So yes, I am typically more comfortable in a strange place, surrounded by strangers (though to be honest I tend not to seek out locations that are packed), with music that is not my own playing overhead. This may sound odd. After all, what could possibly provide more distraction than that?

I find the hardest variable is music. The last thing I want is to write while music I know is playing. Why? Because if I like a song, then I’ll be focused on it rather than the brittle little fictional world I’m constructing. My foot will inevitably start beating on the floor to the drums. I will anticipate the dynamics, the chorus. Pretty soon lyrics will be passing through my eyes like ticker-tape instead of my characters’ dialogue.

So, though it might seem paradoxical, I prefer the random jukebox that is the playlist of whomever is working at an establishment I’m located in. And you know what? I discovered many years ago that I can write through pretty much any type of music. And the stranger or furthest away from my taste the music is, the easier it is to tune it out. When I’m in a place that isn’t home, with people I don’t know, with music playing that I wouldn’t necessarily choose to listen to, I can more easily fall into that glorious black hole which allows me to sync with the fictional universe on the other side of my consciousness. Continue reading…

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Planet Kensington is Closing

Yes, Planet Kensington, the venerable punk/rock venue and cheap drink haven is closing at the end of February.

Rumours are swirling about what the new owners of the space will do, but knowing that gentrification and niche-obsession are the current trends in Kensington Market, my hopes are not optimistic.

As before, I ask people visiting this blog who live in or near Toronto to come down and see the fabulous surf-rock outfit, the Z-Rays, as they play their last Saturday residence gig at this fine, fine establishment on February 17th. They play from 3pm to 6pm. Bring ear-plugs and money for alcohol. It can’t be anything less than boss.

I hereby raise a glass to yet another piece of Toronto’s character chipped away by weasels.

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Update: The band is only playing the 17th – there is no show on the 12th as previously noted, due to unforeseen circumstances.
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Update #2: Okay, there will be a show tomorrow (the 10th). It will not be the Z-Rays proper, but rather some sort of open jam with two of their members – which could be really fun. In any case, it’s one more chance to enjoy the venue and listen to live music on a Saturday afternoon.
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Update #3: Second show added! Aside from tomorrow, there will be two Z-Rays shows to round out the end of Planet Kensington. As mentioned, Saturday the 17th is still on – their second show will be the following Saturday (Feb 24th). The very last day PK is open will be for “Death Metal Brunch” on Sunday the 25th. Yum.
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