Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

On a cold, wet, and windy day in Toronto...

1. Yesterday morning we went to St. Lawrence Market and had peameal bacon sandwiches for brunch. St. Lawrence Market was cool. It's a collection of specialty food stalls and greengrocers all under one roof, basically. I looked for something unique to Toronto to bring back for my mom as a souvenir, but I came up empty. A bunch of vendors seemed to be pushing the maple syrup as a uniquely Torontonian (?) foodstuff, but we've got that. New York, Vermont, all over the place. So that wasn't really that exciting. And I didn't think the smoked elk would (a) make it past customs, or (b) ever get eaten. Peameal bacon is basically what we call Canadian Bacon, but with a cornmeal-like crust around the edge and cut thicker than the Canadian Bacon we usually see here. It was really good. Like a ham sandwich, but really tasty. I liked. Then we went across the street and walked around the farmer's market, and then we went to Rogers Video to rent a movie, since it was really quite dismal outside. Rogers, whoever he is, seems to own Toronto. He's the cable guy, the guy whose name is on the former Skydome, he has a TV station, he has the video stores... [warning: terribly bad attempt to be funny coming up] so Toronto, in effect, truly is Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.

2. Last night we went to see a reading by author John Irving at the Harbourfront Centre (note both words have special non-American spellings!) as part of IFOA, the International Festival of Authors. It was a big deal thing -- a big theater (uh, theatre), maybe 500 people there. I haven't read any John Irving, but he new one (Until I Find You) keeps coming up on my Amazon wish list, and his old ones, A Prayer For Owen Meany, The World According To Garp, The Cider House Rules (didn't read but saw the movie, which I really liked) are really famous. It started out with a reading from a book he hasn't finished yet, called Last Night In Twisted River. I'm never going to listen to books on tape. I just don't process information as well that way. It took me about ten minutes before I could really focus enough to follow what was going on -- it didn't grab me, read out loud. I like books on paper. I like reading. Listening is less cool to me. Anyway, it was fine and he had a nice reading voice, but the more interesting part was the interview that followed. He was interviewed by an infuriating Canadian broadcaster who kept using the word "extraordinary" to describe everything, and who didn't actually listen to any of his answers, it seemed. She had a sheet of questions, and kept interrupting him when he said something interesting just so she could move along her list. I was hoping someone in the audience would run up on stage and strangle her, because she was very frustrating. But John Irving was terrific. He had all sorts of interesting things to say about this book I haven't read, but even more to say about his writing process and writing in general and it was very very interesting and he was very articulate about all of it. He starts with the last line of his books and works backwards, and it often takes him up to seven years to complete a novel. He's driven to write dark and appalling things, and doesn't really get off on writing happy. He doesn't use a computer, and can write anywhere. His offices at home don't have doors on them. He talked about the differences between working on a screenplay for one of his books versus writing his novels, and about the alone-ness of novel-writing, and the way that, for him, the film stuff is fun but not necessary -- he does it to the extent he enjoys it, but his "day job" is the novels, and even if that's less fun, he has to do it, and that's what he's driven to produce. All very interesting stuff. I've not seen enough talks by authors, I don't think.