IFOA Run Down + Stealing Franzen's Pants

It's that week - like exam week for publishing people, but with more booze, and just as many books. Here's how it shook down on my end (the amount of name dropping may make you ill, so keep Tums at the ready):

I went to the DBC Pierre, Dan Rhodes, and Wells Tower reading last Friday. Dan Rhodes read something he'd written when he was six years old. The story was crazy convoluted but it all ended with a giant space mouse (?) weeing on the earth's denziens. We all went to Wallymagoo's afterwards, a nautical themed bar that puts the ticky in tacky. Apparently Rhodes went there during his last visit to IFOA (seven years ago) and specifically requested to go back. I somehow ended up on the floor of the hospitality suite eating chocolate out of a bucket. The chocolate sponsor at this year's IFOA has been muchos dangerous.

Saturday was the CBC reception, held in the 205 Wellington lobby. It was very swank and my was there a lot of food (dessert buffet table, what!). I finally met Hannah Sung c/o of Trinity College's former Dean of Women, and Penguin author, Elizabeth Abbott (she presided over my res, back in the day). Sung was a MuchMusic VJ back in the early 00's and I can't help it, I still idolize VJs, something left over from my days when I lived in the sticks and thought everyone in Toronto looked like the tarts on Electric Circus. 

Monday was the Hello! IFOA party. I finally convinced my co-worker to do the magazine cover shoot they had set up. It was less crowded this year and there was sushi, both excellent things. I declined going to the Anansi party, for once knowing my limit...

...But that was not the case on Tuesday night, Penguin Canada's 75th anniversary party. It was held at the Toronto Temperence Society, a new members-only club above Sidecar on College. There were fantastic drinks like the Ginger Cilantro something (ginger beer, cilantro, gin etc.) which was tangy and savory and delicious. I talked to William Gibson, who was genuine and candid and lovely, though it was almost more fun to see my friend, who is a huge fan, freak out silently about meeting him. There is photographic evidence, which I will have to procure. I saw Neil Pasricha, Joseph Boyden, John Ralston Saul, Adrienne Clarkson, and many more wonderful authors there. Headed over to the McArthur and Company party at Allen's on the Danforth where I chatted with authors Lewis DeSoto and Richard Poplak.

The Jonathan Franzen reading was on Thursday night. Franzen, the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Corrections and Freedom, neither which I have read, is an amazingballs reader. He has this deep, pensive literary voice that somehow manages to enliven the text while bravely skirting pretension. I didn't manage to steal Franzen's pants, though my co-worker did ask him to draw hearts on my copy, eliciting a quizzical look. AND NO HEARTS. Damnit!

Are you still with me? Saturday was the Jane Urquhart interview with Charlotte Gray. Bravo IFOA for setting up such a brilliant pairing. Seeing these two intelligent and well-spoken together on stage was truly inspiring. Urquhart discussed her writing habits (no living thing can be in the room or building with her while she's writing!) and methods (she rarely knows what her novels will be until she's completed them). I rounded out the day with a roundtable that included Dinaw Mengestu, Kathleen Winter, and Jack Hodgins. I had mixed feelings about Winter's Annabel, but wow is she dynamo in person. She talked about finally feeling comfortable with herself at 50, and reaching inside herself to find the stillness and peace she'd long sought externally. She just has this wondering aura of fulfillment about her! As she should, what with her triple-nom-crown.

That's all the hijinks to report, folks! Can we please please do IFOA every quarter? No really. I feel like I've become 5% smarter from being around all these literary geniuses this week. More intellectual clusterfucks, please and thanks!

1 comment:

Heather said...

Sounds like a fantastic event. I am envious.


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