Even the fleetest literary party-goer finds it hard to make more than one book launch on a fall evening, but last week I achieved some kind of record by attending Anthony De Sa , Patricia Westerhof, and Catherine Bush’s all in one night. (Grammar grouches should remember that only the last name in a series shows the possessive).
Anthony De Sa did me a favour by starting his launch early, up in the Junction near where I live. The place was so full of people, there must have been hundreds, that I could barely snatch more than a dozen suckling pig sandwiches and half as many chicken wings. While I was there, I ran into author Andrew Borokowski with a guest from Hungary. Andrew’s porkpie hat is a giveaway in a crowd. He told me he was going to Patricia’s launch at the Gladstone Hotel. I said I had sadly intended to miss it because I was going by previous engagement to Catherine Bush’s launch at the Gladstone.
But both were in the same place, as it turns out, in different rooms, making my party-hopping all the easier.
Patricia is an alumna of the Humber School for Writers. Both were packed and lovely, but it was in Catherine’s that I ran across many people I happened to know. I spoke to Karen Mulhallen of Descant, with whom I spent a few years on the editorial board in the eighties, another former Humber student of David Bergen, and then writersAnne Ireland and Lesley Krueger, Shyam Selvadurai, and finally my own dear agent, Anne McDermid.
An author who must remain unnamed said to me that it was the most terrible evening of the year because the Giller longlist had come out, and none of the writers about that evening were on it. Columnist Russell Smith wrote about this type of horror in his Globe column that week.
Sadly, this win-all lose-all attitude spoils the good works done by all writers. I have started Anthony’s book and am enjoying it greatly. I have good reason to believe that will be true of the others. It might be time to give up the “heroic” attitude toward the season’s books and admit that the writers are all journeymen and women, plying their trade, with the wandering spotlight of acclaim falling upon some from time to time.
A book launch attendee is captivated by conversation, food, and drink, though not necessarily in that order. Most book launches now have cash bars, sadly, although what we now spend on a drink is not nearly as much as we used to spend on taxis when the drinks were free. In addition to the fine food at Anthony’s launch, I should say that the pizza served at Richard Scarsbrook’s launch a day or two earlier at the Gladstone was so good that I hovered over it shamelessly. Another night at Priscila Uppal’s launch saw fun food – popcorn and corn chips with melted cheese. That’s where I ran into my old friend, the poet Rishma Dunlop, and the editor of my last book, Janice Zawerbny, who is now at House of Anansi. I have posted about Janice in the past, and swore I wouldn’t do it again (until next time).