Monday, November 30, 2009

Filmmaker Jocelyne Chaput dropped by last night with her excellent edit of Eric Cable's 16mm documentation of James Clavell's The Sweet and the Bitter (1967), a film I will be screening at the Pacific Cinematheque on December 10.

For those unfamiliar with Clavell's film, it concerns the story of a Japanese woman who comes to Vancouver as a mail order bride (betrothed to a Japanese fisherman) with the intention of seducing -- and ruining -- the son of the salmon canner who expropriated her father's fishing boat after the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbour. The film is also significant in that it was the first film to be shot and set in Vancouver, and the one and only effort of the West Vancouver-based Commonwealth Film Productions, whose sound stage, if I'm not mistaken, was used by Robert Altman when shooting the second film to be shot and set in Vancouver: That Cold Day In The Park (1969).

The footage Jocelyne edited (from a repetitive 38 minutes to 22) opens and closes with Cable's kooky homemade credits, and features the building of the CFP studio and its colourful Arthurian mural. From there we visit locations such as the long-erased Millard Cannery (started by the grandfather of the Arts Club's Bill Millard), the dock at Ballantine Pier, the former BC Hydro Building (now the Electra apartments), Lighthouse Park and another West Vancouver park whose name escapes me.

Instrumental in sourcing both Clavell's film and Cable's documentation (from Colin Preston at CBC Archives) is Pacific Cinematheque volunteer and advocate Anu Sahota, to whom I am very grateful.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

A newspaper asked for my favorite books of the 2000s, a favorite and a Canadian favorite. After submitting my picks I realized I had exceeded their word limit. For the record:

Plateforme (2001)

At the moment, my favorite book of the past ten years is Plateforme (2001) by Michel Houellebecq. I have returned to this book many times, in the way I return to restaurants because I’ve had good meals there, or I like the staff, the d├ęcor -- where eventually the relationship deepens, achieves the kind of overtone I hope for in all things. Plateforme is not a perfect novel. As in most of Houellebecq’s poorly-written fictions we meet a misanthrope who accepts the market as the arbiter of all human relations, be they economic, social or personal. If there is hope in this book it lies in the reader's potential to recognize the relationship between the author’s crippled syntax and his narrator’s crippled subjectivity. Whether Houellebecq writes "badly" on purpose (or whether he behaves badly in person) is irrelevant. The book works in part because the form (the author’s prose) relates to the content (an alienated narrator). Michel Houellebecq is the only writer I know who writes about the world from the top down.

The Night is A Mouth (2008)

For the past couple months, my favorite Canadian book of the past ten years has been The Night is A Mouth (2008) by Lisa Foad. I have chosen this book because it is new, the last best book I’ve read (and are we not like that with new things, how the new temporarily obliterates all that comes before it?) Foad’s poetic fictions concern the lives of girls and women. But these are not the carefully-beaded stories of Alice Munro, nor are the transgressions as guarded as those of conservative postmoderns like Zsuzsi Gartner. Foad’s extremism parallels the world we live in today, just as de Sade attempted earlier, when he had the audacity to show us that a woman’s body was not a site of reproduction but one of (her) pleasure. There is humour here. Tears too. At times the writing is jagged, not unlike the way our brain goes spazz when suddenly faced with danger.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I was tidying my shelves last night when I came upon a book I bought based on something I had read in Lisa Moore’s now-defunct Globe and Mail column. I cannot recall her topic but I remember she mentioned Faulkner’s New Orleans Sketches (1958) and that I would pick up a copy next time I was out.

New Orleans Sketches is a collection of short pieces (portraits mostly) written during the first half of 1925, when Faulkner worked for the Times-Picayune. These pieces, said to be the author’s first foray into fiction, were published in the newspaper’s Sunday feature section, as well as The Double Dealer, one of the South’s earliest and most influential modern literary journals.

Flipping through the book (a Digit Books paperback edition), I stopped on “Frankie and Johnny”. This is an entirely spoken piece, with all but two of its five hundred words (“Oh, Johnny!”) belonging to Johnny. Below is the first half of the second paragraph, the one I reread this morning:

“When I see you coming down the street back yonder it was like them two ferry boats hadn’t seen each other until then, and they would stop when they met instead of crossing each other, and they would turn and go off side by side together where they wasn’t nobody except them.”

Monday, November 23, 2009

A small room above a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

There are two doors. Behind the narrow door is a closet. Below the top shelf, a pole running left to right with five coat hangers, none in use. The shelf is lined with newspaper, and at its centre, a dark green hat like the one at the beginning of Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust, what is for me the most memorable part of the book.

West writes:

"He left the car at Vine Street. As he walked along, he examined the evening crowd. A great many of the people wore sports clothes which were not really sports clothes. Their sweaters, knickers, slacks, blue flannel jackets with brass buttons were fancy dress. The fat lady in the yachting cap was going shopping, not boating; the man in the Norfolk jacket and Tyrolean hat was returning, not from a mountain, but an insurance office; and the girl in slacks and sneaks with a bandana around her head had just left a switchboard, not a tennis court."

West's paragraph was written in 1938. In 1967 I made a similar observation while walking on Sunset with my grandmother. Only later, in my teens, did it occur to me that what I once identified as two things were, in fact, one, and why it is best for some things, like people, to be seen that way.

From the last paragraph:

"He was carried through the exit to the back street and lifted into the police car. The siren began to scream and at first he thought he was making the noise himself. He felt his lips with his hands. They were clamped tight. He knew then it was the siren. For some reason this made him laugh and he began to imitate the siren as loud as he could."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

On Thursday and Friday I took part in the 2nd Annual Writers Jamboree at the Carnegie Centre. Four one-on-one sessions, followed by a roundtable. Everyone I met with left an impression, though two stood out.

K and W are both middle-aged and have been writing for some time. K’s manuscript consisted of a series of film reviews written in the voice of former US Vice-President Dick Cheney, via Stephen Colbert. K alluded to how liberated he felt to be channeling someone with whom he had so little in common, and what can be gained from such a perspective. W’s manuscript was the opposite: a memoir focused on her experiences living in a farmer’s outbuilding during a bout of mental illness, where nothing much happens apart from her prose. Reading W’s work was like reading Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping – fluid, seamless, translucent.

There was not much I could say to writers as assured as these. To K, who is more interested in writing screenplays, I suggested his reviews become a blog. To W, who would like to see her story in book form, I put her in touch with my agent.

But the writer most on my mind after the second and final day was someone so eager for us to get at his work that he did not have time to tell me his name. This was someone of indeterminate age (he could have been thirty, he could have been fifty), someone who could not get beyond voice and description, two things he did incredibly well. As I waited for the light to change, I saw him leaning against the Carnegie’s wrought iron fence, his eyes, at least as far as I could tell, on nothing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

After hearing word of a possible collaboration between filmmaker Michael Haneke and author Michael Houellebecq, the Globe and Mail’s Russell Smith has given us his review:

“It is true that the film Haneke and Houellebecq will come up with will undoubtedly be the saddest film ever made, and it will be hated and reviled by normal people, and yet it will end up being, like their respective oeuvres, incisive and enlightening, somehow inspiring.” (November 19, 2009)

Smith, who has long prided himself on his innate understanding of the new (while at the same time retaining a connoisseur’s love of the classics), has once again proven (“It is true…”) that the marriage of proper names (“undoubtedly”) makes for that which can only be described as “incisive,” “enlightening” and “inspiring.”

That the only other people who talk like that are monarchs (Prince Philip) and baseball team owners (George Steinbrenner) is not important to Smith. As ever, he remains at the edge of things, firm in his convictions and his got’em-in-London shoes.
Tonight will mark the third night in which drivers and pedestrians can experience David MacWilliam’s Kingsway Luminaires, a work of (public) art that has three poles installed on a median strip at Dumfries, three at Clark. Atop each pole is a glass blown form. Inside the form, a full-spectrum LED light capable of nine colours. Visitors should take their time -- unlike the traffic lights, the colours change slowly.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bed In Summer
(Robert Louis Stevenson)

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reid Shier and I will be giving a talk tomorrow at 7PM on the art bar we will be operating during the 2010 Olympic Games. The talk is hosted by the Langara College Centre for Public Art, located at 100 West 49th Avenue, 3rd Floor, Library. Admission is free.

Monday, November 16, 2009

In yet another instance of property conferring identity, this week’s Georgia Straight cover story (“Real estate bounces back: Is there any connection between the 2010 Winter Games and a remarkable recovery in the Vancouver housing market?”) begins with a 24-year-old pharmicist who, after purchasing his first home (a two bedroom condo at Hornby and Smithe), is heard to say: “One of my friends who I used to live with in university, he’s like, ‘I feel since you bought your place, you’ve matured. You’ve completely changed in the way you are. Before, we used to live the student lifestyle. Now, you’re always cleaning your place. You have plants. You look after them. You’ve even got a cat now. It’s like you’re an adult.’”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Joyland Vancouver is hosting a reading tonight at W2 Perel Gallery, 112 West Hastings, 8PM. On the bill, Rachel Knudsen, Alex Leslie, myself and Rhonda Waterfall. Kevin Chong, editor of Joyland Vancouver, will emcee.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

An October 29th update from BookRiff's Julie Morris.

Apparently BookRiff's latest fumagation worked and the system is once again up and running. Julie also corrected the formatting and imposition concerns I had with the first copies of 8x10 (collage version), and my order for more is in transit.

I have received a fair bit of mail regarding 8x10 (collage version). For those who think the "collage version" is the Doubleday version, it is not. For those interested in acquiring a copy of the "collage version", please see the BookRiff site. In the meantime, I will paste below the "Introduction" to 8x10 (collage version).

*

Introduction


This version of 8x10 is not the “original” but a collage. The idea for a collage version came about after a conversation with my publisher, Doubleday Canada, concerning the “realities” of electronic publishing. It was during our conversation that I learned of BookRiff, a Vancouver-based company that allows readers and writers to make books based on selected and uploaded Internet content. Once the content is cleared and a price determined (and agreed upon), the composition, or riff, is sent to the printers and within days a perfect-bound book is delivered to your door.

Intrigued by this service, I called BookRiff founder and CEO Mark Scott and asked for a meeting. He obliged, and by week’s end I was being taken through the company’s online tutorial. A number of questions arose, the first of which concerned design. Wouldn’t potential composers want more than the standardized BookRiff template? Scott agreed. “BookRiff is an evolutionary service, one that will respond to the demands placed upon it.” The second question concerned the data from the composers’ riffs. “Composer riffs will be available online. So if you want a copy of a Michael Turner riff, that could be arranged.” But what if I don’t want my riff publicized? “Then that’s your choice,” said Scott. So not all riffs will be online.

Whether they are made public or not, BookRiff will have a record of all submitted riffs. Which of course leads to more questions: Will the data be sold? And if so, how will it be used? Will it influence my country’s cultural policies? Will it alter the publishing program of the traditional book publisher, like the one that told me about BookRiff? In considering these questions I decided I had no choice but to attempt a contrarian relationship with the BookRiff database. And to do so, I would use my new book, 8x10.

8x10 is a fiction based on the lives of eight people visited ten times. The book is comprised of events, some of which appear fleeting, like life itself, while others are more sophisticated, like the Short Story and its attempt to keep up with the Novel. There are no names or places in 8x10, nor is there a specific sense of time. At the beginning of each event is a gridded box with a blackened square. The first event in the “original” version has the blackened square in the top left-hand corner. The next event, the square below it. And so on, until we reach the eighth square, at which point we return to the top of the second column. There is a logic to the composition, and a hidden logic as well.

What I proposed to BookRiff was a recomposition of 8x10 using an automated process, as opposed to a more subjective one. In doing so I hoped to achieve two things. First, to inject a little inhumanity into the BookRiff database, and second, to see what narratives would emerge. The idea of a new and unexpected narrative appealed to me. I also liked the quick turnaround: the BookRiff version would be published two days before the “original”.

In recomposing 8x10 I considered cutting out the gridded boxes from the galleys and tossing them in the air, with the new composition determined by the order in which I picked them up. The problem with this method, made famous by the Surrealists (and later William S. Burroughs), is the chance that I might pick them up in the same order as the original – a chance I was not prepared to take. Another idea was to employ a chance operation, assigning each event to a toss of the I Ching, as John Cage did with music, Merce Cunningham with dance, and Jackson Mac Low with poetry. The problem with this method is repetition, which I am not philosophically indisposed to, but could result in the same event recurring throughout the book. My final option was to build a robot and let it decide. But as robots are expensive, I decided to call Stan Douglas, an artist who makes recombinant narrative films and has experience programming random numbers. After assigning lettered numbers to the corresponding gridded boxes (1A for the first gridded box, 2A for the one below it, 3A for the one below that, etc.) I passed the lot his way.

In an email dated August 27, 2009, Douglas replied:

Hi Michael


Mathematicians always start with the integer zero so I've renumbered the rows in your grid accordingly:

0 1A(0) X(1) 1C(2) 1D(3) 1E(4) 1F(5) 1G(6) 1H(7) X(8) 1J(9)

1 2A(0) 2B(1) X(2) 2D(3) 2E(4) 2F(5) 2G(6) X(7) 2I(8) 2J(9)

2 3A(0) 3B(1) 3C(2) X(3) 3E(4) 3F(5) X(6) 3H(7) 3I(8) 3J(9)

3 4A(0) 4B(1) 4C(2) 4D(3) X(4) X(5) 4G(6) 4H(7) 4I(8) 4J(9)

4 5A(0) 5B(1) 5C(2) 5D(3) X(4) X(5) 5G(6) 5H(7) 5I(8) 5J(9)

5 6A(0) 6B(1) 6C(2) X(3) 6E(4) 6F(5) X(6) 6H(7) 6I(8) 6J(9)

6 7A(0) 7B(1) X(2) 7D(3) 7E(4) 7F(5) 7G(6) X(7) 7I(8) 7J(9)

7 8A(0) X(1) 8C(2) 8D(3) 8E(4) 8F(5) 8G(6) 8H(7) X(8) 8J(9)


I then took the first ten sets of random integer rows

00000 10097 32533 76520 13586 34673 54876 80959 09117 39292 74945

00001 37542 04805 64894 74296 24805 24037 20636 10402 00822 91665

00002 08422 68953 19645 09303 23209 02560 15953 34764 35080 33606

00003 99019 02529 09376 70715 38311 31165 88676 74397 04436 27659

00004 12807 99970 80157 36147 64032 36653 98951 16877 12171 76833

00005 66065 74717 34072 76850 36697 36170 65813 39885 11199 29170

00006 31060 10805 45571 82406 35303 42614 86799 07439 23403 09732

00007 85269 77602 02051 65692 68665 74818 73053 85247 18623 88579

00008 63573 32135 05325 47048 90553 57548 28468 28709 83491 25624

00009 73796 45753 03529 64778 35808 34282 60935 20344 35273 88435


and made selections from your grid using pairs of numbers from adjacent rows -- even numbers select from the Y axis (0-7) and odd numbers select from the X axis (0-9). If there is no corresponding "event" I invert the pair to even=X and odd=Y, and if there is still no match I go to the next number pair. Which resulted in this:

2A(0) 1H(7) 1F(5) 5J(9) 8C(2) 4A(0) 3E(4) 6I(8) 1D(3) X(5)

8G(6) 7E(4) ----- 3J(9) 1E(4) X(7) X(4) 6C(2) ----- 7G(6)

4C(2) X(4) ----- 8D(3) X(7) 3I(8) 1A(0) 7J(9) X(3) -----

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- X(1) 1J(9) 2E(4) ----- 3H(7)

----- ----- ----- ----- 3C(2) 8J(9) 5B(1) ----- 5G(6) 6F(5)

----- ----- 5A(0) 3B(1) ----- 7A(0) ----- 6J(9) ----- 4J(9)

----- ----- 7D(3) 5H(7) X(6) 8A(0) ----- 4H(7) ----- -----

X(3) ----- 4I(8) ----- ----- ----- X(2) 6B(1) ------ 6A(0)

2I(8) ----- ----- 6H(7) 4G(6) ----- ----- ----- ----- 8E(4)

----- 6E(4) ----- ----- 1G(6) ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

----- X(6) X(8) ----- 8F(5) ----- ----- ----- X(1) -----

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- X(5) ----- -----

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

----- ----- ----- 2F(5) 4B(1) ----- ----- X(8) ----- -----

2B(1) ----- ----- ----- 2J(9) ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

----- ----- 1C(2) ----- ----- ----- ----- 7I(8) ----- 3F(5)

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- X(2)

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- 5C(2) ----- ----- 5I(8)

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

----- 4D(3) ----- ----- ----- 5D(3) ----- ----- ----- -----

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

----- ----- ----- ----- 2D(3) ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


At this point there were 5 events left over:

1 2G(6)

2 3A(0)

6 7B(1) 7F(5)

7 8H(7)


But this was taking a long time so I cheat by making a new rule to select from the rows according to the appearance of numbers in the first row of integers:

00000 10097 32533 76520 13586 34673 54876 80959 09117 39292 74945


Selecting:

2G(6) 3A(0) 8H(7) 7B(1) 7F(5)


And yielding this sequence:

2A 1H 1F 5J 8C 4A 3E 6I 1D 8G 7E 3J 1E 6C 7G 4C 8D 3I 1A 7J 1J 2E 3H 3C 8J 5B 5G 6F 5A 3B 7A 6J 4J 7D 5H 8A 4H 4I 6B 6A 2I 6H 4G 8E 6E 1G 8F 2F 4B 2B 2J 1C 7I 3F 5C 5I 4D 5D 2D 2G 3A 8H 7B 7F


Bests,
Stan


What follows is the event sequence that corresponds to the above lettered numbers, the collage version of 8x10.


Michael Turner
September 9, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Garbage day tomorrow, and en route to the bins I passed begonias, lobelia and nasturtium, now at war with the leaves.

The leaves are from our apple tree, whose fruit was delicious and abundant this year, as were the grapes. It was a good year for the hydrangea, too, but not the Bowen Island fern I transplanted five Februarys ago, taken from a meadow behind the summer home of Toronto’s Ardis Breeze.

I took an apple with me on my recent trip out east, hoping to leave it with Ardis. It was only after landing that I remembered she and Claude were still on Hornby Island, so I gave it to a taxi driver, who said he would take it home, share it with his family. As he pulled away I noticed his window descend, the apple bouncing behind him.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A small room above a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Above the door, clinging to the picture rail, a bird's nest made of twigs and foolscap. Poking out, a ceramic figure -- a girl, hands on hips, looking to the left.

A knock.

She falls.

Footsteps.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Speaking of Madison Avenue, I watched Sunday night’s Season Three finale of Mad Men, AMC’s paean to masculinity, persuasion and cigarettes, and, as usual, was entertained by the show’s writing but also by my memory of past shows that had daddies working in advertising, shows such as Bewitched (1964-1972) and Thirtysomething (1987-1991). (Note that the time between the final episode of Bewitched and the first episode of Thirtysomething is within a year of the final episode of Thirtysomething and the first episode of Mad Men, which debuted in 2007.)

Although not surprised by Sunday’s episode (season finales either protract or accelerate the usual flow of events), I was awed by a shot taken from the perspective of the cast: their collective last look at the office of Sterling Cooper, a beautiful arrangement of desks and chairs that spoke more to the end of the 1950s than the end of 1963. Indeed, that many believe the “Sixties” began in 1964 (and ended in 1973) suggests that next year’s shows will have “Don” and “Roger” coming to work not in suits but in suede car coats, their office walls adorned not with Rothkos but Ruschas.

How long Mad Men will run is hard to say. Bewitched lasted eight seasons (with two Darrins), while Thirtysomething (which had a large cast) lasted four. Law & Order has been on TV how many years now? But of those years, has anyone stayed on from the beginning? I like the idea of a show outlasting its characters, so I will be curious to see the kinds of characters the show’s producers introduce next season. How far a show with “mad” in the title will last into the “Sixties” can only be worth watching.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Curious about the synopsis for last night's TCM airing of Putney Swope, I sent Shaw this email:

On Friday November 6 at 11PM, TCM aired Putney Swope (1969). Pressing the INFO button on my Shaw remote revealed the following synopsis:

"Robert Downey's satire on Madison Avenue Establishment. Contains color sequences."

That "color" is the US spelling implies the synopsis originated in the US. But when I checked the TCM site, it said:

1. Putney Swope (1969)
Black and White, Color (Eastmancolor)
An unexpected member of the executive board of an advertising firm is accidentally put in charge.
84 mins.

My question is this: Given the film’s thematic content, what does one mean by "color sequences"?

Friday, November 6, 2009

I usually leave it to Peter Culley to advertise what's worth watching on TCM, but since there’s no notice: Putney Swope at 11PM (PST).

Here’s what the INFO button on my Shaw remote says:

Putney Swope
11-12:30a
46 TCM

Arnold Johnson, Antonio Fargas, (1969), ***, Robert Downey’s satire on the Madison Avenue Establishment. Contains color sequences. Arnold Johnson. (Comedy, 84 Mins.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lavish hotels. Yes. Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle, and my suite below the one Keith Richards was arrested in 22 years ago and charged with heroin possession. Oddly enough, this did not occur to me until after my return to Vancouver.

I was looking for a George Jones youtube interview when I stumbled upon a 7:43 min. clip featuring news footage of Richards' arrest, excerpts from Creem magazine, and two of the songs he recorded with pianist Ian Stewart while awaiting trial – “Say It’s Not You” and “Apartment #9”, both of which had been recorded by Jones.

The Richards/Stewart performances are stunning, bringing to mind Scotland’s Jen Hadfield, the attention she gives each word. Richards does the same, particularly on “Say It’s Not You”. But whereas Hadfield’s words emerge like precious stones, Richards’ fall like tears.
This year’s Ottawa Writers Festival felt different from my last reading there, ten years ago. Where the readings once took place at the National Arts Centre, this time they were held in the basement of St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts and Humanities, a former church. While some writers missed the warm stage and raked seating of the previous digs, I was happy to read at a venue contiguous with the local scene, making it more an Ottawa affair than a Canadian one. Indeed, if Canada loomed large at the Ottawa festival, it did so in the form of the ReLit Awards, a tribute to independent Canadian publishing.

Toronto's International Festival of the Authors remains the most generous in terms of lavish hotel rooms and endless booze and food, though like Ottawa, it has spread its wings to include readings outside the Harbourfront monolith, such as the one I took part in at Don Mills, an odd assemblage that had myself, Kate Pullinger and Anne Michaels, whose Fugitive Pieces I once likened to eating a flower, sharing a stage at the McNally-Robinson Bookstore. I had forgotten about this, until Anne alluded to it when we were introduced in the van.

This year's IFOA thematic was Scotland, and featured rustics like Ron Butlin, who is every bit the Scot I remember from my childhood, growing up in what was then a very British Vancouver, and Alan Bissett, a Glaswegian in the urban mode. The difference between this older Scotland and the everywhere urban world of today was no more pronounced than at last Friday’s reading at the Harbourfront Studio stage, where Torontonian Lisa Foad’s pedal-to-the-metal brilliance was followed by Scot Jen Hadfield's quivering slow-motion word births. Lisa's book, The Night is a Mouth (Exile Editions), was this year’s winner of the ReLit Award for short fiction, and the one I kept reading on the long flight home.