I first met Renee in the early-1980s when she ran R2B2 Books on West Fourth between Larch and Yew. It was there that I discovered the local literature, writers like bill bissett, George Bowering, Maxine Gadd, Fred Wah...
Every time I brought a book to the counter Renee would have something to say. Oh, Maxine is reading next week; are you going? Or: Ah, John Ashbery, I keep wanting to read more of him. Never once did she look down on a purchase, though this was common at Duthies. Not to compare.
Then the fire, and R2B2 went up in smoke, along with my friend Barry who lived at the rear of the building. Barry had just installed iron bars to keep people from breaking in. I remember watching the fire on the news, a woman crying in the alley because her rabbits were inside. There was no one outside for Barry.
R2B2 relocated a few blocks east, and I followed. A few years later Renee sold the store and for a while it was Black Sheep Books. I read there once with Evelyn Lau.
The first time I read Renee's writing was in Front Magazine, the same piece that Lucy Lippard saw and referred to in her book The Lure of the Local. The piece concerned a series of neighbourhood interactions, something to do with signage, or the signs people put out in place of talking to each other. As usual Renee spins it into something new, and a laugh turns into a thought.