19 July 2007

Happy yesterday to me.

Yesterday I turned 48. That sounds like an awfully big number. Dana took me Jean's Vegetarian Kitchen on the Danforth for an amazing Thai birthday meal. At the next table, though, some yoga woman was discussing gastrointestinal activity with her friend. Nice dinner talk.

Dana and I headed to the Annex afterwards and we wandered and she bought me a birthday book about the Billie Holiday song "Strange Fruit." I had no idea that song had caused such commotion. Somewhere, on vinyl, I have a beautiful version by a Canadian (?) singer named Stan Campbell. Whatever happened to Stan Campbell? But best is a live version by Billie, her voice craggy with smoke and self-disregard, tired but quietly, resignedly passionate.

Earlier in the day, I went up to the cemetery to visit Mom, Dad, Owen, and my aunt Edith and uncle Sol. Hey, they're starting to outnumber us! How many people go to their parents' graves and ask for a bit of advice when, while their parents were alive, they never took any of that advice? Today I was reading a bit of C. S. Lewis's book A Grief Observed, which my friend Mary gave me. Lewis writes, "Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but you have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief." The book's got a few laughs, too.

* * *

A short video by Dana is included in Sales Performance, a great installation of video works at Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, at 401 Richmond. Other fine pieces are by Andy Paterson, RM Vaughan, and Tanya Mars. I think there are 10 or 12 altogether. It's on till the end of the month, and it's way more interesting — and certainly more fun — than the thing that's on in the gallery's mainspace.

* * *

In a couple weeks, I'll head off to Ottawa for about 10 days. I've been invited to read and jam at the Ottawa Folk Festival, which will be amazing. But my pal Michael has arranged a place for me to stay for a week, so I'm going to finally finish my goddamn albatross of a stinkin' novel. Actually, I really like the novel, but it's been no end of trouble. When I declared it finished, it'll be arbitrary; I think that's what unsettles me.

I've been getting more response about George Murray's review of I Cut My Finger in the Globe than I have about the book itself. Or so it seems. George wrote therein that I am "Now considered to be Canada's foremost writer of the surreal" — and people believe it! It's amazing how that kind of sweeping remark, published in a newspaper, commands such respect. I mean, I'm not knocking the thing of being reviewed in a daily newspaper, but it's such an odd experience. And what I appreciated most was George's thoughtful commentary on my work itself.

Anyways, I've recently bought up from my publishers, dirt-cheap, large quantities of some of my earlier books. I've been mailing them off to people who show interest in my work. It's fun to spread them around and know that they're going to be in appreciative hands. Better than having them sit in a warehouse somewhere, or cower beneath my bed.

Over and out.


At July 20, 2007 11:41 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

happy belated birthday stu you youngster you practically have the rest of your life ahead of you if you don't count all the time you spend worrying about finishing your novel so have a fun 49th trip around the sun and contemplate death with every breath celebrate the infinite kaleidoscopic nuance of something i forgot but that's what happens to you when you get my age.
p.s. my mother lived in new york (city) in the 40s talks of frequenting this cozy very narrow jazz club where lady day was a regular. she said strange fruit was the tune that shut everyone up. glasses stopped clinking and the whole place suddenly had focus. a prayer that stopped the world.

At July 20, 2007 9:33 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also happy birthday from me! My mom said not to look for her at the cemetery. If you want to find her spirit, try the mall!

At July 21, 2007 11:27 pm , Blogger torontopearl said...

Stu, a very happy belated birthday to you. Hope it's a wonderful year in every way.

(Thx, too, for reading my blog and your warm recent comment on one of the latest posts. Much appreciated.)


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