Monday, September 25, 2006

I feel like Columbus, but on a very small scale

Except for a couple of very rare and inconsequential moments, I have always known everything. If I don't know something, I will have most likely have heard something related to it or can fake it quite convincingly. I am also a master at creating diversions that are inconspicuous. This is why I become profoundly excited on the rare occasion that I learn something new. Of course, I joke. I'm a very curious person and learn new things all the time. Most of it, alas, is useless. Not in this case though.

This weekend, I was surfing the interweb and stumbled on quite a bit of gripping porn. I also somehow ended up reading an article about a novel that has intrigued me. It is called The Toronto You Are Leaving, by Gordon Stewart Anderson. It is set in the gay world of 1970s Toronto. Anderson died of AIDS in 1991 and had never published his manuscript. His mother - whose following actions imply that she is a beautiful, generous, sympathetic and admirable woman - found her son's manuscript after his death. She then took it upon herself to edit and self-publish the novel after being rejected by the mega publishing houses. This back-history gives me enough reason to want to read it, if only to confirm to this woman that she did the right thing, that her son's voice still wants to be heard and to also contribute something to alleviating the financial burden she must have experienced in her task.

Beyond that, I am intrigued because I cannot imagine what Toronto - let alone "gay" Toronto - was like in the 70s. Toronto may be a major centre now, but then it was just finding its feet. I have rarely seen or read contemporary depictions of Toronto pre-1980... It's not like New York which has been documented in every way possible during every phase of its evolution. In fact, it was probably around the late-60s that Canada finally purged itself of its colonial insecurity and began to develop a unique voice. Yes, we were late-bloomers, but apart from New Zealand, I can think of no other country in a similar situation- having been a full-fledged British colony and also being colonized in a more ambiguous way by our superpower neighbour. It is perhaps a small miracle that we have managed to maintain our identity when one considers that we are dwarfed in every way by the US, share an enormous border, share the same language and are products of the same mother culture. If Europeans, with their profound tradition(s) feel threatened by US cultural dominance, they should consult us for tips. I'm getting off topic. Point is, with a few important exceptions, Canada is largely invisible in the landscape of pre-80s culture and I am curious about how and what this city was back then.

Also, Toronto has an astonishing capacity to rapidly yet rather organically transform itself all the time. So for me, having a first hand account of a homo experiencing the city that is my home but in a version of itself that is totally foreign to me, piques my curiosity. Plus, I think his mom is ace.

From what I have gathered, the book is available at This Ain't the Rosedale Library and Glad Day.


At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting post mate.

Call soon.



At 8:39 PM, Blogger PDD said...

I know that all there was to Lawrence Ave was gravel road.

As usual awesome post.

At 10:55 PM, Blogger PDD said...

I don't know if you have read this yet. Do you want to go? I really want to go. I am going. Do you want to come with me?


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