Toronto: The last day

It’s a rainy Sunday in Toronto and I’m sitting in Le Pain Quotidien in Yorkville. This spot is a combination of two things I love: this particular restaurant which we had discovered some years ago in NY, when it still wasn’t an international chain it is today, and Yorkville.

The corner of Yorkville & Yonge; Le Pain Quotidien

The corner of Yorkville & Yonge; Le Pain Quotidien

Yorkville was our comfort area when we came first to Toronto. We lived close by, and frequently walked to here for an espresso and some desserts in JoJo’s, a small bakery on the corner which smelled motherly of hot cookies. Yorkville looked slightly European, and less controlled.
In the place of JoJo’s there is a cafe today (Nervosa), and – although they are serving the best pizza in the world (pecoraia), it doesn’t feel the same. The whole Yorkville is different. Today it is a lair of the rich, and houses have been replaced with condos, ugly at that.
Neither is Pain the same. Today it is heading fast towards becoming the Starbucks of bread and waffles.
Oh well. I guess this particular spot is reminding me of two things I used to love.
The promo tour is over, and I’m travelling back to England tonight. Catherine did what she could, I did what I had to, and I hope there will be fruits out of it all. Peaches, please.
It was great to see Anne Collins and Jen Shepherd again and be reminded how fantastic the team I’m working with is. With Anne, Jen and Catherine every win is a collective win and every loss only mine.
Kisses, my dears.

Posted by Wordmobi

Sweet Tuesday Morning

An early morning interview at Classical 96.3 FM. Mike Duncan had some very insightful questions, and he lead the interview in such a manner that I felt it was just a conversation with a friend, not a public thing at all. I’m glad we did it: their station was on my radio all the time when driving while we lived in Toronto—but I told Mike and Jean that only after the interview.
Catherine, my publicist, took me afterwards to an amazing espresso. Outside, sunny and cold—one of those days that are exclusively Torontonian, the reason why I started preferring winter to summer in Toronto.

Toronto: Home again

View of the Toronto Harbour from my hotel room

View of the Toronto Harbour from my hotel room

And here I am, in Toronto again. The weather is amazing, sunny and cool.

I don’t like the Pearson Airport – it is a behemoth of a building, new, shiny and all dolled up, but it is useless. The signage is bad, the corridors endless, and it is not welcoming. Not to mention that—since the building was expensive—now they rip you off as soon as you step down from the plane. A charge for a luggage cart, a charge for this and that—not the best way to touch Canada if you are here for the first time, and it’s especially not a true picture of Toronto, the city that is very hospitable.

Around 18:00, from my hotel room: East Toronto

Around 18:00, from my hotel room: East Toronto

My hotel, on Yonge & King, has 50 floors, and I am on the 37th. My room looks south and east and the view is rather impressive.

When the cab was entering the downtown area—somewhere around the CN tower—I had again that feeling of coming home. It’s rather odd: I lived in this city for ten years, and that is less time than I’d spent in two other cities, but the ‘Oh, I’m home’ feeling goes to this here.

Notes about Diary of Interrupted Days

Diary of Interrupted Days has two large plateaus between which its smaller multiple layers are positioned. One, frontal, for those who read fast and don’t take their shoes off when they enter a book, is a love story, happening between three people and three cities.

V&A courtyard facade

The other plateau is the story about the war we all fight, continuously, without a break, even when we think we are having rest. A fight for personal freedom, for right to choose, for an idea, against the regime, for regime, against an idea, against freedom. This seems very abstract. Yet, that is the fight that can (and does) determine our lives.

This other plateau is occasionally painted in surrealistic colours, and I used decoupage to try and expose that permanent state of secret war. I wanted to deconstruct lies, but also to deconstruct truth. We have all learned to recognize lies, but those who live from them have worked on improving their goods and their performance, and now we have to learn that truth is also something that can’t be unreservedly trusted. Today, even truth has ingredients: subtruth, übertruth, sidetruths.


The book came to be in a rather strange way. After I had submitted my previous manuscript to my publisher, I started writing a story whose elements had been flapping around for some time. The story was located in Prague, in 1970s. It was fast becoming longer than I planned, expected, or wanted. I realized that a novella started to impose on the story, but I didn’t like something about that novella. While I was trying to pinpoint the reasons for my discontent, three characters appeared, fully formed, with their relationships set the right way. Soon, I had 130 pages of something that I didn’t like very much, but continued to write because there was a strong undercurrent in all that that drew me further.

Then I made an experiment: I took the three characters and moved them to another place and time, to see how the would cope. And indeed: they had a better time in their new surroundings.

I used this exodus to touch on my favourite subject—exile. Some of my characters are expelled from their city, or their country, some from their own life. One of them, Boris, seems to be subscribed to all forms of ostracism, from being expelled from his parents’ home, to having to hide in his own city, to having to emigrate. Everything that he knows becomes unknown after a while (but he’s an artist; that could work for him). So it’s logical that the novel starts and ends with a scene of him standing on the only remaining bridge still leading home. This is also my story, on a very metaphorical level. There are elements, which I carry from the places where I’ve lived, that do not translate, yet are only understandable if I stand on the bridge between them. There are hidden meanings that transcend my intentions and my analysis. I’m suspecting of the river underneath. In Diary, that river is the Danube.

I’m not giving good friends to bad programmers

A few more days before leaving for Toronto. I’m going through my address book, checking if I have all my friends’ phones and details. I never do – since I went for electronic version, and abandoned notebooks, there is always something missing. Luckily, I’ve found a file with addresses typed in, and it wasn’t ever synchronized with anything, so everything was intact. I’ve decided to make a written backup asap. Not printed – written in longhand. I can’t give my good friends to bad programmers.

Posted by Wordmobi