Monday, September 08, 2008

"Accidental City" by Robert Fulford

Why I read it: One of my coworkers, Nadine, lent it to me, and then several weeks later she gave notice, so I thought I'd better read it now, so I could give it back before she left. I would have gotten to it eventually, since I live here (the book is sort of a cultural history of Toronto), so it's the only city I can write about (set my stories in) with any real sense of authority, and it would be good to "understand" it from another perspective (historical in this case).

Also, after rather a long string of novels, I thought it was time to read some non-fiction.

There was a documentary I saw a little while ago, "Let's all hate Toronto". When I told Nadine that ultimately Torontonians hate this city the most, because we hate it every day, whereas people from, say, Vancouver, really only hate Toronto on special occasions, she said that was typically Toronto-centric thing to say. She commutes every day from K-W.

What I liked: I got a little self-righteous glow from having been in tons of the ravines of Toronto because of geocaching, but I also liked the history of the public places that I know so well. I regularly go to the Scarborough Town Centre area and North York city centre, and I find these places bizarre, so it was neat to read how they came about. I've been to the island a bunch of times, and the beach, and I lived in the Village by the Grange for a little while in the 90's, and all these places were given a lot of attention.

What I hated: Well, I wished there were more pictures and maps. I found the chapter on public art especially frustrating, because a lot of the art I just couldn't visualize. If there had been a map in every chapter, with labels of where each item was located, that would have been cool. It also would have made the book more expensive, though (not for me, however, as I was just borrowing it).

What I can Steal: One thing this book made me think about was stories that could take place here. Vampires could live in that underground network of tunnels under the towers downtown (so great for pedestrians in the winter, but I might populate it with a series of imaginary restaurants or something). Werebeasts could live in the etched ravine parklands beneath the flat city. (Did I mention I was out bike riding with Ed and the boy a couple of weekends ago, and we saw actual deer! Two of them! just north of Finch ave., west of Leslie.) Maybe these would be more like the animal spirits of Widdershins than the werecreatures of Laurel K. Hamilton, though.

Also, since Toothbrush takes place in Toronto, this book probably helped me with the settings, though I don't know it yet. Next draft will be better.

Bookmark: Ball band from Patons Kroy Orangina, out of which I made mini-cable gloves a couple of years ago.

Ed is reading it now.

1 comment:

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Ha! Funny how people think Torontarians are Toronto-centric but that they aren't the same way about the place where they live.

Hey! I'm East-Gwillimbury-centric. How can I NOT be? This is where I spend most of my time.