May 19th, 2017

Hometown proud: Get Lit and the Glanbrook Gazette

Way back when I was a teen, I used to read the Generation X column by Jamie Tennant in the Hamilton Spectator. We was one of the very few cool people I had located in my immediate surroundings, though we never met in that period, and I really liked the column. I thought someday perhaps I could be cool too and then I would know cool people who wrote newspaper columns and perhaps even become one of them. I was really disappointed when the column ended in 1994, and just utterly delighted when Jamie reappeared on my radar this year as a different kind of cool person, a novelist and literary journalist for the show Get Lit on CFMU in Hamilton. He interviewed me when I was in Hamilton last month and it broadcast last week–if you weren’t in Hamilton to hear it, you can listen as a podcast anytime. It was really a great interview not only because of my teenage admiration but because of the close reading and thoughtful questions Jamie brought to the table (microphone). So much fun!

I also got interviewed by the extremely local paper for the little town I am from, The Glanbrook Gazette, which was also delightful. It’s owned by Sachem now, but is still for and about the teeny community I’m from. So charmed to be mentioned there.

And not really related to the hometown stuff, but just another thing of mine to come out lately is my 49th Shelf list of Good Books for Hard Times, which is of some of the funny books I read while I was writing So Much Love. SML was a long hard project and it was good to read some more light-hearted things while I was doing it, every now and again. Might be a good list to pick up if you, too, feel like a project is getting to be a bit too dark for you.

And hey, happy long weekend!

April 21st, 2017

The Making Room Anthology and Out in the Open on the CBC

Oh, you guys, the Pivot at the Steady reading was so nice. Every reader was great (even me, if I do say so humbly–I lived up to the evening I think!) the host was great, everyone that I spoke to in the audience was great, the vibe in the room was great, even the temperature was great. I wish I went out to readings as often as I used to–it was about once a week, more or less, in my late twenties and I just went to anything my friends suggested or that sounded cool to me. Now 10 years later it’s less than once a month unless I am myself reading and I really miss it. Stupid increasing decrepitude.

BUT I am reading a lot these days in support of So Much Love and while that in itself is a lot of fun, it’s also wonderful in that it gets me out listening to all the talented folks who are on the bill with me at readings. Like Saturday night, for example, when I’ll be reading at the Toronto launch of the Making Room anthology with so many brilliant and talented women like Amy Jones, Ayelet Tsabari, Eleanor Watchtel and tonnes more. It should be an amazing night. If you can’t make it or don’t live in Toronto, you can still order the anthology, which is huge and amazing and well worth reading. $26 is a steal for a book that covers 40 years of female and feminist writing in Canada. I’m not all the way through yet but I’m just floored by the strength and diversity of the gathering.

Sunday will be a day off from me and my book, but if you miss me, you actually hear me on the radio talking about the only other thing besides books people ever want to talk to me about–my big crazy jaw surgery! I’ll be on Out in the Open with Piya Chattopadhyay at 11am on Sunday morning, 11pm on Tuesday, or you can listen online at the link above. It’s an interesting show concept, on personal transformation, and I’m looking forward to listening to all the interviews myself!

March 14th, 2017

Launch day!

So Much Love is real and available for your reading pleasure in stores, online, and–I believe–in libraries today. You can get a hard copy or digital in myriad formats, and then you can read it and see what I’ve been working on all this time–and even tell me what you think? I fixed my contact page so I’m easy to write to!

This isn’t the celebration I was anticipating for this book–things are challenging for me right now and I haven’t been able to do the obvious thing, go to a bookstore and visit my book out in the world. There have been some reports that it is truly out there, though–even on tables, even actually purchased by actual humans! So I’m semi-satisfied with that, though hopefully I’ll get out there myself soon.

But lots of stuff is upcoming, book-wise–perhaps I will eventually have seen enough of my book, though right now that doesn’t seem possible. A few highlights:

March 22, Book launch in Toronto!! There’s a complete list of events in the right sidebar, so I’ll mainly refrain from mentioning events I’ve talked about previously, but this is the big one, and I’m very excited. If you’re in Toronto and enjoy books, snacks, short readings, and–possibly–me, please consider stopping by.

April 2, 11am, I’ll be on the radio on Out in the Open with Piya Chattopadhyay. This isn’t even book-related–it’s an episode about personal transformation–but I think being on the radio is amazing, so here we are. I hope you can listen!

April 4, Reading for the Toronto Review of Books with Jessica Westhead, Heather Birrell, Antanas Sileika, and the one and only Mark Sampson.

April 25, Books and Brunch with Different Drummer Books at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Aldershot, with Trevor Cole and Kyo Maclear.

Before all of that, though, I’m finally going to make it out to a bookstore to celebrate another book, Mitzi Bytes by my dear friend Kerry Clare. In addition to being a very talented writer, Kerry is also the best Enjoyer of Events I have ever encountered, and sharing a book birthday with her has really helped me engage with the spirit of the thing. I also read Mitzi in draft (as Kerry did for SML) and can vouch that it is funny, wise, and surprising–can’t wait to read it in its final form. I will be raising all the glasses on Thursday, and speeding through the book soon after. You should too!

June 8th, 2016

Me and the radio

I grew up listening to the radio all. the. time. By the time I was nine or ten I was fighting my dad aggressively for “my stations” every time we were in the car. My parents gave me a small portable stereo (it goes to show how old I am that the term for that stereo has now passed out of social acceptability, as really it should have) around that time, and later a bigger better one that lasted me through university. I had it on most of the time I was in my room and though I was not in other ways a riotous kid, I was constantly being told to turn it down. I did own tapes and cds, but I was very very fond of the radio. I was not–and am not–wild about “dj patter” but there were particular shows I liked and would try to tune in for every week. Call-in shows about sex, music documentary shows, I would listen to from start to finish, often the listening being my sole occupation. I may be alone in my generation as a person who would sit quietly doing nothing else other than listening to the radio (well, not quite alone–there were a few shows I know my brother liked too).

When I moved to Montreal with my un-PC stereo, I eventually found another set of stations to listen to, though honestly I never found them as good as the range that was available in the Hamilton/Toronto corridor. I listened to them throughout school and when I moved back to Ontario I switched back to the old ones. But my constant listening fell away gradually as I entered adulthood, even though my parents bought me yet another stereo when I moved to TO, a very good one (note: my father is very passionate both about music and sound quality). Somewhere along the line I lost the ability to listen to music while writing or reading, something that was integral to my younger self–these days I can listen to songs with lyrics only when I’m doing something relatively easy or mindless. Do other people find that a problem in their middle years too?

Of course, the other thing I stopped doing was spending really any time in cars, which used to be prime radio-listening time for me. For years I battled my dad for radio control on the way to band practice, and then later I commuted alone and had total control–or other times, almost as good, I would travel with my brother, whose musical tastes have always aligned very closely with mine. I don’t love driving, but I do love radio, so it balanced out. When you’re from a rural area, almost any drive is a long one, and I listened to a lot of music en route to…everything. But from 2002 to 2011–the first decade of my alleged adulthood–I was almost never in cars for any length of time, and still more rarely alone. I remember being given the occasional ride somewhere in someone’s car and actually saying “whee!” as we went around a sharp bend, the sensation of being in a small vehicle (i.e.., not a bus) was so unusual for me.

When Mark and I moved in together, I got access to his car, and some responsibility for it. Since I’m the only one who can easily drive to work (he works downtown, where really no one should drive) I try to do it once a week or so, not only out of the goodness of my heart to keep the car in driving condition but also because it’s easier if I have to say, carry a cake, or visit someone far away, or be out late, or… Car ownership is insidious–I hate driving but it makes my life so much easier that I do it rather often. So after almost a decade away, there I was with the FM radio dial at my finger tips.

One shock was that so little had changed. My favourite station in my teens was 102.1 The Edge, for all my grunge and alternative favourites–which the station is still playing. In 2011 when I came back to radio whole hog, the situation was particularly alarming, a kind of all-nostalgia format that seemed almost to verge on an oldies station. Horror! There was a revamp a couple years ago, in response to Indie88.1 probably, where the Edge got more current and it’s a lot more fun to listen to now, that Indie88 is actually my new favourite. They play enough current stuff that I feel like I’m in the know, music-wise, and then just when I’m experiencing novelty fatigue–blam, “Blister in the Sun.

Which is all a very long way of saying, I love listening to the radio, and I’m pleased to have it back in my life after such a long absence…though I still haven’t really been able to get into the habit of listening anywhere but the car. I guess we need cars for something.

As you might be able to tell from the above rambling, I’m gearing up to write something bigger (and fictional) about radio-listening, but I can’t do it right now because I’m still in edit-land with the current project. So I just fantasize about the new thing, and ramble here–thanks for reading.

December 7th, 2010

If you missed Ontario Today today…

You can still hear my little bit of chat, plus all the really sweet and happy stories the call in listeners told. Go to the Ontario Today story archive, click on the story “Love on the Line” (currently the first one, but if you’re reading this later, dated Dec 7 2010), and enjoy. I come in just before minute 7, but the whole thing’s pretty amazing!

December 6th, 2010

Love & Transit on “Ontario Today”

If you happen to have some spare time around lunch tomorrow, you could use it to listen to the CBC1 show Ontario Today with Rita Celli, and then a little after 12, you’d hear me!! Talking about 2 of my favourite things, love and transit. They’re even going to let me talk to the people who call in–I’m beyond stoked!!

March 9th, 2010

Falling Behind

I’ve been reading along with Canada Reads Independently and picking up bits and pieces of Canada Also Reads, and somehow began to believe that the CBC’s original Canada Reads was also a long-term, readerly discussion. I thought maybe it had already started, or would start soon, and go all spring. And that at some point in all that, I would get around to reading one book from all these lists, my sole attempted at a shared reading experience, Nikolski (I chose to read this one pretty much because Steven W. said I have to. (Never let it be said I don’t read/obey my comments.)

Apparently, I’ve botched even that, because Canada Reads seems to have started yesterday and apparently will end on Friday, which strikes me as a rather compressed time-frame. So I started reading Nikolski yesterday and though I probably can’t finish it in five days (I’m a little confused so far, and keep having to flip back to see who did what), I hope to have a good enough grasp on it experience an emotion (like happiness! or sadness, perhaps!) if it wins or loses the contest.

I don’t know why I thought Canada Reads lasted months rather than days, and why I am so incredibly out of the loop that I don’t even listen to the radio anymore. I also tried to pick up the phone last night and accidentally dropped it back into its cradle. The person did not call back, and I suddenly really regretted not having call display. Was it you?

I think a lifestyle rejig might be in order.

Yours, reading quickly!

December 4th, 2009

Canada Reads Report

I don’t know a lot about…stuf that happens…unless that stuff a) happened in my living room or b) someone came to my living room (or invited me to theirs) to tell me about it. This is not helped by the fact that I can’t really listen to talking on the radio. Here’s my terrible secret: I have a hard time listening to a voice without looking at its source. Great for being an attentive conversationalist, lousy for radio listening. Music, no problem, and inane chatter I can maybe drift in and out of as I mop the floor, but to listen to a newsreport, an audio book, or a dialogue about books, I would pretty much have to sit down and look at the radio, or at least close my eyes.

So I don’t, which is why I used to always miss everything about Canada Reads: things that happened on the radio and involved talking were not for me. But then some of my favourite blogs started covering it, and last year I (felt I) had a really good sense of the process despite never listening to the actual show.

This year, however, no one is all that excited about the list, so I think my sense of the process is about to go away again. But I can’t help but be excited that one of my favourite books of all time, Douglas Coupland’s Generation X, is on the list. I know it’s no longer as cutting edge as it was when it was first published, 18 years ago, I know a lot of people have already read it–but in my mind, good books don’t get old, and they don’t get used up.

Do they?

I am one of the youngest members of Generation X (1961-1981, according to Wikipedia) so maybe I don’t exactly relate as those more embedded in it do. But I think even those who came before 1961 or after 1981 can relate to loneliness, career disorientation, the wish for less, and the feeling that stories and friends can save your life. That last bit is pretty much my philosophy of life.

It’s true I read this book really young, and it is possible that I imprinted on it as a baby goose does on its mother, or sometimes a human or a feed trough. I read the review in Sassy Magazine (that literary bastian) and it impressed me enough that I recognized the book later that year when my parents said I could have a book from Barnes and Noble on our trip to Manhattan (that was before B&N was a commonplace thing). I actually got two, that and Trainspotting (a book I consider even less of a “novel” than GenX). Both books have stuck with me through countless rereads, but I admit that I did start with them during an impressionable period in my life.

But my last read of *GenX* was only a couple years ago, and for a grad school class, and it was still as funny and wistful and lovely as I remember. And looking at the structure with a more grad-school critical eye maybe even made me appreciate it more. I love the tales that form the much of the “novel” that is *GenX*. This year’s Canada Reads list has no short story collection on it, but the nested narratives of Coupland’s book come pretty close, and I love that formal envelope-pushing.

I’ve heard this a time or two, but surely people don’t really think the book is shallow, do they? Perhaps it is confusion akin to those around Calvin and Hobbes’s mystification over colour photos of a black-and-white world–*Gen X* is a deep searching warm and funny novel about a shallow world–I mean, the liposuction fat and trinitite and stuffed chickens are just…detritus.

Aren’t they?

Maybe I’d better watch the radio show.


October 28th, 2008

Rebecca on the Radio

My CBC Sunday Edition interview with Michael Enright is listenable here. You’ll have to download the podcast and cut to just past the end of the first hour, or else listen to the whole of it, which I don’t think is a bad idea, honestly!! I loved the whole show, but I guess I was in an awfully good mood.

A citizen outta you

So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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