Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Five Things Literary: The Danforth with Michael Januska

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July 1, 2013 - In our Five Things Literary series, we bring you into the literary life of individual authors and the communities that nurture and inspire them. Michael Januska, Open Book's July 2013 Writer in Residence takes us on a literary tour of the Danforth.

  1. Opened in 1918 and immortalized in Michael Ondaatje’s 1987 novel, In the Skin of a Lion, the Prince Edward Viaduct spans the Don Valley: “On the west side of the bridge is Bloor Street, on the east side is Danforth Avenue.” And while it may have been a mud road a century ago, Danforth Avenue, or “the Danforth” as it is affectionately known, is now the main thoroughfare in a thriving mosaic of neighbourhoods.
  2. Coffee shops and pubs always seem like the perfect places to write, or to read or talk about books. The Danforth has no shortage of them and they each have their own unique appeal. The laptops at the Starbucks are a common enough sight, but it’s also not unusual to see someone scribbling in their notebook at a bar, or to encounter a reading group gathered around a table at a café. Personal favourites among these establishments include The Old Nick, Allen’s, Dora Keogh and my local, The Only Café. I think I wrote a little bit of Riverside Drive
  3. Writers in residence: The Danforth’s neighbourhoods are home to an impressive number and wide variety of authors and poets: Cathy Marie Buchanan, Erika de Vasconcelos, Gillian Deacon, Gord Downie, Sarah Elton, Gare Joyce, Vincent Lam, Jeff Lemire, Michael Redhill, Robert Hough, Nino Ricci, Tanis Rideout, Erika Ritter, Robert Rotenberg, Jeff Rubin, Elizabeth Ruth, Joey Slinger, Ania Szado, just to name a few.
  4. There is plenty of reading material to be found along The Danforth. Book City, one of four locations in the city’s largest independent chain of bookstores, figures prominently. It’s not unusual to see any one of the writers mentioned above browsing its shelves. For a wide variety of magazines and journals, both international and domestic, there is Presse Internationale. Two second-hand bookstores grace the strip: Re: Reading and Circus Book and Music. A little further down near Greenwood subway is Comics and More. The ‘more’ speaks to its selection of paperback and hardcover graphic novels. The Danforth also benefits from its two Toronto Public Library branches: one at Pape and the other at Coxwell.
  5. Founded in 1999, author Michael Bryson describes The Danforth Review as an “online short story and literary interviews magazine.” Previous fiction issues are available online, as are past interviews. Interview subjects include Danforth notables as well as writers from across Canada. Bryson invites short story submissions, so check the website for details.