Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Goodbye, Toronto, Goodbye

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Every writer in the provinces wants to be in Toronto. I cannot live in Toronto, of course, because I have no money and I am scared of smog. But the Open Book Toronto virtual writer-in-residence program allowed me to pretend I lived in Toronto. I was at the Alberta Literary Awards gala last night, where one of my novels was shorlisted for the novel prize — it didn't win — and I met people from all over Western Canada.
"So where are you from?" one stranger said. Her eyes were pretty.
"Toronto, at the moment," I said.
And the stranger glowed with envy. To be a writer, in Toronto, is to be extraordinary. It means you're serious about your craft, and about Canadian culture. People in the west are sarcastic about this, but Toronto IS the centre. To pretend otherwise is to seem deluded or mentally ill. I can't read minds, unfortunately, but it seemed the attractive stranger was on the verge of swooning and falling into my arms with a sighed... Toronto.
"What the hell are you talking about?" said my friend, Mike, who stood next to me, drinking beer. "You live in Edmonton."
"Shut up," I said. "Virtual Toronto."
"She didn't ask where you live virtually. She asked — "
"Look, a raven!" I said. "How'd that thing get in here?" And I sprinted to the bar.
Thank you, Toronto, for allowing me to be a virtual Torontonian for a month. I'll miss all the virtual drinking down College Street and all the virtual window shopping in Yorkville, the virtual loitering at Kensington Market and the virtual working out at the virtual Miles Nadal JCC. The virtual bumping-into Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood.
Todd Babiak is dead. Long live Zoe Whittall.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Todd Babiak

Todd Babiak is the author of the bestselling novel The Garneau Block (McClelland & Stewart, 2006) and the award-winning novel Choke Hold (Turnstone, 2000). His latest novel is The Book of Stanley (McClelland & Stewart, 2007).

Go to Todd Babiak’s Author Page