Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Type Turns Five

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I cannot even count how many times I have popped into Type Books over the past five years to be amongst the lovely shelves of books and book-like ephemera, to quietly browse, or have a chat with the staff about the latest news in the literary world or their new writing projects. I have gone to fantastic book launches and events for the Scream Literary Festival. Not too long ago, a friend and I took his three year-old daughter into the back children’s room and watched in contented amusement as she imbibed the little worlds each book had to offer, and we all took shelter from a cold winter’s day. We took home a princess coloring book that day that was enjoyed for hours by all of us.

I am certain that each and every Type patron has a collage of memories much like this that spring from the walls of this beautiful shop, memories of long rainy afternoons spent within the shelves, a fantastic conversation with the amazing staff at the shop with or friends that they have ran into in the busy little community hub. We all leave with the worlds inside of each book we have taken home and lovingly leafed through — not a small gift considering the shrinking opportunity to be able to access books in print in our community and outside big box stores where our tastes in literature may be marginalized or merchandised alongside a Starbucks mug.

I remember purchasing Kyle Buckley’s The Laundromat Essays at Type, from Kyle himself if my memory serves correctly. I bought Damian Rogers's Paper Radio there and became enthralled by Shakers along with the rest of Toronto. I bought a guide to Paris there before I stepped on my first plane overseas. To me, this is what Type has become — a portal into the mind and hearts of writers, a meeting ground for readers and most definitely fodder and fuel for my own adventures through life.

THE EVENT

The afternoon was especially beautiful, and as I passed into Type through a throng of people out enjoying the sun, I entered into a balloon-strung and festive room full of browsers and event goers. The readings were spaced out in ten or fifteen minute intervals and were sweet punctuations to the thriving event. Each author read a small starburst from their work — just enough to tease the ears and give the party the words that otherwise were surrounding them in print. The sentences firmly pinned onto the pages were given an opportunity to float. Everyone present was truly surrounded by the word, and even the shyest shopper stopped and listened for a moment and appeared happy for the pause in the glow of the celebration. The most exciting part is that everywhere I stood someone was saying "excuse me" or "pardon me" as they plunged into the vast inventory on the shelves to unearth a book that caught their eye.

In keeping with my tendencies to ask for book picks from those who will, I asked the two owners Joanne Saul and Samara Walbohm along with staff Kyle Buckley to choose books that moved them as of late or in general. At the very moment, I am cracking Joanne’s pick of Just Kids by Patti Smith and am drawn in immediately by the first few lines, and during the last few days of rain I have gotten lost in the New York of her eyes and ears. I look forward to cracking open Kyle’s pick The Literary Conference by Cesar Aira and Samara’s pick State of Wonder by Ann Patchet. I am sure they will make their way into my later column musings, as books always do.

HOLDING SPACES

Consider this not-review my breath sucking in and out, inhabiting the water like a jellyfish, surprisingly strong for such a soft entity. I am ready to sting, ready to shape-shift, relying on the toughness of my skin against the pressures of the ocean. I am terribly fragile as I float here amongst the leatherback turtles and tuna that are circling, and yet, here I am.
— From my review of Sina Queyras's Unleashed for the Mansfield Review

As a woman in business myself, I must briefly add this section to my column. What keeps us all going in these busy times, turning keys into locks and opening the portals of the city up for the public to come enter the dreams we actualized and hold space for? Through all of the thankless days, the ones where things are challenging, where things go wrong, there are the days where we get to celebrate the tapestries we have created and step back and admire the larger picture, full of our triumphs and the mistakes that we make, full of the thousands of conversations we have with our customers, who in turn become friends and represent the larger community around us.

I think that is it the nature of the small business to be challenging, and so each time we turn the key in the lock, or on those days where someone has filled our lock with glue and we spend the day with a locksmith - or whatever other trial comes to meet us at our doors — each and every time a culturally based small-business owner faces the door of their establishment and says yes for one more day, everyone in our fair city wins. We win especially with Type as of late and for five entire years of making the decision to hold space against the ocean pressure of difficult economic times, the dwindling shop fronts that house the printed word. We as a city win by supporting Type in the years to come with our patronage, our love for books and places of community around books and words, and all we have to do in buy a book. What a deal.

Congratulations Type. I look forward to creating many more memories over the next five years.

Here’s some Patti Smith at her very best.


Do you have a suggestion for a topic for Melanie for a future column? Send an email to submissions@openbooktoronto.com with the subject line "Melanie Janisse."


Melanie Janisse is a native of Windsor, Ontario where she retains memories of old docks jutting out into the Detroit River and the smell of hops. Melanie began her education by leaving home early and wandering around the abandoned houses of inner city Detroit, and then the intense forests of the Canadian West Coast. Formally she holds degrees form Concordia University in Communications and Literature and from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Photography. Melanie has resided in Toronto for the past nine years, keeping active as a visual artist, poet, designer and shop owner. Her work has appeared in Luft Gallery, Common Ground Gallery, Artcite Gallery, Dojo Magazine, Pontiac Quarterly, The Scream Literary Festival, The Southernmost Review, The Northernmost Review and The Windsor Review. Her first poetry book, Orioles in the Oranges (Guernica Editions), tells the tale of on old Metis legend, allowing it to dovetail with Detroit's gritty modernity in an unforgettable series of prose poems. Melanie is happy to be a part of Open Book: Toronto ruminating about books and book-like things around Toronto.

Toronto photographer Anna Ross covered the event for Open Book.

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