making sh!t for your girlfriend since 2007


soon come

Craft Mart ~ Nov 8 (6pm - 11pm) & Nov 9 (11am - 7pm) ~ Hamilton Artists Inc. ~ 155 James Street North, Hamilton
Halifax Crafters Society Winter Market ~ Nov 30 & Dec 1 ~ Olympic Community Centre ~2304 Hunter Street, Halifax
City of Craft ~ Dec 14 & 15 ~ The Theatre Centre ~ 1087 & 1095 Queen Street West, Toronto

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Read&Write: Alayna Munce

If only...Ah, to give up forever all get-rich-quick schemes of the heart...

Well, friends, we're halfway there. The sixth pencil of the Pencil Project comes from Alayna Munce, a Parkdale-based poet and novelist, and the author of one my most favourite books in the entire world, When I Was Young & In My Prime published by Nightwood Editions in 2005. As a rule, I do not re-read books. It's a pretty stupid rule, but if the stack of books waiting for you on your nightstand is as high as mine, I'm sure you understand. And while I have not intentionally re-read Alayna's book from beginning to end, I pick it up often and just read a page here and there because, seriously, each page of her novel is absolutely stunning. Before I worked at TYPE I worked at Toronto's other indie, Book City. That's where I met my dear friend Sue (you'll read more about her later on), who just happened to be Alayna's roommate. I remember how tingly I would feel when I would call the house looking for Sue and Alayna would answer and I would have to keep myself from gushing like a teenager about how much I loved her book. Soon phonecalls turned into actual visits and a few parties and craft nights later, I'm proud to consider Alayna a friend, a woman who is just as beautiful and warm as the story she's written, if not more. Like, for instance, let me just crack open the book right now. Here we go, page 198:

Addicted to Tolstoy lately. I'm a sucker for his impossible blend of moralistic romanticism and brute realism. Plus, War and Peace is quite simply a page-turner. Who knew?

When I'm caught with a stranger in the elevator in Gloria's building I can't help thinking about the peasant Nikita from the story Master and Man who, from kind-hearted politeness, always says something to anyone he's alone with. In the elevator, I try at least to meet eyes, nod. It's exhausting. So many people. Some of them unwilling to meet you halfway, stonily thwarting your noble effort. Some of them too willing, bottomless pits. Makes me want to hole up in the apartment and never come out.

A five-story building of bachelor apartments, twenty apartments on each floor. When in human history have people lived alone like this unless they were hermits or outcasts?

I take a walk by the lake. When I get back to the building, I decide to take the stairs, both for the exercise and to avoid having to small-talk in the elevator.

There's a guy in the stairwell playing his guitar. I climb into his sound. He's singing a song with a chorus about the grand design. You go your way and I'll go mine. Ah, the grand design...He stops playing as I pass.

"Great acoustics in here, " he says, shy.

And, feeling genuinely sociable for the first time in weeks, I say, "I'll say."

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