Thursday, May 29, 2008

If you aren't automatically redirected, please update your bookmarks and run on over to Seen Reading's new home!

Julie Wilson

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Opening Soon!

There are two kinds of reno jobs:

1. You take your time. You feed the workers. You put in a good day's work, go home, get some rest, come back refreshed. You step back and cheers a job well done.

2. You run two rollers at a time over the floors and ceiling. You starve your workers, running in with occasional deliveries of pizza, doughnuts, and threats of non-payment if the job isn't done NOW! NOW! NOW! Worse, you show the place before the paint has dried and the phone is working.

Because you're #1 in my books, Seen Reading will be shut down this week, to open its doors, fresh and functional, Monday, May 12. You'll also learn a little bit more about me and my projects, ongoing and future.

If you haven't already, please update your booksmarks to

See you soon!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bloor Line, mid afternoon

South Asian woman, late 50s, with long black hair, wearing black trench coat, and oversized brown leather bag. One hand holds the pole, the other the book.

Bittersweet, Danielle Steel (Dell)

Page 248:

The wedding the next day was a grandiose affair, filled with pomp and ceremony. And India knew without developing them that she had gotten fabulous pictures of it. The bride looked incredible in a Dior gown.
Time got away. She managed each day. Answered the emails. Picked up the phone. When the weekend came, she sank into her couch, raised a glass, then another. Cheers to the end of a long week. Cheers to another glass of wine. It wasn't until morning that she remembered the wedding, that she'd forgotten to take her suit to the cleaners. Sitting on the groom's side, she pressed her palms against her crinkled thighs, pulled at the hem of her jacket, and hoped no one else could detect the faint musk of sweaty socks emanating from her collar. It's hard to be happy for the couple when you're dressed in hamper hand-me-downs.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bloor Line, evening rush hour

Caucasian woman, early 30s, with short brown hair, wearing white jacket, jeans with large rolled cuffs, and white patent leather flats.

Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult (Atria)

Page 221:

At this hour, the vigilant masses outside the prison were tucked into their sleeping bags and tents, underneath the artificial day created by the enormous spotlights that flooded the front of the building.
They'd agreed to the split, a mutual conclusion drawn from a shared childhood which dictated that a man and woman would have children, not two women together. To look to the future and not see a child, maybe two, a brother and a sister, two brothers, perhaps, even two brothers and a sister, Sam, Geoffrey and Kate, was not in the plan. They each dated, one sleeping with the boy after one night of cheap chicken wings and pitcher beer. Six weeks later, when she pushed her way through the cluster of protesters, she realized that she was protecting her belly, wishing her girlfriend was there to carve a path home.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bloor Line, morning sunshine

South Asian woman, mid 50s, with curly shoulder length hair pulled back in loose ponytail, wearing fine, gold rimmed glasses, and black jacket. Her granddaughter sits bored, hanging off a pole, knees bumping together. The woman smiles at her page, fine where she is.

Feels Like Family, Sherryl Woods (Mira)

Page 113:

Erik's gaze locked with hers. He couldn't seem to look away from that hint of vulnerability he saw once again in her eyes. "I guess we both just need to stick to our guns." "I suppose so," she said, though with surprisingly little enthusiasm.
There are only 26 underground parking spaces in her three storey building. She's occupied #18 since 1997. He's had #20 since 2003. #19 became vacant in 2005, left open for visitors. Through the gap, they rarely say anything, occasionally lifting their travel mugs to greet the day. Or, pausing long enough to wonder if the super will ever get around to fixing the faulty door on the shared washing machine. This weekend, #19 wasn't empty. Local plates. Soft leather briefcase in back. Diet coke can in the cup holder. Monday morning, the car was gone. They peered at one another over an oil stain, got in their cars, and waited for the garage door to roll open.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bloor Line, ready for spring to become summer

Black woman, mid 20s, fresh-faced, with short black hair pulled into tight ponytail, wearing black t-shirt and jeans.

The Malice Box, Martin Langfield (Penguin UK)

Page 218:

A figure appeared in the bathroom doorway, holding up a bedsheet between them. He vaguely saw what he thought was a woman's silhouette behind the sheet before it flew at him, covering his face and chest. A hand came behind it, forcing his head under the water, forcing the wet sheet over his nose and mouth.
That morning, she left without a jacket, grateful it would remain warm enough into the evening that she wouldn't need one, saving herself a few extra dollars and precious minutes in line later that night at the club. Shortly after 1:00 a.m., the music stopped and the manager spoke from the DJ booth. Not to worry, there were extra cabs on order. Everyone would get home, safe and sound. The transit strike was on. Her pockets empty, her friends already gone, she started the three hour walk, cold and in trouble.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

LeVack Block, Anansi Poetry Bash

Caucasian male, 50s, with curly dark hair, wearing dark dress jacket and shirt. Family and students gathered close to the stage, whooping when he took the mic.

The Sentinel, A.F. Moritz (House of Anansi Press)

From "You That I Loved"

You that I loved all my life long,
you are not the one.
You that I followed, my line or path or way,
that I followed singing, and you
earth and air of the world the way went through,
and you who stood around it so it could be
the way, you forests and cities,
you deer and opossums struck by the lonely hunter
and left decaying, you paralyzed obese ones
who sat on a falling porch in a deep green holler
and observed me, your bald dog barking,
as I stumbled past in a hurry along my line,
you are not the one...

Her head rolls into his shoulder nightly. Their hands meet at their waists, their legs entwined. In sleep they align, their bodies folding into one another, a reduction of the best they have to offer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

LeVack Block, Anansi Poetry Bash

Caucasian woman, with curly dark hair, wearing a black suit, turquoise scarf and turquoise bracelet. She's a tiny force as she takes the stage. She's quiet and gracious. And she'll wrench you.

Chameleon Hours, Elise Partridge (House of Anansi Press)

Page 27:

From "Buying the Farm"

A little folding of the hands to sleep —
straw hat tipped over my nose,
I’m dozing to the lilac’s inquisitive wrens;
you, your spade flung aside,
sprawl, just starting to snore.

It’s curtains for us,
clasping hands behind the dusty, still-swaying swag —
at last these doublets can come off,
the swipes of rouge and sideburns, then we’ll stroll
to greet the flashing city with our true faces.

She stood in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil. The high rise view stretched across the lake to the next major city. Spring was here, just enough that the window could be left open morning and night. A train was coming. It would soon pass by, through the trees, past the schoolyard, maybe a hundred cars long if they were lucky. In the next room, they felt each other's bellies. Mine. Yours. 80 and 30, connected by an intrusive mass. The kettle whistled. She rinsed the pot, dropped in the bags, and poured the water. Civil now, but come winter she'd watch the pot crash in an exhausted heap in the parking lot.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

LeVack Block, Anansi Poetry Bash

Caucasian male, 40s, wearing light brown tshirt and blue jeans. As he takes the stage, he pulls on a baseball cap and says something I may have misheard but hope I didn't, that when you make yourself comfortable in front of an audience, the audience too will become comfortable.

Revolver, Kevin Connolly (House of Anansi Press)

Page 3:

From "Terre Haute"

We're used to a season progressing logically,
then, heading south by car, it suddenly
makes no sense in reverse: a race from
ice to snow, gray earth and nippled trees,
pooled water and mud, then the first white blades,
seeming to expire when they're really
cutting way for flowers...
By the time she spotted the three deer running through the field, the farmer had already lowered his crossbow and turned back toward the house. She lifted her foot from the gas. As the car coasted to a stop, she put the car in reverse and centred the farmer in her rearview.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Church of the Holy Trinity, Friday gathering

Caucasian male, 60, with wavy grey hair and moustach, wearing black pants, black t-shirt, and blue silk shirt, sitting in a leather chair at a small wooden table, surrounded by a semi-circle of guests there to hear him read and discuss his latest book.

The Jesus Sayings: The Quest For His Authentic Message, Rex Weyler (House of Anansi Press)

Page 110-111:

The image satirizes religious pretension with a counterculture sense of humour. For Jesus, spiritual awareness is not something to boast about. It starts with the smallest seed, invades highly structured society like a weed, and provides protection for innocent creatures. As we assemble Jesus' most likely original oral teachings, we can start here, with the lowly mustard seed.
Once a week, yellow school buses lined up outside the elementary school. She watched from the tarmac, clutching her hopscotch puck, as the buses filled front to back, the neighborhood's children dangling their heads and hands out the open windows. She waved as they pulled away, her best friend bouncing and clapping, en route to the promise of free bibles and doughnuts, and a 25¢ treasure taped under the seats of 100 lucky souls.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hart House, Hart House Review 2008 launch

Caucasian woman, early 20s, with Louise Brooks haircut, wearing black and grey shirt 'n' skirt and patent leather ankle boots. She takes the podium...

From "Valhalla" by Alex Grigorescu, winner of the 2008 Hart House Poetry Prize

so i tell him about childhood:
the lesbians with crewcuts and converse
mounting each other for piggybacks to the corner store.
my eye on a dodgy ginger girl who swung
between all thighs, indiscriminately;
playground kneeslap boys whispered
that her freckles spanned her, like a pox
[but jesus, connect the dots]
and how they must have whimpered while
she bobbed for
[adam's apples].

He sits at the edge of the podium, his friend occupying the chair beside him. He keeps his head low, his expression thoughtful, as photographers dart in and out of view. He'll appear in many of the shots. He raises his hand to his forehead, rubbing his brow, and another flash fills the foreground. He begins to paint his own picture, one in which he realizes these chairs were meant for speakers, and his discarded plate of naked chicken skewers dries out at the delicate ankles of this evening's winner.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vieux Montreal, Marche du Vieux

Caucasian male, mid 20s, with shaggy beach-blonde hair, awkwardly parted hard to the side, wearing black rimmed glasses, pink striped shirt and faded blue jeans.

Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs, Leonard Cohen (McClelland & Stewart)

From "As the Mist Leaves No Scar":

As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill,
So my body leaves no scar
On you, nor ever will.

When wind and hawk encounter,
What remains to keep?
So you and I encounter,
Then turn, then fall to sleep.

He takes the biggest table to himself, papers spread around him, looking up at passing women with a vacant stare. It's not until he gently requests a glass of water from one of the young women working behind the counter that his expression softens, his lips parting into a familiar grin, his teeth large and white against his pale, fine features. She, too, is wearing black rimmed glasses and bright patterned clothing. They hover in front of one another, hands at their sides. Her shift ends shortly and he's come early to collect.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Montreal, Mont Royal Station

Black woman, late 20s, wearing long brown and white speckled coat, cinched at the waist by a wide belt, reading while walking up the stairs.

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (Seal Books)

Page 275:

I found the old window to my old bedroom, second floor, third window south of the main steps to the house. I stood on tip-toes, saw nothing behind the window but shadows. Twenty-five years earlier, I had stood behind that same window, thick rain dripping down the panes and my breath fogging up the glass. I had watched Hassan and Ali load their belongings into the trunk of my father's car.
She pulls up her collar in the doorway but stops short of going outside. A young boy has taken over the tarmac with his remote controlled jeep and it's started to snow, large flakes coming from every direction, the mountain barely a shadow in the distance. She steps back, a stranger spinning at her elbow, and rests her bag between her feet at the window. Fumbling through her purse, she retrieves the book and opens it on the ledge.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Vieux Montreal, Starbucks

Caucasian woman, early 20s, brunette with glasses, wearing brown down jacket, green cashmere sweater, blue jeans, and blue and orange Puma sneakers. A half-eaten square sits on a napkin across the table beside an oversized mug.

Gin Tonic et Concombre, Rafaële Germain (Libre Expression)

Page 59:

Julien était debout devant le grand miroir de ma chambre, en train, d'ajuster le col de sa chemise jaune safran. Une julie couleur, selon moi, mais que j'aurais sans doute mieux appréciée si elle n'avait pas en à rivaliser avec une veste saphir et un pantalon fuschia.

Earlier, a man had asked if she would mind some company. She'd replied, No. Thank you. I'm enjoying my book. To which he'd said, That's okay; we don't have to talk. He sat down, picking the sugary clumps off the top of his blueberry square, sighing with each chew. She continued to read, pulling her cup closer, instinctively covering its opening with her palm.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Magog, Quebec, late morning at the cottage

Caucasian woman, mid teens, with shoulder length thick brown hair and clear ice-blue eyes, wearing a Simple Plan hoodie, blue jeans, sneakers, and a generous smile.

All Around Town, Mary Higgins Clark (Pocket Star)

Page 128:

One Monday evening, as the monsignor began to lock up the church, he passed the confessional. The thief who stole the chalice had to have been hiding in there, he thought. If the diamond in the chalice had been what he was after, I can only pray that the cup itself wasn't tossed away into a garbage dump.
She'd pulled two quarters from her jeans pocket and fed them into the tight mouth of the donation box, then picked up a long match to light two votive candles. Once the wicks had taken the flame, she'd bowed her head, moved her lips as if in prayer, and slowly slid her camera from her purse. Snapping a photo of the wall of candles, she thought 50¢ was a good investment for a photo op that would score at least $50.00 on a stock photo site.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

University Line, committed.

Caucasian woman, late teens, with Kohl-rimmed eyes, long flat-ironed red hair, wearing fuchsia hoodie, silver studded belt, black skinny jeans, and black Converse with the tongues sticking out. Her toes point inward.

Nineteen Minutes, Jody Picoult (Washington Square Press)

Page 327:

The moment Mr. Weatherhall disappeared downstairs, Peter opened the sugar canister on the kitchen counter. The gun was still inside. Peter reached for it and reminded himself to breathe.
On Sundays, she walks ten blocks to a small cafe, long like a train car, and orders a cappuccino. They swirl a chocolate spider web on her foam and bring her a glass of water without her asking. Once an hour, a thin boy asks her if she's O.K. then goes back to the counter to lean heavily on one elbow, his short t-shirt riding up to show the creased band of his black boxers. She's always O.K. She can't afford to be anything else than O.K. But she'll tip well. They're nice to her here and don't ask her to give up her table, the sunny one in the corner where you can see everyone come and go. They know her, know her pen scribbles out confessions she'll toss in the garbage before leaving, stories in which the other server, a young woman with short purple hair parted hard on the right, features heavily as a love interest.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Toronto-Quebec Corridor, heading to Montreal.

Caucasian woman, late 20s, with short stylish short brown hair, wearing grey sweater, large black sunglasses, dark blue jeans, and black ankle high hiking boots. She sits in the aisle seat, her new bag occupying the window seat so no one will sit beside her.

One Last Scream, Kevin O'Brien (Pinnacle - Kensington)

p. 17

A few people had staggered out to the small backyard where Amelia stood with a beer in one hand, and the other clutching together the edges of her bulky cardigan sweater. She gazed up at the stars. It was a beautiful, crisp October night. She had a little buzz.
Her preference is to drive. Correction. Her preference is to be driven. But approximately 30 minutes into the trip she'll stand to stretch her legs, walking the length of the train car to the washroom, through to the beverage car, and back to her empty seat where she'll pause, bend over to look out the window, and marvel that she accomplished so much without losing any travel time. When she sits, the worn seat cushion will only bother her mildly, enough to merit an email but not a full refund.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Gare Central, waiting for train 69

Caucasian woman, late 30s, shoulder length thin brown hair. Long brown puffy winter jacket with faux-fur trim, blue jeans, and brown hiking boots. She frequently looks over her shoulder for someone, her left leg shaking impatiently.

The Water's Lovely, Ruth Rendell (Seal Books)

About 1/3 in:

Of course she thought of Andrew. How was he! What did he feel! Nothing much, she hoped. Conventional feelings of pity only, pity and a certain amount of horror, but no grief.
As she kicked the bag forward with the inside of her foot, she felt this really was the worst part of their relationship, holding his place in line.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Spadina streetcar, 1 1/2 seats

Caucasian male, late 20s, very tall, wearing blue knit cap, light blue hoodie, and green jacket with red and white cross-stitching on the arms. He puts the book down every few minutes to crack his knuckles and look out the window.

Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer (Anchor)

Page 174:
Walking past the moose bones, I approach the vehicle and step through an emergency exit at the back.
The longest she'd ever spent locked in a car was at the drive in with her father. A film about a group of scientists stuck at the bottom of the ocean played on the screen. A watery monster slid like slick silver through the submarine making its way toward the toes of the mechanic. Her father shifted in his seat, an old spine injury ignited that morning when he hitched the trailer to their car, filling it with massive bags of ice. She looked back through the rear window, the tarp tightened, and wondered if she was the only kid at school who double dated with her dad and a 120 lb buck.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Down the street from Gwen's head

Caucasian woman, late 20s, with short brown curly hair, wearing jean skirt, white long sleeved tee and pale pink scarf.

The Refrigerator Memory, Shannon Bramer (Coach House Books)

Page 51:

From "Toronto, City of Sad Faces"

He hums inside his solitary body,
flourishes on the subway, unfolds stiff newspaper wings.

Ships, slugs on the horizon.
The sun slips down in you.

Daughter, let the raccoon in.
Hold his cold hand.

It's not as simple as "the little details." Or, "It's all in the details." It's that feeling you get when you read something small, something familiar and ordinary, a few words that placed one in front or behind the other make you believe that you really can do it, that your few words will count for something, that someone will appreciate the image of an aging woman speeding into town for mass, her body warmed by the second-hand fur bungeed to the driver's seat.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Elevator, 7th floor

Caucasian male, mid 40s, balding, with close-cropped grey hair, wearing glasses, new black leather car coat, carrying new black leather shoulder bag and old, tattered Nike backpack, new Asics dangling from the strap.

Consolation, Michael Redhill (Anchor)

Page 5:

He slipped the book back into its space on the shelf, running two fingers along its spine to ensure it was flush with the others. It was the sort of gesture Bridget noticed and made fun of from time to time, but she was silent now, looking through him. "I think you should leave her alone," he said. "It’s been two months. She should do whatever she needs to help her cope."
He would never buy anything second hand, not a cd, not a book. And while his wife spends months collecting bags of clothes and kitchen wares, his dirty secret drives past the donation centre, tossing the bags into an industrial garbage bin behind the shopping mall.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Spadina streetcar, pancake pale.

Caucasian woman, late 20s with long brown hair, pink and green stripes down each side, wearing long, worn leather black coat and chunky black boots, face pale with powder, eyes lined in thick liquid.

The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls (Scribner)

Page 32:

One night a few days later, I suddenly woke up. The air was hot and stifling. I smelled smoke and then saw flames leaping at the open window. At first I couldn't tell if the fire was inside or outside, but then I saw that one of the curtains, only a few feet from my bed, was ablaze.
It's not hard to imagine the drop from her second floor window. She's played it out, confident that she could kick out the screen, sit on the ledge, and shimmy herself around to face the wall. Dangling by her fingers, her body stretched to its limits, the drop would be minimized to only a few feet. The worst she'd suffer is a sprained ankle, if that. That's why she told her baby girl to stay at her grandmother's for the night, why she bought an extra pack of Marlboros just in case he finished his pack and there wasn't anything left to leave lit on the sofa cushion after he'd fallen asleep and she'd gone up to bed.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Gladstone Hotel, Skim launch

East Indian woman, early 20s, with coarse hair, wearing wide-brimmed, black and white checkered baseball hat, black and white striped hoodie, and low slung skinny jeans with gemmed belt buckle.

Skim, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)

She stands at the edge of the bar nervously watching the girls around the pool tables suck their long necks and rack up another go round. She nurses a ginger ale in a short glass. Old trick. Her mother will pick her up in 47 minutes outside the Mars Diner. She'll have had a grilled cheese sandwich and too much coffee. That will explain the minty gum, the reason she wasn't there when her mother arrived, because she had to get gum, now get off my case, and let's just go home already.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Gladstone Hotel, Shameless Magazine launch

Caucasian woman, early 20s, with long brown hair, far part, bangs swept over one eye, wearing black wharf jacket, pale blue eyes looking to the side over her high collar.

Shameless Magazine, Issue 11, Winter/Spring 2008 (Shameless Media)

Page 23:

These moments of connection inspire much of my activism, academic and artistic work, which seeks to challenge our ideas about sexiness. I was tired of never seeing sexy images of people with disabilities. So, after much thought, and encouragement from my best friend (who's an amazing photographer), we decided to change that.
Mrs. M (Maciejewski) was of no relation. She had worked with the girl's grandmother twenty years earlier in the secretarial pool of a small but successful company that sold ice to restaurants and, eventually, larger corporations and the occasional fair ground. Everyone needed ice.

Mrs. M moved into the retirement home a year after her husband died. She'd done all the cooking, all the bill keeping. But he'd done all the driving. Their car hadn't so much as left the garage for five years but should the need arise, should she, for example, need to get to the hospital, he'd argued, he was the one with the license. And he'd be damned.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

One of a Kind Show, Spring 2008

Caucasian female, with long, pale red hair and pleasant smile, switching around two oversized art pieces with some difficulty. The book sits page down on a red stool, it's cover instantly recognizable.

For One More Day, Mitch Albom, Hyperion

Folded over, near the beginning:

She was wearing blue slacks and a white sweater now—she was always dressed, it seemed, no matter how early in the morning—and she looked to be no older than the last time I had seen her, on her seventy-ninth birthday, wearing these red-rimmed glasses she got as a present. She turned her palms gently upward and she beckoned me with her eyes and, I don't know, those glasses, her skin, her hair, her opening the back door the way she used to when I threw tennis balls off the roof of our house.
Their first Easter she stayed offside, her jobs limited to placing the cutlery and running the sweeper once around the table. She lit some candles and poured a glass of wine, on her second by the time family started to arrive, keeping tight and tidy to the end of a couch she'd occupied day in and out for months, playing cards, watching television, adjusting hips and elbows for comfort.