My sneakers were soaking wet and water squished and oozed onto the floor with every step I took. It had been dark outside, the headlights of passing cars were yellow and lit up the slanting rain. Neon spills of red, green, and hot pink were breaking apart in the slicks of water on the black asphalt outside. The bookstore was fluorescent bright, blinding and hushed. I was headed toward the magazines. My husband followed behind me.
Somebody had called me from home to say the issue of Canadian Fiction Magazine featuring Newfoundland writers had been published. Someone said it was in bookstores.
Slow because I expected to be disappointed and I wanted to prolong the moment before disappointment struck; fast because I expected to be disappointed and I wanted to get it over with.
I think it was late October and the streets were full of yellow leaves and wind. I think the bookstore was on Yonge just below St. Clair and it was 1991.
My husband says the bookstore was Pages on Queen Street. That I had no idea the magazine was out; I had happened upon it by accident. He thinks it was March, because my birthday followed a couple of days later.
It was our first year in Toronto. I was writing in an attic bedroom with my husband, who was doing a Phd at York. The backs of our chairs touched in that room when we sat at our desks. There was a futon on the floor. Our clothes were everywhere. We were broke.
Not a single iota of my being (or whatever unit it is that one employs to quantify being) believed I would find that magazine in the bookstore I was heading toward.
I spent a lot of time writing. In fact it was what I did all day in Toronto when I wasn’t waitressing at the Pilot in Yorkville. I was the worst waitress at the Pilot. I was the worst waitress in Toronto. The worst waitress on the planet and I didn’t really believe that what I wrote would ever show up in a bookstore.
Finding that magazine was life-altering. Opening it in the bookstore and seeing my stories in print and the stories of my friends and acquaintances changed everything. The city was still new to me, still too big, too strange and foreign. But I’d found a small piece of myself there.
Finding the magazine changed the meaning of writing for me. Writing had always been a vessel for containing stories, keeping them safe.
Now it seemed the vessel could smash open, the stories could burst out, belong to anyone who picked them up. Stories were living things.
Writing wasn’t a vessel; it was a voice. A jack-in-the-box. It could come from a small island in the North Atlantic, isolated and solitary, leap over geography, through weather and darkness and blinding light, it could come out of the ether and land in the hands of strangers, in a strange city, in a cold bookstore somewhere in Toronto or, perhaps, anywhere.
* * * * * * * *
Lisa Moore's first stories appeared in issue #72 of Canadian Fiction Magazine. Excerpts from the stories follow:
"I'm in Stephenville, at the community college. Herpes capital of Newfoundland, the Heavy Equipment guys say. Stephenville has one traffic light, a penitentiary, a bar called the El Dorado, and a long beach with round stones, driftwood and pink tampon applicators."
"Meet me in Sidi Ifni":
"Look for me in Sidi Ifni. I'm leaving the dishes, I'm leaving the back yard. Those weeds you spend half the summer thrashing are back unscarred, thicker, greener, and the perfume from them makes the air moist. They grew back when you stopped to have a coke. We can't just stop like that."
Both stories can be found in Lisa Moore's first collection, Degrees of Nakedness
Post a Comment