Friday, September 07, 2007

The Architects Are Here...Everybody Look Busy

An Excerpt from Michael Winter's New Novel
published in EXILE The Literary Quarterly, Issue 29.4

David Twombly had introduced me to Nell but he didnt seem proud of it. He looked worried, as though he didnt approve of our decision. Nell had been married in New Mexico, to Richard Text. She was still married and that didnt sit well with David. He had wanted me to find someone so that he could invite us over to dinner, or dine out as a foursome. Perhaps it was complicated for him, that Nell had gone out with his father, that somewhere a half-sibling existed, and Nell was a reminder of this. Her marriage didnt bother me. Nell had told me about Richard, how their love had strayed. She had given me clear answers that you could put in a jar and see through them and not notice a flaw. I knew all this about her.

We had lived together for a year, and we were both excited to know what the weather would bring and how we could plan to grow tomatoes on the roof and put away the winter slippers for the lighter Chinese slippers Nell had found on Spadina Avenue. We marvelled at how much food we cooked, how little we used the restaurants except for the favourite two. There was a Vietnamese one and a sushi bar which we lined up to eat at after watching a movie at the repertory cinema that no longer had many old films at all, but simply showed the new films that had come out six months before. We loved the movies and the simple food and the walk home along Bloor Street to our apartment on Roncesvalles Avenue, which is a Polish area of Toronto. I was sometimes surprised that we could walk the mile home without feeling bored or unloved and I took that as a sign that she loved me and was happy. It was true that I’d find her sometimes crying or the evidence of crying appeared on her face and when I asked if anything was wrong she cheered up and said it was allergies.

Sometimes after the sushi we cut down to College Street and had a drink at Ted’s Collision. It was warming now and I admired the first cluster of drinkers who pushed a table out onto the street and preferred to drink in the cold open air full of exhaust fumes from the traffic, and while the music was smaller here you had to contend with the streetcars and the pedestrians who might brush your shoulder accidentally and not say they were sorry.

We ordered the local microbrewery beers and sometimes just a plain old-fashioned beer our fathers drank and we always drank from bottles rather than the pints that were poured from hoses. I was convinced draft beers were home to mould in the tubes and also the mixing agents were not as clean as a bottled beer, especially during the warm months. In winter I’d give in and order a pint of Guinness.

From Ted’s we sometimes met up with David Twombly and his wife Sok Hoon, but in the past few months David and Sok Hoon had separated. Sok Hoon had moved to Montreal and taken Owen with her. It made us think how lucky we were not to let the world cleave us, that we understood and were both in our thirties and had survived early relationships when jealousy, ambition and your own boredom crept in and destroyed any good thing.

To read the rest of this excerpt, click here.

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The Big Why, Michael Winter's dazzling reinvention of the historical novel and witty faux memoir of the American artist Rockwell Kent, is being published in an unabridged audio edition by Rattling Books. From now until September 20 you can pre-purchase your copy of the MP3 CD and save 30%.

Click here to listen to a clip from The Big Why
.