Saturday, November 08, 2008

Montréal -- oh, Montréal!

I'm fighting off the emergence of a cold, starting with a sore throat and then sinus congestion it keeps starting and then I stop it but then it starts again and the good news is that today I'm winning, 13 hours of sleep and yes it messes up my schedule a bit but I think I need it. Then I'm reading the big reviews that came out today for Daniel Allen Cox, my host in Montréal -- the Globe and Mail, Canada's largest paper -- and the review is positive but totally sensational like a trick gazing in at this tawdry world, which is Shuck, Daniel’s book from the point of view of a kid turning tricks in New York, and I start crying because this is what success means -- these morons saying our work maybe deserves to exist and pandering to what they think their audience wants and I hate them. But the good news is that Daniel gets another review on the same day, or at least it arrives in this house on the same day, and that one is smart and insightful but I'm still crying, this time maybe happiness and it strikes me as a bit silly that I'm crying about reviews for someone else's book and I don't cry about my reviews, good or bad I mean ever. It's easier to cry for someone else, even when you're crying for yourself and I'm also emotional because I like Montréal so much, I think I'd like to come here at some point and stay for a while, maybe get some sort of writer-in-residence kind of gig, who knows.

But the event -- the event at McGill is amazing, I think it's one of my best because the audience is totally there with me, I mean sometimes on this tour I've noticed that people are super-attentive and engaged but they also look a bit confused by the work I'm presenting and that's not the case here in Montréal -- not the case at all I mean it almost seems as familiar as San Francisco the way people are holding my work except I don't know any of these people. I start by reading the beginning of the book and then I give the talk I was preparing because I figured I'm in the lecture hall so I might as well give a talk, the talk about my history and my history of writing and maybe even my history of writing history. Or maybe that's too much: my writing history. And then I end by reading from the book again, and I feel like people are really there with all the cadences and the rolling disturbances of experience and voice and expression.

I like that the questions center around the novel, around my process of writing about music and writing like music, and then about my other work -- gender and passing and the role of place in my activism and by this point I'll admit that I'm getting tired but the one-on-one interactions with people afterwards really feel nourishing, that's one of the best parts about going on tour to meet and interact with people coming to meet and interact with me. I feel more like I'm that me, the me I'm looking to be.

It's also great that they have all my books for sale and they sell like crazy and people are buying several and several people come up to talk specifically about Dangerous Families, my book that's gotten the least attention, and also about incest and surviving and speaking and surviving and speaking again. I like hugging people who ask for hugs or who I ask if they might like one, it feels grounding and intimate that's the way I feel about this reading and talk and event, grounding and intimate for sure and then afterwards I go to dinner with some of the organizers of the event at this delicious vegan restaurant, and we talk some more and everyone seems quite sophisticated in their queer identities and I learn some interesting details about Montréal like the fact that even though Francophone and Anglophone communities exist side-by-side, that in the Francophone gay worlds there's not quite a word for queer and what that means for queerness in Montréal. Also the enforced misogyny at Montréal gay bars which sounds even more extreme than what I'm accustomed to.

Two of the organizers say they were talking to each other after the event and it was like when I was speaking I had somehow gotten into their heads, speaking their thoughts speaking to their thoughts and that's beautiful. It's what I want. Afterwards I'm definitely ready to fall over but I've agreed to a radio interview so we walk to a 24-hour diner and have our conversation there -- I think the show is called Audio Smut, so I thought we would be talking about sex which is easier to talk about when I'm exhausted then the politics around gender and self-expression and resistance, border policing and queer cultures and even what I think about Proposition 8 which bans gay marriage in California and Proposition K which tried to decriminalize sex work in San Francisco. I like it when the two hosts end up arguing between each other about a question I mean I like it because they’re expressing disagreement even in this collective process.

And Montréal, oh Montréal! I'm staying in the perfect location, a few doors down from a supplement store and a few blocks away from three small health food stores in a row and I love the bilingual aspects of day-to-day interaction so much. I was obsessed with French language and culture when I was in high school, so I can still speak some French and I can feel it getting stronger just in a few days -- in San Francisco, it seems ridiculous or even pompous to study French but here it’s the reverse and that's part of why I want to come back, to speak more French or even become relatively fluent and, of course to explore and figure out the city so much more -- I've been so exhausted that I haven't even made it to one of Montréal's legendary bath houses or sex parties, so hopefully there will be future possibilities.


Matthew said...

Je suis tres content de lire que tu aimes Montreal == moi aussi! J'essaie d'y aller au moins une fois par an mais c'est dur par fois, meme s'il n'est que 8 en bus (s'il y pas de problemes a la frontiere). bisous et a bientot, m (pas necessaire de poster)

Yasmin Nair said...


Canadians get you because Canadians rock! As do you.

Trust all's well.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Matthew, salut et merci -- et down with les frontieres!

Yasmin, you are too sweet :)

love --