This summer’s road trip was not too far from home. In late July we headed to Toronto for about a week and then it was on to the Rez with a few side trips to Guelph, Paris (Ontario) and Fort Erie. Visiting with family and friends was our main activity, however, as always, I made time for some book shopping.
While in Toronto I dropped in at the Glad Day Bookshop, located in the heart of the city’s downtown core on Yonge Street, near Wellesley. Opened in 1970, Glad Day is Canada’s oldest LGBTQ bookstore and one of the oldest worldwide.
(Photo: Copyright of Rob Salemo as publishined in Xtra!, January 12, 2012)
With my list of books to buy in hand I spent over an hour browsing the shelves and chatting with the sales attendant who was very friendly and helpful. We had an interesting conversation about the bookstore’s transition since it’s sale in February 2012 to a group of twenty-two individuals active in Toronto’s LGBTQ community, which thankfully prevented the bookstore from going under. Glad Day carries a large selection of LGBTQ books, including books by Canadian authors, and as part of its transition under new ownership is still in the process of updating it’s stock. As a result, I didn’t find all the books on my to-buy list, but did purchase a good selection that included a few of Glad Day’s recommendations for which I was quite appreciative.
One such recommendation is The Toronto You Are Leaving by Canadian author Gordon Stewart Anderson (Untroubled Heart Inc., 2006) an epic novel about gay life in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s, with an absolutely beautiful cover of the painting, Someone to Be Loved, by internationally acclaimed Canadian artist Steve Walker who sadly passed away in January 2012. The true story surrounding the publication of this book is as poignant as is the fictitious story in the novel. Mr. Anderson passed away from AIDS-related causes in 1991 and his novel was published posthumously. Three years after his death, his mother discovered that a small publishing house had an unpublished manuscript of the book. She submitted the manuscript to several other publishers without success, and eventually edited and self-published the novel herself in 2006. She had also previously published a book of her own about Anderson under the pen name of B.M. Lloyd, entitled, Not a Total Waste: The True Story of a Mother, Her Son and AIDS (Mosaic Adult, 1998).
Canadian author Jeffrey Luscombe’s Shirts and Skins (Chelsea Station Editions, May 2012) was on my to-buy list and I was happy to find it on the shelf at Glad Day. Unfortunately, we departed Toronto the day before Mr. Luscombe’s reading at the bookstore so I was not able to meet the author and get my book signed, but I am looking forward to reading his debut novel.
I was first introduced to the writing of Rigoberto González through his contribution to Steve Berman’s anthology Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up (Bold Strokes Books, September 2011). Mr. González’ short story Lucky P is one of my favourites in this anthology and so I had been looking forward to reading more of his work and was quite excited to find The Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa (University of Chicago Press, September 2011) at Glad Day. Another of my purchases was Chulito: A Novel by Charles Rice-González (Alyson Books, May 2010), which was on my to-read list by way of review and recommendation from my friend Hilcia over at Impressions of A Reader.
Two non-fiction titles were also part of my purchases at Glad Day. The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness To A Lost Imagination by Sarah Schulman (University of California Press, February 2012) is a personal memoir of the AIDS years (1981-1996) recalling the author’s experience as a witness to the loss, and consequences of that loss, of a generation’s rebellious queer culture and a vibrant New York City arts movement which vanished almost overnight as a result of AIDS. The Letter Q: Queer Writer’s Notes to Their Younger Selves by editors Sarah Moon and James Lecesne (Arthur A. Levine Books, May 2012), is an anthology of letters written by sixty-three award-winning authors telling their younger selves what they would have liked to know then about their lives as LGBTQ people.
I also dropped in at the World’s Biggest Bookstore located on Edward Street, near Yonge, and the first book “superstore” in Canada owned by Chapters-Indigo Inc., which has a relatively large selection of gay and lesbian romance and erotica. While there, I picked up a number of titles published by Bold Strokes Books: two by Montréal author Mel Bossa, Split (April 2011) again as recommended at Impressions of A Reader, and Franky Gets Real (December 2011); and Books 6 and 7 in Radclyffe’s Lambda Literary Award winning Provincetown Series, Returning Tides (November 2009) and Sheltering Dunes (November 2011).