mjj (flemmings) wrote,
mjj
flemmings

Am reading Girls Fall Down, a novel set in Toronto. Oh my yes isn't it.
Even past Spadina, the traffic seemed locked in a permanent snarl, but when Alex got on the Bathurst streetcar it was no more crowded than usual. There were no visible effects of the subway incident, but he thought that people did know somehow, fragments and rumours; he was not even sure why he thought this, except for a slight modulation in the atmosphere, a measure of silence, glances of quiet complicity between the Portugese housewives and the Asian teenagers. He got off the streetcar at College and walked west in the darkness, the rain stinging his face, the fabric of his pants clinging to his knees and calves.

Just past Euclid, a shape moved out of a doorway and into the pool of a streetlight...

His apartment was just short of Grace Street, on the third floor, up a narrow flight of stairs; when he had moved in it had been above a cluttered little store selling saucepans and floral dresses to middle-aged Italian women, but now the store had been replaced by a cafe with pine tables and rag-painted walls, and his rent had risen precariously.
This kind of naming of streets and subway stations always struck me as a little embarrassing back in the 80s-- Toronto playing at being a Big Name City whose streets are as storied as 5th Avenue or Bond St, when it's nothing of the sort. Maybe I'm unkind. Maybe geographical precision is legitimate with any town. Ackroyd has no difficulty throwing about perfectly obscure street names in London, take them or leave them.
It was dusk now as he walked down Brick Lane to Christ Church, Spitalfields, passing Monmouth Street and turning down Eagle Street where the east wall of the old church rose among the ruined houses. As he walked forward the street lamps flickered alight, and the shape of the church itself altered in their sudden illumination.
Yes well, but Ackroyd bugs me too. A bit too much Wakaru hito wa wakaru. (Those who know will know.)

I must also note that Alex in the top passage has just walked from Yonge St to Bathurst, which is to say a mile and a quarter (IIRC Yonge and Bathurst are concession roads that are all spaced that distance apart.) Why he then takes a streetcar to go the further (scant) half mile to College I can't imagine. Possibly so he can see the Portugese housewives and the Chinese teenagers exchanging glances, which *I* have never noticed them doing on the Bathurst car.

And furthermore-- maybe I haven't read enough Toronto-set works, but those I do know are, by a strange coincidence, all set downtown in a narrow strip-- a mile or so north or south of Bloor with its subway line. The university is a fave, and the Annex west of it; Rosedale gets a look-in; people may even venture across the viaduct into Greektown Danforth. But Warden and Finch, Ellesmere and Morningside? Eglinton or Lawrence even? Not a hope. Griffin notably, and even Aaronovitch, take you to the burbs of London, but I can't recall anyone who takes you to Scarberia in TO.
Tags: place, reading_13, rivers
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