| Word! On the Street
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26 Sep Word! On the Street


So I finally made it out to Word on the Street, Toronto’s outdoor book festival. Being a WOTS virgin, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Initial reaction: Wow. There are a lot more people here than I’d expected. Secondary reaction: Are they selling… bed sheets over there? (They were, for some unknown reason. Selling like hotcakes, in fact.)

I’d naively assumed that WOTS was some artsy, literary festival, chockfull of readings, workshops and author signings. In fairness, all of those things do exist at WOTS, but they’re somewhat overshadowed by the children’s fun stage, numerous fast food trucks and bargain shopping tents.

Once I’d recovered from my initial surprise, and downed an order of Tiny Tom donuts (an absolute must for any literary event), I set out to take in the sights. First stop was the Giller Prize Bestsellers stage to catch readings by Brian Francis and Ian Hamilton. Sadly, I missed Guy Vanderhaeghe’s reading earlier in the day. (Mental note: read programme before arriving at festival.) Next, I hovered at the edge of the Wordshop Marquee, but it was so full I couldn’t hear the speaker. Apparently, getting published is a popular topic.

I braved the madding crowd, and headed into the thick of the market area. All of the major publishing houses were selling books at 20% off; everyone else was selling them at deeply discounted rates. I picked up a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna (quicker than being No. 74 on the holds list) for a whopping $6 off the list price. I can’t resist a deal, even if it’s not a great one.

To atone for my purchase of a bestselling American writer, I proceeded to pick up copies of a number of Canadian magazines and journals – Taddle Creek, Brick, Room and Maisoneuve. And with my bag full of literary aspirations, and my stomach full of donuts, I wandered away (somewhat dazed), from my first encounter with Word on the Street.

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