What The Word On the Street Is Reading

The Word On The Street Blog! IT’S ALIVE!

It’s been over a month since thousands of book lovers took to Queen’s Park Circle to celebrate our shared love of reading. What a wonderful day it was! A huge thank you to everyone who attended and helped make the 23rd festival such a success!

I personally had a fantastic day meeting authors, book and magazine merchants, volunteers, and Toronto’s great community of readers who support the festival year after year.  I then went home and slept for 40 days straight. I have to say, celebrating reading and advocating literacy can really tucker you out.

But now I’m bright-eyed, fully-conscious, and eager to share with you a beautiful book I recently encountered. Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes, by Michael Cho, was published earlier this year by Drawn & Quarterly.

About the book:
Image “Michael Cho began creating drawings of the back alleys near his Toronto home in 2008. With this book, he has amassed a collection that speaks to the beauty of the urban landscape: sometimes grittily citified, sometimes unexpectedly pastoral, and always bewitching. Cho is a skilled draftsman, and Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes shines with lovingly rendered details, from expletive-filled graffiti splayed across backyard fences to the graceful twists of power lines over a bend in the road.

Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes meanders through the city, functioning as a sort of caught on-paper psychogeographical Jane’s Walk. With each season’s change, different color schemes become dominant, and a whole range of moods and moments are articulated. Cho lets the reader visit his city as a virtual flaneur, lingering equally over dilapidated sheds and well-groomed gardens in a dazzling tribute to the urban environs.”

The landscapes of the back alleys of Toronto are very familiar, but Cho’s drawings really made me consider their beauty in a way I hadn’t before. The drawings are so detailed, you feel like the book could serve as a unique map through the city.  Words are sparing in this book, but Cho does give some insight into his approach and how he came to spend so much time focused on a rarely documented part of the urban landscape. I really enjoyed looking through this collection, and if you’ve spent any time cutting through the alleys of this city, I bet you will too.

Also, the publisher’s blurb above just taught me the word flaneur which describes a stroller, saunterer, or “a person who walks the city in order to experience it.” Very nice. That one’s entering the ol’ vocabulary, for sure.

Happy reading!

– Cailin, local flaneur

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