Hazlitt explores the city on Shawn Micallef's bookshelves

November 27, 2012 — Shawn Micallef (Stroll) gives Hazlitt a tour of the city on his bookshelf for Shelf Esteem, 'a weekly measure of the books on the shelves of writers, editors, and other word lovers.' Through the lens of his library, Shawn examines how writing both reflects and shapes the cities we live in.

Thinking about Toronto, and writing about Toronto... Toronto’s never been written like that. Well, it has been a little bit, here and there. Ondaatje a little bit, Margaret Atwood a little bit. There’s been some more recent stuff. A lot of writing about Toronto happens at the indie level. Coach House Books puts out a few books. But I think that’s slowly changing.


When I was writing my book, Stroll, about Toronto, a number of people who should’ve known better asked me why was I writing this book, and who is going to buy this book. But it felt like a good thing to write and it is in its fifth printing now, so I guess I was right.


No Great Mischief is great. I read it around when I moved here. [MacLeod]’s from Windsor, but writes about Toronto and Cape Breton. There’s great bits about walking up and down Spadina, going to see his brother. I thought about Spadina differently after I read this book, the way I thought about the Bloor Street Viaduct after I read In the Skin of a Lion. Both of these are fictional representations of factual places, and when I walk down those places I still think of them—the stories from the books are still very much a part of the physical place. When you’ve never read your place, hometown or not, you sort of eat this stuff up. Which is why I think Toronto books, mine and others’, are kind of sleeper successes. People do want to read about themselves, to see their lives reflected back at them.

Read the full article on Hazlitt.

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