The book launch was held in the evening of Thursday the 19th of November, at the beautiful Yorkville Library. It was only fitting to have it there, as the events of many chapters in A Question of Return take place in Yorkville. (Come to think of it, Toronto is everywhere in the novel. Besides Yorkville and Hazelton Avenue, there are Queen’s Park and St Joseph Street, Bloor Street, the Toronto General and University Avenue, Litton Park and Yonge Street, the Kingsway.)
Good crowd. Alas, I was sick like a dog at the book launch, unable to get rid of a heinous cold that has been with me since Saturday. Good speeches from Ken Alexander (very amusing), my editor, and Howard Aster, my publisher. My address was terrible. My head was hurting and spinning. My voice couldn’t carry either, and probably most people could not hear. (The next day I fully lost my voice, except for faint whispering.) I tried to answer the legitimate question: How did it happen that you, Robert Carr, came to write a novel in which Russian poets, dead and alive, among which Tsvetayeva and Pasternak, are major characters?
The book launch for A Question of Return will be on Thursday November 19th, between 6 and 8 pm, at the Yorkville Branch of the Toronto Public Library, 22 Yorkville Avenue.
For those unable to attend that Thursday, or would be too rushed and prefer a more laid-back setting, Esther and I will open our house for a drop in and a chat and a glass of wine on Sunday November 22nd, between 2 and 6 pm.
I was hoping that the book launch for A Question of Return would be in October, but I just heard from Mosaic Press, my publisher, that mid to end November is more realistic.
A cousin of mine who lives in Paris was in Toronto in early July for two days with a group visiting Quebec (mainly) and Ontario. We spent the evenings with her, and reminisced. I hadn’t seen Michele Rosenfeld in forty-five years, yet this is the woman who smuggled us – me first, then my brother and sister-in-law four weeks later – out from Communist Romania in the late 1960s. Yes, she literally saved our hides. I started Continuums with the idea of telling this story. It eventually ended up being a novel about a completely fictitious woman mathematician, and the escape from Romania was only alluded to when Alexandra’s brother told her about a way to flee the country through Bulgaria and Turkey. A partial, much compressed, and slightly changed version of it survived in my “drawer” in a short story titled In Transit. I remember I compiled it at the time I decided to alter significantly what later became Continuums, and then abandoned it.
I wrote above “We spent the evenings with her, and reminisced”, but much of the reminiscing consisted in realizing how little any of us recalled, and how differently we recalled the little we did. I found myself saying, again and again, I don’t remember. IDR – the useful acronym of a sentence I’m lately repeating or thinking often.
A few days later, nostalgia and sappiness got the better of me. I found In Transit in an old directory and reread it after so many years. Half of it is about the time in Paris; mainly fabricated except for the encounters with the French police which indeed had a difficult time believing the story of my flight from Romania. In Transit could do with a few touch-ups here and there.