08w07:5 Michael Redhill's Consolation

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Consolation by Michael Redhill

York St to Queen 1857
Looking up York St to Queen.
Osgoode Hall at the Intersection, 1857

York & King 2007
Looking down at York and King, 2007.
The area above today.

The Earliest Known Photographs of Toronto | Toronto Archives

Old photos inspired Michael Redhill’s ‘One Book’ Consolation | Geoff Pevere
“Redhill recalls being thunderstruck by a series of photographs he discovered in book by William Dendy called Lost Toronto. A 360-degree panorama consisting of thirteen shots of the city taken in 1856 from a hotel at the corner of Simcoe and York Streets, the pictures sparked in the author a kind of hypothetical reverie of the city that once was. In fictional form, the photos would also come to play a key role in Consolation. ‘Seeing those pictures,’ recalls Redhill, ‘And reading Dendy’s narrative of what happened in those streets and in those buildings and in those shops and who lived in that city, it just brought it all to life.’ Considering the book is so profoundly motivated by the author’s passionate conviction to know the city through its past, and to protect that past from further acts of developmental sabotage, Consolation’s selection as the inaugural book in the community-wide ‘Keep Toronto Reading’ campaign touches Redhill considerably. ‘As you can imagine it’s a huge, huge thing for me,’ he says. ‘It’s big for me because it’s the city of Toronto that chose it, it’s the Toronto Public Library where I did a lot of my research who chose it, and it’s also especially sweet because a year ago, by January of 2007, the book was dead. It had had its run, for whatever it was worth, in Canada, it had not done well in the States and it was not looking good in England either.’ He pauses, no doubt scanning well above storefront level for the right metaphor. ‘It’s like being showered with gold.'”

Keep Toronto Reading 2008
“We encourage all Torontonians to read Consolation by Michael Redhill. Then join in discussions and events throughout the city about its themes, issues and sometimes controversial ideas.”

Panorama | CBC News at Six
Consolation was inspired by a panorama of 13 pictures of the city, taken in 1856 from the rooftop of an inn that once stood at King and York street. These images are on display at the Toronto Reference Library. They’re arranged in a partial circle, allowing you to walk into the centre of them, and get a sense of what the city must have been like back in 1856. The first thing that struck me was seeing Lake Ontario. So that’s what it looks like. Before it was pushed a kilometer to the south, and the city erected highways and condo towers in front of it, it had quite a presence on the town.”

Torontoist Reads: Consolation
“This is first installment of a new Torontoist column – Torontoist Reads – that will feature reviews of new books by Toronto authors and interviews with the authors themselves. This week, Torontoist is pleased to feature Consolation, by poet, playwright, and novelist, Michael Redhill. Redhill is the author of the novel Martin Sloane, the short story collection Fidelity, as well as several collections of poetry and the plays Goodness and Building Jerusalem.”

Hero: Michael Redhill | Torontoist
“Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains of 2007––the people, places, and things that we’ve either fallen head over heels in love with or developed uncontrollable rage towards over the past twelve months. Get your dose, starting Boxing Day and running into the new year, three times a day––sunrise, noon, and sunset.”

One Book: Spacing Reads Consolation | Shawn Micallef
http://spacing.ca/wire/?p=2732 (Feb 1 2008)
Spacing Magazine is excited to announce our participation in the Keep Toronto Reading ‘One Book’ campaign. An initiative of the Toronto Public Library, the aim is to get as many people as possible reading Michael Redhill’s Consolation — much like what Oprah does with her book club, but on a civic level.”

One Book: Hallam of Toronto | Todd Harrison
http://spacing.ca/wire/?p=2727 (Feb 4 2008)
“Michael Redhill makes use of a few familiar Toronto surnames for characters in Consolation. Perhaps most prominent of these is J.G Hallam, late of Camden Town, sent to Toronto by his father to open the first New World branch of his family’s apothecary business. The real Hallam, the one for whom the street in the west end is named, was the man who led the campaign for the creation of the Toronto Public Library. John Hallam was born in 1833, and came to Toronto from Chorley, Lancashire, England in September of 1856. He started a business as a hide, wool, and leather merchant, and eventually became an alderman.”

One Book: The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library | Jessica Duffin Wolfe
http://spacing.ca/wire/?p=2766 (Feb 8 2008)
“The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is a multidimensional map of the city: it contains documents from every locale in Toronto, but also every moment. As Michael Redhill’s Consolation flips back and forth between eras, the library is a kind of waystation. While the late twentieth-century character David Hollis spends all his time studying the Toronto archives at the Thomas Fisher Library, the mid nineteenth-century characters can only wonder if their city will ever be established enough to keep those archives. To them a city library is a futurist dream. While Thomas Fisher himself also lived in the mid-nineteenth century, he wasn’t an archivist. He came to Canada in 1821, owned a mill on the Humber river, and was active in civic affairs. The library has his name because of his great-grandsons, who donated their rare books to the collection in 1973, the year the present building opened.”

One Book: Natural Light | Dylan Reid
http://spacing.ca/wire/?p=2773 (Feb 11 2008)
“This passage, in which some of the book’s characters are trying to establish a photography studio in a shopfront in 1856 Toronto, brings to the fore the essential role that natural light played in building and city design at the time, and still does today. […] When I interviewed Ward 20 Councillor Adam Vaughan for an article about the Queen West Heritage District, he suggested that one of the reasons why preserving Victorian buildings is valuable is that they had developed a range of techniques for managing natural light and its energy efficiently — techniques that we can learn about and bear in mind as we try to move towards a more sustainable, less energy-intensive future.”

One Book: Hanlan’s Point | Shawn Micallef
http://spacing.ca/wire/?p=2765 (Feb 12 2008)
“Once on the ferry, you get the most magnificent Toronto skyline pass-by this side of a late night drive along the Gardiner Expressway. You can stand still on the ferry deck and watch the buildings of various distance shift between each other as you move west. In the superhotsun and dizzy smog you might almost think it’s some kind of Proustian Remembrance of Things Past episode, where you can see all the Toronto skylines at once. Other times it’s just Toronto and it looks good. As Redhill says, the ferry arrives at the buggy, unkempt part of the island.”

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