Archive for the ‘travels without charley’ Category


February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Having finished with all that intemperate ranting (breathe, Somerset, breathe), I’m outa here. Off to Montreal, or more accurately, that bleak landscape known as Dorval.

View from the Hampton Inn, Dorval

That’s a noisy, horrible scan of Tri-X Pan.


Vancouver before the Olympic storm

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Off to Vancouver again … this time, I’ll try to present a burnt offering of money at Duthie Books. (Without, I should add, actually burning the money first.)

I didn’t bother renting a car this trip — it seems wasteful when your morning commute from the hotel to the customer site consists, essentially, of crossing the street, when there’s supermarkets and restaurants and used book pushers and even Mountain Equipment Coop within walking distance. But I should be able to figure out how to take a bus down Broadway to Kitsilano.

It’s that kind of versatility that justifies my staggering salary.

I look forward to the usual productive period of hotel confinement, which should let me get some work done, and also maybe post a review of Jim Harrison’s The Farmer’s Daughter, and perhaps some further ill-considered rambling about screenplays.


January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Somehow, I always end up going to Edmonton in the depths of winter. Some dark and chilly conspiracy must be at work.

This may be one reason that Edmonton is low on my list of favorite places to be, although it does rank higher than Montréal; the other reason is that, for the most part, Edmonton seems to be an overgrown, sprawling suburb adjoining an industrial wasteland, where the major retail establishments are liquor stores and the biggest mall in creation.

Still, I am down on Whyte and there should be lots of used bookstores around. And I have been offered Oilers tickets. So there are compensations.


January 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Montréal, cold and decrepit, with highways laid out by a thirteen-year-old as he watched Mad Max: I am a fuel-injected suicide machine. Everything here is falling apart and we drive with corresponding disregard. “Arrêt,” so I’m told, translates to “slow down and roll on through.”

Montréal, home of the once-greatest franchise in professional sport, once the financial centre of Canada, once the seat of the powerful, once many things, is now a city in decay.

It is not a city I like to visit.

But today’s visit is in-and-out, a surgical strike, an episode from the upcoming Call of Duty 10: Modern Business Traveller. You get off the airplane and drive to the customer site and then drive back to the airport and hurry to the gate and have done with it, all in one continuous rush.

Another day wasted from my lifetime allotment.

Sunny Vancouver

December 2, 2009 1 comment

Which words, at this time of year, are normally uttered in irony. But it is sunny in Vancouver today, probably because the Weather Gods noticed that I had left my sunglasses on my desk in London.

Slickety Jim’s is, indeed, in a decidedly dilapidated state; that is to say, it consists of a pile of charred timber surrounded by a fence. But on the opposite corner of Main & Broadway, Pulp Fiction Books has a first edition of Hunter Thompson’s The Curse of Lono. I was forced to vacate the premises; that smell of burning plastic was, in fact, my credit card, and a fire in a bookstore is never a good thing. (On reading about the fire that destroyed Slickety Jim’s a few weeks back, my first thought was actually something like, “Broadway & Main! But that’s Pulp Fiction!”)

I did snag McGuane’s Nothing But Blue Skies and Richard Ford’s Women With Men on my way out. Neither of those is really collectible, but I have that completist urge with a few writers, and those are two of them.

On the road again

November 23, 2009 1 comment

Work takes me up to the Big Smoke for two days; the upside is that this will take me to Wednesday’s Biblioasis Poetry Hoohah (although I believe they have some other name for it), where I hope one Zachariah Wells will scribble in my copy of his book, Track & Trace, which I have been thoroughly enjoying.