Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Canadian houses, Montreal: Lower Westmount.

You'll find more about Lower Westmount--in particular the 'little' streets below St. Catherine--at Spacing Montreal. The streets I'm exploring here are all just above Sherbrooke Street. ('North' of Sherbrooke, in Montreal usage; though this doesn't have much to do with any compass bearing.) We are between Atwater and Claremont Avenues. Nineteenth- and early Twentieth-Century, often terraced houses, and nothing really fancy. Prosperous middle class. Who lived in these houses when they were built a hundred years ago? Senior clerks with 'positions' at the CPR, maybe Scottish-born? Bank managers of the larger downtown branches? French Canadian and Jewish owners of small-to-medium businesses? "Westmount" rings all kinds of psychic bells in the Canadian and Qu├ębecois mind but a lot of this clanging merely awakens stereotypes and tedious cliches about WASP plutocrats. Who are very rare on the ground in W'mount these days, and never much liked this part of the neighborhood anyway. Canadians hold onto their clich├ęs--especially about themselves--longer than most people do. Stereotypes linger perhaps because Canadians often think their country dull, and this stops them from looking closely at or reexamining the way they actually live in their towns and cities.
This section of Westmount reminds me of parts of South Dublin: Ballsbridge, Ranelagh. Montreal and Dublin were both large commercial cities of the (British) Empire during this period. Other quarters of Montreal look like other parts of Irish cities: the commercial buildings and 19th century warehouses along rue de la Commune in Old Montreal remind me a lot of the quays along the Liffey, in Dublin; also of certain parts of Cork city.

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