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.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Canadian Houses: The Annex, Toronto & Irish Houses: Cyprus Avenue, Belfast.

I like exploring residential streets in big cities looking for what I imagine to be the 'vernacular' architecture. Autoliterate borrows/adapts the phrase from John Brinckerhoff Jackson's wonderful & insightful Discovering the Vernacular Landscape. It's about looking at the spaces we live in and upon. Basic Autoliterate investigatory technique is to a) choose a street more or less at random--(well, usually the street has some initial appeal, often because it has trees and is near the center of town)--and 2)walk or bike along it, photographing buildings that are no way remarkable or unique within the context of that neighourhood. So, looking for the ordinary, more or less. The vernacular of the neighbor(u)hood.
Autoliterate did this in Las Vegas, New Mexico a few months back.
Biddeford, Maine.
Montreal, of course.
And has done a lot of looking in Colorado Springs, including the Old North End
Hutchinson, Kansas a couple years back,
Here in Cambridge.
And lots more in Maine: Sedgwick, Brunswick, Portland, etc. Now--Toronto.
I usually think of The Annex neighbo(u)hood in relation to the University of Toronto, nearby. (It's odd that while U of T is probably the greatest Canadian university, it is quite unknown here in New England, where people, particularly parents with soon-to-be-college-age children, are very much aware of McGill and to a lesser extent Queen's U. as schools to aim for. U of T means University of Texas, Austin to most).
The Annex used to mean houses for U of T faculty, & rooming houses for graduate students. Because it in the center of the city The Annex has become over the last few decades quite fashionable and probably too expensive for most academics, though the typical Annex house, to my Montreal/Boston eye, tends to be rather grim than grand.
Still it's an interesting and characterful neighborhood...and, now, crazy expensive.
19th-early 20th c. built Toronto, in streetscape and in spirit, reminds me of Belfast more than any other city in North America. There always was a steady stream of migration from Protestant Ireland to Upper Canada, as it was, and then Ontario. Church of Ireland farmers from formerly Protestant areas in Tipperary & Kilkenny in the 19th century; and then a major stream of emigrants from The North, that continues to this day. I think there's still a Parade in Toronto in July, though these never had the sectarian ferocity they still muster up in Belfast. Yeats' "great hatred, little room" didn't quite apply to Canada; there was always more space. The Grand ((Orange)) Lodge of British North America was founded at Brockville, Upper Canada in 1830. The Annex houses posted here, most of them on Madison Avenue, resemble houses in South Belfast; for example, this terrace (below) in
Cyprus Avenue. I guess it's the brick and the Victorian sharpness (narrowness?)
Cyprus Avenue Belfast (above). Back to Madison Avenue, Toronto (below)

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