Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An Interlude: The Drifting, Travelling Mind

Just got back to Toronto after spending the past couple weeks travelling with my boyfriend in Spain.  (This is why I've been sadly neglectful of my blog - the guest computers at countryside inns in Andalusia are positively ancient and me, being a technophobe, I found it quite difficult to navigate the Spanish key board).  But my hiatus from blogging aside, the trip was delightful, and I can definitely see why so many writers have found Spain a source of literary inspiration - from Washington Irving's lyrical musings about the Alhambra (this stunning Moorish palace in Granada, which we toured) to Hemingway's deep appreciation for bullfighting.  Btw, we did not see a bullfight, for much as I might appreciate how Hemingway describes its unique artistry and rituals of violence, there are limits to what my stomach can take - not to mention the cruelty to animals.  We did, however, spend a marvellous, boozy evening at a flamenco club, where the passion, the stomping and pure anguish of the bullfighting aesthetic seem to be perfectly captured in this extraordinary style of dance.

In between gorging on tapas and visiting museums (I loved seeing Goya's "Black Paintings" at the Prado), I managed to do a little reading at sidewalk cafes here and there.  I did not do any writing, but instead I just let my mind drift and sooner or later it of course veered around to my writing.  This historical novel I've been struggling to get started on.

You see, something strange and exhilarating happened the day before I left on my trip.  I was having lunch in the food court of the sleek office building on Bay Street where I work (like most writers, I have a day job), when my phone suddenly buzzed.  The place was so noisy that at first, I could hardly make out what this woman was saying through the equally noisy static.  Finally, she shouted, "I'm calling from Kaslo, BC."  My heart skipped a beat.  As you may recall from my blog entry a few weeks ago, I'd contacted the Kootenay Historical Society, on a whim, enquiring whether they might have any information about my great grandfather, Kozo Shimotakahara, who was the doctor at the Japanese-Canadian internment camp established at Kaslo during the Second World War (this family history is part of what I want to explore in my novel).  Well, as luck would have it, it turns out that this woman was one of the nurses who worked with my great grandfather, and by the excitement in her feeble voice, I could tell she was just as pleased to have found me as vice versa.  "The stories I could tell you about Dr. Shimo...." she cackled.  "After he arrived in our little town and quickly dispelled all the government propaganda against the Japs, you have no idea what he did...."  But the hustle and bustle of businessmen rushing by with their lunch trays was so great I could hardly make out what she was saying.  After telling her I'd be away in Spain until the end of the month, she promised to call me one evening in June so we could talk more.  I'm crossing my fingers that she will. 


Leslie Shimotakahara said...

I have just received an email from a reader who said she is having difficulty posting comments. I understand that this has recently been a problem for many bloggers who use Blogger; they are currently trying to fix the problem. Hopefully, this comment will post!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back from your trip to Spain! Years ago I saw a horrifying bullfight in Madrid. I and many other tourists cried especially in the last half of the slaughter. Good luck with your Kaslo contact - sound promising! Naomi

Mimi said...

Is your comment section working? I have had trouble posting a comment.

Leslie Shimotakahara said...

Sorry to hear you've had trouble commenting on my blog.... I'm glad that your latest comment posted! I read on-line about a couple changes to my Comments section that may help the problem. And I hear that Blogger is fast at work trying to fix it....


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About Me

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Toronto, ON, Canada
Leslie Shimotakahara is a writer and recovering academic, who wanted to be simply a writer from before the time she could read. Hard-pressed to answer her parents’ question of how she would support herself as a writer, Leslie got drawn into the labyrinthine study of literature, completing her B.A. in Honours English from McGill in 2000, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern American Literature from Brown in 2006. After graduation, she taught English at St. Francis Xavier University for two years. Leslie woke up one morning and realized that she’d had enough of the Ivory Tower. The fact that she wasn’t doing what she wanted to do with her life loomed over her, and the realization was startling. It was time to stop studying and passively observing life and do something real instead. She needed to discover herself and tell her own story. This blog and the book she has written under the same title (Variety Crossing Press, spring 2012) are her foray. Leslie's writing has been published in WRITE, TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and GENRE.