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.
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
- 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.