I’m stoked to announce that Zoilus’ favourite Toronto bassist-improviser Rob Clutton is going to accompany Zoilus’ favourite everything, Sheila Heti (aka Mrs. Zoilus), this Friday night in Toronto for a cover-to-cover reading of her novel, Ticknor, as part of the Scream Literary Festival. Sounds daunting? First, the book’s only a little over 100 pages long. And it kicks ass - in a 19th-century Boston mopey neurotic Samuel-Beckett-plus-Henry-James-plus-Chris-Ware kinda way. It ain’t your garden-variety CanLit. (The book is published in Canada by Anansi and comes out next April in the U.S. from Farrar Straus & Giroux.) Second, the reading takes place during a three-course meal (plus hors d’oeuvres) at one of the city’s finer restaurants, Grano. Third, Rob Clutton is one of the city’s overlooked marvels, a subtle, prolific and versatile improviser with a deadpan sense of humour that perfectly suits Ticknor, a sadly comical figure who can’t get past his corrosive envy of the man he loves and admires most, not even enough to bring himself to attend a simple dinner party. Rob’s recent solo bass CD (on Rat-drifting) is titled Dubious Pleasures, which would be an apt subtitle for Ticknor. Fourth, Sheila’s a damn entertaining reader, I say as objectively as I can. And finally, there may be other surprises. And what better setting than a dinner party to hear a novel about a reluctance to go to dinner parties? This is actually something the Scream has been doing for a few years now - in past years Christian Bok read the whole of Eunoia and Dionne Brand read one of her books. It’ll be a unique experience.
Under the title “In the Rain with a Pie… Sheila Heti Reads Ticknor,” the event takes place Friday (July at 7:30 at Grano, 2035 Yonge Street. Tickets with the full meal are $60 (the menu’s on the Scream website), but if you want to grab cheaper eats beforehand, and come only for the words and music, it’s just $10, and I really encourage people to do so. Tickets are available online here and, unless it sells out, at the door.