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Bret Easton Ellis/Chris Cleave at Harbourfront


A somewhat hidden gem on the Toronto arts scene is The International Readings series at The Harbourfront Centre. World renowned authors are brought into a very intimate setting, namely The Brigantine Room, in which they read from their books, followed by a book signing/meet & greet. The September 16th offering from this series promised to be a memorable one, with Chris Cleave and Bret Easton Ellis.

London, England's Chris Cleave became a part of the international literary consciousness with his book Incendiary, a novel set around letters written to Osama Bin Laden from a British woman after her husband and son are killed when the soccer match they are attending is bombed by terrorists. His selected reading from the book was haunting, even more so because, in an aside by Cleave, the day that it was published was the same day as the London subway bombings.

Bret Easton Ellis followed Cleave. Best known for his definitive portrayals of the Reagan 80s (Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction and American Psycho) that catapulted him from college student to celebrity, he's back with Lunar Park, a book that masterfully and disturbingly blurs the line between autobiography and fiction. It's a wonder the man is still alive, seeing the vast amounts of drugs and alcohol he's consumed. The selection from his newest book that he chose to read outlines the events of his life around the time Glamourama was released, leading up to how Lunar Park came to be written.

Ellis reads in the same manic way he writes, and his energy is infectious. He was enthralling to listen to. And it was quite nice to see that much of the controversy of the past has died down. There was actually a protest outside one of his previous readings at Harbourfront, due to the subject matter of American Psycho. With the wild and crazy days behind him, Ellis appears to be much more together now, and after his reading, both he and Cleave signed books and chatted with the crowd.

Harbourfront Centre is a hub of literary activity, as home to the annual International Festival of Authors, and the International Readings series is just the answer to those seeking something different to do year round. The calibre of writers that the series attracts is impressive, and at only $8 a ticket, is one of the most affordable nights out in the city.


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