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What They Should Have Said


What the advertisement to Ian Brown's celebration of his latest anthology should have said was 'don't bother attending if you arent a member of Toronto's literary scene or a newspaper columnist.'

As part of Pages Books "This is Not a Reading Series" Brown celebrated his anthology What I Meant To Say: 25 Essays on the Private Lives of Men, at the Century Room, a swank cookie-cutter King St. W. bar on Tuesday night.

It was a glorified party - down to the cliques, retro bowls filled with party favours and draws for prizes.

Being new to Pages' This is Not a Reading Series, maybe I should have caught a clue from the series title. However, being a self-professed bookwoom and with a line-up of contributors including Russell Smith, Andrew Pyper and David Macfarlane, I anticipated...well, a reading. Maybe an eyeful into the anthology that the Thomas Allen Publishers website says is a touching guide to the deep underbrush of guydom.

Instead, Brown cleverly threaded one line from each story together in lieu of a traditional reading. (It really isn't a reading series. Who knew?)

According to the Brown's publishers, What I Meant To Say, features "25 beautifully crafted and thoroughly readable essays by some of Canada's most interesting male voices pieces of writing that explore, reveal and explain the terrain of manhood, both new and old."

Contributions include: Greg Hollingshead on brains over brawn; Brian Johnson on hernias; David Macfarlane on erections; Andrew Pyper on getting married; Russell Smith on the appeal of the imperfect woman, and Ian Brown on looking, and being looked at, and lying. Other topics include money, sports, divorce, cars, single parenthood, vanity, death, shopping, hobbies, sisters, solitude, New Age men, naked women, and "that perennial favourite the male fear of commitment."

After eyeing that shopping list of topics, I'm definitely still interested in picking up Brown's latest. However, I won't buy it at Pages. Attending their so-called reading series was a waste of time. Time better spent curled up with a good book on a rainy Tuesday night.


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