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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Event recap: Launch for Anna Leventhal's Sweet Affliction

Last Wednesday, April 16, we were thrilled to host the launch for local writer and store friend Anna Leventhal's first book, Sweet Affliction! To those of you who were unable to fit in the packed-to-bursting store that evening, we offer this event recap:

Attendees were treated to a delicious and beautifully arranged array of snacks by local pastry professional, Camilla Wynn (Preservation Society). Probably the most incredible spread we've ever seen here! And that book cover doesn't look half bad either! It was designed by Invisible's Megan Fildes and portrays, in Anna's words, "melancholic precipitation" and the Montreal skyline upside-down.

The centerpiece on this particular tray is a cheese ball, dressed up as the Orange Julep (which just happens to be featured in one of the stories in Sweet Affliction).

And to top it all off, there was a Goddamn Fucking Cake - another reference to one of Anna's stories.


The store filled quickly! Guests bee-lined for the books and refreshments table, of course.

Montreal writer Melissa Bull (editor of Maisonneuve's "Writing from Quebec" column, and author of a poetry collection and a translation of Nelly Arcan, both forthcoming) gave a glowing introduction for Anna. We love it when local writers appreciate and support each other!

After thanking friends, family, various Montreal artistic and activist communities and, of course, skids, Anna read from "Gravity", the first story in Sweet Affliction - a snapshot of the complex relationship between two sisters. Anna clarifies that it is not autobiographical.

"Gravity" is both hilarious and melancholy, and includes ruminations on the home pregnancy test experience; childhood "dating" games involving clementine boobs; the difference (or similarity) between loving a person and loving that person's name; and excellent puns ("David Cop-A-Feel", "Tom Ass-Pinchin'").

Anna followed up her reading with a conversation with Melissa, and a Q&A with the audience. She revealed that she began writing at an early age - she frequently dictated cat stories to obliging adults at her nursery school. She then wrote an "epic sci-fi adventure about a hamster" in elementary school. The stories in Sweet Affliction have been in the works for years now, including during a residency at the Banff Centre.

Also discussed: writing about the friendships and social webs that are assembled around us in cities; allowing politics to find its way into stories instead of writing explicitly "political" material; Anna's dark humour and her obsession with coincidences; "WWKD" (What Would Kafka Do?).


Then we cut the Goddamn Fucking Cake (which was delectable) and everyone hung out and bought books. In fact, they bought all the copies of Sweet Affliction we had! But don't worry -  it is now back in stock!

Thank you to everyone who came out and made this a memorable event!

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