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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Recap: Jeff Parker launches Where Bears Roam the Streets

On Saturday, June 14th, we hosted Jeff Parker for the launch of his latest, Where Bears Roam the Streets. We're fortunate to often have tasty book events in our store, but people, this might have been the fanciest I've seen yet: Check out that caviar! Not even pictured are the vodka tonics that were also on offer. But let's not get distracted: Where Bears Roam the Streets tells the story of Jeff Parker's time in Russia. He went with the intention of writing about the country's changing economic sphere but found it resisted interpretation- the people and cities were much more complex than he could have imagined.

Hosting the event was Summer Literary Seminars director Ann Ward, who made us all blush when she said "D+Q is one of our favourite venues ever."

First up, she welcomed SLS founder Mikhail Iossel to the stage. He proudly explained that Where Bears Roam the Streets is the first full-fledged SLS book- that is, Parker was traveling for the program and the experience inspired him to write this book. Iossel read emphatically.

Jeff Parker went to Russia at 25 and it "blew his mind". This book is him putting his "mind back together some 15 years later". He tells us that he went around St. Petersburg asking people about love, and reads a passage that's a discussion with Igor, whom the book is mostly about. Igor is somewhat of a matchmaker, and offers to teach women to communicate with men, even writing letters to men for them. Inevitable mishaps and disappointment follows. The reading sheds light on how men and women in Moscow meet- "they meet in cars. If you don't have a car, you're out of luck."

Jeff makes the crowd laugh when he explains all the strange snacks he encountered on his journey: squid jerky, apparently, tastes "like salted rubber bands". Fortunately, we still had plenty of pickled vegetables, and everyone got to eatin', minglin', and having their books signed. Thanks to all who came out!

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