Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Here's one for the ladies literature and libations club.

One of my favourite things about living in Toronto besides men in nice suits, was frequenting a place called Waddington's. Not a pub, an auction house, but equally addictive. Around since 1850, Waddington's would hold major art and antique auctions, then, every other week or so, smaller not-so-fancy estate auctions. These were the ones I loved. Sifting through remnants of lives lived in rambling mansions in Rosedale or Forest Hill was fascinating to me. I bought my first slipcovered chintz chair there for $15 bucks. It smelled a wee bit like gin and old lady urine, but it washed up just fine.     

I really don't like standing around all day at an auction only to watch some fat cat with a palsy paddle scoop your bid. At 'Wadd's' you could go in the day before the auction and place blind bids on stuff. Books, furniture, art. I'd stick $10 to 50 bucks on this and that, and leave. The next day, you'd get a call, or not. They'd say, "You got Lot #25 for $45 bucks, come and get it." Of course, I'd have no idea what my prize was because I never wrote anything down. It was like Christmas, without the weird relatives. 

I seldom "have to" have anything, but I there's a book that speaks to several of my personalities, and I want it. It must have spoken to Brad Pitt too, as he just picked up the rights to make it Hollywood worthy. (Along with Natalie Portman but who cares about her.)  

A unique approach to romance, I love the title: "Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry." And I love the cover. I judge books by their covers no matter what anyone says.  

The author is Leanne Shapton, an art director who grew up in Toronto. She has since moved on to bigger and better places, like NYC, and you can bet she doesn't hang around hockey rinks. I confess to kinda-sorta wanting her life right now, as guilty as that makes me feel.

"Important Artifacts..." is an auction catalog that reads a bit like a graphic novel. Crazy huh, which is why I want it. The 325 lots up for auction are things from the defunct relationship between fictional characters; food critic, Lenore, and photographer, Harold. Through Lenore and Harold's personal effects – everything from jewelry, fine art, and rare furniture, to the seemingly worthless items like pajamas, Post-it notes, and paperbacks – the story of a love affair gone sour comes to life. Why didn't I think of that!?  

It makes me wonder what my life would look like in an auction catalogue: Lot #3 An incontinent poodle. Foggy memories. A complete wardrobe in sizes 6 to 16. A great kid. Travel photos. A broken heart or two. And some unpaid bills. 

What the hell, I'll put $17 bucks on the lot. The urine smell will wash out.
Frog Hollow 429-3318