A landmark Mile End coffeehouse deserves partial credit for a Montreal writer's big Giller Prize win, writes journalist Graeme Hamilton.
In a post-Giller ceremony article about Café Olimpico and Sean Michaels in the National Post, the Montreal writer tells Hamilton that he wrote the bulk of Us Conductors at the keystone café because "there’s something really helpful to be able to look up from the page."
"When everything’s flowing, you’re never going to look up …. But when things are trickier, you can kind of look up from the page and see this tiny story play out, or see a face, or watch a person, and then when I look back down at the page, it’s like my brain has had a chance to shuffle the deck and I can go on from there."
The 32-year-old author even went so far as to thank Café Olimpico baristas Vince Spinale and Vito Azzue (now of Café Vito) in his book's acknowledgements. Now that Olimpico has Wi-Fi, Michaels' next novel may have a different muse, however.
"They know that I gnashed my teeth when they added a Wi-Fi signal. Now I have to steel myself, or sometimes I use a silly piece of software to turn off Internet access. It remains to be seen."