Warm in our Roxton Road flat, despite the snow outside, my partner and
I lit candles, ate walnut cakes from Bloor Street, made collage visions of
our futures, and tried to imagine how a faraway life could be possible. By
that January of 2007, I had been comanager and book buyer at the Toronto
Women’s Bookstore for nine months. The previous manager of ten years,
Anjula Gogia, had taken a fourteen- month leave of absence to consider a
different life, so I had been preparing for the end of my contract by applying
for faculty teaching positions. Jarring us out of our imaginings, my phone
rang with an invitation for an on- site interview with the En glish Depart-
ment of a state university in the US Deep South. My lover saw the danger
in the southern city, in breathing in a geography so deeply steeped in sys-
tems of slavery and segregation that time folds in on itself in the grocery
store, the hospital exam room, the classroom. Still, I agreed to deliver a
job talk on my concept of the feminist shelf and how feminist bookstores
had changed antiracist feminist alliance practices. I splashed feminist ar-
chival trea sures onto the document camera: issues of the Feminist Bookstore
News, Joni Seager’s map of New Words book sections, and the typed script
of Donna Fernandez’s talk on behalf of Streelekha at the 1988 International
Feminist Book Fair. To me, these moments wove together into a complex
web of emotional- political alliances; this electric web wielded critical influ-
ence in both feminism and publishing. A faculty member’s knitting clicked
a soundtrack. As I ended the talk, one excited white woman professor in
her fifties asked, “Would you consider starting a feminist bookstore here?”
This is a question I have heard often during my years of writing this history.
This woman, like the others who have asked, eager though she knew my
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