On the Town with Shinan: David Cronenberg fetes his first-ever novel

By Shinan Govani

It only took me 50 years: that was David Cronenberg's message at a small gathering held here recently in Toronto.

As the thoroughly audacious director made the scene inside the restaurant THR & Co, he beamed liked he'd won the school swim meet. He was sneak-peeking his first-ever novel, Consumed, and it was reason enough for celebration. “I always thought I would be a novelist rather than a filmmaker,” boomed the Torontonian to the room.

Better late than never. David's knowing eyes confirmed the old truism. A horror auteur-turned-genuine-Hollywood player, he's bossed around everyone from Keira Knightley to Jeremy Irons, Viggo Mortensen to Juliette Binoche, not to mention been awarded such laurels as the Légion d'honneur from the nation of France. But writing a book...well, this has been David's real life mission!

I asked his publishers at Penguin – the gang behind this particular party – to describe the style of the novel, and the one-word description that came back was – what else? – “Cronenbergesque.” Right. Got it. The bookish affair, as it happens, was also an opportunity to fete the director's triumph last month at Cannes, where his newest film, Map to the Stars, was very well-received, and even led to a Best Actress win at the fest for the film’s star Julianne Moore. About the flame-haired fave, David confirms that she really is “sensational.”

Word has it that the film will continue its festival-tour when it hits TIFF in September, which just happens to be the same month when Consumed hits bookshelves. “Cronenbergesque”: that's how this autumn is shaping up, in other words.


“You still look 35. Happy 50th!” So ended a hand-written note ferried to Lenny Kravitz when he was having a chill dinner at Terroni Bar Centrale on Toronto’s Yonge Street mere days after his half-century birthday mark. A dessert was also sent with the note. And proof positive that flattery will get you everywhere? The note-sender ended up getting an embrace from the multi-talented rocker, right there in the restaurant. “My work on planet earth is done,” cooed the hug-receiver, overjoyed by the celebrity encounter.

Ok, then:

She came, she conquered: we're talking Hillary Clinton's half-day takeover of Toronto last week, while making her only Canadian stop to promote her new memoir, Hard Choices. And here's an anecdote that made its way to me from Hillary-land: after wooing about 1,800 people at a lunch hosted by the Canadian Club, and then plopping herself down at Indigo Books on Bay Street, the former U.S. Secretary of State did take a moment to talk about her diet with one enthusiast. “So, hot peppers, eh?” asked the gentleman while she was signing his book. “I swear by them,” she said, with a bit of wink.

A reference, no doubt, to the revelation that Hillary has made on more than one occasion that the way she maintains her stamina is by eating a lot of – yes! – hot peppers. “I think it keeps my metabolism revved up,” she once told Katie Couric, pointing the benefits of capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers. And, well, now you know.

Scene! Heard! ... in Toronto

* “Transcendent”: one word to describe a suited-up k.d. lang when she showed off her pipes at the chichi World Pride gala staged by mega-philanthropist Salah Bachir at the Shangri-La this week.

* Pretty Little Liars starlet Shay Mitchell, back home in Canada this week, made a stop at Bitondo's Pizza on Clinton Street for a classic slice.

* Orange Crocs alert!: Mario Batali makes his Toronto foodie debut as the just-announced headliner for the Delicious Food Show, happening at Exhibition Place in the fall.

* Kristen Kreuk of Smallville and Beauty & the Beast fame was spotted breakfasting the other morning at The Drake on Queen West.

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