Andrew Brooks was Assistant Editor of Ethos magazine.
As a born-and-bred Torontonian, I feel a bit out of place reviewing a travel book about my city, a book intended for those who have never been to Toronto. Besides, Torontois primarily a picture book.
Joe Fisher, feature writer for the Toronto Sunday Sun and sometime novelist, has gathered 150 pages of photographs of Toronto. I’m assuming that Fisher took the pictures; this is never stated, and the brief biographical sketch mentions only writing credits.
The six-page introductory text, even better written than one would expect in a slickly-produced marketing effort such as this, offers a short history of Toronto, attempting to counter a perceived attitude by claiming that it may once have been a dull city but is so no longer.
There are photographs of most of the sites likely to attract the attention of visitors. Many of them, unfortunately, are repetitive — close variations on one another obviously taken seconds apart. For the most part, the photographs are distanced and sweeping, taking in lots of space rather than focusing on details that might give a more intimate view of Toronto life. Perhaps the best way to give viewers a feel for any city is to portray its people, or at least give them something to do in the photographs. In Toronto there are no true portraits of people and few where they are anything more than ornaments to the physical elements of the city. They lack personality, victims of the eye that is squeezing as much physical substance into the viewfinder as possible.
The creators of Toronto have opted for photography that simply depicts, rather than working for a sense of the city, for the poetry of it. Toronto will show you a lot of the city, and the text is well written, but there is nothing holding the book together, no coherent approach to the style and selection of images.