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Archive for November 17th, 2008

November 17th, 2008 • Posted in Authors and Books

Audio Interview with Mirium Toews, Winner of the 2008 Rogers Writers’ Trust Prize for Fiction

Winnipeg author Miriam Toews has won the $25,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for her fifth novel, "The Flying Troutmans" – the road trip story of a young woman who helps her niece and nephew find their father.

The book, published by Knopf Canada, was chosen by a jury of authors that included Lawrence Hill, last year’s fiction winner, Annabel Lyon and Heather O’Neill.

Jurors praised Toews for her ability to inject a sad tale with "hilarity and joy."

November 17th, 2008 • Posted in Authors and Books

Canada’s own Independents’ Day


On Saturday, November 15th independent booksellers across Canada rolled out a new marketing program called Independents Matter. Tapping into the growing localism movement, this national campaign with a community focus was created by Canadian Booksellers Association to encourage booksellers to celebrate their independence and promote the benefits of shopping locally at independently-owned stores.

Independents Matter is part of a momentum-gaining movement to support shopping locally because it offers the best value, the best retail experience and the best chance for communities to prosper. There’s even a YouTube video at
For more information on how booksellers are celebrating visit

Looks like Bill Mckibben’s talk at this past summer’s Book Expo had an impact. Please see my article in Canadian bookseller magazine here (page 2. here) detailing the contents of his presentation.

November 17th, 2008 • Posted in Literary Criticism

Northrop Frye’s literary evaluation, and elucidation

 Photo from here.

Apropos of fruitful engagement with Rohan Maitzen over the merits of evaluative criticism, here’s Jean O’Grady on how Northrop Frye deals with the issue:


"As a reviewer, Frye was not entirely bound by his own notorious stand against value-judgments, that the function of the academic critic is not to sit on high pronouncing whether a work is good or bad, but rather to see what the work is trying to do and how it relates to existing literature. Indeed, he bore witness to his less-noticed concession that value judgments are inevitable on one level, even though they may reflect only one’s cultural conditioning. He hit upon some ingenious ways of commenting on poems that were unlikely to be keepers. "Arthur Bourinot’s The Treasures of the Snow affects a very short line which would be well adapted for bringing out rhythmical subtleties if there were more subtleties to bring out." "Of [the books] in the check-list below, some achieve a certain uniform competence, . . . but otherwise there is nothing for a reviewer to say except to hope that they will find their audience." Edna Jaques was one of the most popular poets of the time. "The opening lines of her book indicate her mastery of the central technical device of nostalgic verse, a list of reminders or stimuli, vigorously checked off one after the other:

The strong clean smell of yellow soap, A farmer plowing with a team, The taste of huckleberry pie A pan of milk with wrinkled cream.

No, if this kind of thing is worth writing, Miss Jaques is certainly the person who knows best how to write it, and all our poets who are ambitious of belonging to the ‘conservative’ or ‘romantic’ school should learn about nostalgia from her."


In spite of such equivocations, necessary to one who was expected to comment on every offering, he kept in mind that his primary function was to elucidate. In his Canadian reviews he showed that reading current poetry is an essential cultural activity, "the poetic conversation of cultivated people," and thus he helped to build up a reading public that would allow an indigenous, mature literature to flower."

November 17th, 2008 • Posted in On Collecting

Neil Jenman: My kind of Book Collector

Neil Jenman has the largest private collection of Somerset Maugham books and memorabilia in the world. This man exhibits exactly the right attitude toward his addiction. He values what Maugham has to say. He cherishes possession of original manuscripts. He’s been willing to sacrifice almost anything to get them. Via Bookslut, via Somerset Maugham blog.