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Archive for September 17th, 2009

September 17th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Documenting the Book at the Turn of the 21st Century

This site serves several purposes one of which is to house and present audio interviews. An early objective was to "attempt to document what’s going on with the book, as art (content) and object, at the turn of the 21st century by capturing and presenting the ideas of passionate, talented authors, publishers, booksellers, collectors, conservators, illustrators, printers, digitizers, librarians – with the goal of creating a place where interested parties can/could visit to get a comprehensive, entertaining, informative overview of what’s happening, real time, at this crucial stage in the book’s development."
To date I’ve conducted several hundred interviews, roughly half of them with authors, the rest with consumers, packagers and sellers of content.  I plan to continue to talk to people currently involved with book production – every aspect of it – from the lone artisan to the corporate honcho. I will shortly post interviews conducted with book artists, letterpress printers, fine press owners and expert bookbinders: those who specialize in traditional production practices. Over the coming year I hope to meet with people working in the large scale industrial book manufacturing business.
I’ll try to get in to talk to someone at R.R. Donnelly or Quebecor, the world’s largest book manufacturers; Lehigh Phoenix or Coral Graphics , the largest dust jacket printers in America; and Glatfelter, established in 1864, now the largest supplier of book paper in the world. Stay tuned. Hopefully by the end of it all, we’ll have a bit better idea of where ‘the book’ is headed as we move on into the 21 century.
September 17th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

The Top 10 Best Canadian Novels

Eureka! I have found an essay by a Canadian critic in which the nine ‘best’ Canadian novels are specifically identified. Though supporting arguments are brief, at least a list is out. In fact, in addition to his own, T.F. Rigelhof in an essay entitled ‘Choosing the Best’ (found in This is our Writing, Porcupine’s Quill, 2000), culls Canadian from Harold Bloom’s The Western Canon:

Malcom Lowry Under the Volcano
Robertson Davies The Deptford Trilogy and The Rebel Angels
Alice Munro Something I’ve been meaning to Tell You
Margaret Atwood Surfacing

and Carmen Callil and Colm Toibin’s The Modern Library: The 200 Best Novels in English since 1950, (who select the books they do "for their illustration of the very life of the author, the power of the live voice, the passion to tell a story, invent characters and find a form"):

Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace
Robertson Davies, Fifth Business
Mavis Gallant, From the Fifteenth District
Margaret Laurence, A Jest of God
Alistair MacLeod, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood
Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance
Brian Moore, Black Robe
Alice Munro, Friend of My Youth
Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion
Mordecai Richler, St. Urbain’s Horseman

and finally, presents his own:

Margaret Atwood, Life Before Man
Leonard Cohen, The Favourite Game
Mavis Gallant, Selected Stories
Hugh Hood, Around the Mountain: Scenes from Montreal Life
Brian Moore, Black Robe
Alice Munro, Selected Stories,
Mordecai Richler, St. Urbain’s Horseman
Mordecai Richler, Solomon Gursky Was Here
Rudy Wiebe, The Blue Montains of China.

Mix these titles in with the rather staid selection published by Quill and Quire magazine in its July 1999 issue, plus novels on the LRC’s 100 ‘Most Important’ Canadian Books, and you have, assuming consumption rates of about one book a week, a year’s worth of reading from which to develop your own top ten.


September 17th, 2009 • Posted in On Book Collecting

National Library and Archives’ Annual Used Book Sale on Tomorrow

Volunteers setting up for the National Library and Archives’ Annual Used Book Sale at the St. Laurent Shopping Centre in Ottawa. Sale starts tomorrow morning at 9.30