Musings on Place, Travel, Books, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts

Archive for July, 2011

July 29th, 2011 • Posted in Literary Destinations

What a Literary Tourist found at the Toronto Public Library

Researching ‘what is found where’ for the new website (yes, members are, and will be, treated to an ever growing list of rare book libraries complete with the names of those authors whose papers and early editions are found within) and I learned that the Toronto Public Reference Library on Yonge Street has a whole room not only dedicated…but furnished to look like the Baker Street study of, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle..and Sherlock Holmes. In fact, the library holds "one of the world’s foremost collections of library materials devoted to the life and work of Arthur Conan Doyle."  The Arthur Conan Doyle Room is located on the 5th floor at 789 Yonge Street. Hours are 2-4 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and by appointment. For more information on this wonderful find, contact Friends of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.

July 28th, 2011 • Posted in On Book Collecting

Book Collecting Ideas: Glenn Goluska

Last week in Toronto I had the pleasure of interviewing Stan Bevington, founder of Coach House Press. The focus of our conversation was on collecting, specifically,  volumes from Coach House’s stable that might appeal to those of us who love and desire to possess well-made, well-designed books. Early on in the discussion Stan mentioned that Glenn Goluska had worked as a designer at Coach House. After our interview I strolled in the heat over to Ten Editions, a nearby used bookstore on Spadina Avenue, in search of Coach House output. I came across and bought a copy of BP Nichols’ Journal. Wouldn’t you know, it was designed by Goluska. And wouldn’t you know some more: it won an AIGA Award for Book Design



July 28th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

John Banville and Benjamin Black

Banville on Black on Charlie Rose (from which: writing is like dreaming; the goal is to write novels that share the density of poems, and demand the same attention; James M. Cain wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice in one weekend; and Georges Simenon as an important influence on Black (as is Henry James on Banville) who wrote some ‘classic’ works), and in The Guardian. 

July 26th, 2011 • Posted in On Book Collecting

Audio Interview with James Keeline: On collecting the Tom Swift series of books

James Keeline

James Keeline  liked to take apart radios as a young boy. He was also Interested in space technology and computers. While in school he worked for a used bookstore. He ended up managing the place and running its web site and computer network. He also started researching and writing about children’s series books. His particular interest and expertise is the Stratemeyer Syndicate and its founder Edward Stratemeyer. I met James recently in San Antonio to talk about collecting the Tom Swift series of books. Please listen here:

July 26th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

War and Peace and Angry Birds


"How many of us will hang in there with "War and Peace" when, with the swipe of a finger, we can be hurling Angry Birds instead?

No, we’ll always have a use for bound, printed, nonstreaming Media artifacts. Their two covers impose order on a chaotic universe of information, and that’s something that will grow only more valuable in our data-soaked future.

The Internet might have killed Borders. But it won’t kill books."


July 25th, 2011 • Posted in Literary Tourism

Socrates, Toronto, and Classical Pursuits…


Enquiring Minds. Richard Weintraub (left) and Paul Keeton.

Socrates believed ‘philosophy’ to be an intimate, collaborative affair best encountered in small groups where participants debate and question each other on morally charged topics in hopes that each, as a result, would discover some truth or greater understanding.

This in fact is exactly what happended last week at something called Toronto Pursuits. Brainchild of Ann Kirkland, who runs a literary tour company called Classical Pursuits, the event, now in its 13th year, brings together several hundred literature/art/travel lovers,   for a stimulating week of reading, discussion, theatre, film and art.

There were about half a dozen differently themed seminars to choose from; I went for ‘ literary influences on the operas of Benjamin Britten,’ largely because Ann herself was in it and I wanted to get to know her a bit better. The reading list included: Crabbe’s Peter Grimes, The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. Billy Budd, by Herman Melville and Death in Venice by Thomas Mann. Stay tuned for my take on what pulls these works together. In the meantime, check out Classical Pursuits’ website, and consider going to Toronto next year, or failing that, taking one of the company’s literary tours. If you have an enquiring mind, and a love of literature, I can guarantee you’ll be rewarded by the experience. You might even get a few ideas on how better to live your life. The 14th annual Toronto Pursuits will take place from July 15-20, 2012.


July 24th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

Back to Black…

July 23rd, 2011 • Posted in Wicked Quotes

Wicked Quotes on Books, Authors, Writing


Quotes on books, authors, writing, found in Books by Gerald Donaldson.

"For  several days after my first book was published I carried it about in my pocket, and took surreptitious peeps at it to make sure that the ink had not faded." James Barrie

"Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written." Thoreau

"Tis the good reader that make the good book." Emerson

"There are books of which the backs are covered are far the best parts." Charles Dickens

"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book" Thoreau

" Man builds no structure which outlives a book." Eugene Fitch Ware

"The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes." Agatha Christie

" It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give up because by that time I was too famous"  Robert Benchley

"Authors in general are not good listeners." William Hazlitt

"Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred in a book." Shakespeare

"When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read." Hilaire Belloc

"I’ve had it with these cheap sons of bitches who claim they love poetry but never buy a book." Kenneth Rexroth

"As for you, little envious Prigs, snarling, bastard, puny Criticks, you’ll soon have railed you last: Go hang yourselves" Rabelais

"The life of writing men has always been…a bitter business. It is notoriously accompanied, for those who write well, by poverty an dcontempt’ or by fatuity and wealth for those who write ill." Hilaire Belloc

" I see no point in reading." Louis XlV

" I hate books; they only teach us to talk about things we know nothing about."  Rousseau

" Come, and take a choice of all my library; And so beguile thy sorrow." Shakespeare.

" Books are hindrances to persisting stupidity." Spanish Proverb

"This never be a civilized country until we expend more money for books than we do for chewing gum." Elbert Hubbard

"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all." Oscar Wilde.

"Never read anything until not to have read it has bothered you for some time." Samuel Butler.



July 18th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

Audio Interview: What Half Price Books can teach Used Antiquarian Book Dealers

Kathy Doyle Thomas, Executive Vice President, Half Price Books

Whilst in the Lone Star state recently, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Kathy Doyle Thomas, Executive Vice President at Half Price Books in Dallas. The company has been in business now for almost 40 years and has enjoyed considerable success, some say at the expense of independent used bookstores. I met with Doyle, who, incidentally serves as Chairman of the Retail Advertising Marketing Association (RAMA), a division of the National Retail Federation, about this and other topics of interest to those who sell used and rare books. Please listen here:

July 14th, 2011 • Posted in Authors and Books

The Depravity of the ‘Nude of the World’

Christopher Hitchens on The News of the World:

"…for decades, in fact since well back into the mid-Victorian epoch, Britain’s News of the World was the winning formula for the depiction of crime and squalor and vice. The brilliance of the formula lay in its venerable hypocrisy; actually in two distinct kinds of venerable hypocrisy. First, the sad news of human frailty was not bugled with lurid and sensational tactics. It was laid out more in sorrow than in anger, published on a Sabbath day that was still full of legal and moral force, and strove to show how easy was the fall from grace. Second, and in keeping, its reporters and editors took a very high moral tone. They would take the investigation of a brothel, say, only so far. Once a certain point of complicity had been reached, there would appear a phrase that became celebrated both in print and in court. “At this stage,” the reporter would solemnly intone, “I made an excuse and left.” This degree of detachment was thought essential to the proper conduct of business.

Hand it to Rupert Murdoch and his minions: They got hold of the solid old “News of the Screws” or “Nudes of the World” and made it into a paper where the question was not how low can poor human nature sink, but rather is there anything, however depraved, that a reporter cannot be induced to do?"