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Archive for July, 2012

July 29th, 2012 • Posted in Literary Tourism

Separatists give Richler the Finger

Barbara Kay reports in the National Post that a Montreal gazebo purportedly commemorating the great Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler is in disrepair.

“Upon his death in 2001,” she writes, ” the question of a memorial arose. For someone of Richler’s stature, the normal honour would have been a street name in the immigrant area in which Richler grew up and frequently recreated in his fiction, or an important building – a library for example. Instead it was decided (a full ten years after his death, such was the foot-dragging) that his memorial would be the addition of his name to an old gazebo in Mount Royal park. Many Montrealers thought this ultra-modest gesture was a gross insult, an intentional posthumous “finger” to Richler by nationalists.”

Kay then quotes a concerned citizen’s description of the memorial:

“It has no stairs nor flooring. It is missing a section of the railing. The paint is flaking and hasn’t been painted in years. The roof shingles are decaying and some are missing completely…I have NEVER seen a Commemorative Plaque or Post …  acknowledging for whom the gazebo was dedicated … this is truly shameful conduct for a city that has been Re-Branded some years back by the provincial Gov’t as a ‘Metropole Culturel’…”

The city of Montreal has $300,000 to spend on the memorial, according to the article, but doesn’t plan to do so before the summer of 2013. 

“What kind of message does that send to the literary world?” concludes Kay. “It sends the message that Richler’s harsh assessment of nationalist hostility to anglophone culture was right on the mark.”

It also, paradoxically, tells us that separatists are well aware of how celebrating (or ignoring) the work and lives of important writers and artists, helps shape the cultural identity of a country.

July 29th, 2012 • Posted in CITIES, Literary Destinations, London, England

A different sort of London Map

If you’re heading to London, England this year, as millions are…here’s a different sort of map for you: David Perdue’s Dickens’ London map:

July 28th, 2012 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Cultural dimension of the River Thames its main selling point

Robert McCrum starts his gracefully facund appreciation of the River Thames like so:  “In the words of Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness, the Thames connected the inhabitants of “the biggest, and the greatest, town” in the world to “the uttermost ends of the earth” and later follows up with:

“The cultural dimension of the Thames…is probably its main selling point. In art, aspects of the river have been captured by Canaletto, Turner, Monet and Whistler. In fiction and poetry, London and the Thames are woven into the pages of the English literary tradition. Overseas visitors to the capital and its artery come to it through the pages of books such as Our Mutual Friend, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist.

Later Victorian novels place the Thames in a sunnier, and more humorous light. Both Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame wax dithyrambic about the magic of the Thames at dawn.

But even works of the imagination dwindle before the mind-boggling scope of the Thames’ history, a continuous narrative that reaches back to Julius Caesar and beyond.”

July 27th, 2012 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Fancy a literary pint?

Branwell Bronte’s local in Haworth, Yorkshire.

…then check out A Reader’s Guide to England’s Literary Pubs & Inns, a website compiled by T.W. Townsend, filled with photographs, and delightful jottings on the coming and goings of various famed authors. Here’s a quote from the site:

“Morse never took his fair share of holidays, so he told himself. So he was telling Chief Superintendent Strange that morning in early June. Remember you’ve got to take into consideration the time you regularly spend in pubs Morse!” (The Way Through The Woods: Colin Dexter – 1992)
July 26th, 2012 • Posted in Chicago, Illinois, CITIES

Monster Book Sale in Chicago July 26-29, 2012

The end of July approaches! High time to settle down to some summer reading. There’s no better way to find it than by browsing  a good book fair.  Like the one that Chicago’s independent research library, The Newberry, puts on every year during the last weekend of July.

This great big book bender offers up some 120,000 donated books for sale.  Novels, cookbooks, children’s stories, travel books, history books, mysteries and collectibles.  Tons of treasures here. And the best thing: most go for a mere $2, or less. So, no reason to hold back.

Founded in 1887, The Newberry library and educational institution is dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge. Programs like the book fair, help to promote these values to the diverse community entering through the doors every day.  Buying a book supports the institution because 100% of the proceeds go to the Newberry.  You can also contribute by donating your used books throughout the year.  Click here for more information about book donations.

This year’s fair runs from Thursday July 26th to Sunday July 29th and is free to the public.  Come by and browse the books from 12pm to 8pm Thursday and Friday and from 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday.

Planning your visit:

Book your accommodation for Chi-Town’s famous book fair here.

Venue address:

The Newberry
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, IL 60610

Located in downtown Chicago, The Newberry is easily accessible by foot, bus, subway and car.  For those traveling farther, two major airports and  a train station serve the area.

July 26th, 2012 • Posted in Authors and Books

Audio: Interview with Terry Cook on the Importance of History, and the neglect of Library and Archives Canada

Terry Cook received a Ph.D. in Canadian History from Queen’s University, 1977. From 1975 to 1998, he worked at the then Public, later National, Archives of Canada, leaving as the senior manager responsible for directing the appraisal and records disposition program for all media. In his long and distinguished career there, he was responsible for the development of policies and methodologies which dramatically altered the national archival system.

In 1998, he founded Clio Consulting Inc., and since then has worked for national, municipal, and academic archives, as well as archival associations, around the world. He also took on the position  of Associate Professor for the Archival Studies Program in the Department of History at the University of Manitoba.

He has authored over 80 articles which have been published in Archivaria (two of his contributions being awarded the W. Kay Lamb Prize) and other leading archival journals.  He is the author of The Archival Appraisal of Records Containing Personal Information: A RAMP Study With Guidelines (1991) and co-editor of Imagining Archives: Essays and Reflections by Hugh A. Taylor (2003).

He has also contributed to the archival community greatly in his editing of scholarly journals and his participation in various professional associations.

We met recently in Ottawa to discuss the cuts to, and neglect of, Library and Archives Canada. Among other things we talk about the challenges facing all libraries and archives, conflicting mandates, the differences between born and made digital material,  the importance of source documents, and the current absence of any ‘real’ exhibition programming at LAC.

Please listen here:

July 26th, 2012 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Canadian discovers Literary Wales

Brenna Clarke Gray holds a PhD in Canadian Literature and teaches in the Vancouver area.  She posts about graphic narratives at Graphixia, and blogs at  Not That Kind of Doctor.  She had the opportunity to take sixteen students (aged 18-26) from the college she teaches at to a university in Wales for a summer study program. It was a “fantastic experience all ’round, but perhaps the best part was learning about… literary Wales…and how good it is at celebrating the literature it produces.”

Read more here.

July 25th, 2012 • Posted in On The Book

Free Symposium on The Fine Book in the 21st Century

Oak Knoll Fest XVII is taking place October 5th through 7th. To kick things off on Friday, there will be a special symposium, free of charge and open to librarians, private press printers, and any other interested parties, that will tie into the theme of the Fest itself, “The Fine Book in the 21st Century-Yes, It Will Survive!” Led by seven panelists from a variety of backgrounds, this symposium aims to explore the nitty-gritty of how fine printing will be accomplished in the twenty-first century, as well as guidelines for evaluating the quality of a printed book. The panelists will each give a brief introduction of their topic and then open the floor for discussion.

 Jerry Kelly and Graham Moss will explore the future roles of typography and hand printing in fine press books. They will focus on the impact of the development of technology on typography, and how those changes have helped and hurt the field. Also, as hand printing is dependent on the existence of a hand press, they will discuss the necessary equipment and its continued survival and replacement. Greg Campbell will talk about the future of fine bookbinding, specifically what kinds of new binding supplies and equipment will exist and where to get them, while David Carruthers will discuss the continued availability of fine papers. Gaylord Schanilec will cover the future of illustration in fine books and how technology will affect methods of illustration. Tim Murray and Dan DeSimone will go over ways to look for high quality in fine press books and how to know what to collect in the new technology age. The symposium will conclude with general questions and discussion led by Bob Fleck.

The symposium will take place at the Immanuel Church Parish Hall, a short walk from Oak Knoll Books, where there will be room for up to 75 attendees.

Click here for more information. Click here to download the registration form.

The schedule for the symposium is as follows:

10:00 Introduction by Bob Fleck

10:15-11:15 Jerry Kelly and Graham Moss

11:15-11:30 break

11:30-12:30 Greg Cambell and David Carruthers

12:30-1:30 lunch break

1:30-2:00 Gaylord Schanilec

2:00-3:00 Tim Murray and Dan DeSimone

3:00-3:15 break

3:15-4:00 Final Discussion moderated by Bob Fleck


July 23rd, 2012 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Library and Archives Canada not open to the Public

You may recall that several months back I paid a visit to Library and Archives Canada on Wellington Street in Ottawa.

I learned at the time that no exhibits had been held in the building for close to two years.  I found the place sterile and unwelcoming; and saw with my own eyes the contempt this government holds for the institution responsible for presenting Canadian history to its citizens.

This building represents the public face of LAC. It’s where we go when we want to research things. Putatively, it’s the place where rare and precious treasures are displayed and celebrated.

Now, contrast the dilapidated Wellington street commissariat above, with this


looking (note how parking space at this non-public building is at least ten times what it is at Wellington)


Yes. This is the LAC’s Preservation Centre in Gatineau, Quebec. A twenty to thirty minute drive from Wellington Street. I visited it this afternoon. Only one catch. The security guard told me that I wasn’t allowed in. This beautiful state-of-the-art building is not open to the public.

Why spend what must have been tens of millions of extra dollars constructing such a striking looking facility, when it isn’t even open to the public? Incidentally, nearby there’s another new building.

It’s filled with LAC personnel.

Instead of erecting all of this gleaming real estate in the middle of nowhere…why wasn’t the decision taken to build one all-purpose, public-friendly, conveniently located museum near the existing one, on LeBreton Flats?

Who knows.

What I do know is that the Auditor General at the time had something to say.

“In 1994 we noted that funds were being spent on site and design considerations that exceeded the functional needs of the building. In granting preliminary project approval, Treasury Board ministers expressed the view that design and consequent costs of the Gatineau facility should place emphasis on functional requirements. We concluded that the siting of the facility and concerns with public visibility resulted in a design that emphasized factors other than the functional requirements. For example, the intent of the client’s general design, as conveyed to the architect, emphasized that “the Gatineau Building will present the image of a leading archival centre, a National heritage and cultural element”, despite the absence of plans for any significant access to the facility by the public and a mandate to stress functionality.”

One can see from this example that incompetence and lack of foresight are not talents possessed solely by today’s so-called leaders.

July 22nd, 2012 • Posted in Literary Destinations

Medieval Leaves at Massey College

During my week discussing Dostoevsky at Toronto Pursuits , I stayed a few nights at the Massey College Residences. In the library there’s currently an exhibit running called: 50 Manuscript Leaves : An exhibition of selected leaves from the Robertson Davies Library’s copy of Otto F. Ege’s “Fifty original leaves from Medieval manuscripts.” It’s curated by Brian Maloney (Massey College Printer)



look at a leaf