Musings on Place, Travel, Books, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts
May 5th, 2015 • Posted in Bookstores

Book Shop Photo of the Day

May 3rd, 2015 • Posted in North Tawton

Devonshire house has special resonance for Plath poetry readers

This from P.H. Davies:

It is because the house is so bound up in Plath’s work that Court Green has a special resonance for readers of her poetry. In many ways it has become a character in their (Plath and Ted Hughes)story, as Plath herself described the house in September 1961; “The place is like a person; it responds to the slightest touch and looks wonderful immediately”. Far more than Fitzroy Road, London, where the poet committed suicide, or the house on Elmwood Road, Massachusetts, where the poet lived and is immortalised in The Bell Jar (1963), Court Green is prominent in the reader’s imagination as it is the locale for much of Plath’s best poetry. Ever since I became interested in her work I have imagined what the house must be like, so when I realised that North Tawton was only a forty-minute drive from where we were staying in Cornwall on a holiday I knew I had to go and see it. I wanted to be able to contextualise the house within Plath’s poetry and get a real sense of the life she would have lived there almost fifty years ago.

Read the full article here.

April 30th, 2015 • Posted in sligo

A special reading of Yeats’ poetry is happening on almost every day this year

File:Yeats Boughton.jpg

This from A special reading of Yeats’ poetry is happening on almost every day this year* (2015) in one of Sligo’s oldest pubs; Hargadon Bros and everyone is welcome to take part. Weekdays: 1pm Sunday: 2pm

W. B. Yeats work was created to be spoken, and the Nobel poet will be celebrated with a reading of one of his many beloved works at 6pm on Sundays and 1pm every other day of the week. The finest verse, according to Yeats was one which filled the reader with the urge to read it out loud. Inspired by the oral tradition of the ancient Irish bards, he set out keep his poetry clear of ‘every phrase written for eye’,  leaving only what was ‘for the ear alone’.

Known locally as Hargadons the pub on O’Connell Street in Sligo town dates back over one hundred and fifty years. The pub setting for these readings is particularly apt given that Yeats co-founded the Rhymers’ Club in English pub Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in 1890.

So come along you ‘hearers and hearteners‘, poets and passersby, everyone is welcome at Hargadons to honour Yeats, whether you want to read a poem or just watch and listen.

To book your reading: Contact Joe Grogan at +353 71 915 3709. Follow the daily readers on Joe’s twitter account.

Tip: Why not immortalise your reading by having someone record your performance. Then you can upload it to Soundcloud as your contribution to the Yeats2015 online archive. For details on how to do this go to Your Yeats.

*we have to close on Good Friday and Christmas Day!

April 28th, 2015 • Posted in Nigel Beale's Biblio File Interviews

Audio: Interview with Simon Dardick on Vehicule Press

I met with publisher Simon Dardick last year at his home office in Montreal to talk about the history and collecting of Véhicule Press. Please listen here:


April 28th, 2015 • Posted in Boston

David Foster Wallace in Boston

This from Bill Lattanzi in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Wallace only lived here for three years, but you might think he was an Allston-Brighton lifer from all the geographic shout-outs in Infinite Jest. Hospitals, businesses, streets, schools, parks, tourist attractions, T stops, and signage all but crowd out the characters that move among them, each spot located with GPS-like precision. Maybe he was aping James Joyce, who hoped Ulysses could be used to reconstruct Dublin were it ever destroyed. But walking a couple of miles in Wallace’s footsteps makes Infinite Jest start to look more like a fragmented, compressed, and rebuilt version of every experience, thought, and feeling he had here, every one of them registered deeply in the writer’s part of his skull, transformed, slotted into a newly created imaginary space, and put to use. Read more here.

April 28th, 2015 • Posted in Literary Tourism

Why Literary Tourism?

Nigel Beale, The Literary Tourist, in Hay-on-Wye

This from Geoff Bendeck in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

“…what, exactly, do we expect to find when we seek out the homes and graves of our literary heroes?

That’s the motivating question in Sidewalks, her ´(Valaria Luiselli´s) book of fragmented essays, and in others, such as Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer (about trying to write a book about D. H. Lawrence) and My Life in Middlemarch, Rebecca Mead’s ode to the seminal novel of her youth. Literary tourism has become the amalgam of memoir and literary criticism; a way to seek out the inexplicable nature of words, and the authors who inspire them in us, by traveling to the places they lived and wrote about. Or, like Luiselli, the forgotten funeral plots that contain them now.

Luiselli tracks her itinerant travels to Venice, to Mexico City (where she was born), and to New York City, where she resides today. The essays contain, between paragraphs, the text of city signs (“Manifesto à velo,” “Stuttering Cities”), directions (“Alternative Routes”), or lists of expat writers and artists who once lived in the places she writes about (“Permanent Residence”). These subtexts become almost a guide — asides we might hear from the city itself, whispering to us as we walk or bicycle through it, speaking of its secrets.

So it is with the best travel books and memoirs, those that go beyond simply recounting a journey. They allow the reader to…” Read more here.

April 27th, 2015 • Posted in Authors and Books

Looking for Mordecai

The Eastern Townships, an English-speaking enclave in Southern Quebec, is located about an hour and a half´s drive from Montreal. It´s filled with modern quaint, colourfully painted, dormer-windowed

cottages, snow dusted mountains and bountiful sugar bushes. Some say it´s Quebec´s best kept secret.

Today we´re on the trail of the great (I think greatest) Canadian (writer/columnist/scriptwriter) novelist Mordecai (January 27, 1931 – July 3, 2001)  Richler (listen to my Biblio File conversation with M.J. Vasanji about him here).

First stop, the country house that Mordecai bought for his beloved wife Florence in the 1970s.  Located on Lake Memphremagog, this


retreat is where Moses Berger, protagonist of Richler´s fine novel Solomon Gursky,  lives in a cabin doggedly writing his whiskey baron´s  biography. Speaking of biography, thanks to Charles Foran for 1) Writing his brilliant portrait of the artist and 2) helping us to track this place down.

And speaking of whiskey: dotted throughout the surrounding landscape  you´ll find many of the various pubs in which Richler used to hold forth, including,


The Thirsty Boot,

and the Owl´s Head (sadly not the dive it once was), near this

rocket. The neat thing about these places is that they´re still frequented by old friends

and acquaintances of Mordecai´s who knew, or loved, or in some cases,

served him.

If you´re lucky, you´ll even get to talk to some of them about the good ol days.

These days you can´t grab any live wire connections to say Keats or Shelley…not so Mordecai. Try it now before these direct links disappear.  Get out on the trail of Canada´s greatest novelist today! It´s lots of fun.

April 18th, 2015 • Posted in Grimsby

Do not Miss the Grimsby, Ontario Wayzgoose, April 25, 2015

Wayz image

Annual Bookarts Fair
Join us for the 
37th Year of Wayzgoose!

always the last Saturday in April!

April 25, 2015, 9am – 5pm

Each year on the last Saturday in April practitioners of traditional book related crafts including letterpress printers, printmakers, paper makers and hand bookbinders gather at the Grimsby Public Art Gallery to present their work to the public, renew connections with colleagues and share their expertise with the next generation of artists and artisans.

Started in 1979, Wayzgoose was a small gathering of friends and colleagues that attracted about 300 visitors. Since then it has grown into an eagerly awaited annual event with an attendance of between 2000 and 2500 people. Participants and visitors come from across Ontario, from Quebec and from the North Eastern states. There are also often a few travelers from Europe, Japan and across the U.S. who find their way to Grimsby to enjoy and appreciate this fascinating craft.

Wayzgoose provides a wonderful opportunity to experience first-hand the traditions that turned us into a literate society. This annual book arts fair brings together private presses from all across Canada and the United States representing the renewal of old friendships, the beginning of new ones, and the appreciation for handmade book and paper arts. 

Demonstrations and displays of paper making, book binding, calligraphy, paper marbling, and book making celebrates the love of fine art, fine craft, and stories.

April 17th, 2015 • Posted in Authors and Books

The Lyell Lectures 2015

I´ll be in Charlottesville, VA next week getting a tour of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. Unfortunately its director Michael Suarez wont be there (had hoped to interview him again for The Biblio File). He ´s in Oxford doing this:

Proliferating Images: Diagrams of the Slave Ship Brookes (1789)

5 May 2015 5.00pm — 5.00pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre, Weston Library (Map)

Speaker(s): Prof. Michael Suarez, SJ


The Lyell Lectures 2015

Michael F. Suarez, S.J., Director, Rare Book School, University of VirginiaThe Reach of Bibliography: Looking Beyond Letterpress in Eighteenth-Century Texts

Lecture 3: ‘Proliferating Images: Diagrams of the Slave Ship Brookes (1789)’


This event is free but places are limited so please complete our booking form to reserve tickets in advance.


More events in the The Lyell Lectures, 2015 series

Engraved Throughout: Pine’s Horace (1733) as a Bibliographical Object

28 April 2015

The Lyell Lectures 2015 Michael F. Suarez, S.J. , Director, Rare Book School, University of Virginia The Reach of Bibliography: Looking Beyond Letterpress in Eighteenth-Century…

True Colours: A Natural History of Louis Renard’s Poissons (1719)

30 April 2015

The Lyell Lectures 2015 Michael F. Suarez, S.J. , Director, Rare Book School, University of Virginia The Reach of Bibliography: Looking Beyond Letterpress in Eighteenth-Century…

Singular Multiples: Comprehending the General Evening Post (1754-86)

7 May 2015

The Lyell Lectures 2015 Michael F. Suarez, S.J. , Director, Rare Book School, University of Virginia The Reach of Bibliography: Looking Beyond Letterpress in Eighteenth-Century…

Naming Names: Underwriting Patronage in Tonson’s Cæsar (1712)

12 May 2015

The Lyell Lectures 2015 Michael F. Suarez, S.J. , Director, Rare Book School, University of Virginia The Reach of Bibliography: Looking Beyond Letterpress in Eighteenth-Century…

Abridging Histories: Capt. James Cook and the Voyages of Reading (1784)

14 May 2015

The Lyell Lectures 2015 Michael F. Suarez, S.J. , Director, Rare Book School, University of Virginia The Reach of Bibliography: Looking Beyond Letterpress in Eighteenth-Century…

April 16th, 2015 • Posted in Authors and Books

Eight finalists named for 2015 Chautauqua Prize

Chatauqua Institute Hall of Philosophy

This just in from:

Sherra Babcock
Vice President, Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce eight exceptional books as the 2015 finalists for The Chautauqua Prize:

  • The Map Thief, by Michael Blanding (Gotham/Avery)
  • Byrd, by Kim Church (Dzanc Books)
  • The Bully of Order, by Brian Hart (HarperCollins)
  • Euphoria, by Lily King (Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly)
  • Redeployment, by Phil Klay (The Penguin Press)
  • All Eyes Are Upon Us, by Jason Sokol (Basic Books)
  • The Scatter Here is Too Great, by Bilal Tanweer (Harper)
  • The Witch, by Jean Thompson (Blue Rider Press)

The winning book will be selected from this shortlist and announced in mid-May.

In The Map Thief, readers are taken into the high-stakes work of map dealing, a history of cartography and the true story of a rare map dealer who made millions stealing priceless pieces of history. Readers called it a “page turner” that pulled them in from the first pages, and said that Blanding “did an terrific job of weaving together the history of cartography with a gripping story of thievery, deceit and a double life.”

A novel told in vignettes and letters, Byrd is a meditation on family, the choices we make and the ripples of consequence that spread out through the years. Readers lauded Church’s ability to take the subject of adoption and shine new light upon it, in a writing style that is “succinct; Church says a lot with few words, picking her details wisely.” It is a novel, another said, with “strength and power, and a deft and delicate touch.”

The Bully of Order, a novel depicting the lawless Pacific Coast at the turn of the 20th century, tracks the lives of a family at the mercy of violent social and historical forces. Readers said that while the story is “violent, dark and crude,” Hart’s “artistry with the language” and “exacting, loving detail,” creates a clear, dramatic narrative.

Drawing on the real-life experiences and writing of Margaret Mead as inspiration, Euphoria follows the dangerously intertwined lives of three anthropologists studying tribes in New Guinea. King, readers said, “is not one to fall prey to cheap contrivances,” deftly building suspense among the “compelling depicted characters.” All told, one reader said, “Euphoria is a gem.”

In the National Book Award-winning Redeployment, the horrors of war take center stage. As they read about characters on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, readers called the short stories “explicit, emotional and also enlightening,” that they “cut to the marrow of the warrior. … Each skillfully constructed narrative tells a tale of emotional, physical or spiritual depths.”

All Eyes Are Upon Us is a history of race and politics in the Northeast, a region with a long and celebrated history of racial equality and liberalism. But Sokol’s book reveals the deep-seated racism in the region, and a resulting gap between its ideals and its reality. Readers called the book “timely, important and fascinating,” and Sokol’s research “clearly presented.”

Interconnected short stories make up the novel of The Scatter Here is Too Great, a love letter to the Pakistan city of Karachi, its inhabitants and the often-violent interruptions to their daily lives. Tanweer is a “masterful writer,” a reader said, while another described the work as “a lyrical meditation and a brilliant book.”

The short stories of The Witch refreshingly reintroduce readers to classic fairy tales, told in contemporary settings while still retaining the magic and suspense of their source material. Chautauqua Prize readers called Thompson’s writing “elegant in its simplicity” and “a reader’s delight,” and commended the stories for being “gripping tales, refreshing our pleasure in storytelling as an art that warns, instructs and enthralls.”


Awarded annually since 2012, The Chautauqua Prize draws upon Chautauqua Institution’s considerable literary legacy to celebrate a book that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and to honor the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. The author of the winning book will receive $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at Chautauqua.

With a history steeped in the literary arts, Chautauqua Institution is the home of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, founded in 1878, which honors at least nine outstanding books of fiction, nonfiction, essays and poetry every summer. Further literary arts programming at Chautauqua includes summer-long interaction of published and aspiring writers at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, the intensive workshops of the nationally recognized Chautauqua Writers’ Festival, and lectures by prominent authors on the art and craft of writing.

Details on The Chautauqua Prize are online at