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

Archive for the 'Authors and Books' Category

April 14th, 2014 • Posted in Authors and Books

Bethel Business and Community Development Centre, Lesthoto

Here’s a video my brother just produced for a worthwhile educational facility in Southern Africa

December 17th, 2013 • Posted in Authors and Books, Newfoundland

Why Newfoundland is much the most interesting in March

John Tenniel

“The March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won’t be raving mad – at least not so mad as it was in March.” Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 

I just got off the phone with Rex Brown. He’s been organizing The March Hare Festival for decades. It’s  a “unique trans-island celebration of words and music, involving seven events in three towns over five days, attracting writers from all over Canada and indeed the world, and featuring the best traditional musicians in Newfoundland and Labrador.” We talked about a bunch of things, including the joy he’s had organizing these events over the years – meeting and getting to know some great authors – and  what an outstanding experience it would be for a literary tourist to participate in the tour, share in the fun.

So, if you love good music, and books and travel, and reading and connecting with authors, here’s a tip: get over to Newfoundland in March 2014 between the 11th and the 16th, and follow the itinerary that Rex has put together East to West from St. John’s to Corner Brook. Not only will you see some beautiful country, you’ll also get a chance to truly engage with some accomplished authors and musicians, and their work, behind the scenes, off the stage, in the real world.

Now understand, Rex is no travel tour operator. Rather, he’s the festival’s project manager. Talk to him about what you can gain from attending events during the week. Then, if you’re fired up enough, start planning your trip. You can reach Rex at

Stay tuned for a line-up of participating authors and musicians.   

December 11th, 2013 • Posted in Authors and Books

Iconic Rusting-Paint Book Cover Designs



dust jackets are among my all-time favourites. They are the prizes in my rusting-paint-dust-jacket-design-collection. Something about the rough, metaphor-rich connection between rust, paint, truth and literary criticism that  really satisfies. Here’s the latest Canadian addition to this exclusive club. It’s a thing of beauty.

If anything of Coetzee has rubbed off on Guriel, then some scales are likely to fall from our eyes.

The dedication is a lovely start:

for Sonya Tomas
for putting up with my pigheadedness
and for Carmine Starnino
for encouraging it. 
October 26th, 2013 • Posted in Authors and Books

So, tell us what you really think Irving

This excerpted from a letter by Irving Layton to Roy Daniells, poet and head of the English Department at University of British Columbia for many years.

A Head of  a university department who refuses to table his reason for rejecting an application urged and warmly supported by one of his colleagues can with justice be suspected of shady motives. If you feared or disliked me, you should have spoken out like a man, not scurried about like a cockroach on a hot griddle trying to secure defamatory letters to bolster up your position…Surely you must be aware that your refusal to show Dr. Birney your file on me inevitably puts a huge question mark on my person and career. It is designed to give the impression that the information you have managed to ferret out about me is so heinous it will not do to corrupt or startle the world with it. This, Sir, is the conduct of a coward and a sneak, of one who prefers to strike in the dark so that his wrists might not be seized and his face seen. I have no word to convey to you my abhorrence and disgust. You are a disgrace to the profession of Letters, to those same Humanities it should have been your first concern to honour by wise and gracious action. To your University you have brought an abiding shame that Time far from erasing, will perpetuate and spread wherever that Arts are valued. And you are enough of a poetaster to know what foul vault of Hell they would consign you…What a world this is when a neurotic bug like yourself can be the Head of an English department with the power to all but decide whether people like myself should be kept from doing what they like best – teaching. As I keep on muttering in my poems and prefaces, what have cripples like you got to do with literature?

October 9th, 2013 • Posted in Authors and Books

Collection of Iris Murdoch First Editions for Sale

Faced with another impending move, he reluctantly puts his Iris Murdoch collection on the market, for $2500. Valuable not only for who they’re written by, but also for their beautiful dust jackets designs, executed by some of the greats, including Edward Bawden, Reynolds Stone, John Craxton, Will Carter, Tom Phillips, Patricia Davey and John Ward. 

  • The Flight from the Enchanter London: Chatto & Windus, 1956 Near Fine/Near Fine

  • The Bell London: Chatto & Windus, 1958 Near Fine/Very Good. Minor chipping to head and tail of spine, and top tips.

  • A Severed Head. London: Chatto & Windus 1961 Very Good/Very Good. Rubbing to head and tail of spine. Flight foxing to top of text block. Also: 6th Impression. 1972 Fine/Fine.

  • An Unofficial Rose London: Chatto & Windus, 1962 Fine/Fine

  • The Unicorn.  London: Chatto & Windus, 1963 Very Good/Very Good. Chipping to head and tail of spine. Tape marks on front free end page.

  • The Italian Girl London: Chatto & Windus, 1964 Fine/Fine

  • The Red and The Green  London: Chatto & Windus, 1965 Fine/Very Good- 2 ½” closed tear at top front of jacket, with ½ x ¼” chip

  • The Time of the Angels. London: Chatto & Windus, 1966 Fine/Fine

  • The Nice and The Good London: Chatto & Windus, 1968 Fine/Near Fine. Minor chipping to head of spin. Price clipped.

  • Bruno’s Dream London: Chatto & Windus, 1969 Fine/Near Fine. Rubbing to head and tail of spine.

  • A Fairly Honourable Defeat  London: Chatto & Windus, 1970 Fine/Fine

  • An Accidental Man. London London: Chatto & Windus, 1971 Fine/Fine. Little smug on fore edge. Price clipped.

  • The Black Prince  London: Chatto & Windus, 1973 Fine/Fine

  • The Sacred & Profane Love Machine London Chatto & Windus, 1974 Fine/Near Fine. Previous owner signature. Price clipped. Light stain/foxing to jacket.

  • A Word Child London: Chatto & Windus, 1975 Fine/Fine. Price clipped.

  • Henry and Cato  London: Chatto & Windus, 1976 Fine/Fine

  • The Sea, The Sea.London: Chatto & Windus, 1978 Fine/Fine. Price clipped.

  • Nuns and Soldiers Chatto & Windus, 1980 Fine/Fine

  • The Philosopher’s Pupil London: Chatto & Windus 1983 Fine/Fine. Price clipped. Tape stains front and back free end pages.

  • The Good Apprentice  London: Chatto & Windus, 1985 Fine/Fine

  • The Book and The Brotherhood. London: Chatto & Windus, 1987. Fine/Fine. Bookplate.

  • The Message to the Planet. London: Chatto & Windus, 1989 Fine/Fine

  • The Green Knight. London: Chatto & Windus, 1993. Fine/Fine Price clipped. Signed.


Philosophy by Iris Murdoch

  • Sartre: Romantic Rationalist. London: Fontana Books, 1967. Good

  • The Sovereignty of Good. London Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970 (Paperback) Fine

  • The Fire and The Sun: Why Plato Banished the Artists. London: Oxford University Press, 1977. Fine/Fine, price clipped 

    Acastos: Two Platonic Dialogues London: Chatto & Windus, 1986                          Fine/Fine.

October 6th, 2013 • Posted in Authors and Books

Lots of big name authors have centenaries in 2014

Julio Cortázar (1914- 1984)

Here, courtesy of Wikipedia is a list of famed authors and poets who were born in 1914. Look for  commemorative events and celebrations to take place around the world throughout 2014:

  • January 8 – Norman Nicholson, poet (died 1987)
  • February 5 – William S. Burroughs, author (died 1997)
  • February 25 – Frank Bonham, American writer of westerns and young adult novels (died 1988)
  • March 1 – Ralph Ellison, scholar, writer (died 1994)
  • March 27 – Budd Schulberg, American writer (died 2009)
  • March 28 – Bohumil Hrabal, Czech poet and controversialist (died 1997)
  • March 31 – Octavio Paz, 1990 Nobel Prize-winning Mexican author (died 1998)
  • April 4 – Marguerite Duras, French writer (died 1996)
  • April 26 – Bernard Malamud, novelist (died 1986)
  • May 6 – Randall Jarrell, poet, critic (died 1965)
  • May 8 – Romain Gary, Lithuanian-born French novelist (died 1980)
  • June 15 – Lena Kennedy, novelist (died 1986)
  • June 17 – Julián Marías, Spanish philosopher and author (died 2005)
  • June 26 – Laurie Lee, poet and novelist (died 1997)
  • July 15 Hammond Innes, novelist (died 1998); Gavin Maxwell, naturalist/author (died 1969)
  • August 9 – Tove Jansson, children’s author (died 2001)
  • August 26 – Julio Cortázar, Argentine author (died 1984)
  • October 26 – John Masters, novelist (died 1983)
  • October 27 – Dylan Thomas, poet and author (died 1953)
  • November 22 – Leah Bodine Drake, poet (died 1964)
  • December 12 – Patrick O’Brian, historical novelist (died 2000)
September 14th, 2013 • Posted in Authors and Books

Stan Dragland & Phil Hall reading at the Book Shop, Tamworth, Sunday September 22, 2013

Stan Dragland & Phil Hall will be reading at the Book Shop, Tamworth Sunday Sept 22, 2013 @ 2 pm

clip_image003           clip_image005

Stan Dragland                                                                                 Phil Hall

Music by Toute Ensemble ( Anne Archer – Debbie Twiddy).

Stan Dragland will read from his new book:  Deep Too: Non-fiction by Stan Dragland, published by BookThug. Phil Hall will launch  X: A Poem Sequence in 16 Parts, a collaboration with artist Michèle LaRose. This is a beautifully produced letterpress edition by Thee Hellbox Press of Kingston.

Reading will occur outside, weather permitting. Please bring a blanket or lawn chair.   Light refreshments will be served. The Book Shop is located on Bridge Street East at the foot of Peel Street, Tamworth, ON. More information on the shop here.

Anatomy of a Kerouac Collector: Audio Interview with Rod Anstee

Anstee and friend

Jack Kerouac is an American icon thanks to his novel On the Road (1957). During the late 1950s, he and fellow members of the Beat generation captured something essential about the American psyche, defining a desire to break away from conformity in search of an alternative form of self-fulfillment. As William S. Burroughs once put it , On the Road  “sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines, and also sent countless kids on the road” (Charters, 1991, xxviii).

One of those kids was Ottawa native Rod Anstee who, at  age 16, hitch-hiked across the continent, part of a life-long relationship he formed with Kerouac that involved collecting his books and letters, connecting with Beat authors, and writing a bibliography.

I met with Rod at his home recently to get the story; to trace the arc of his collecting experience; to understand as best I could, the core anatomy of a book collector.

Please listen to our conversation here:

August 19th, 2013 • Posted in Authors and Books

Montaigne, Literary Tourist

Given the wonder and awe that Montaigne experienced when he visited places like Rome, we can assume that he had some of the Literary Tourist in him. Here he is on the subject:

“Is it by nature or by an aberrant imagination that the sight of places which we know are frequented or lived in by people we admire moves us somewhat more than hearing an account of their deeds, or reading their writings?”

And here he his on travel generally:

Travelling through the world produces a marvelous clarity in the judgment of men. We are all of us confined and enclosed within ourselves, and see no farther than the end of our nose. This great world is a mirror where we must see ourselves in order to know ourselves. There are so many different tempers, so many different points of view, judgments, opinions, laws and customs to teach us to judge wisely on our own, and to teach our judgment to recognize its imperfection and natural weakness.

Montaigne, it is said, wanted to know how other men’s minds worked. For him, travel was a type of reading, an active seeking out of conversation with others.

Here’s the literary tourist listing for his Tower near Bordeaux.

August 4th, 2013 • Posted in Authors and Books

The Yellow Book

The Yellow Book was a popular literary quarterly published in London during the ‘decadent’ 1890s by Elkin Mathews and John Lane, edited by Henry Harland. It contained a range of literary and artistic genres, and illustrations. Aubrey Beardsley was its first art editor. He has been credited with choosing the yellow cover, a decision that in part had to do with the colour’s connection to risqué French fiction of the period.

This photo was taken in the reading room at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, Special Collections Library.