The Biblio File Hosted by Nigel Beale
Twenty - forty minute interviews with accomplished authors, publishers, biblio people, conducted by an excitable bibliophile.

Photo: Nigel Beale.

Richard Holloway is a Scottish writer/broadcaster  and former Bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church who was educated at Kelham Theological College and the Union Theological Seminary, New York City. Between 1959 and 1986 he was curate, vicar and rector at parishes in England, Scotland and the United States, at which point he became the Bishop of Edinburgh, a position he resigned from in 2000. Now an outspoken commentator on religious belief in the modern world, he is author of more than 20 books, well-known for his support of liberal causes, including human rights for gays and lesbians in and outside of the church. Holloway lives in Edinburgh with his American-born wife Jean. They have three adult children.

We talk here about one of his most recent books, Between the Monster and the Saint, as he puts it: ‘a gradual plea for self awareness and forgiveness, and through this, tolerance and compassion toward others.

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 Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.
Direct download: Richard_Holloway.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:27am EDT


Poet, playwright and novelist Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956 and grew up in India, Cameroon and England. After graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1979, he started a theatre company and toured villages and schools before moving to London where he taught Drama and English Literature. Thorpe lives in France with his wife and three children. His most recent books are a collection of short stories, Is This The Way You Said? (2006); a poetry collection, Birds with a Broken Wing (2007); and the novels  The Standing Pool (2008) and Hodd (2009) in which he depicts Robin Hood as a glorified 13th century gangster surrounded by a group of psychopathic thugs, desperate men preying on the innocent.

We talked recently in Toronto at the IFOA, about the Robin Hood myth, and our apparent need to create heroes to address injustice, to express indignation, and right the wrongs of an unjust world. In the conversation we riff off William Flesch’s contention that fiction satisfies our desire to see the good vindicated and the wicked get their ‘comeuppance.’

Listen here

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Direct download: Adam_Thorpe.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:22am EDT

Photo: Gaspereau Press.

"Good reviewing," writes Carmine Starnino in the not-to-be-missed introduction to his A Lover’s Quarrel Essays and Reviews, "- reviewing that believes in literary failure – is invaluable because by calling one poem good and another less good, and adducing clear reasons for those claims, it offers one writerly interpretation of a particular achievement, and invites the reader to sypathetically tag along; his or her senses momentarily borrowing the reviewer’s responses."

We met recently in a somewhat echoey corner of the National Gallery in Ottawa to hold Starnino’s most recent collection of poetry, This Way Out, up to scrutiny, naming names. Which of his poems are good, which bad; who are the best and worst contemporary Canadian poets. Listen here as we walk the walk of A Lover’s Quarrel:

Direct download: Carmine_Starnino_800306_01.mp3
Category:Poets -- posted at: 8:56am EDT

"The Quill & Brush was established in 1976 as an outgrowth of a part-time business run by Allen and Patricia Ahearn who started collecting and cataloging books in the early 1960s. The Ahearns have over 45 years of experience in the field. At present the Quill & Brush is operated by Allen and Pat and their two daughters, Beth Fisher and Sue Regan.

The Quill & Brush specializes in first editions of literature, mystery/detective fiction and poetry, as well as collectible books in all fields. The firm focuses mainly on books published from the middle of the 19th century to the present. Their stock of over 15,000 books is housed in a beautiful library in the Ahearns’ home, nestled in the woods at the base of scenic Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland…"

 …which is where we met to talk about ebooks and their impact on the future pricing of collectible books, about collecting what others don’t; first books; Larry McMurtry, best used book selling practices and much more. Please listen here:

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Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Ahearns_012708-155254.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 8:39am EDT

Direct download: Jane_Urquhart_Literary_Club111207-195704.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 3:41pm EDT

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Nicholson Baker (born January 7, 1957) is an American writer of fiction and non-fiction. As a novelist he often focuses on describing the minute physical detail of our surroundings, straws and escalators for example, writing on provocative topics such as voyeurism, phone sex  and planned assassination.  Enthusiasts laud his ability to explore and illuminate the human psyche, critics call him a boring gadfly. Much of his non-fiction deals with the printed word, how it’s presented, stored, consumed. 

We talk here about the future of the book, ebooks, the ipad, the Kindle, brodart dust jacket covers, Daniel Dafoe, bloggers, CIA, weapons scientists at the Library of Congress, letterpress printing and the pulling of books off shelves.

Please listen here:

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Direct download: Nicholson_Baker1.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:55am EDT

Writer, comedian A. L. Kennedy lives and works in Glasgow and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2003 she was nominated by Granta magazine as one of 20 'Best of Young British Novelists'. Her novel Day (2007), won the Costa Book of the Year Award. She reviews and contributes to most of the major British newspapers, and has been a judge for both the Booker Prize for Fiction (1996) and The Guardian First Book Award (2001).


Her first book, Night Geometry and the Garscadden Trains (1990), a bleak collection of short stories, won several awards including the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award. Other short story collections include Now That You're Back (1994) and Original Bliss (1997), and her novels include: Looking for the Possible Dance (1993); So I Am Glad (1995), winner of the Encore Award, which focuses on child sexual abuse and its consequences in adulthood; and Everything You Need (1999), the story of a middle-aged writer living on a remote island and his attempt to build a relationship with his estranged daughter. We met recently at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto to talk about humour, the buzz of post-Suicide attempts, living as if you are going to die, self esteem, making other worlds, changing reality, fictional rehearsals, Buster Keaton hats, the physicality of great comic actors, storytelling and investing in lies, Lolita, Nicola Six, Shakespeare, Hamlet, Yann Kott, Benny Hill, Blazing Saddles, freedom and child molestation. 

Please listen here:

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 Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.
Direct download: A.L._Kennedy_1.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 9:12pm EDT

A small college cannot hope to have a large library, but if it sets to work along the right lines it may aspire to the possession of a fine one… A book may be a thing of beauty, and an example of a great craft which we must not allow to die. The means of craft and the aspiration toward beauty live on in our College library.

— Robertson Davies, the Founding Master

Since its inception in 1963, the Library at Massey College has developed special collections in the History of the Book as well as supporting a working nineteenth-century hand printing shop.

The holdings of books and manuscripts include material on the history of printing,

from here.

papermaking, bookbinding, palaeography, calligraphy, type design, book collecting, and bibliography. The examples of book production range from the fifteenth century to the present, with a particular strength in nineteenth century colour printing and publishers' bookbindings represented in the Ruari McLean Collection. The collections also include the papers of Canadian graphic designer Carl Dair. In 1981, the Library was named for the Founding Master of the College, Robertson Davies, and contains editions and translations of his writings.

Marie Korey is Librarian at The Robertson Davies Library, and a scholar of the history of the book. We met recently to talk about collecting books in this field. I assumed the role of a rich (difficult) book collector (easy) with a passion for books about books (very easy) who had retained Marie with the goal of acquiring the best of the best possible books and materials related to the development of the book. Please listen here:

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p.s. Here is a list of some of the 'essential' books mentioned by Marie:

Bury, Richard de (1287-1345) Bishop of Durham, wrote “Philibiblon” which survives in many manuscript copies as well as printed editions.
“Dialogue” on Calligraphy and Printing in the sixteenth century, attributed to Christopher Plantin; this contains one of the earliest descriptions of typefounding. There was a facsimile done, with an English translation by Ray Nash published in 1964 under the title: Calligraphy & Printing in the sixteenthe century. Dialogue attributed to Christopher Plantin. 
Moxon, Joseph (1627-91), hydrographer, instrument maker, author and printer. He began publishing his “Mechanick Exercises” in monthly parts in 1677; the second volume, issued in 1683-84, was devoted to printing and type-founding. It is the first comprehensive manual on the subject in any language.
Bosse, Abraham. Traicté des manieres de graver en taille douce. Paris, 1645. Early manual on copperplate engraving.
Senefelder, Alois. A complete course of lithography. London: Printed for R. Ackerman, 1819.
Direct download: Marie_Korey_History_of_the_Book1.mp3
Category:Librarian Interview -- posted at: 10:52am EDT

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" Robert Fulford is a Toronto author, journalist, broadcaster, and editor. He writes a weekly column for The National Post and is a frequent contributor to Toronto Life, Canadian Art, and CBC radio and television. His books include Best Seat in the House: Memoirs of a Lucky Man (1988), Accidental City: The Transformation of Toronto (1995), and Toronto Discovered (1998)." This is how the man describes himself on his website. I’d only add that I think he is the best of his kind.

I sat down with him recently at his home in Toronto to talk about his long, distinguished career as a Canadian critic/journalist, and about evaluative criticism and what matters most in a book. Here’s our conversation:

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Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Robert_Fulford_111307-170740.mp3
Category:Literary Critics -- posted at: 2:17pm EDT

Kevin Gilmartin is a professor of English at California Institute of Technology, and visiting professor at the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at York University in England.  He is the author of Print Politics: The Press and Radical Opposition in Early Nineteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 1996) and Writing against Revolution: Literary Conservatism in Britain, 1790-1832 (Cambridge, 2007), and the co-editor with James Chandler of Romantic Metropolis: The Urban Scene of British Culture, 1780-1840 (Cambridge, 2005).  His essays have appeared in such journals as Studies in Romanticism, ELH, and The Journal of British Studies, and in several essay collections.  His research interests include Romantic literature, the politics of literary culture, the history of the periodical press and of print culture, and intersections between literary expression and public activism.

We talked recently at length about 18th century British essayist/critic William Hazlitt. Please listen here:

Direct download: Kevin_Gilmartin_William_Hazlitt.mp3
Category:Literary Critics -- posted at: 8:23am EDT