Tue, 20 December 2011
Patrick deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He has also lived in California, Washington, and Oregon, where he currently lives with his wife and son. He is the author of two novels, Ablutions and The Sisters Brothers, which recently won Canada's Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. Here's how the jury described it: "Brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters are at the centre of this “great greedy heart” of a book. A rollicking tale of hired guns, faithful horses and alchemy. The ingenious prose of Patrick DeWitt conveys a dark and gentle touch."
I met recently with Patrick in Ottawa to discuss his award winning novel. Please listen here as we talk, among other things, about mannered language, the Coen Brothers, Charles Portis, horses, psychopaths, masturbation, arts funding and being Canadian.
Copyright © 2011 by Nigel Beale. www.nigelbeale.com
Mon, 19 December 2011
Photo: Canada Council.
I met recently with Phil Hall, whose latest collection of poems, Killdeer, has just won the Canadian Governor General's Literary Award for English Poetry. It's a sensitive, engaging, revealing work that incorporates narrative essay, life philiosophy and literary criticism into its stanzas. In sharp contrast to the arrogant, impenetrable and solipsistic, Hall's poetry is humbly presented, accessible, beautiful, pastoral, reflective and at times profound. Listen here as we talk about brown speckled eggs and fiddle tunes, imbalance and literary prize juries, lying, distraction, pain, what's important, plus theatre and spectacle, truth and doubt.
Mon, 12 December 2011
Prof. Johnathan Rose
Joseph Malaby Dent (30 August 1849 – 9 May 1926) was the British book publisher who gave the world the Everyman's Library series.
After a short, unsuccessful career as an apprentice printer he took up bookbinding, and shortly thereafter founded J. M. Dent and Company, in 1888, publishing the works of Lamb, Goldsmith, Austen, Chaucer, and Tennyson among others. Printed in short runs on handmade paper, these books enjoyed some success, but it wasn't until the Temple Shakespeare series, launched in 1894, that Dent hit the big time.
Ten years later he began planning what became known as the Everyman's Library, a canon of one thousand classics, attractively, but practically, produced pocket-sized books sold for a shilling each. To meet demand, Dent built the Temple Press. Publication of the series began in 1906; 152 titles were issued in the first year. They were hugely popular.
'Small, lame, tight-fisted, and apt to weep under pressure,' Dent's ungovernable passion was, says critic Hugh Kenner, for bringing books to the people. He remembered when he'd longed to buy books he couldn't afford. Yes, you could make the world better. He even thought cheap books might prevent wars."
I met with famed book historian Johathan Rose recently to discuss J.M.Dent, and to find out why the Everyman's Library series was so successful. Please listen here:
This interview is part of our Book Publisher Series which focuses on the histories of important British, American and Canadian publishing houses, and how best to go about collecting their works.
Wed, 7 December 2011
Glenn Gould was a world renowned classical pianist and an 'eccentric genius'— a 'solitary, headstrong, hypochondriac virtuoso.' Abandoning stage performances in 1964, he concentrated instead on mastering recordings, radio, television, and print. His sudden death at age fifty stunned the world, but his music and legacy continues. Philosopher/critic Mark Kingwell sees Gould as a philosopher of music whose contradictory, mischievous, and deliberately provocative ideas ruled his life. Instead of a single narrative, Kingwell adopts a 'kaleidoscopic' approach. It took Gould twenty-one "takes" to record the opening aria in the famed 1955 Goldberg Variations, Kingwell does the same with Gould's life. Each take offers a slightly different, sensitive interpretation of this complex man, each plays with the notes, harmonies and dissonances that characterized his time on earth.
I met this past summer with Kingwell to talk about Gould, chutney, the problem of the biographical line, perfectionism, architectural beauty, tempo, pregnancy, absence becoming presence, recording and communications technology, and wonder. Please listen here to our conversation here:
Thu, 1 December 2011
Douglas Gibson was, for more than 40 years, a noted Canadian editor and publisher whose skills both as writer and salesman put him at the pinnacle of his profession. Douglas Gibson Books, the first editorial imprint of its kind in Canada, has over the years published much of the best writing that has ever come out of this country.
Stories About Storytellers is Gibson's memoir. In a series of short profiles, he tells us tales about some of the authors he has worked with during an illustrious career. He himself is an impressive story teller. The book takes us on a coast to coast tour, through the lives and writings of, among others, Jack Hodgins, Harold Horwood, Alice Munro, James Houston, Mavis Gallant, Alistair McLeod, Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney. Gibson's journey through Canadian political and publishing history, eloquently documents the story of Canada.
We met recently in Ottawa. Please listen here as we talk, among other things, about his careers and roles as editor and publisher, about the best Canadian fiction, luck and a system that encourages Canadian writing, olympic gold, the difficulty of literary prizes, subjective judgement, and the most important paragraph in Canadian writing.