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Richard Minsky on his Book Art and Scholarship

Richard Minsky is an American scholar of bookbinding and a book artist. He is the founder of the Center for Book Arts in New York City. We met in his studio in Hudson, NY to talk, among other things, about the proselytizing of book art, books as metaphors, the art of book covers, publishers' bindings, modernism, art history and the evolution of technology, Will Bradley, the acquisition of books, stamped book covers, gilt, the stamping process, the extraordinary lives of some book cover...


Michel Tremblay on his play Hosanna, Quebec and Separation

Michel Tremblay was born in Montreal in 1942. He studied graphic arts and became a linotypist like his father and brother. He wrote his first play Le Train in 1959 and with it won the 1964 Radio Canada Young Author's Competition. But it was his second play Les Belles-Sœurs that established him as an important writer - the first play to use Joual and feature working class women on the stage, the first of a cycle of plays set in the Plateau Mont Royal district of Montreal. He went on to write...


Patrick deWitt on his novel The Sisters Brothers

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 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...


Anna Porter on her Career in Canadian Publishing

This from Simon and Schuster: "Anna Porter was born in Budapest, Hungary, during the Second World War and escaped with her mother at the end of the 1956 revolution to New Zealand, where she graduated with an MA from Christchurch University. Like so many young Kiwis, after graduation she travelled to London, England, where she had her first taste of publishing. In 1968, she arrived in Canada, and was soon swept up in the cultural explosion of the 1970s. At McClelland & Stewart, run by the...


Ian S. MacNiven on James Laughlin, Founder and Publisher of New Directions

Ian S. MacNiven's authorized biography of Lawrence Durrell was a New York Times Notable Book for 1998. He has edited two collections of Durrell's correspondence (with Richard Aldington and Henry Miller), is the author of numerous articles on literary modernism, and has directed and spoken at conferences on three continents. He is also a past president of the D. H. Lawrence Society of North America and of the International Lawrence Durrell Society. MacNiven resides on the west bank of the...


Adrian King Edwards on selling Second-Hand & Antiquarian Books in Montreal

Adrian King Edwards is the proprietor of The Word Bookstore near McGill University in Montreal; has been for more than 40 years. I met with him at his home to talk books, second-hand versus used, the John Schulman scandal in Pittsburgh, trust, stories, longevity, authors' obscure childrens' books, policemen checking the spices, David McKnight's collection of Canadian literary periodicals, Canadian poetry, letterpress books, changing values, changing definitions of rare, Glenn Goluska, clean...


Terence Byrnes on Photography and the Author Photograph

Through his work as a writer, editor, and photographer, Terence Byrnes came to know and to photograph many Montreal-based writers throughout their careers. "For ten years, he photographed them in places where they felt at home, but not always at ease. 'Most contemporary literary portraits,' Byrnes says, 'are as highly burnished as Playboy nudes or as homespun as family snapshots. When I made these images, I was an interloper the writers had to react to.” Closer to Home: The Author and the...


Bill Samuel on the history of Foyles Bookstore

Bill Samuel is the grandson of the founder of Foyles bookstore and was long-time Vice-Chairman of the company. Samantha J Rayner captures the spirit of the enterprise when she writes "[Foyles] emphasised that trial and error was an integral part of learning what makes for success. Foyles is not just a bookshop – they have tried all sorts of enterprises to generate more revenue: sheet music, musical instruments, literary lunches, book clubs, film production and even aeroplanes!" I met with...


Priscila Uppal on Canadian Elegies, and Mourning

Priscila Uppal, poet, author, and English professor at York University, challenges traditional psychological and anthropological models of mourning in her new book We Are What We Mourn: The Contemporary English-Canadian Elegy, suggesting that Canadians mourn differently. Traditional models define successful mourning in terms of detachment from the loved one who has died; the ability to cut the strings of grief, and to step into the roles of mothers and fathers vacated by the dead. To...


Robert Lecker on literary agents in Canada, past and present

Robert Lecker is a Canadian scholar, author, and Greenshields Professor of English at McGill University in Montreal, where he specializes in Canadian literature. He has held a number of prominent positions in the Canadian publishing industry throughout his career. He co-founded ECW Press in 1977, he co-edited the Canadian literary journal Essays on Canadian Writing between 1975 and 2004, he has edited several anthologies of Canadian and international literature, and he currently heads a...


Hugh McGuire on an alternative future for book publishing

Hugh McGuire has been building tools and communities to bring books onto the open web since about 2005. He's the founder of (free public domain audiobooks, made by volunteers from around the world), Pressbooks (an open source book publishing platform built on WordPress). He's also Executive Director of the Rebus Foundation, a non-profit that is building the infrastructure to support books on the open web, by: building a new collaborative model for creating and publishing Open...


John Crombie on his Kickshaws Press

Kickshaws is a private press founded in Paris in 1979 by John Crombie, and Sheila Bourne who often produces artwork for the books. Together they have hand-printed more than 150 small books. The design, typography and materials used to create Kickshaws publications are unusual. As a result it's difficult to define exactly what they are. Among other things, they display a wide range of type-faces and designs, letterpress printing in multiple colours, and unusual formats and bindings, including...


Maylis Besserie on the art of the Author Interview

Maylis Besserie is a French radio broadcaster. She works for France Culture, the French national cultural radio station of the Radio France group, where she has produced documentaries and live programming about cultural issues since 2003. Over the years she has interviewed many artists and authors. She currently produces a summer program called la grande table d’été. I met Maylis at her home in Paris. We talked, among other things, about the perfect author interview, pre-packaged answers,...


Krista Halverson on Shakespeare and Company Paris

Krista Halverson is director of the newly founded Shakespeare and Company publishing house and editor of the first-ever history of the bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart. Previously, she was the managing editor of Zoetrope: All-Story, a magazine of fiction and art, published by Francis Coppola and headquartered in San Francisco. I met with Krista at the bookstore to talk about the history of Shakespeare and Company; Sylvia Beach, French...


Jerry Rothenberg on Poetry Anthologies

Born in 1931, Jerome Rothenberg is an American poet, translator and anthologist, noted for his work in the fields of ethnopoetics and performance poetry. This from Wiki: Technicians of the Sacred (1968), which signalled the beginning of an approach to poetry that Rothenberg, in collaboration with George Quasha, named “ethnopoetics,” went beyond the standard collection of folk songs to include visual and sound poetry and the texts and scenarios for ritual events. Some 150 pages of...


Professor Daniel Medin on Books in Translation

A recent fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Berlin) and visiting researcher at the Centre Interdisciplinaire de Recherches Centre-Européennes (Sorbonne-Paris IV), Daniel Medin joined the faculty of The American University of Paris in January 2010. He has taught German, English and comparative literature at Stanford University, Washington University in St. Louis and the Free University Berlin. He is associate director of the Center for Writers and Translators and one of the...


Stephen Weiner on the rise of the Graphic Novel

Stephen Weiner is an award winning writer about comics & graphic novels. He has been writing about comics since 1992, and is the most recognized librarian responsible for promoting graphic novel collections in public libraries & bookstores. He is the director of the Maynard Public Library in Maynard, Massachusetts. His books include: 100 Graphic Novels for Public Libraries, The 101 Best Graphic Novels, Faster than a Speeding Bullet: the Rise of the Graphic Novel, The Will Eisner Companion,...


John Ralston Saul on Extraordinary Canadians and Lafontaine and Baldwin

John Ralston Saul was elected President of International PEN in October 2009 (his term ended in 2015). His award-winning essays and novels have had an impact on political and economic thought in many countries. Declared a “prophet” by TIME magazine, he is included in the prestigious Utne Reader’s list of the world’s 100 leading thinkers and visionaries. His works have been translated into 22 languages in 30 countries. He has received many national and international awards for his...


Jean Guy Boin on the French Book Publishing Experience

Economist Jean-Guy Boin is the former Director General of the International Bureau of French Publishing (, the international promotion organization of French books. He has held various positions in the book sector: teacher and trainer, researcher specializing in publishing economics, general administrator of a publishing house of literature and human sciences, head of the department "book economics" department at the Ministry of Culture and Communication. He is the author of two...


Heloise d'Ormesson on Book Publishing in France

Héloïse d'Ormesson is a French publisher who founded a publishing house that bears her name. She studied comparative literature at Yale Univeristy in the United States, where she landed her first job in publishing, and then returned to France to work at Flammarion as director of foreign literature, and subsequently as an editor at Denoël, Laffont, and within the Gallimard group of companies. In 2004, she founded Editions Héloïse d'Ormesson with her partner Gilles Cohen-Solal. She is the...