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Anne Fadiman on her father Clifton and The Lifetime Reading Plan

Throughout my twenties I harboured a strong desire to read the Great Books, but it wasn't until I'd finished university and come across Clifton Fadiman's Lifetime Reading Plan at the now defunct Book Den in Ottawa on MacLaren street, that I started to act seriously on the urge. It, and the 100 books recommended, had and continue to have a profound impact on my life. So, I was thrilled to learn that Anne Fadiman had written a memoir about her father called The Wine Lover's Daughter. Anne is...


David Frum on Trumpocracy and Trump: The Novel

David Frum is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic. In 2001 and 2002, he was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush. We met in Ottawa and talked about, among other things, his father Murray, a Bernini bronze, African art, reference books, Linda Frum's biography of her (and David's), mother Barbara, the mistrust of optimism, Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and women, loyalty, how to become an expert in almost...


Stephen Greenblatt on his book Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics

Stephen Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of thirteen books, including The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve; The Swerve: How the World Became Modern; Shakespeare's Freedom; and Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. He is General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and of The Norton Shakespeare, has edited seven collections of criticism, and is a founding editor of the journal Representations. His...


Beowulf Sheehan on photographing authors

"Beowulf Sheehan studied photography at New York University and the International Center of Photography. His childhood love of stories in books and music grew into an adulthood love of storytellers in the arts, entertainment, and humanities. Beowulf makes portraits, communicates ideas, and shares the stories of compelling artists and figures who impact society and culture." His book AUTHOR "captures the essence of 200 writers, historians, journalists, playwrights, and poets from 35...


Librarian John Shoesmith on Canadian Fine Presses

John Shoesmith is Outreach Librarian at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto, and curator of the 2013 exhibition Death Greatly Exaggerated: Canada's Thriving Small and Fine Press which explored examples of the fine book-making craft in Canada since the year 2000 while nodding to Canada's small presses. We met at the Fisher and talked, among other things, about famed printer and book designer Robert Reid, Fraser Mines Revisited, Kuthan's Menagerie, McGill University Press, the...


Michael Torosian on his Lumiere Press

Lumiere Press is the private press of Michael Torosian. In the fine press tradition, the books are composed in lead, hand printed and hand bound. The press is devoted exclusively to photography, and each book aspires in its concept, graphic design, and bookmaking craftsmanship to be the manifestation of its artistic content. The shop's first printing press was acquired in 1981, and in 1986 the publishing program was launched with the publication of Edward Weston: Dedicated to Simplicity. I...


Michael Lista on Canadian Poetry, the Saudi Arms Deal, MacBeth and Men Crying

Michael Lista is an investigative journalist, essayist and poet in Toronto. He has worked as a book columnist for The National Post, and as the poetry editor of The Walrus. He is the author of three books: the poetry volumes Bloom and The Scarborough, and Strike Anywhere, a collection of his writing about literature, television and culture. His essays and investigative stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, Toronto Life, The Walrus, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. He was the 2017...


Elaine Dewar on how Canada's best publisher, and its backlist fell into foreign hands

Elaine Dewar– author, journalist, television story editor—has been propelled since childhood by insatiable curiosity and the joy of storytelling. Her journalism has been honored by nine National Magazine awards, including the prestigious President’s Medal, and the White Award. Her first book, Cloak of Green, delved into the dark side of environmental politics and became an underground classic. Dewar has been called “one of Canada’s best muckrakers and “Canada’s Rachel Carson.” We met at her...


Former president and publisher Peggy Fox on New Directions

Peggy L. Fox is the former president and publisher of New Directions, was Tennessee Williams’s last editor, and is James Laughlin’s literary coexecutor. She lives in Athens, New York, where we met to talk about, among other things, her career at New Directions, Tennessee Williams, the Chinese poet Bei Dao, Norfolk confetti, contacts and connections, James Laughlin's literary influence, letter writing, re-introducing deceased giants, Barbara Elpler, W.G. "Max" Sebald, Gore Vidal, and New...


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...