"A girl was never ruined by books," my mother used to say. I've spent most of my life trying to prove that wrong.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Credit Where Credit Is Due: Clark Blaise to Receive an Honorary Doctorate

Many, many years ago when I was just starting out writing and the CBC did such things on a regular basis, I heard Clark Blaise read a short story on the radio.  It was set in Montreal, but aside from that I remember nothing except that it was absolutely terrific, exactly what I'd been trying to do for some time and hadn't succeeded in doing.

He was teaching at Concordia University then, with already several books of short stories to his credit, and, gathering up all my courage in both hands, I sent him a fan letter.  He answered quickly, and, encouraged, I wrote again, asking for some advice about how what do with the novel I was working on then.

He called me this time, and asked if I'd published any stories, which I had (two), and how I was (30.)  I could hear him thinking on the other end of the line, and then he said, well, send me your stories and I'll see about the novel.  To make a long story short, by the end of the year he'd made a couple of interesting suggestions about my work and given me a path to follow.

And I'll be forever grateful for his encouragement at a point in my life when I didn't know where I was going.  The result was the publication of my first novel The Descent of Andrew McPherson in 1976.  It's now available only Abebooks, but maybe we'll get a digital version out one of these days.

This week I learned that Clark will receive an honorary doctorate from Concordia University next week, and rarely was such an honour more deserved.

Here's a list of his work: definitely worth looking for.

Short stories

    A North American Education – 1973
    Tribal Justice – 1974
    Resident Alien – 1986
    Man and His World – 1992
    Southern Stories – 2000
    Pittsburgh Stories – 2001
    Montreal Stories – 2003
    The Meagre Tarmac – 2011 (longlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize)


    Lunar Attractions – 1979 (winner of the 1980 Books in Canada First Novel Award)
    Lusts – 1984
    If I Were Me – 1997


    Days and Nights in Calcutta – 1977 (with Bharati Mukherjee)
    I had a Father – 1992


    The Sorrow and the Terror: The Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy – 1987 (with Bharati Mukherjee)
    Time Lord – 2000

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Slide Show That Wasn't

It was a great evening on Wednesday at Drawn and Quarterly, but because of technical glitches, I didn't get to show the images behind the stories.  Here are a few of them, just for fun:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Desire Lines Is Sold Out, at First Launch:But More on the Way

Sold out!  Every single copy of Desire Lines went out the door last night  at the Montreal launch in Librairie Drawn and Quaterly.  Thanks to all the friends who came to hear me talk about the book, and who (I hope) had a good time.

More good news: the bookstore received another shipment of books this morning (a box had gone to Edmonton) so come on by 211 Bernard West to pick a copy up at the same 10 per cent discount they were offering last night.

Thanks to Jack Ruttan who took the picutre of me with Dina Sakali, and to Edwin Holgate who painted the nude 90 years ago or so.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tonight's the Night: Desire Line Montreal Launch

Be there or be square!

7 p.m., Librairie Drawn and Quarterly, 211 Bernard West. Mile End. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Serious Comic Books: The French Have a Word for It

This morning Le Devoir has turned over the  entire paper to cartoonists.  The occasion is the opening of a new show of graphic illustration at the Musée des Beaux arts de Montréal, but it also is a sly way of commenting on the recent municipal election.

Instead of the usual photos accompanying news stories, the newspaper has asked the cream of Quebec's bédéistes (from bandes dessinées, the French term for cartoonists) to illustrate the news.  Some of them are right on, indeed.  And some of them are suitably méchant like the one above which shows mayor-elect Denis Coderre as the somewhat buffonish Asterix from the famous series of "comic books."

In the French-speaking world, illustrated books have long been considered seriously.  I remember being aghast when an artist friend suggested a book group I belong to read BDs for one of our monthly meetings.  But she presented a  number of beautifully drawn and produced books with story lines no more silly than many literary novels, and explained how the art work was of very high quality.

Since then I've taken "graphic novels," as they're called in the English-speaking world, far more seriously.  It's clear that the books frequently treat themes of substance, and are far from being the refuge of the semi-literate.  (Drawn and Quarterly, in whose bookstore I'll have my book launch Wednesday night, is a very successuly publisher of this kind of book.)  But the genre also always for much very  interesting comment on the state of the world. 

Among the ones I'd recommend are Guy Delisle's series on far away places, particularly his Jerusalem Chronicles: Tales from the Holy City, which is rooted in a year he and his family spent in Jerusalem while his wife worked for Doctors without Borders. A view you won't find anywhere else!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Desire Lines: The First Copies Arrive!

And there was singing and dancing chez les Soderstrom!

Lee, who hadn't seen the cover, says somewhat hopefully, that maybe the "pornographic" cover will make it sell well.

But since the image is from a painting by Group of Seven artist Edwin Holgate it's high culture, now sleaze!