More than 400 members of Toronto’s cultural and business communities came together on Nov. 14 for The Writers’ Trust of Canada’s* black-tie gala, raising $220,000 toward the organization’s programs and awards.
Click on the thumbnails to see photos of the evening.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the gala was for the Writers’ Union of Canada.
The fourth annual Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair was held at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Baillie Court last weekend. It was the fair’s first year at the new venue, having relocated from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
The event brought together collectors and booksellers specializing in old and rare books, manuscripts, maps, and other historic literary artifacts.
Lucius Books owner James Hallgate travelled from from York, U.K. to showcase and sell some of his collection, which includes a £12,750 first edition of a Machiavelli work printed in 1595. Stopping by the Toronto fair before another book show in Boston, he said that many collectors are drawn to rare copies of books they encountered earlier in life.
“A lot of it is nostalgia, and to own a first edition is as close to the way the author wanted it as possible,” he said. “And now, even more so because of electronic books, books are more objects than anything.”
Jennifer Grainger, cataloguer at Attic Books in London, Ontario, agreed that the appeal of older editions lies in their physicality.
“They’re beautiful objects, like works of art,” she said. “People like to have original copies of things, like a copy of Dickens that came out in his own lifetime; a first edition instead of just a cheap paperback copy from a modern bookstore.”
Another local vendor, Hugh Anson-Cartwright, who has been in the business for over 40 years, says, “I think there will always be people that love books. There’s a wide range of appeal: text, illustration, bindings, all sorts of things.” He later quoted author Barbara Tuchman, saying that books are “humanity in print.”
Click on the thumbnails below to see photos from the fair.
The 26th annual Vancouver Writers Fest wrapped up on Oct. 27. Held at various venues on the city’s Granville Island, the six-day event featured panels and discussions with more than 100 authors, including Margaret Atwood, Jo Nesbø, Joseph Boyden, and recent Man Booker winner, Eleanor Catton.
Click on the thumbnails below to see pictures of the festival.
Eat It, a new literary anthology launching Tuesday, takes an unconventional approach to exploring women’s relationship to sex and food.
Conceived and edited by Toronto journalists Nicole Baute and Brianna Goldberg, the book spans genres including fiction, essays, poetry, comedy, and “literary recipes.” The editors relied on both an open submission call and invitations to attract contributors such as Denise Balkissoon, Amy Jones, Stacey May Fowles, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, and Sarah Selecky.
“We really wanted to be playful with it and be open to any story format that people wanted to try as a forum for experimentation,” says Baute.
Interest in the project was rapid and enthusiastic. The first day the call for submissions appeared on social media, the Eat It website received 1,000 page views. According to Goldberg, Vancouver artist Lori Weidenhammer submitted her story “I Could Have Been a Dairy Queen” (about the irony of her inability to breastfeed after growing up on a dairy farm) after overhearing a stranger in a café discussing the anthology.
Eat It will be distributed as a standalone volume of the Toronto literary humour journal The Feathertale Review. According to a note on the anthology’s website, Feathertale is hoping to correct a gender imbalance in their publication by producing an “all-women’s issue,” although Goldberg is quick to point out that the book is not targetted just at female readers.
Tomorrow’s launch takes place at the Gladstone Hotel as part of the This Is Not A Reading Series. The event, which kicks off at 8 p.m., features a variety show with Eat It contributors such as author Jessica Westhead, comic Sara Hennessey, and playwright Jessica Moss. Tickets are $5 or free with book purchase ($15).
A select group of publishing professionals will soon descend on Toronto for the sixth edition of the International Visitors Programme, an industry-networking event running Oct. 27–31 in conjunction with the International Festival of Authors.
Click on the thumbnails below to meet this year’s roster of fellows, distinguished guests, and delegates.
Click on thumbnails to see highlights from recent Canadian book events, including the inaugural Burt Award gala and Liisa Ladouceur’s launch for How To Kill A Vampire (ECW Press).
A crowd gathered last night at Toronto’s Ben McNally Books for the launch of the first Bare it for Books calendar.
The brainchild of author Amanda Leduc and music producer Allegra Young, the fundraising calendar features 12 brave Canadian writers who disrobed in support of PEN Canada.
Click on the thumbnails for the big reveal.
David Bowie Is, the touring exhibition from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, is perhaps the closest mere humans will get to the notoriously elusive Ziggy Stardust.
The staggering two-floor show, which officially opened last night at the Art Gallery of Ontario, showcases 300 objects from Bowie’s personal archive of more than 75,000 costumes, sheet music, books, and other memorabilia.
The exhibition’s audio guide features an interview with Bowie in which he says that, if he hadn’t become a musician, he “would have written novels,” referring to his songs as “little stories set to music.” Bowie’s magpie approach to art has always been influenced by books, according to exhibition co-curator Geoffrey Marsh, director of the V&A’s department of theatre and performance, who provided Q&Q with a compendium of 100 titles recommended by Bowie (download the PDF here). The list includes a few surprises, such as Michael Chabon’s 2005 novel, Wonder Boys, and Howard Norman’s 2004 Newfoundland-set novel, The Bird Artist.
Prior to the opening, Q&Q spoke to Marsh about Bowie and his books.
How would you describe Bowie’s relationship to literature? David is a voracious reader. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s been said that he reads a book a day. He certainly rings up people nowadays and says, “I’ve read this and that.” He’s fascinated with ideas and fascinated that there’s so much stuff out there that most people don’t get access to. I think he has a desperate urge to connect people to all this extraordinary art, culture, and writing.
Was he a reader growing up? He grew up with a very ordinary background and a very ordinary school. Fortunately, he had Peter Frampton’s father as his art teacher but apart from that, he left school at 16. There’s a great bit in the exhibition that describes when he used to travel around on the Underground as a teenager, he would always go and buy a book, something with a pretentious title on it. He’d carry it in his pocket so he’d look really cool – this was during the period of French existentialism. After a while, he actually started reading them.
Who were some of his key influences? People like J.G. Ballard, the science-fiction writer who had this concept of astronauts in “inner space.” Many people think Bowie is writing about outer space but he wasn’t interested in that at all. He was growing up with the feeling in the mid-1960s that you could start exploring your own mind through drugs – LSD was legal until 1966 in Britain – sex, or Eastern religions. It was an extraordinary period of experimentation, trying to get inside people’s minds about who they were and what they could be.
How did you compile the book list? That was a list we got from his archivist. In the archive, there are massive numbers of books that he’s kept. Supposedly, when he went to the desert to make The Man Who Fell to Earth, he took a trunk of books with him.
Will this list help fans better understand Bowie? The idea that he sits down and reads every book cover to cover, I don’t think that’s what he does. I think he’s more interested in ideas – and what he’s really interested in is how he can rework those ideas. He is the ultimate postmodernist, sampling stuff even before postmodernism arrived. I don’t think it’s a direct connection to him. It’s much more complicated.
Has there been a definitive book written about Bowie? There are a huge number of books being written about Bowie, but it’s astonishing how they all say the same old stuff and how many of them are filled with mistakes. Very few of them, for instance, cover the fact that he learned how to act in the late 1960s. That’s what made him so different. Lots of actors dress up in funny clothes, but the idea of acting as a process is rare. He has this total understanding of how performance works.
IFOA announced today that a second block of tickets will go on sale Oct. 1 at 1 p.m.
King will be joined onstage by his son, debut novelist Owen King. Toronto author Andrew Pyper will moderate the discussion.
Tickets are $100 and can be purchased from the Harbourfront Centre Box Office (416–973–4000) or online at ifoa.org.
On Sept. 15, the annual Eden Mills Writers’ Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Located just outside of Guelph, Ontario, the idyllic village festival hosted Michael Winter, Joseph Boyden, Amanda Donoghue, Tamas Dobozy, Saleema Nawaz, and more than 40 other authors and musicians.
Click on the thumbnails to see a few highlights from the event.