MARSHALLING NEW FACTS ABOUT McLUHAN

In Across Canada By Story I spend some time discussing my links with Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye. Today I learned some interesting new facts about both of them. This was courtesy of an intriguing new Exhibition on McLuhan in the St. Michael’s College Library at the University of Toronto ….which happens to located on “Marshall McLuhan Way”.

The well-known facts about Marshall are all there, including the unfamiliar news that at first he published as “Herbert Marshall McLuhan”. We  are reminded that he first produced the phrase “the medium is the message” at a conference for radio broadcasters in Vancouver as early as 1957, and that The Gutenberg Galaxy  came out in 1962, winning the Governor-General’s Prize (from  a jury chaired by Northrop Frye) and establishing his reputation, so that in a few years the San Francisco Chronicle was calling him “the hottest academic property around”.

By  1967 his fame had spread so that the Toronto Star called him “Toronto’s most influential and controversial celebrity.” From 1965 t0 1969 in the US alone, interviews with him ran in Harpers, Newsweek, The New York Times, Life, Fortune, Esquire, Look, TV Guide, McCalls, Glamour, Vogue, Family Circle, Mademoiselle, the Saturday Evening Post , and in Playboy.

Ah, yes, Playboy…. the magazine full of airbrushed naked women who occasionally caught the passing eyes of teenaged boys who really bought the magazine “for the articles”. After Playboy ran their 1968 piece on Marshall (labelled “a candid conversation with the high priest of popcult and metaphysician of media”), Marshall wrote to Jack Kessie, the Managing Editor. The letter, on display in the Exhibition, was pure McLuhan. He assured Mr. Kessie that “nudity is not realism.Compared to the clad figure, nudity is sculpture. Clothing is an anti-environment, a kind of weaponry, providing an enclosed space that is pictorial rather than sculptural….'”

To reassure Playboy’s head man further, he went on “Of course, basic human sex attraction is olfactory, not photo-factory, hence the playful harmlessness and natural innocence of your pictures.” Perhaps we can assume that before Mr. Kessie went home to be greeted by his sweet-smelling wife, he considered raising the price of ads for perfumes in the magazine.

I have written about how Marshall and Northrop Frye (that’s Herman Northrop Frye) were two very large fish in a fairly small Toronto pond. They were wary of each other and tried to avoid giving offence, working together as U. of T. English Department colleagues. They were, I argue in the book, friendly rivals. Yet in the Exhibition there is a 1971 letter about Marshall from Frye  that hints at the strain. Ronald S. Berman, the Chair of the National Endowment For The Humanities had written to Frye from Washington asking if he would recommend McLuhan to give a major speech.

In part Frye’s letter reads…”and I think he would do a very good job for you, assuming that he took the assignment seriously and wrote out his speech beforehand. He makes a deliberate technique of uttering what he calls “probes”, or challenges to the imagination, which to many people sound like simply irresponsible statements, and his habit of regarding the whole of culture as a gigantic allegory of his own view is growing on him.”

At the end of the letter, Frye’s irritation at having been lured into these frank statements seems to me flick out, like a dragon’s tongue. See what you think..” If you invited him to give the lecture you would, I think, be taking something of a risk, but I think you ought to take a risk, like everybody else, and not hedge your bets by enquiries of this kind.

Yours sincerely”

From the Exhibition I walked for five minutes to re-visit Marshall’s old Centre For Culture and Technology, at 39A Queen’s Park Crescent. It still reminds me of Tom Wolfe’s famous phrase “an unused Newfoundland fishing shack” and I was unable to get inside, to remind me of visits to see Marshall there. But I was able to clamber through the undisturbed snow, to peer through the window inside the room that launched a thousand probes.

IN PRAISE OF JIM MUNRO

We all lost an important friend this week when Jim Munro died in Victoria. He was a major figure on Canada’s book scene for over 60 years, a fact that was recognised in 2014 when he received the Order of Canada for “his vital championship of countless Canadian writers and for his sustained community engagement.”

In 1963 he and his wife Alice moved from Vancouver to set up a bookstore in Victoria. They worked together in the store, and raised three daughters, a life well described in Sheila Munro’s memoir, Lives of Mothers and Daughters. In 1972, the Munros divorced, with Alice returning to Ontario to write, and Jim staying in Victoria to create the most beautiful bookstore in Canada. If that sounds like excessive praise, consider the fact that recently National Geographic Magazine ranked Munro’s books, in a former Royal Bank building at the heart of downtown’s Government Street, as the third best bookstore IN THE WORLD.

I was a frequent visitor. As my second book, Across Canada By Story, makes clear, I’ve always loved roaming around the country, meeting authors and people in the Canadian book world. Seeing Jim again was always a delight. I’d drop in to the store, chat with wise book people on staff like Dave Hill, then join Jim in the office tucked away just to the right of the front door, to discuss the book trade in general. As a Canadian Bookseller of the Year, more than once, he was heavily involved in bookselling issues (chains, Amazon, Canadian agencies,”Buying around”, e-books, and much else — we never got on to colouring books) and I always learned a lot from this cheery, bluff man (The under-used word “bluff” is precise, for this friendly, red-faced fellow with, latterly, a neat beard.)

The same pleasure applied to his visits to the annual Canadian Booksellers Association trade fair, summer events usually held in Toronto, when meeting with Jim and his team was always a highlight of a major event in the publishing calendar. Down through the years, as a shrewd local link with the publishing world, he sold untold millions of books to grateful readers. The cultural impact is hard to over-state.

Long after their divorce he remained a strong supporter of Alice’s writing, and as her editor and publisher I found myself receiving advice about this or that forthcoming book, its title, price, and its cover. Mostly, I seemed to be doing all right.

Through the years the Munro daughters kept their links with the store and its staff. When I was in Stockholm for the Nobel Prize Ceremony in 2014, Munro’s Books leapt into the Swedish limelight. Our Ambassador to Sweden, Kenneth MacCartney,  staged a splendid celebration at lunch, inviting many Swedish literary figures to this proud event for Canada, and — ahem– some of us made speeches about Alice, the author of The Love Of A Good Woman, and many other titles dealing with affairs of the heart. It was all very fine.

Yet one of the finest moments came when the Ambassador introduced his wife, Susan, and revealed that as a student in Victoria he had courted her, successfully, while she was working in Munro’s Books.

 

A NEW TORONTO SHOW

FREE, AT THE DEER PARK LIBRARY , ON ST.CLAIR AVENUE AT YONGE STREET, ON TUESDAY , DECEMBER 6 AT 2 pm.

 

BOB DYLAN AND LEONARD COHEN

I was disappointed to read that Bob Dylan has decided not to go to Stockholm to accept his Nobel Prize for Literature. This is a huge loss — for him. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to attend the Nobel Prize ceremonies knows what a pinnacle they represent. Attendance is so cherished that to get into the hall (all gentlemen wearing the de rigueur white tie and tails) you must present not only your ticket, with the specific seat number noted, but also YOUR PASSPORT, to prove that you are the person to whom the valuable ticket was issued.

Jane and I still remember every dreamy detail of our 2013 day there as part of the Alice Munro party. We also remember the sense that we were part of what I can only describe as “the world at its best”.

Now, with his unfortunate decision, Bob Dylan will miss all of that.

I suspect that, even at death’s door, Leonard Cohen would not have made that mistake.

I knew Leonard, a little, because when I was the Publisher at M&S, we published his new poetry books. In the process, I worked cordially with Leonard’s charming agent, who was secretly stealing all of his money. Ironically, this crime had the beneficial effect of forcing Leonard to revive his career, making him earn new money by going on tour again, and writing and performing fine new songs.

I have two memories of Leonard that may be worth sharing. First, when he was at McGill, he studied English with Hugh MacLennan. They liked each other, and became friends. Hugh told me that once in private conversation Leonard was explaining the opportunities opened by the new, open sexual freedoms among young people like him. The older Presbyterian was scandalised , and protested: “But Leonard, you remind me of a girl I knew back in Nova Scotia. She was called “Anytime Annie”!”

Leonard did not mend his ways, to the relief of many ladies down through the years.

Once, when he visited our Toronto office in what was a busy day of interviews, for lunch we brought in to the Boardroom some unglamorous sandwiches from Druxy’s downstairs. Leonard was perfectly happy, expecting absolutely no special treatment. He chatted happily with me and Avie Bennett and Ellen Seligman, about subjects ranging from Hugh MacLennan to how to get money from a bank machine in sketchy areas in LA. In such a situation, he explained, using an on-street machine was asking for trouble, making yourself a target. So what you looked for was a bank machine inside a small grocery store. There you cased the joint, apparently immersed in reading the ingredients of, say, a bottle of Pepsi.

Then, when the coast was clear, you drifted across to the machine, still apparently deep into your Pepsi scrolls, quickly punched in your banking needs, grabbed and concealed the cash, then escaped to the front of the store with your Pepsi purchase. Muggers were not interested in a man bearing a bottle of Pepsi.

In the mourning that followed Leonard’s death, I was pleased by how seriously our newspapers took his loss. The CBC, too, devoted important hours to paying tribute to him and his work. I found myself deeply moved by the message that he had sent to Marianne, his long-time lover, when she was dying in Norway this summer. His loving message ended with the words…”see you down the road.”

On Remembrance Day came my moment of revelation. Unlike Bob Dylan, I would argue, Leonard Cohen knew what was really important. When someone came to him asking if he would recite “In Flanders Fields”, he said yes. Many major musical stars would have laughed off the idea of reciting this poem from grade school , about the First World War, for Heaven’s sake, as hopelessly “uncool”.

Leonard read the poem aloud. As the CBC ended its broadcast of Remembrance Day with Leonard reading that poem, the fact that it was happening  in the week of his death was almost too much to bear. But most powerful of all was how brilliantly he read it. No tricks, nothing fancy, just a serious, perfect reading, by a poet who knew what really mattered.

I’m sorry that Stockholm will not see him.

NEWS ABOUT ALICE MUNRO

Alice may not be writing any more, but people are certainly writing about her – and creating events and works of art that celebrate her writing.

In FILM , for example, the famous Spanish director Pedro Almodovar has just brought out his first film in three years. Its title is “Julieta”, and it’s about mother-daughter tensions, based on three stories by Alice.

In MUSIC, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa recently enjoyed great success with a new piece inspired by Alice’s work.

In THEATRE, the Belfry Theatre in Victoria is hard at work on preparing a “word for word” stage version of two of Alice’s short stories. I’ve been involved (helpfully, I hope) in these preparations, and I’m sure that next Spring’s production will be fascinating, and may tour the country. These “word for word” presentations, half-way between a simple reading and a play with actors playing all the roles, are really a new art-form, and I find them fascinating.

In LITERARY FESTIVALS, early June saw The Alice Munro Literary Festival take place in Wingham and other parts of “Alice Munro Country”. A major feature of this year’s event was a fascinating talk by Professor Robert Thacker, where he dealt very generously with my role in bringing Alice’s work to the wider audience it deserved. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to light up the auditorium with my blushes. Next year, I hope.

In LITERARY GALAS , I’ve already mentioned Alice winning The Canadian Scot of The Year Award in May, where I represented Alice. I’ll have the same honorific role on October 13 when The Literary Review of Canada recognises a number of our greatest writers at a fund-raising gala dinner.

In THE UNIVERSITY WORLD, the great news is that Western University ( in Alice’s time there, it was “The University of Western Ontario”) has successfully completed its fund-raising for The Alice Munro Chair.  The first Professor will be chosen in due course, and announced with appropriate fanfare.

Not bad, eh?

 

MOOSE JAW MEMORIES

We’ve been travelling around, at the expense of the blog, but amassing a number of stories. In Moose Jaw, at the Saskatchewan Writers Festival, we knew that we would have a fine time. This was a return engagement, after a three year lapse, and the old gang of friends was there, wallowing in the pool at The Spa, or strolling through central Crescent Park, where a beaver put on a special evening cruise for us.
We had breakfast with Harold Johnson and Joan, whom we met three years ago, as authors on the same stage in the Library. In August Harold is bringing out what sounds like a very controversial book about the impact of alcohol on our indigenous people. As a Cree with a law degree from Harvard who works as a Crown in La Ronge, Harold  knows about the daily damage of booze to our society. The book is called FIREWATER, and will come from Bruce Walsh’s University of Regina Press. It seems certain to be a powerful book. Watch for it.

On Friday afternoon I gave my Across Canada By Story show in the Mae Wilson Theatre that I remembered with such affection. All went well, although this time there was no superb introduction by Bob Currie (whom I’d like to pack up in my bag, and take with me as my Travelling Introducer). Earlier, I had the pleasure of sharing a session with Bob reading his poetry this year.

I helped with one or two other events, once unofficially. I found Zarqa Nawaz, author of LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE MOSQUE wandering aimlessly around the Library, when she was supposed to be the main lunch speaker. I led her there, and from the stage she told her interviewer, Angie Abdou, that this “nice man” had rescued her, and got her to the event on time. When the “nice man” was asked to identify himself, Angie laughingly suggested that following this particular nice man’s directions was usually good policy for any Canadian author.

On the final day of the Festival, events took a strange turn. I was on a five-author panel on humour, and the speaker before me was Zarqa. She was very keen to inform us all just how difficult it has been for her to find a market for her most recent piece of writing, a very thorough non-fiction study of labiaplasty. She spoke at some length about this, and the audience seemed to like it.

(There may be a link here with the romantic reticence in Saskatchewan that was satirised by singer Connie Kaldor in her Saturday concert at the Mae Wilson Theatre. She asked “Did you hear about the Prairie farmer who loved his wife so much that….. he almost told her?”)

Speaking for the first time, I followed Zarqa by thanking the organisers for inviting me to come to this superb festival. Then I noted, disapprovingly, that while inviting me to participate in the Humour panel, they had not even mentioned the word “labiaplasty”.

Not even once.

The ensuing discussion was amusing,and we all had a good time. Although Terry Fallis later suggested that I might have been wiser to avoid the issue of labiaplasty altogether. He said that I should have kept tight-lipped about it. I believe that was the term he used.

AUSTIN CLARKE AND GORDIE HOWE

Last week I went to Austin Clarke’s funeral in St. James Cathedral. A fine, formal event where the white-gloved pall-bearers included the hefty Barry Callaghan, somehow reminding me of his wispy father Morley; also my old friend Patrick Crean ( we dated girls in the same family in the Sixties) who was latterly Austin’s editor for The Polished Hoe, and other books; and above all Cecil Foster, the well-known writer.

At the end of the service (one of the few in the Cathedral to involve Bob Marley’s songs, plus a reading from Austin’s latest novel, More, which mentions the bells of St. James), I made a bee-line for Cecil. I thanked him for urging me to visit Austin, who was in poor health. Of course I had meant to visit Austin, whom I’ve known for over forty years as a figure on the Toronto scene, and whose novel, The Origin of Waves, I published. But, although full of good intentions (you may recognise this situation in your own life) I had never got around to it. Cecil’s urging me to go to see him, soon, did the trick. I visited Austin at home just two months before he died, and just days before St. Michael’s Hospital claimed him for the last time.

Austin was clearly very ill, but he knew me, and our fond visit went very well. So well that his young relative Alan, who was with us at the Shuter Street house, greeted me at the funeral, and told me how much Austin had enjoyed our time together. Then he invited me back to the family gathering after the funeral, where I met many old friends, and we shared stories about Austin, not all of them involving rum.

Some weeks earlier Gordie Howe passed away. Our newspapers and magazines were full of tributes to this man that scores of writers called our greatest player. Yet many of the tributes (especially Stephen Smith’s fine hockey blog) dealt with Gordie’s Jekyll and Hyde personality, where this big, charming Saskatchewan boy off the ice, when he put on skates and picked up his surgeon’s stick, turned into an on-ice assassin.

I knew Gordie. I knew, and liked, the good Gordie when I published After The Applause, Gordie and Colleen’s book, written by Charles Wilkins. And during that time, I was hip-checked by Gordie Howe!

Let me explain.Famously, Gordie used to get bigger in the dressing room. The more clothes he took off, the more his long muscles seemed to emerge. I can attest to just how solid he was. We were at a publishing cocktail party and big Gordie secretly came up on my blind side, then smilingly stepped into me with a gentle hip check. I staggered across the room. It was like having a building move into you.

 

JULY ENGAGEMENTS FOR THE ACROSS CANADA BY STORY SHOW

MOOSE JAW…..Saskatchewan Writers’ Festival

The Mae Wilson Theatre. Friday July 15, 4.00 – 5.00

TORONTO……..Classical Pursuits, with Ann Kirkland (Members only)

Victoria College Dining Hall. Tuesday 19,  7.00-8.00

OTTAWA VALLEY…..Bonnechere Authors Festival

St. James Church, Eganville, Wednesday, 27 July 7.00—8.30

EASTERN TOWNSHIPS…..The Piggery Theatre, North Hatley, Quebec.

Sunday Evening, 31 July.

THE NIGHT MANAGER SHUTS DOWN CANADA

Despite all of my travels to give my new Across Canada By Story show (more than 40 performances so far, only one of them involving a death-defying  fall off the stage) I have been able to see a spectacularly good TV series. It is “The Night Manager”, based on the 1993 novel by John Le Carre.

Long before that book appeared I was telling anyone who would listen that John Le Carre was not “just” a spy novelist, but the best novelist in Britain. I’m happy to note that this heretical opinion is now gaining acceptance. Ample proof is provided by the recent book, John Le Carre: The Biography , by Adam Sisman, who is, of course, “an Honourary Fellow of  (aha!) the University of St. Andrews”. His account of the life of David Cornwell, the man behind the nom de plume, is full of admiring quotes from major sources. For example, Philip Roth called A Perfect Spy “The best English novel since the war. ”Ian McEwan in 2013 called Le Carre “perhaps the most significant novelist of the second half of the 20th century in Britain.” I agree.

Certainly, in my mind, Le Carre/Cornwell was behind the best TV series of all time, the 1979 BBC adaptation of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” starring Alec Guinness as George Smiley. Watching the superb plot unfold on the screen drove me back to the book, and I had a strange extra-dimensional experience as the same events were subtly revealed in two art forms.

With that background, I was excited to learn about the new TV series, “The Night Manager”. I have not been disappointed, and await the final episode with keen interest. One curiosity is that the villain of the piece – “the worst man in the world” – is a shameless arms dealer named Charles Onslow Roper, played by Hugh Laurie. Yes, Hugh “Bertie Wooster” Laurie, the pop-eyed idiot kept afloat by Jeeves, and later the star of the American TV series, “House”. For a Scot, there’s a special pleasure in seeing Hugh Laurie (and we all remember the old Scottish song “Annie Laurie”) become the world’s idea of a drawling English villain, when his features are almost a caricature of The Scottish Face.

For Canadians, there’s a special curiosity in the TV version of “The Night Manager”. In the book (and, again, I was drawn back to the book) when our hero,  Jonathan  Pine , has left Cairo, then Switzerland, then Cornwall, and is creating a new identity,  he ends up for some months in Quebec. In the mining town of Esperance he ends up working at le Chateau Babette, hired by mighty Madame Latulipe, who unfortunately gives him a room near her daughter Yvonne, whose fiancé, Thomas, is off studying First Nations in the North.

Madame is convinced that Pine/alias Beauregard is French.“Or perhaps Belgian. She was not an expert, she took her holidays in Florida. All she knew was, when he spoke French she could understand him, but when she spoke back at him, he looked as insecure as all Frenchmen looked when they heard what Madame Latulipe was convinced was the true, the uncorrupted version of their tongue.”

There are about 30 pages set in Canada, while Pine seduces his way to a new passport. But they don’t appear in the TV series. Making a film or a TV series out of a novel always involves great deal of reduction, and, in truth, the Canadian episode is not central to the book. Le Carre (who is involved in this screenplay) has written ruefully about how much cutting is required to prepare a novel for the screen, saying that you have to watch your oxen being turned into a bouillion cube. I’m sure that in the original quote, it was an Oxo cube.

DOES HIS OWN STUNTS

After my London fall from grace, I asked my blog-readers (blogistas?) for ideas about how best to turn this mishap to my commercial advantage.

So far, the best suggestion has come from the High Commission’s own Scott Proudfoot. He suggests that I should boast that, unlike many Hollywood A-listers, “Gibson does his own stunts.”

Debra Martens came up with a witty headline about “falling for the love of books.” She tells me that she’s working on the contrast between me swan-diving to the floor, while in Trafalgar Square outside Horatio Nelson turns his back in statuesque disgust.

 

HOW TO SEE THE SHOW

I’ll be giving performances of ACROSS CANADA BY STORY in May.

IN TORONTO, at THE BEACHES LIBRARY, on Queen Street, on Thursday May 12 at 7.00

IN STRATFORD, at The CITY HALL AUDITORIUM, as part of Springworks, on Saturday May 14 at noon.  AND on Tuesday May 17 at 8pm.

IN TORONTO, at THE RICHVIEW LIBRARY, 1806  Islington, on Thursday May 26  at 6.00.

IN ELORA, at THE ELORA FESTIVAL, a 20-minute version in The Aboyne Hall, from 1-to 4.00

At all of these events, books will be sold, and signed!

 

MORE TO COME, IN SUMMER AND BEYOND

KING OF THE ROAD

When I fell off the stage in Canada House, I did so in the Mackenzie King Room. Another example of how links with this former Prime Minister keep cropping up in my life.

In ACROSS CANADA BY STORY I tell about how, long before my own days at Macmillan, the sober bachelor’s visit to the Macmillan of Canada’s building on Toronto’s Bond Street went terribly wrong. The Prime Minister expressed the wish to pay his respects to the nearby house that had belonged to his grandfather, William Lyon Mackenzie. His appalled assistants, and their Macmillan hosts, were aware that the house had fallen on hard times, and was now a brothel.

As the portly Prime Minister stood reverently on the sidewalk outside, one of the ladies inside spotted him, and mistook his quiet reverence for bourgeois hesitation. Throwing up the window, she vigorously invited him to step inside, giving some very explicit promises of the pleasures that awaited him there. The Prime Ministerial party departed at high speed.

Later that old house was restored, and became the fine museum that it is today. That was where we at Macmillan mischievously launched the 1976 book, A VERY DOUBLE LIFE by C.P.Stacey. This astonishing history drew on the recently published secret diaries kept by Mackenzie King. These diaries revealed, beyond question, that this man, who held the post of Canada’s Prime Minister longer than anyone else, was deeply crazy. In the restrained words of The Canadian Encyclopedia (1988): “Recent revelations show that this apparently proper and colourless man was a spiritualist, in frequent contact with his mother and other dead relatives and friends.” To speak plainly, this Prime Minister, in charge of Canada throughout the Second World War, was a crazy man, who consulted his dead mother before making vital national decisions that would cost lives.

Yet this very eccentric side remained a closely held secret. Most Canadians were astonished when the Diaries, and Stacey’s book full of damning excerpts, revealed the truth.

But surely, for this secret to be held so successfully, he must have kept his beliefs totally secret in Ottawa? Right?

Wrong.

We switch to Gananoque, where, thanks to Debra Davis, on 29 April, I went to visit The Literary Festival, now in its second year. (I recommend it, without question).And, as usual, in telling stories, I received some. A woman in the audience later introduced herself as a member of the Norman Rogers family, and told me that Norman had been one of Mackenzie King’s closest advisers, and a member of his War Cabinet. In fact, in 1939, this former Professor turned Kingston MP became the Minister of National Defence. The next year, he died in a plane crash.

Naturally, his funeral was a major national event, and Prime Minister King was there, with the Cabinet. To console the grieving Rogers family, King sought them out, to assure them that Norman was just fine, and very happy in Heaven. He, the Prime Minister, had recently chatted with him, and was pleased to report that everything was fine with good old Norman.

The family was amazed to hear the Prime Minister talking openly in this way, but they kept the story secret, like all the stories of King and his mother’s portrait, and his respect for the opinions of his dead dog, little Pat. But the story lived on.

I’ll think of this story every time I go near the Kingston Airport, The Norman Rogers Airport, one of the few instances of an airport named after a man killed in a plane crash.

IN PRAISE OF ELLEN SELIGMAN, COLLEAGUE AND FRIEND

Ellen and I were colleagues at McClelland & Stewart for almost twenty years. When I became the Publisher in 1988, Ellen was the Editorial Director for Fiction. She was already a legend who had been at M&S for over a decade, and had established herself over that time as a superb editor who specialised in fiction.

My main role in this area, in fact, was simply to clear the way for Ellen to work her magic with the authors whose trust and affection she had earned. Their names, and their prize-winning books, are too well known to bear repeating here. It is the heartfelt tributes from these bereaved authors that speak most tellingly to the great qualities of Ellen Seligman.

An extra dimension was her superb eye for talent. At any Sales Conference when Ellen began to use her expressive hands as she wove her tale about a new writer (perhaps a poet named Anne Michaels who had just written a wonderful first novel), the Sales Force and the entire Marketing Team would sit up and pay very close attention, to their great benefit.

I have written elsewhere that I hoped that Ellen might some day write the inside story of her creative dealings with so many famous and grateful authors. Sadly, it seems that this will not happen. We have all been deprived of a fascinating book by her untimely death.