A NEW YEAR, A NEW BLOG, A NEW BOOK!

You may have wondered why I let my blog slip in recent months. The answer is the best one possible, for me, at least. I’ve been busy writing a new book.

This was a major surprise to me. Whenever friends, or interviewers, asked me if I had another book up my sleeve I would answer honestly, saying ,”Look, Stories About Storytellers is about my forty years in publishing,I don’t think I’ll live long enough to come up with material for another book So no, I don’t think I’ll ever write another book.”

But then, to promote that book I turned the book into a one-man stage show, and decided to see where it would go. It went everywhere. And roaming the country from this Festival to that University, to this neat bookstore or that Library , with Jane as my “lovely and talented assistant”,  we came across dozens of stories. Too good not to share. Enough for a book.

So, in September 2015 our friends at ECW Press will bring out ACROSS CANADA BY STORY: A Coast-to-Coast Literary Adventure.

It will remind you of my first book, because I’ve persuaded Anthony Jenkins to enrich it with his caricatures, once again. This time there are no fewer than 30 of his superb drawings, of our major authors. With this book I’ve widened my range beyond just those authors that I edited, to include major figures like Margaret Atwood, Marshall McLuhan, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Carol Shields, Michael Ondaatje, and dozens of others.

As a Literary Tour the book will take you from Newfoundland to Haida Gwaii, and from Moose Jaw to Grand Manan, as we visit all ten provinces. It will set your feet itching to travel ,as I recall exciting events we enjoyed roaming around cities, small towns, mountains and islands . And as the books and authors spill out in the stories you’ll find that you’ll be tempted to read — or to re-read — dozens of our best books.

You heard it here first.

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Another Bookstore Lesson

I dropped in on Book City’s Danforth Avenue store, fresh from buying a Big Carrot tofurkey for the vegetarian troublemakers around our Christmas table.

The elder statesman of the Toronto chain, the eminent Frans Donker, happened to be in the store, and greeted me warmly. He urged me to sign the two copies of my book, then went looking for a third copy out on the shelves. He returned, shaking his head over that copy. The flap had been carefully folded over to mark a place two-thirds of the way through the book. Some anonymous browser had apparently been working his or her way through the book, and was nearing the end — without any messy expenditure of dollars.

I’m torn between pleasure that this discriminating reader would sacrifice a part of lunch-hour each day to drink in my stories — and outrage that the book is being devoured for free. I’d love to meet the culprit. We could have an interesting conversation.

As for the life of a bookseller, who could have predicted this?

— Douglas Gibson

Being an Author Is Hard

For a new, first-time author sentences  like “I love you and want to bear your children” or “Congratulations, this is the Lotto Corporation calling to tell you that you have just won a million dollars!” pale into insignificance compared with the magic words “Hey, Doug, I’m really enjoying your book!”

That was the greeting I received from Ron Graham (the well-known author, and, obviously, highly intelligent and discerning reader) as I entered Massey College at the U of T yesterday.

Thrilled, I went on to confide to him my shy first steps as an author, doing things like trying my hand at autographing books in the store (which, by the way, I have now done by invitation). He told me of his first visit to a bookstore to see a pile of his just-published first book, lying there throbbing. He hung around, sensing that something was bound to happen.

Sure enough, a young man, browsing through the store, came to his book and picked it up. He leafed through it, read a couple of passages, and then, to Ron’s almost audible horror, put the book down and walked away.

A minute later he came back, and started to leaf through it again. Ron, quivering with excitement and unable to stand the suspense, was on the point of going up to him and offering to buy the book for him. Before he could do that, however, the young man looked around, slipped the book into his bag, and walked briskly out of the store.

Ron, left standing there with his mouth open, is still not sure what he should have done.

Being an author is hard.

— Douglas Gibson

New frontiers not far from home . . .

Though this Dispatches section will have tales of the Adventures of Douglas Gibson all across our fine country, for a new author, there are adventures to be had at home as well as abroad. Our intrepid author headed to his local Book City, and after locating his book (defying the Murphy’s Law that governs such things), Doug signed a few, and afterward took the time to write a note to the manager about his new experience:

Greetings,

Although you don’t know it, you have just played a major role in the transformation of your friend Doug Gibson, editor and publisher, into Doug Gibson, typical author.

This morning my wife and I went into your Danforth store. We found 5 copies of my book and I carried one to Hanna at the front desk (in case I needed proof, I suppose, if challenged) and shyly confessed that I was . . . ahem . . . the author of this book, and . . . er . . . um . . . would she like me to sign the copies in the store?

She responded very kindly, and stood by with “Autographed” stickers, while I adorned the books with a signature that she generously described as “cool.”

Then, after buying another, different book, Jane and I exited. It was my very first in-store signing, and a frontier has definitely been crossed.

— Douglas Gibson