Barnstorming, Day 3: Guelph

The London morning starts with a visit to “the oldest brick house in London,” now occupied by our friends Robert Collins and Mary Lake. Not only did they take our gang to dinner last night, they bought 10 copies of my book, and I’m delighted to spend much of the morning signing them. Then a London lunch with friends and relatives Judy and Peter Castle, before we hit the trail to Guelph.

First destination was the University Art Gallery, where Judy Nasby, knowing of my James Houston-inspired love of Inuit Art, took us around a behind the scenes Inuit display. An interesting gallery.

Downtown we park near The Book Shelf, and Jane starts the set-up with Dan, who runs the show there. I return from the car with the computer hearing Jane’s voice saying, “One, two, three, testing, testing . . . ” She really is into the “techie”( even the “roadie”) role!

The theatre setting there is in the upstairs café, and the stage is about two paces wide. But I am now an old pro, Dan is very helpful on the sound system and the show goes on, in front of an audience that includes Daniel, son of Alistair MacLeod (and I claimed that I had to tone down my criticism of his father, due to his presence); Jacquie, daughter of Max and Monique Nemni;  J.R. Tim Struthers, the critic; and Stephen Henighan (ditto, and an interesting writer on the publishing world, as I’m pleased to tell him). Above all, the crowd of perhaps 50 includes my old friend, the distinguished editor Jonathan Webb, who writes an unexpected review of the show that pleases me a lot. I’m especially amused by his description of me as a “self-deprecating, self-assured Scot.”

The Guelph evening ended with kind words from Dan and a fine dinner in the café, courtesy of my old friend Doug Minett. And so, back home, arriving just before midnight.

This bookselling business is hard work.

— Douglas Gibson

“A life turned into art”

Writer, editor and journalist Jonathan Webb praised Douglas Gibson’s stage show on his blog otherpeoplesbooks. Webb, notes

Gibson has transformed his memories of literary acquaintances over the course of a lifetime into an infinitely expandable performance. It’s a trick he learned from the best. . . . He’s happy to impart secrets. The audience of more than fifty at the Bookshelf in Guelph on Friday night was pleased to be taken into his confidence. They came away with a bit of insight into how books are made. They heard a number of good stories. And they were treated to a masterful performance, a life turned into art.

Read the rest of the review here.