Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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Teacher, educate thyself
Quill & Quire (via TorStar) alerts us to a sad story of utter foolishness. Foolishness on the part of a parent. Foolishness on the part of a school principal. Foolishness on the part of a school board. The parent goes unnamed, but the principal is Kevin McGuire, of St.Edmund Campion High School, and the school board is the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. Why are they foolish? Because they have removed To Kill a Mockingbird from the school's curriculum after one parent complained about the use of "racial epithets" in the book. Dear fools (Gawd, do I really have to point this out?): To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel about the importance of racial tolerance. Whatever happened to having the conviction to stand behind your curriculum? Anyway, apparently there is a protest movement afoot. I'll keep an eye on it. Meanwhile, I encourage you to send a note expressing your outrage using the form at the bottom of this page of the Board's website. In fact, to make it easy, you can just cut and paste in the following brief note. (The form only allows for 500 characters. I've left enough space for your signature.)

I am writing to express concern over the removal of To Kill A Mockingbird from the curriculum at St. Edmund Campion High School. To Kill A Mockingbird is an extremely important novel, ideal for teaching students about the evils of racism and the importance of tolerance. To remove it because it accurately depicts the language of its time and place shows an alarming shortfall in wisdom and conviction. Please reconsider these actions for the sake of sound education.

The taxman cometh, for Amazon
I was relaxing in the tub yesterday reading a book about the wines of Northern Spain when I noticed that the book's page edges were getting a tad soggy. My hands were wet, which is to be expected in the bath, I suppose. I love reading in the bath, but it occurred to me: What if I drop the book in the water? The answer: Who cares? It will dry off or I can just replace it. Now, what if it was a Kindle? Ooooops! Even just those drops of water on my fingers could likely mess the thing up, let alone dropping it in the tub and loosing hundreds of books all at once. Just another example of the fragility of the Kindle, and my backwards way of approaching this enlightening Huffington Post piece by Alex Green, owner of Black Pages Books, about the apparent fragility of all of (Merci to The New Yorker.)

Ye olde duste jackets
I was reading this very interesting article in the LA Times about the scandal of forged vintage dust jackets in the antiquarian book trade when the author mentioned Facsimile Dust Jackets L.L.C., a firm based in San Francisco that can provide dust jackets for oodles (yes, oodles) of ye olde bookes using a database of scanned original dust jackets. It should be noted that these are not the forgers of which the LA Times article speaks, but rather a legitimate service. Of course, I had to immediately Googlize "Facsimile Dust Jackets L.L.C." which led me to their site, where, as hoped, I found that it was possible to actually search their database and see the dust jackets. Here are a few favourites:

Crock o'gump
The Australian has a really spiffy interview with Anthony Beevor, the war historian and author of such books as STALINGRAD and BERLIN: THE DOWNFALL, 1945, which are widely regarded as the most authoritative studies on their subjects. It is the sort of interview that makes you reassess you reaction to things. Take the film Saving Private Ryan, for example, which I refuse to watch because the opening scene is so emotionally loaded that it is impossible to walk away from the rest of the film and thus you loose another 3 hours of your life to Gumpish Hollywood sentimentality. Or as Beevor puts it more concicely, the film is "a crock of shit". Yeah, I knew that all along, really, I did. Now can I have my 3 hrs back?

Hot glowy magic
Orbit Books publisher Tim Holman has posted a chart on his blog showing the popularity last year of various illustrative components for fantasy novel covers. Hot: Swords & Glowy Magic. Not: Unicorns, Maps & Stilettoes. (Thanks mediabistro.)

Who knew?
Apparently children's writer Arthur "Swallows & Amazons" Ransome was a double agent, spying on the Russians for the Brits and the Brits for the Russians, or so says the new book The Last Englishman: the Double Life of Arthur Ransome by Roland Chambers.

Gold digger
This aged comics nerd, it seems, was so disillusioned by the fact that Archie chose heiress Veronica over dirt-poor Betty that he sold his rare first-edition Archie comic for $38,837 USD at auction Friday. Yeah, that's it nerd, way to express your outrage, reap a profit! That'll show that gold digger Archie whose boss.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Shaun Smith

Shaun Smith is a novelist and journalist living in Toronto. His young adult novel Snakes & Ladders was published in January 2009 by the Dundurn Group.

Go to Shaun Smith ’s Author Page