Monday, October 31, 2016

Cleaning house

Cleaning out stuff from my parents' house I came across this manuscript, which I wrote in (I think) 1979. I'd gone to see Timothy Findley, then the writer in residence at the University of Toronto where I was in my last undergraduate year. Tiff (as his friends called him) read a short story manuscript of mine called "Vienna Street" that was loosely based on the street I grew up on until the age of about twelve. He liked it and suggested that I turn it into a script for the CBC. I had my doubts but didn't see any harm in trying. This is the manuscript, which I haven't seen or thought of in decades. Someone at the CBC did read it and say nice things but, of course, passed on it. Timothy Findley, however, continued to be kind in several ways. He introduced me to his agent (who ignored my attempts to get in touch) and later praised my work during a television interview, based on a small chapbook that I'd self-published (100 or so copies). I used that quote on my first books before finally retiring it. Of course I was hardly the only young writer Tiff helped. He was a generous and warm-hearted person who believed it his duty to give the next generation a lift up whenever possible. Timothy Findley was a fine writer and a fine man.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A cover that wasn't to be

Just over six years ago my novel Valentine's Fall was published by Cormorant Books. I really liked the original cover design for this novel about a man meeting his old high school friends again. As I happened to come across it today I thought I'd post it here. The problem was, by coincidence the cover turned out to look remarkably similar to a very recent book about a tragic subject. I'm posting that cover, too. So it had to change and fast, as the book was about to go to print. The cover that replaced it, shown last, captures some of the more comic aspects of the book and has its good points but I was sorry to have to lose the original
. It's an interesting example of how a designer can go in very different directions for the same book. Which one do you like best?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What I'm (Re-)Reading #3

"The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong." Philip Roth, American Pastoral.