Saturday, May 2, 2015

Authors for Indies sparks talk of Leonard Cohen and Celtic Lightning

Two authors, three buyers, and one professional bookseller. Yes, here we see Our Hero with Glenda McElwain, George A. Walker, and Ian Donker. This is the calm before the storm at Book City in the Beach. Shortly after Sheena Fraser McGoogan snapped this photo, a mob descended, clamoring for photos, counsel, and signatures on books. Donker, general manager of the Book City stores in Toronto, reeled around this outlet, slapping his forehead: "I've never seen anything like it." I bought a copy of Walker's Wordless Leonard Cohen Songbook, a biographical narrative in wood engravings. The mesmerizing of the family maid. The emergence of the Buckskin Boys. Suzanne taking Leonard down to her place by the river. The visit (let's call it) with Janice Joplin. The threatening of Leonard by the madman Phil Spector. Walker tells the story in 80 woodblock prints. Turns out  the name "Walker" derives from MacGregor, so he bought a copy of  How the Scots Invented Canada. And McElwain, a Beaches-based force at City Hall, has a keen
interest in her Gaelic roots, even to the point of knowing about the 14th-century incursion from Scotland into Ireland led by Edward Bruce and backed by brother Robert. That yarn turns up in Celtic Lightning, which shows why and how the leading figures of Scottish and Irish history, from Somerled of Argyll, William Wallace, and Flora MacDonald to Michael Collins, Daniel O'Connell and The Irish Pirate Queen rightly belong also to Canadian history. That book, currently in galleys on my desk, is coming this September from Patrick Crean / Harper Collins Canada. All this emerged courtesy of Authors for Indies, that new-born national celebration of independent booksellers. You'd better believe we'll be seeing it again next year, bigger and better than ever.



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