Theme Layout

Boxed or Wide or Framed

[style4]

Theme Translation

Display Featured Slider

No

Featured Slider Styles

Display Grid Slider

Grid Slider Styles

Display Author Bio

Display Instagram Footer

Dark or Light Style

Search This Blog

Blog Archive

Followers

Popular Posts

Pages

Would you believe The Great Sixties Novel?

Would you believe The Great Sixties Novel?



Talk about resolutely unfashionable. Imagine a writer born in 1969 setting out to produce a 571-page novel set almost exclusively in the Psychedelic Sixties, in the years immediately preceding  his birth. Britain's David Mitchell is the anti-fashionista in question. And the only thing that can be said in his defense is that Utopia Avenue is brilliant -- a wild and daring tour de force. Focusing on an obscure band that emerges from "the seedy clubs of Soho," as the dustjacket tells us, and ranging through Amsterdam, Rome, New York's Chelsea Hotel, Laurel Canyon and San Francisco, this character-driven work is more surging river than flashy waterfall. But it sweeps you along . . . wow! I won't attempt a review. This post is just a heads-up. If you've been waiting unconsciously for The Great Sixties Novel, or if you're seeking a master class in writerly craft, check it out. 
Read more »
Ken McGoogan
0 Comments
Now they're coming for Leonard Cohen

Now they're coming for Leonard Cohen



 A Facebook friend who teaches at university recently received a cancel-culture email after he included Leonard Cohen in a syllabus. Yup. He spared us several "marvelous rhetorical peaks" but quoted the conclusion, which urged him to "please re-evaluate your life choices before spreading these opinions in the name of education." When I read this, I chanced to be relishing LEONARD COHEN: Untold Stories/ The Early Years, a remarkable oral biography by Michael Posner. Once you get used to the approach, all these short fragments, different voices, diverse opinions, the book is a can't-put-it-down page-turner. As an ex-Montrealer, I've been reading and listening to Cohen and his chroniclers since The Favorite Game. Even so, I learned a lot from this new book. I didn't realize, for example, how close Cohen came to abandoning his incipient music career to become a television host. And, ridiculous as it sounds, I thrilled to discover that on February 20, 1966, when I caught Bob Dylan in concert at Montreal's Place des Arts, Leonard and Irving Layton were somewhere in the audience. Sure, Cohen came from a privileged background -- but he recognized that and was remarkably generous. OK, he lived an extreme life -- lots of women, lots of drugs. But he came of age in the 1960s. The Sixties, people! You can't rightly separate any individual from his or her times -- not to moralize and judge.  Beautiful Losers? As Dennis Lee observes, "A non-Indigenous who wrote (Kateri Tekakwitha) as Leonard did would get torched today." Right. And fair enough. But today is not the yesterday of fifty-five years ago. No Beautiful Losers, no Buffy Ste. Marie doing Magic is Alive. And Ste. Marie herself notes that in 1966, "Nobody knew who who Kateri was. Indigenous people didn't know who she was . . . . So Leonard shone a light on her for a huge audience."  With this first of three volumes, Posner has done Cohen aficionados a terrific service. While thinking about volume two, I find myself harking back to the night Leonard Cohen taught me that Magic Is Alive.



Read more »
Ken McGoogan
1 Comments
Celtic Canada goes international

Celtic Canada goes international


 


Gearing up to give a presentation at the Scottish North American Community Conference in New York City. It's all zooming . . . but it features some heavyweight speakers and on December 5, I aim to give a dazzling presentation on The Making of Celtic Canada. Word on the street is that speakers will include Lord Charles Bruce and the Rt. Hon. Henry McLeish, former first minister of
Scotland. Word on the street is that you can learn more about this three-day extravaganza -- and even register to attend -- by
going here. Hope to see you on the 5th!

Read more »
Ken McGoogan
0 Comments
Peter Mansbridge says hey to Dead Reckoning

Peter Mansbridge says hey to Dead Reckoning



“I’m just finishing Ken McGoogan’s recent work, Dead ReckoningIt may well be the 20th book I’ve read about Arctic exploration, and you’d think the ground of those who tried to find a Northwest Passage has been well trodden with nothing left to say. Wrongo, buckwheat! There’s always more, especially when you can write like McGoogan. The power of this book is that it goes so far beyond the lengthy list of European explorers like Frobisher, Hudson, Parry, Franklin, Ross, Rae and the rest. It brings you the homegrown explorers who made discovery possible, like [Chipewyan Dënesųłı̨ne guide] Thanadelthur, [Chipewyan leader and guide] Matonabbee and [Inuk interpreter] Tattannoeuck. If you solely believed old history, you’d think Canada wouldn’t have happened without a parade of mainly British naval officers who named everything they saw in our Arctic after their kings and queens or admirals and generals. Maybe it’s time for a little renaming, and McGoogan’s Dead Reckoning is a good place to start.” - Peter Mansbridge, broadcaster and author of Extraordinary Canadians: Stories From the Heart of Our Nation [G&M, Oct. 17, 2020 // click here.)






Read more »
Ken McGoogan
0 Comments
Paperback edition saves 40%

Paperback edition saves 40%


 


Author copies! Hats off to HarperCollins Canada for making this paperback edition a reality despite the COVID logjam. The hardcover did so well at $33 that they produced this trade paperback, suddenly available in better bookstores and online for $20. And bonus: the back cover carries some wonderful quick hits from reviewers. You can check 'em out here:

Read more »
Ken McGoogan
0 Comments
Scotland awake to celebrating John Rae

Scotland awake to celebrating John Rae



By Mike Merritt (The Herald / Scotland)
OVERLOOKING the sea, with views of neighbouring islands, it is enough to inspire a spirit of adventure in any youngster. Now the childhood Orkney home which helped to inspire the man described as the greatest Arctic explorer of his age is set to undergo a multimillion pound restoration as a visitor centre in his honour. Dr John Rae discovered the final stretch of the North West Passage and the fate of the Franklin Expedition. However, his achievements were airbrushed out of history.
Supporters the 19th century surgeon – including explorers Michael Palin and Ray Mears – acquired the Hall of Clestrain on Orkney’s south coast in 2016, after a 20-year campaign to negotiate its purchase.
They plan to restore the house “to its former glory” and open it to the public, as well as making the area around it a visitor attraction. Orkney Islands councillors have now approved funding towards a feasibility works project.
Councillors at a special general meeting gave their backing to a request from the John Rae Society for grant assistance of 50 per cent of the total eligible costs, up to a maximum sum of £14,730, meaning the full funding package of £29,460 has now been secured.
The society is contributing £10,830 of its own resources towards the project and has been awarded £3,900 of grant funding support from the Architectural Heritage Fund. The feasibility work will focus on developing a business plan, options appraisal and a conservation report.
A commissioned feasibility study completed in August 2019 concluded that the project, with an estimated project cost of around £3 million can become a financially viable visitor centre and community resource. John Rae Society president Andrew Appleby said: “The development of The Hall of Clestrain, John Rae’s birthplace and family home, has been such a long-awaited ambition. It’s been a long road this far.
“We have saved the building by making it wind and water tight. Now we want to turn it into a world-class tourist attraction and tell the story of this remarkable man and the Arctic in general.” A service in honour Dr Rae took place in Westminster Abbey in 2015 - helping to right a historical wrong stretching back more than 200 years.
Dr Rae, who was born in Orphir in 1813, discovered the last link of the North West Passage and the fate of the Franklin Expedition. However, his achievements were airbrushed from history after he reported that the Franklin Expedition survivors been forced to resort to cannibalism.
But through the efforts of the John Rae Society, Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael saw a plaque honouring him unveiled at Westminster Abbey in 2014. Dr Rae’s achievements are said to rank above all 19th-century Arctic explorations. . . .
Ken McGoogan author of the book ‘Fatal Passage’ featuring John Rae has said: “Because of John Rae, Clestrain is the most important heritage building in Orkney, and one of the most significant in all of Scotland. It will make a spectacular visitor centre.”
(Click link in byline to read the complete story.)

Read more »
Ken McGoogan
0 Comments
Scottish Trilogy Still Marching in Canada

Scottish Trilogy Still Marching in Canada


So a friend who lives in Hants County, Nova Scotia -- the county in which my mother was born and raised -- sent me a link to a podcast I have never heard, but which finds me talking about How the Scots Invented Canada. For sure that's something people want to hear, right? Voila: click here. In related news, Flight of the Highlanders is exceeding projections. Published in hardcover last autumn, the book will surface in paperback in August. Assuming we get clear of COVID-19, that same month will find me talking with folks at the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games. Please stay tuned.
Read more »
Ken McGoogan
0 Comments
Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.