Jul 2 2012

Out of the mouths of babes…

You had me at The Cure For Death By Lightning

That’s what I wrote earlier today to Gail Anderson Dargatz, an author whom I’ve never met but admire immensely. She’s written many other fabulously-received books since her first, of course, but it’s a measure of her evocative and page-turning skill that her first effort, a haunting coming-of-age novel published in 1996, was short-listed for both the Giller and the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award.

Reviewers compared her to Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood. And for me, even though I first read the book almost 15 years ago, I can still hear the narrator’s voice in my head.

Visiting Anderson-Dargatz’s website today I stumbled onto her “Fridge Door” page and was arrested by a hand-scrawled note from one of her children, that is both deeply endearing and completely relevant to I Feel Great About My Hands.

I could transcribe the brief text, but the message is much more powerful in the hand of the message creator, so check it out here.

And if  you haven’t already been introduced to Gail’s work, new treats are in store!


Nov 24 2011

Book signing at Britton’s

… in the Glebe, Sunday between 1 pm and 3 pm — 846 Bank Street — thanks to the generous support of Ted Britton — the kind of guy every neighbourhood should have.

In fact, last night on CBC Radio’s As it Happens, Carol Off interviewed the Orange-prize-winning author Ann Patchett about her newest venture: opening an independent bookstore in her neighbourhood after all the existing ones had closed down. Given the precarious states of both publishing and book retailing, the act seems above and beyond the call of duty (shouldn’t it be enough that this fabulous writer has given us the pleasure of being transported by Bel Canto, Truth and Beauty, and Run, among other titles?)

But one of the things that makes a neighbourhood is the quality of the local retailers. And Britton’s, a Glebe fixture since 1966, keeps an impressively diverse collection of newspapers and magazines. Ted Britton has run the business since 1978, and he goes out of his way to stock books on issues of both local and national interest, and to support writers with informal signings.

If you were inconvenienced by my unceremoniously cancelled appointment earlier this week at Chapters, I hope you can make it to Britton’s on Sunday instead.

 


Nov 24 2011

Google alerts a mixed blessing

It’s a mixed blessing when the google alert you receive in your email inbox links you to a website which tells you that although BC’s Okanagan Regional Library system possesses five copies of your book, all of them are in circulation, one has given you a four-star review, and 12 people have placed holds on the collection.

Because at first you think, wow, five copies, all checked out, and a dozen readers eagerly awaiting their return!

But then you wonder, well, how eager could they really be if they’re prepared to wait for a copy to become available?

And, moving into decidedly uncharitable waters, you grouse, come on, people: four stars! couldn’t you go out and buy the damn book? So Chapters won’t return it to the publisher?

But then you remember that even 22.95 plus tax is a luxury for lots of people, libraries are critically important institutions, and you should feel grateful that the book is being acquired — and read — in communities across the country.

Speaking of Chapters, however, I’d like to express my abject apologies to any Ottawa readers who may have showed up at the Rideau Centre outlet last night, thinking I would be on hand to sign a copy of the book. It’s painful for a professional communicator to admit that miscommunication was responsible for the mix-up that saw Chapters book someone else into a slot that had been reserved for me, but there you are. And I’m sorry if anyone was inconvenienced.

In the meantime, I can assure you that the power of the collection without my signature is in no way diminished. (However, since I live in Ottawa, if you really wanted a copy of the book personally addressed to your beloved Aunt Mimi, or your best friend, Pat, that could be arranged. See next post.)

 


Aug 1 2011

Books with buzz

I have been known to type the name of one or the other of my books into every search kiosk at whichever bookstore I happen to be visiting in a futile effort to increase the likelihood that one or more customers might be exposed to a title that is otherwise almost impossible to find.  I’m not proud of this vanity, but I’ve justified such actions in relation to I Feel Great About My Hands because:

a) the collection profiles the fabulous work of many others,
b) they donated their writing without expectation of compensation, so the least I can do is increase the likelihood that  their words will be read, and
c) the royalties go to support Informed Opinions, which is having a tangible impact on increasing women’s voices in mainstream media.

My perceptive husband, David Mitchell, not only notices store displays, he also plays retailer when asked.

So you can imagine my delight the other day when the perceptive man I married pointed out that Ottawa’s busiest Chapters was featuring the collection in the high profile “Books with Buzz” section of the store, so close to Starbucks that you could smell the coffee.

Even more gratifying, when I spoke with Manager Pierre LaTulippe, he invited me to participate in the store’s book club event series, likely in October. More details on this when the date is set.

In the meantime, the discerning readers of BC have kept I Feel Great About My Hands on the province’s best seller list for seven weeks this summer. And my relatives in Victoria number only two, so clearly they alone are not responsible for this gratifying performance.