Saturday April 28th at 11am : “Leo’s War” book launch!

Leo’s War: from Gaspe to VimyGordon Pimm will be launching, and signing copies of his book “Leo’s War: from Gaspe to Vimy”, an account of a Canadian soldier’s experience in World War I told through letters to his family.

“Leo’s War provides a unique insight into a Canadian soldier’s life in the trenches during the First World War.

A. Blake Seward, creator of the “The Lest We Forget Project”.

“Leo’s War” is $21.95 in Trade Paperback.

“The Filled Pen” by P.K. Page

080209399x.jpg It is rare for a writer to share the experience with other people. Perhaps if they live long enough – P.K.Page is 90 years old – they feel more like it.

At any rate, “The Filled Pen” is an enchanting collection of essays in which the renowned Canadian poet dips into parts of her life as a poet, a short story writer, and a painter. In “A Writer’s Life” she tells of growing up in Calgary (her father in the Military) where poetry was hardly mentioned (even though her mother was an artist and she got plenty of encouragement at home). In New Brunswick she met poets, potters and theatre people, and moved up to Montreal to try her luck. She got a job in an office and then met the legendary Preview group who were starting a small magazine. This turned out to be a handful of mimeographed pages stapled together – long before the days of the Canada Council. But the members of the group marked a turning-point in Canadian poetry: Patrick Anderson, F.R. Scott, Bruce Ruddick, Neufville Shaw and Margaret Day. Preview published her poems; she met A.J.M. Smith, A.M. Klein, and the painters Jori Smith and Goodridge Roberts. In 1946 she published “As Ten as Twenty” and in l954 “The Metal and the Flower”.

P.K. Page married Arthur Irwin, the head of the National Film Board, and also Editor of Macleans Magzine. She travelled with him on diplomatic posts and tells how in Brazil she turned to writing her impressions of the country in prose. One of her happiest experiences was when she worked with her husband, a famous editor, on “Brazilian Journal”. In Brazil she also took up painting and much of her work is shown in galleries across the country.

This book is an intimate story of the growing-up of Canadian Literature written by one of its most distinguished practitioners.

Reviewed by Anne McDougall

The Filled Pen, $21.95, is in stock in Trade Paperback

Friday April 13th at 1pm at Books on Beechwood

toitalywithlove.jpgKim Krenz will be reading, and signing copies, of Kate’s memoir; “To Italy with Love”.

This memoir was written by the late Kate Krenz, who was posted to Italy with her scientist husband, Kim, in the mid-sixties. It is a vivid portrayal of northern Italy, its people, and describes intimately the changes brought about by the Italian experience in a woman who was a product of twentieth century Canada. Kate was a woman of exceptional grace and charm, whose acceptance by the Italians allowed her insights into the Italian character that give these memoirs special value as a statement of Italian culture. This edition, entitled “To Italy, With Love,” has been produced by Kim Krenz, partly as a memorial to Kate, using her own words, but also as a graceful and sympathetic study of a country and its people, a study recording the love that developed on both sides.

To Italy with Love by Kate Krenz is not only beautifully written, it is beautifully produced as well. At 279 pages, this weighty volume boasts a 16 page, full-colour pictorial insert, including maps of Italy, French flaps, and luxurious paper quality. It would make a stunning addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

Excerpted from the publisher’s site 4th Floor Press.

“Ambassador Assignments” by David Reece

ambassador_assignments.jpgThis is an interesting book for anyone, but particularly if you live in Ottawa. You often meet someone here who has served at one time in a Canadian embassy abroad. Sometimes they have become so “diplomatic” in their jobs that they don’t talk very frankly about what they did. In this book, David Reece, who had ten postings himself with Canada’s foreign service,five as ambassador, has found nineteen diplomats who share their experiences, with candor and insight.

There are notes on the big posts, Washington and London, but also pieces on coping with apartheid in S. Africa, developing foreign policy on frontiers such as Burma. It is not all simply a matter of sending good dispatches back to Canada and building good relations at receptions and dinner parties. Accounts from China, and Lebanon, tell of real danger, when wives and children are sent home while the host country is facing demonstrations or revolution.

The book makes a very good case for the continued value of diplomacy, of good personal relations, of humour and frankness in dealing with relations between countries. Even in an age of Email and instant communication, the human element is still reassuringly important.

Thanks to Anne McDougall for the Review!

Reluctant Genius – The Passions and Inventions of Alexander Graham Bell by Charlotte Gray

Reluctant Genius Book Cover
This is the story of a Genius At Home. There are lots of books about Alexander Graham Bell and the discovery of the telephone. What Charlotte Gray has done is tell the story of this inventor and his equally inventive wife, who was herself deaf, but successful in making their home work.
Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh in l847, at a time when the Scottish Enlightenment was bursting with ideas in science,medicine, philosophy and the arts. Both Bell’s grandfather and father had worked in speech therapy. His mother was deaf. His father studied phonetics and encouraged his son in his hands-on experiments after school. Alec taught at a school for the Deaf in London. Double tragedy struck when both his brothers died of TB. His father moved the family to Brantford,Ontario. Here Alec turned frantically to experimenting with vibrations created by human speech. Morse’s electro-magnetic telegraphs had been in use for 25 years. The race was on to find a harmonic telegraph that would use sympathetic vibration to send several messges on a single wire simultaneously. Bell got a job in Boston, at the School of Oratory, Boston University.
One day he met a newly-enrolled deaf student, Mabel Hubbard. Bright and confident, she was the daughter of prominent Boston lawyer who was also President of the Clarke Institute for Deaf Mutes. By reading lips, Mabel had always functioned in the speaking world.She had no trouble relating to the young professor but was baffled by his dishevelled appearance and rough, impatient manner. Alec was fascinated by her gentle beauty, and driven to work day and night.
At home in Brantford, he hit on the key to creating an electric current to carry sound along a telegraph wire. The telephone was born. Back in Boston, Gray describes the struggle in which Mabel’s father, an astute entrepreneur, saw the possibilities in the young professor’s ideas, but also wanted to protect his beloved daughter. He helped Bell get the patent for his invention, before he agreed to Mabel marrying him. The rest is history…both Bells and Hubbards had made their fortune.
Gray then sketches in a marriage with huge potential difficulties, but bound by great affecion on both sides. Mabel learned to handle her husband’s periods of desperate energy when he would work until exhaustion made him sick. The consideration went both ways. Alec at all times included his wife in everything he did, reading her lips, never assigning her to the side-lines with sign language only. They had two daughters (and later two sons who died prematurely). In New York, and later Washington, Bell became a celebrity, sought after by people like Helen Keller. Mabel had a hard time getting him away from his work. With his father-in-law he backed two publications,SCIENCE, and the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.
In l889, Bell travelled to Nova Scotia and found a spot in Cape Breton that stole his heart. His home, Beinn Bhreagh, was on the Bras d’Or Lake near Baddeck. It became a haven for his family for the rest of their lives. The daughters married happily and Bell became a devoted grandfather. He spent more and more time there and built a complete research laboratory. A wide range of experiments included a huge tetrahedral kite, and the JUNE BUG, the first flying machine to fly one kilometre in a public demonstration. In l9l5, Bell agreed to speak on the first transcontinental call at the New York headquarters of the American Telephone and Telegraphy Company.
On August 4,l922, Bell died at Baddeck. His wife developed terminal cancer and died five months later. Gray tells us in her Epilogue that she visited the Bell National Historic Site in l997 and immediately resolved to write about both Alexander Graham Bell and his wife. She does so with skill and grace. Born in England, Gray has lived in Ottawa for many years and published a number of successful biographies. In this one her voice is transatlantic – much as Bell’s was – and it works very well. It might have been better if she had told us up front what she intended to do, but it is well worth the deliberate pace by which she brings these remarkable people to life.
Thanks to Anne for the review!