(view spoiler)["Pooh," said Christopher Robin earnestly, "if I--if I'm not quite---" he stopped and tried again. "Pooh, whatever happens, you will und...more(view spoiler)["Pooh," said Christopher Robin earnestly, "if I--if I'm not quite---" he stopped and tried again. "Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won't you?" "Understand what?" "Oh, nothing."
"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself? "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do...more"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself? "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.
Sigggh. I always tear up at his 'stepping back from M&S' letter.
The following snippets are why I love this book:
To Mordecai Richler: "I am sendin...moreSigggh. I always tear up at his 'stepping back from M&S' letter.
The following snippets are why I love this book:
To Mordecai Richler: "I am sending to you today under separate cover a copy of Lolita. Since it was a gift to me from the Canadian publisher, I am able to pass it on to you in the same way. I hope you're not arrested because of it."
From Mordecai Richler: "What sort of advance did you pay Norman [Levine] for his stories, goddamn it! He's got a shoeshine box out on Trafalgar Square and wears a sweatshirt with McCLELLAND & STEWART printed on the back."
To Irving Layton on his book: "... we still need a stronger injection of sex if you can find it. [...] There must be some sexy poetry around."
From Margaret Laurence: "Do you have any good idea man who might make some worthwhile [title] suggestions? I don't think I can. I'm really sorry, Jack, as I feel I have been so much trouble to you of late. Maybe someday it will all be seen to have been worth it--I hope so." (The novel in question was The Stone Angel.)
From Leonard Cohen: "Nobody is going to buy a book the cover of which is a female body with my face for tits [...] The cover is unacceptable. I will consider its publication an act of hostility."
To Thomas H. Raddall (1973): "It's becoming virtually impossible to sell a book well today without turning the author into almost a full-time huckster."
To Margaret Atwood: "The thing you don't realize, my dear girl, is that I have been forced by the economic realities to start taking publishing very seriously. For example, it has been brought to my attention that our ability to continue to pay the hordes of people employed by M&S (God knows how many mouths have to be fed) depends entirely on the number of copies of your new novel [Life Before Man] that we are able to sell between September and Chrsitmas."
From Farley Mowat: "Another book? Are you kidding? Not unless I'm born again."
Jack McClelland, CanLit, you are amazing.
"I say to hell with stuffy protocol. Let's celebrate our authors." - Jack McClelland in a letter to Edward Schreyer (then the Governor General of Canada re: the GA's Literary Awards), 1981
Re-reading this after a long time apart. I love this book. The Selected Letters of Jack McClelland is one of my all-time favourites. I think every one should read it. Unfortunately, it's not really an easy sell of a book. It makes me sad to think of how many people I could CHASE AWAY trying to describe this thing. Like, Oh, yeah. It's the selected letters of Jack McClelland. Canadian publisher. You know, McClelland & Stewart? Big hand in the careers of Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen?
And I think that's why all I chose to say, in my initial review was, "Jack McClelland was BAD ASS and don't you forget it."
I am going to try again... it deserves more than that (although Jack McClelland WAS bad ass).
This book is so much more than that. It's a glimpse of a man who loved books and loved Canada, did his best by both, and made an unquantifiable impact on CanLit and it's a look into the history of CanLit and Canadian publishing and publishing in general (but you don't have to be hot for any of these things to get a kick out of and really enjoy this book). It is so fascinating to read this and see Canadian history reflected in the making of Canadian history (does that make sense?). Like how he approached publishing books with an eye on The Unity Problem at the time. Or how McClelland went from urging four-letter words out of his manuscript for fear of public outry (and so as not to offend Aunt Gemma, whose $3 "are as good as anyone else's") to, "We're now publishing books freely with all the four-letter words..." and staunchly defending his authors' right to write them. He stayed on top of and ahead of the times, which is no small part in why he made the impact he did.
Jack McClelland was noted for saying he didn't buy books--he bought authors and it's so true. The way he respected and worked with and gave himself to them is just incredibly inspiring. And these aren't just letters from McClelland--they're letters to him. Angry letters from Al Purdy. Happy ones. Margaret Atwood talking of lost manuscripts and feeling she didn't get promoted enough. Leonard Cohen, unhappy with a proposed cover for Flowers for Hitler ("The cover is unacceptable. I will consider its publication an act of hostility... let's be two good soldiers with different uniforms.") A nice look at the development stages of books that would later go on to be Canadian classics (or books that got cancelled before they ever got the chance to reach anyone) and authors who would become the pride of CanLit... it is easy to understand the kind of loyalty McClelland inspired in his stable of authors from these letters. And it is easy, very obvious, to see the impact he had on Canada, even though he's damn modest about it in these pages. But I don't think he had time to be egotistical. He worked TIRELESSLY. Apparently he'd write up to 20 letters a day. BEFORE EMAIL!
A lot of my love for this book might be attached to the fact that the first time I read this I was 1) trying to get published and 2) in the throes of a mad love affair with Canada (I am always in the throes in a mad love affair with Canada though). I have a lot of happy memories just tied to the TIMING of when I read this book. I feel that when I re-read it. But even if I didn't, I would think it brilliant and important. Every time I get to the letter stating his resignation of President of M&S, I get choked up. He did so much & it made a difference.
Uggh I just want you guys to go READ THIS NOW and then after you do, come back and say, "You're right, Courtney. Jack McClelland IS bad ass." And I will just be like, "I know!" Or, "I told you so!" Or, "I know, I told you so!"
C.K. Kelly Martin's first adult book. There is nothing this woman can't write. I got to read it back in January and I will write more when she releases it this June, but it is one of the most raw, realistic, heartbreaking (and romantic and sexy!) books I have ever read about grief and finding your footing after a tragic and senseless loss. No holds barred on the devastation, but hopeful in the way only C.K. can do. I love it so much and it made me cry 5,000 times.(less)
Video games are wonderful things! They make me aspire to be a more dynamic storyteller and interacting with environments has helped me look more clear...moreVideo games are wonderful things! They make me aspire to be a more dynamic storyteller and interacting with environments has helped me look more clearly at my own worldbuilding and consider the way I want to approach worldbuilding in future books. Even if video games did not inspire me as a writer in any way, shape or form, they would still be wonderful things because THEY ARE FUN AND I ENJOY THEM!
I love you, video games.
Alan Wake is a good video game. I loved it; it is one of the reasons I wanted an Xbox. The gameplay is pretty fun (not super special but fun), it's amazingly atmospheric--sooo pretty and scary--but the best thing about it is the incredibly immersive story (from its Wikipedia page): "The plot follows bestselling thriller novel writer Alan Wake, as he uncovers the mystery behind his wife's disappearance while both are on vacation in the small town of Bright Falls in the U.S. state of Washington, where he experiences blackouts and visions of characters and ideas from his latest novel, which he cannot remember writing, coming to life. Darkness plays a significant role in the game, and the core combat gameplay of Alan Wake consists of "fighting with light."
It's just really great. It is psychological and tragic and the characters are fantastic. Just great great great in my eyes. ANYWAYS. I should talk about the novelization right? Once I found out it existed I wanted to read it and see how the story held up without a controller in my hand and I think writing a video game novelization would be awesome (maybe one day my new dream of writing one will come true?) and I wanted to see what they were like so I figured I might as well start by reading a novelization of a game I loved. The good news is--Alan Wake holds up on the page. This was actually a really fun novel and I think people could enjoy it if they knew nothing whatsoever about the game, but I can't imagine anyone without an interest in the game picking it up, unfortunately. I think it could appeal to people who like easy-to-read thrillers/horror stories with a fair bit of action. I don't think you would regret the time you spent with this novel. I didn't. I can actually see myself re-reading it.
Here are some observations I made while reading this:
- I wished it was written in first person! It's a third person shooter, though, so I suppose the POV choice makes sense. But Alan's voice is so distinct in the game I was hoping for more of it here. He's such a jerk in the game! I like jerks. Having his jerkiness related to me in third person didn't endear him to me as much for some reason.
- The video game has more gravitas, to be honest. I mean the ending of the game is so emotional and cinematic and the last line is incredible oh mah gawd you guys I love this game spoilers spoilers look at this beauty it was the most rewarding and bittersweet conclusion to hours of fighting in the dark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5dLME... but here I just felt one step removed from the heart of Alan's journey (his quest to find Alice) as I read. I do think Burroughs nailed the action though and what it would be like to be running through the woods all the time and being tired and scared. He was also great at relating the setting. Bright Falls felt like Bright Falls to me. And I liked the way Alan's inserted manuscript pages enhanced the story. This was more of a ride than an emotional journey and I think some people who love the game will penalize it for that but I read it fairly quickly and enjoyed myself so I can't, to be honest. I will just play the game if I need to shed tears over Alan's ultimate outcome!
- The same traits that make the secondary characters SO ENDEARING in the game do not serve them as well in the book. I am thinking of Barry, mostly. Barry is so earnest and ridiculous in the video game--true comic relief which after a certain point is really needed because you are SO TENSE as you play--but in the book, he's kind of a caricature. And it's funny because he's not exactly out of character in the book but I guess it just didn't work as well for me here. His dancing and air-guitar was less appreciated. Also I gave the scuba diver who hangs out in the light and helps Alan a side-eye when I played the video game. He does not translate so well in the book. I mean objectively he is the most necessary light swimming scuba diver ever but really that imagery was hard for me to take seriously from the beginning.
- I am pretty stupid! I really felt, getting into this, it would be a complete and total play-by-play of the video game. So much of Alan Wake is RUNNING THROUGH THE DARK and I was like maaan, how is the book going to make that interesting? Is he going to have to relate every single puzzle solving moment? Are we going to go through the ghost town? I mean it's one thing when you are playing as Alan Wake himself but I am not sure I want to read about someone running through the dark THAT much. But, duh much of the game's running and action is condensed in the interest of keeping the book moving forward and the tension up. But I seriously am stupid for thinking every single moment of the video game was going to make it into the book. Also stupid because part of me was waiting for the scuba diver to give Alan the tutorial on how to shoot and dodge in the opening pages, hah. I don't even know why I am sharing this observation because it is really just an observation of how stupid I can be. OH WELL.
- (view spoiler)[I did not like Alice and Sarah's moment at the end of the book. I wish the ending had been to-the-letter from the video game, to be honest. That ending is one of the best endings ever anywhere. (hide spoiler)]
- The book clarified some of the game's story for me! Definite plus. There are parts near the end of the game, for example, where certain histories are being related in voice overs and it turns out I was only half listening to them! And then the second time I played Alan Wake I skipped all the cut scenes, so. And it is such a whirlwind, mind-messing of a game that, well. Sometimes I need things spelled out for me. I was glad of that here because it made me love the game even more. So that was good.
I like this book. I love the game. The story holds up in both formats. Yay! You should play it and read it and to be honest, you should also buy the soundtrack because it's fantastic too. (MAYBE I AM LISTENING TO IT RIGHT NOW!)
(In related news I am not sure about Alan Wake's American Nightmare. Go back to Bright Falls, Alan! That is where you are most interesting to me.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)