LONDON, ONTARIO – No small part of the glory of used bookshops is the utter unpredictability of their stock. While I’m always mooching on the shelves and through the stacks in the hope of finally scoring certain titles or authors, more often than not I come away with some fetching red herring that I didn’t know the first thing about until it swam into my hands unannounced. Sometimes it’s an intriguing title that makes me reach for this book instead of that one. I once heard two publishers seriously argue about which colour covers were most likely to make people pick up their books. But neither title nor colour drew me several years ago while rifling through the Religion section of Attic Books to pull down an 84 year-old volume of 33 pages with no title printed on its solid black spine.
LONDON, ONTARIO – This excerpt from Three Artists: Kurelek, Chambers & Curnoe (Elmwood Press, 2016) examines two of Greg Curnoe’s most pronounced qualities – his utter lack of a religious gene and his impassioned devotion to London, Ontario – and muses on some of the higher mysteries of inspiration, affiliation and rechanneling.
LONDON, ONTARIO – If I were asked to come up with a title for Mike Hensen’s photograph of librarians and supporters assembled on the Central Library’s main staircase to announce the cessation of late fines – a picture which appeared on the front page of last Tuesday’s London Free Press (Nov. 10, 2020) – ‘A Portrait of Courage’ would not be in the running.
LONDON, ONTARIO – This excerpt from Three Artists: Kurelek, Chambers & Curnoe, examines the shocking critical neglect, punctuated by occasional notes of contempt, that William Kurelek (1927–77) endured at the hands of the Canadian art establishment. In the final decade of his life, the almost frighteningly prolific Kurelek was beloved by a broad cross-section of the Canadian public like no other artist of his time. Hosting two major exhibitions per year at his peak (exhibitions which commonly sold out in their entirety), Kurelek’s pronounced commercial success aroused suspicion and resentment among his more envious peers. And on top of that, this profoundly shy man came with so many quirks and edges – most overtly, a devout and forthright Catholic faith which was the primary engine of his life – that the poor man couldn’t schmooze to save his life.
LONDON, ONTARIO – About every ten years I like to bring out a collection of greatest hits; a gathering together of the best of the last decade’s essays and feature articles and interviews. And as my last such compendium, No Continuing City, started to burn its way up the bestseller lists in December of 2010, I am once again involved in that curatorial process of appraising, winnowing and tweaking as we speak. From this vantage point of early November, I would say it’s unlikely that the book will make its appearance in what’s left of this calendar year. And that’s quite all right with me.
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :