Monday, February 07, 2011

Monday roundup

Friday I was at a Ontario Library Association conference in Toronto in connection with a new book (about which more another day). The event is pitched to teachers and to books for young people, and I heard that nonfiction and the information book (includng the history book) is very strong these days.  Lots of authors around. On the historical side, my friend Ron Brown, the very prolific geographer-historian of rural and small town Ontario heritage, was promoting his new book  From Queenston to Kingston.

A more general publisher's booth was announcing The Guilty Plea, a new courtroom procedural by Ronald Rotenberg. Not a historical book, except it reminded me of Rotenberg's very readable previous book, Old City Hall, which does indeed have something historic about it.  In the plot background of Old City Hall, while the courtroom and police drama is playing out... the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup!  I cannot think of another Toronto novel which has allowed itself that wish-fulfilment.

Saturday I was, well, bemused, by John Furlong's extraordinarily tone-deaf retelling of why there was so little French in the Olympic Opening Ceremony a year ago.  Y'see, they wanted "Mon Pays" by Gilles Vignault, and when he declined to licence the rights to them, well, then it was all his fault, and why should they have to do anything French when someone would be so uncooperative?  Furlong seems completely deaf to how odd the opening line "my country is not a country" might have sounded in the Canadian-nationalist festivities of the opening ceremonies, and to the reasons why Quebeckers, and particularly nationalist Quebeckers like Vignault, grasp the sting in the line. Amazing, English Canadians have been in dialogue with Quebec nationalism for fifty-odd years now, and there are still important, well-positioned people who simply do not seem to have heard a thing....

Sunday I read in History Today Online that the most dangerous livelihood in early Europe may have been kingship.  Uneasy lies the head, for sure.  About 22% of all kings from 600 to 1800 died by murder.
On the whole, young monarchs whose power was not wholly consolidated, such as Prince Edward V of England and his younger brother Richard the Duke of York, were most likely to be murdered.
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