Monday, August 31, 2015

Four books for fall 2015 noted (or brought to my notice) lately

Like a very large proportion of Canadian writers, I'm a friend of the editor and publisher Douglas Gibson.  When he retired from publishing a few years ago, he became a distressingly active competitor of his friends, starting with a very successful memoir called Stories about Storytellers, full of essays of the writers he had known and worked with.

He also proved himself a formidable book promoter, giving a lively illustrated talk anywhere people would have him by land and sea. Now he returns with Across Canada by Story, a book about the tour itself, full of more stories of writing in and of Canada from the 'sixties to today.

Historians of Canadian writing and CanLit in general will be mining Gibson's stories and observations for a long time -- start of a golden age, or memory of a lost moment, who knows?

Having a blog, I do get offered books and interview opportunities now and then by book publicists. Most of the online publicists are American, and they tend to offer dubious historical novels or books on subjects like "American Aircraft of the Vietnam Conflict" (boy, there seem to be a lot of those). I decline most. But for reasons I'll get to in a later post, I'm interested in things Norse right now. So Skyhorse Publishing's offer of The Vikings and their Enemies by Philip Line got my attention.

It's an American edition of a British scholarly study, and in its way, a bit like the "American Aircraft" line of books, though of another era. It is very narrowly fixed on tactics and weaponry. But if Northern European warfare of 750-1100 interests you, this is surely the latest word on the subject at the moment. Canadian alert: The words "Iceland," "Greenland," "Vinland," and "North America" are not found in the index -- those aspects of things Norse are clearly peripheral to this study.

History's People by Margaret MacMillan is one of the heavily promoted books of this fall season, I'm happy to say.  Because it's good to see history getting noticed.  Good to have a new Margaret MacMillan, too.  This one is a series of essays on people from history who have interested her, from Bismarck to Elizabeth Simcoe to Babur.

And good that Anansi and CBC Ideas, which together publish the Massey Lectures -- to be broadcast this winter  -- are going to have a bestseller and a talk-starter in this book. Anansi's promised me a copy and I'm looking forward to getting into it.

Last year, I published a little essay in Canada's History about Donald Creighton, based on a very engaging chat I had with Donald Wright of UNB, who has been working on a Creighton biography.

I haven't read Donald Creighton: A Life in History yet, but I plan to.  It is out from University of Toronto Press now, and a friend of this blog is deep into it, so we may have a longer notice of it before long.  

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