OBITUARY: Robert Reid (1927 – 2022)

“He missed printing B.C.’s first book by a month in 1949, but Bob Reid (left) became one of Canada’s most famous typographers and book designers. It all started on Christmas, 1936.” FULL STORY



Fundraiser for out-of-pocket writer

May 15th, 2014

Aguirre, Carmen and book jacketSoon after Carmen Aguirre’s Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter won the Canada Reads competition in 2012, book sales flourished. She was owed $60,000 in royalties by the time Chairman Scott McIntyre of Douglas & McIntyre filed for creditor protection under the provisions of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. She never received any of that money. It was a devastating scenario for Aguirre who makes her living as a writer, actor and an independent theatre artist.

A fundraiser called Gran Malón will be held on June 9 at Heritage Hall at 3102 Main Street in Vanouver to help Aguirre through a difficult period. There will be food, readings and performances, as well as autographed copies of the Douglas & McIntyre edition of Something Fierce for sale but all proceeds will go directly to Carmen. In addition, organizers are asking for financial contributions from those who attend.

Malón is a Chilean term of Mapuche origin. Initially, its meaning had to do with Mapuche raids/assaults on the Spaniards, but in the last sixty years it has evolved to mean a big party where everybody “takes over/assaults” somebody’s house (with their previous consent) and contributes with food, music and whatever else is needed to have a good time.

Tickets are priced at $20 to $500. Attendance can be in-person or virtually as the event will be streamed live over the Internet. The Malón will take place from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. at the Heritage Hall on Main Street in Vancouver.

For tickets and donations:

For more information, visit

Aguirre, Carmen wins CBC's Canada Reads

Ghomesi, Aguirre & Shad

Something Fierce is a memoir about Aguirre’s militancy in the Chilean resistance during the Pinochet dictatorship, is set between 1979 and 1989, and also takes the reader inside war-ridden Peru, the Bolivian dictatorship and post-Malvinas Argentina. It won top prize in Canada Reads contest on the strength of arguments put forth by Canadian rapper Shad, one of the five judges in the competion that was hosted by CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi. It won in a final vote of three-to-two over the hockey book, The Game, by Ken Dryden, championed by judge Alan Thicke.

A previous book by Aguirre, The Refugee Hotel (Talonbooks, 2010) set in Vancouver, is a comedic drama reflecting the predicaments and concerns of refugee communities worldwide while focusing upon Chileans who fled their homes in the wake of Augusto Pinochet’s coup in 1974. Aquirre was featured on the cover of BC BookWorld in conjunction with her first book, The Trigger (Talonbooks, 2008) about rape.

Working from Vancouver, Carmen Aguirre is a theatre artist who has worked extensively in North and South America. She has written and co-written eighteen plays. As an actor, Aguirre has dozens of film and TV credits, including a lead role in the independent feature Quinceañera, winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, an Independent Spirit award, GLAAD awards and various People’s Choice awards at festivals around the world. As a stage actor, Aguirre has worked with a host of Vancouver theatre companies. Aguirre was the founder and director of The Latino Theatre Group, was playwright-in-residence at The Vancouver Playhouse from 2000 to 2002, was playwright-in-residence at Touchstone Theatre in 2004, and facilitates Theatre of the Oppressed workshops around the province.


3 Responses to “Fundraiser for out-of-pocket writer”

  1. RICH MOLE says:

    I have a lot of different reactions to Carmen’s predicament. The biggest are “shock” and “Irony”
    And I also have a lot of questions.

    “Shock”: that the author was owed so much. Why (or maybe) how did she let the matter go so long? Even a best-selling book usually garners royalties over a period of some years, and the book was published some time before the D&M “debacle.”

    Royalties are usually paid regularly. When the first cheque DIDN’T come with her statement, why did she not take action–legal or otherwise–and, in effect, jump the queue BEFORE bankruptcy filing?? Make some kind of deal with the publisher and get at least some of the money? Sometimes, it doesn’t take much. Just a letter suggesting the possibility of legal action is enough.

    “Irony” Much is made of the injustices–or the mere lack of justice or recourse–in developing or 3rd world countries such as the one Carmen immigrated from. (Hmm: does that explain a lack of action? Preconditioned, maybe?) The irony is, of course, that her serious financial misfortune occurred in Canada, where companies of all types, including esteemed publishers, can shrug and walk away, seemingly with impunity. Gives one pause, does it not?

    The moral of this story (Carman–write the book!!) is “authors, be vigilant!” Don’t see a royalty cheque? Don’t wait. Question it immediately. Fight it right away, quietly, one-on-one with the publisher. Don’t like the answers? Get legal help (the deal: lawyers take a cut of the $60,000 recovered.) Yeah, I know, all this gets in the way of the creative process, and blahblahblah…but do it anyway.

    Because if you don’t, (and authors have an unfortunate rep. for “rolling over”) it kinda erodes credibility of the “gee I’m poor” sequel that sometimes follows. Poor? How? Why? Surely Carmen didn’t “borrow” or “spend” on the funds she hadn’t yet received…

    • Howard White says:

      Carmen was the hardest hit of any author in the D&M Publishers Inc. (DMPI) bankruptcy through pure unlucky timing. Her book won Canada Reads and became immensely popular in 2012 right when the company was going down. The company made its first royalty payment in 2012 but was insolvent by October and that just happened to coincide with the period in which sales of Something Fierce took off. Neither Carmen nor any D&M authors had any warning this would happen. The owners were trying desperately to put together a buyout that would have included royalty payment and didn’t themselves know they would fail until the last moment. In the end DMPI went fully bankrupt and all assets including money earned by Carmen’s book went to pay secured creditors, mainly the bank.
      My wife Mary and I then took on the D&M authors who were orphaned by the bankruptcy with the intention of keeping their books alive and earning royalties going forward. This has worked well and we did pay Carmen for new royalties earned in 2013 before she moved to Random House.
      The bankruptcy of DMPI was a disaster for all concerned but it is well to keep in mind this was a firm that probably earned its authors $20 million during its lifetime, so it would be hard to hard to say it did more harm than good. Canadian book publishing has always been a perilous trade and firms have been going out of business regularly since at least 1970–think of Ryerson, Hurtig, Western Producer, General, Stoddart, Key Porter, Raincoast, Fenn, the many trials of M&S, etc.–but one bright spot in the DMPI collapse is that all authors were able to place their books with new publishers and are earning new royalties that for most will soon dwarf the losses of 2012.

  2. farish1 says:

    This is not so much tragedy as an outrage. Dramatically tragedies are unavoidable but this was predictable and intentional. Once again the state acts to protect the corporation, the owners, at the expense of the creators, the workers. There is a bizarre echo of Carmen’s wrenching book in this latest chapter of greed and injustice. Carmen reached our nation with her story of courage and sacrifice. In the face of this outrage we need to respond with gratitude generosity and support.

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