R.I.P. Alice Munro (1931 – 2024)

“Compared to Anton Chekhov for her peerless short stories for which she won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, Alice Munro (left) has died.FULL STORY


Hugh’s News #5 Munro’s Books sold

July 08th, 2014


Munro, Jim 2009 for 2014

Jim Munro has also received the Order of Canada this year.


Munro’s Books, the longtime Victoria bookstore associated with Canada’s Nobel Prize winning author Alice Munro, has been sold. It was announced today that owner Jim Munro has come to an agreement with a group of long-term employees headed by store manager Jessica Walker to turn the business over come September of this year. The purchasing group includes besides Walker, bookkeeper Sarah Frye, operations manager Ian Cochrane and buyer Carol Monta, all employees of 20 years or more. The purchase price for the landmark bookseller, long considered one of Canada’s finest, is said to be nominal. Jim Munro will continue to own the heritage building on Government Street, and is expected to be “the world’s most sympathetic landlord.”


Congrats to BC author/actor/comedian Mark Leiren-Young for being chosen Vancouver’s first Jewish Literary Laureate, a new distinction shepherded into existence by cultural activist Yosef Wosk.


Mark Leiren-Young launched Free Magic Secrets Revealed (Harbour 2013) at the Comic Shop in Vancouver.

Mark Leiren-Young is a screenwriter, playwright, performer, freelance journalist and a recipient of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. He wrote, directed and produced the feature film The Green Chain—a documentary-style drama about a dying B.C. logging town. The Green Chain opened at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas in Vancouver in March of 2009, having won a major prize at the 15th annual FICMA Film Festival in Barcelona. It is touted as “a powerful, funny and thought-provoking film about the conflicts between people who love trees—on both sides of the battle—and are willing to risk anything to protect their personal visions of the forest.”

Mark Leiren-Young’s Never Shoot a Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo (Heritage 2008) won the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for humour. It is a collection of true-life tall tales about a rookie reporter’s adventures in Canada’s still-very-wild West. According to promotional materials: “The night Mark Leiren-Young drove into Williams Lake, British Columbia, in 1985 to work as a reporter for the venerable Williams Lake Tribune, he arrived on the scene of an armed robbery. And that was before things got weird. For a 22-year-old from Vancouver, a stint in the legendary Cariboo town was a trip to another world and another era. From the explosive opening, where Mark finds himself in a courtroom just a few feet away from a defendant with a bomb strapped to his chest, to the case of a plane that crashed without its pilot on board, Never Shoot a Stampede Queen is an unforgettable comic memoir of a city boy learning about — and learning to love — life in a cowboy town.”

His candid, often painful, but always amusing memoir of post-pubescent ambitions for fame and love is Free Magic Secrets Revealed (Harbour 2013).

As a journalist Mark has written for such publications as Time, Maclean’s and The Utne Reader, and he’s received a National Magazine Award as a columnist. He’s has been a regular contributor to Georgia Straight and a humour columnist for The Tyee, where he also hosts an environmentally themed podcast series, The Green Chain, which is available on iTunes. He is currently the theatre critic for the Vancouver Sun.

His stage plays have been produced throughout Canada and the U.S. and have also been seen in Europe and Australia. His scripts Shylock and Articles of Faith are published by Anvil Press. His satirical comedy troupe, Local Anxiety, has been featured on CBC and NPR and has played major festivals across Canada. Local Anxiety’s TV special Greenpieces received an Earthvision Award for its satirical take on environmental issues. He has released two CDs with Local Anxiety—Forgive Us We’re Canadian and Greenpieces. Both feature the troupe’s hit song “I’m White, I’m Straight, I’m Sorry.”

He’s half of the comedy duo Local Anxiety and has released two CDs—Greenpieces and Forgive Us We’re Canadian and stars in the 2012 solo stage comedy Greener Than Thou. His other books include The Green Chain—Nothing Is Ever Clear Cut and This Crazy Time, written with/about Canadian environmentalist, Tzeporah Berman.


Another myth debunked: you know how everybody says the book is doomed because young people don’t read anymore? Well, the figures don’t support that. The latest figures for US publishers, who are also Canada’s largest publishers, show that print book sales continued to rise in the first half of 2014—by 2% overall. But the stars among the categories? Juvenile fiction, up 14% over the same period last year and juvenile non fiction, up 11%. When you think about it, most of the runaway bestsellers in recent years—Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Fault in Our Stars and most recently, Divergent by Veronica Roth—are all books being read by young people, which belies all the expert predictions that the book will be dead when the kids of today take charge. One thing studies agree on is that people who start reading books when they’re young keep reading books when they’re old. Something to keep in mind next time some propeller-head tries to tell you books are just a passing fad.


We applaud Caroline Adderson for being one of only two Canadians to make the Toronto Star’s list of ten best summer reads with her as yet unpublished novel Ellen in Pieces.

But has Canadian writing sunk so far it only rates 2 out of 10 this summer?

We think BC writers can more than meet the challenge with this list that will entertain as well as deliver that extra hometown bonus this summer:

1. Anatomy of a Girl Gang by Ashley Little (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Told with shocking and at times brutal honesty, 2014 Ethel Wilson-Prize-winner Anatomy of a Girl Gang is a vivid and unnerving story of urban girl culture.

2. Juliet Was A Surprise Product Detailsby Bill Gaston (Hamilton Canada) Bill Gaston is one of our most accomplished and BC-flavourful fiction writers and those who feel the short story is his best form will have more proof in this new collection.

3. Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese (McClelland) Celebrated author and Canada Reads finalist for Indian Horse, Wagamese has a solid hit with this father-and-son struggle set in the B.C. Interior.

  1. Local Customs by Audrey Thomas (Dundurn) Who knew the celbrated Galiano Island novelist, silent for nine years, would mark her 80th year with a new novel? Local Customs returns to her west African past with a true-life mystery described by Q&Q as “a beautifully rendered portrait of a lost time and place along with all its local customs.”
  2. Becoming Wild: Living the Primitive Life on a West Coast Island by Nikki van Schyndel (Caitlin Press)
    What would you do if the lights went out,the IGA locked its doors and you had to take to the bush to survive? Nikki van Schyndel wanted to find out and this is an unvarnished chronicle of what she experienced.

6. Heart and Soil: The Revolutionary Good of Gardens by Des Kennedy (Harbour) BC’s goofy gardening guru has gathered together his best, most outrageous and most contemplative articles and essays of the past decade into a book full of playful wit and insight.

7. The Confabulist by Steven Galloway (Knopf Canada) Okay, Galloway’s first outing after the international hit The Cellist From Sarajevo got mixed reviews, partly because his novel about illusionist Harry Houdini is an exercise in illusion itself, but it’s a treat to be reading this masterful writer again.

8. The Lonely End of the Rink by Grant Lawrence (Douglas and McIntyre) Summer reading should be funny, light and irresponsible so Lawrence’s Duthie Award-winning romp about surviving a nerdy childhood in West Van fills the bill to a T.

9. children of air india: un/authorized exhibits and interjections by Renee Sarojini Saklikar (Nightwood) Yes, poetry, but it’s lovely, poignant poetry with a prosey clarity that won the2014 Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry.

10. Ellen in Pieces by Caroline Adderson (HarperColins) We haven’t read this new novel yet because it’s not coming out until Aug. 19 but Lynn Coady saysRarely has a literary character been brought to life with such funny and passionate exuberance.”


Other book news…

Kudos to Courtenay author Paula Wild, whose The Cougar: Beautiful, Wild and Dangerous (Douglas & McIntyre) is the 2013 Gold Winner in the category of Noniction – Nature at the Foreword Reviews’ IndieFab Book of the Year Awards. The awards were announced at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

Ivan E. Coyote fans will be happy to hear Arsenal Pulp Press announce they will publish the Tomboy Survival Guide in 2015 or 16. It will be their tenth collaboration in fourteen years with the ex-Yukoner.

And who knew about this award—for Canadian writers who are Christian, appropriately called The Word Award. The judges must be broadminded because they have shortlisted Jane Christmas’s none-too reverent And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life (Greystone) in the Life Story category. The book documents Christmas’s stay in a series of convents to see whether she is, as she puts it, “nun material.” You will remember Ms. Christmas from the preposterously-titled Incontinent on the Continent.

by Hugh Henderson

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