George Bowering, whose published output surpasseth one hundred volumes by most counts, celebrates the publication of his latest, Writing and Reading, on Friday, February 21, at the People’s Co-op Bookstore on Commercial Drive in the heart of East Vancouver.
Writing and Reading presents essays written over the last decade or so on a range of subjects — critical engagement with other Canadian writers; the “Vancouver poets” Guillaume Apollinaire, Blaise Cendrars, Jack Spicer, et al.; film; drama; music; himself — with a common theme, the importance of reading, especially as part of any writing practice.
In an unusual development in the world of small publishing, at least two reviews of Writing and Reading have appeared even before the book’s launch party. (That reflects in part our decision to wait a decent interval after the release, also in late fall 2019, of Bowering’s Taking Measures: Selected Long Poems.)
Nicholas Bradley’s review-essay on Writing and Reading and Taking Measures, alongside Bowering’s 2015 short story collection 10 Women, appeared this week on the Ormsby Review, the BC Bookworld spin-off that is providing space for more critical writing about BC literature.
” .. . an important addition to his body of late work,” writes Bradley, who teaches contemporary literature at the University of Victoria. “Whatever his idiosyncrasies, Bowering is never dull, and it is rewarding to have his further thoughts on Judith Fitzgerald, Robert Kroetsch, Alice Munro, and Joe Rosenblatt, on the books he read in 1967, and on the landscape of Oliver, B.C.”
”Compilations such as Writing and Reading, and such valuable editions as Taking Measures, make it possible to begin in earnest the task of coming to terms with George Bowering.”
The Vancouver Sun, meanwhile, commissioned another indefatigable, Tom Sandborn, to write their review of Writing and Reading. You can read Sandborn’s review here, as well as in any number of Canwest newspapers that have reprinted his article.
”The book features affectionate anecdotes about other writers and casually delivered but incisive thoughts about Canadian writing in the 20th century,” Sandborn writes. “It also includes acute critical observations that reflect a lifetime of engagement with literature. These are essays characterized by a relaxed, conversational style, even when dealing with matters of intellectual heft. Bowering’s narrative tone is amiable and charming, even when delivering his criticisms of other writers and academic fads.”
”These essays deserve attention from anyone who cares about how literature is made and works.”
Both writers also had some criticisms to offer. Don’t be misled by our mildly misleading use of selected quotations; read the whole reviews yourself.
George’s launch gets underway at 7:30 pm, Friday, February 21. Admission is free. Writing and Reading may be purchased from these guys, New Star’s own website, the forementioned People’s Co-op Bookstore, as well as finer Canadian bookstores everywhere.