Do Something Different for Valentine's Day: Buy a Book
Yes, writers should be recognized in Canada and, earlier today, the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction made life a little easier for Tim Cook. The organization awarded Cook $25,000 for Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting The Great War, 1917-1918, Vol. 2. Barring a mega hit, it is extremely difficult to make a living as a writer in Canada and it's getting worse. In his wonderful profile of Anne Michaels in the current Toronto Life, Don Gillmor describes the battleground of the publishng world, with mid-tier authors being "culled" and tossed out by big publishing houses. In earlier times, they might have been given a chance to grow and develop, but no longer. (Gillmor's piece highlights Michaels' soon-to-be-released, The Winter Vault.) There's also an ugly trend in the U.K. and U.S. for publishers to insist books be pre-edited (passing the costs on to authors) and, post-publishing, be publicized by the author. That's on top of swelling costs to the writer, which include the cost of the index, photo rights and any other rights involved. In an age of big box bookstores, Amazon and a generation less inclined, perhaps, to sit down with a book, publishers prefer to publish "name-only" writers. It's always been like that for fiction and non-fiction, but not to this degree. Even the freelancing and speech-giving fields are drying up and they've been the money-makers for struggling writers who try to live without a full-time job (not that there are many of those anymore, either). It's scary out there.
The Charles Taylor Award recognizes writers need more than prestige sandwiches. In fact, Cook, curator of the Canadian War Museum and an adjunct professor at Carleton, is probably one of very few Canadian writers who actually has an job he loves that fits perfectly with his literary ambitions. Runners-up today (winning $2000) are Elizabeth Abbott's Sugar: A Bittersweet History and Ana Siljak's Angel of Vengeance: The "Girl Assassin," the Governor of St. Petersburg and Russia's Revolutionary War.
So, for Valentine's Day, how about forgetting flowers and buying a book for that special someone. The thought involved in the purchase of a book is more romantic anyway.
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In the "Say What?" category. Or better, people have some nerve.
Robert's Picton's family is suing the RCMP for messing up their pig farm - where they found the dismembered bodies of six women. It was pretty messy when Picton murdered those poor women, crimes for which he was found guilty and sent to jail.