It was six years ago yesterday that I began this exploration of the suppressed, ignored and forgotten in Canadian literature. Brian Moore's Sailor's Leave, was the first read. A few hundred books by a few hundred writers followed, but I'll focus on Moore because it all begins and ends with him.
Though he would not acknowledge it as such, Sailor's Leave – a/k/a Wreath for a Redhead – was Moore's debut novel. A paperback written for money, it paid the bills. Without Sailor's Leave, and the six Moore paperback originals that followed, there would've been no Judith Hearne, no The Feast of Lupercal and no The Luck of Ginger Coffey.
Would that today's writers had similar opportunities.
I began reading Sailor's Leave on 11 January 2009, the tenth anniversary of Brian Moore's death. This blog's first post came eleven days later. There have been over eight hundred others, but each anniversary has been set aside for the next of Moore's disowned novels.
I've devoted six years to this exploration, and have made some real discoveries, but in all that time the only new books read were by acquaintances and friends.
It doesn't end here. Not entirely. I'll keep up my Canadian Notes & Queries Dusty Bookcase column. I'll keep reading old Canadian books, too. How could I not? The veins are so rich. There's every chance I'll have something to say about them. I'll return whenever I do.
A writer, ghostwriter, écrivain public, literary historian and bibliophile, I'm the author of Character Parts: Who's Really Who in CanLit (Knopf Canada, 2003), and A Gentleman of Pleasure: One Life of John Glassco, Poet, Translator, Memoirist and Pornographer (McGill-Queen's UP, 2011; shortlisted for the Gabrielle Roy Prize). I've edited over a dozen books, including The Heart Accepts It All: Selected Letters of John Glassco (Véhicule Press, 2013) and George Fetherling's The Writing Life: Journals 1975-2005 (McGill-Queen's UP, 2013). I currently serve as series editor for Ricochet Books and am a contributing editor for Canadian Notes & Queries.