Monday, December 3, 2012


Here is one way to start your Monday:

Be in the student spotlight of the generosity and loveliness that is Sarah Selecky.

Happy December everyone.

Monday, November 26, 2012

big deal

Last night, the 100th Grey Cup was played in downtown Toronto, where the Toronto Argonauts defeated the Calgary Stampeders 35-22.  

On Saturday, three writers I know were listed on the Globe's top 23 Canadian fiction books of the year.  Eva Stachniak for The Winter Palace, Grace O'Connell  Magnified World, and Heather Birrell for Mad Hope. 

Earlier this month, my writing teacher, friend and inspiration, Sarah Selecky had the US launch of her book, This Cake is for the Party.  
And, last Thursday, I was awarded the Random House of Canada 2012 Student Writing Award for my short story, Let Me Call You Lovely.

Each of these accomplishments is, in my opinion, a big deal. And deserves the recognition it receives. 
The publication where my short story appears, Three, is small but, a big deal. U of T faculty, Random House staff and the contest judges all had very positive things to say about my writing and the finalists writing like, "remarkable literary outcomes" and "fine writers" and "a fantastic achievement". 

I didn't realize just how big a deal the award was until I arrived at the U of T Faculty Club on Thursday night to celebrate the win along with the finalists and read this, from 2009 winner Anne Perdue, underscoring the importance of the award to her career.  

"A year later, Insomniac Press published my book. I am hugely grateful to the Random House of Canada Student Award in Writing for providing opportunity, prestigious acknowledgement, and validation."

Pretty big deal.

The evening was a tandem celebration for the award's 10th anniversary and at the door, one of the organizers told me they only had name tags printed for VIP guests, faculty, and finalists.  When I introduced myself, she said, "Oooooh, you are the winner! Congratulations. Of course you have a name tag."  

I was the big deal.

I also had to read an excerpt from the story, something the editor had failed to mention to me.  Finding out then and there saved me the worry and concern and neurosis of deciding which bit to read. No rehearsing, no overthinking it, no breathing exercises.

No big deal.   

I am more writer than sports enthusiast lately.  However, I am from Saskatchewan so that makes me a Roughrider fan by default.  My best Grey Cup experience was 23 years ago when I still lived in Saskatchewan. With two seconds left in the game, Dave Ridgway kicked a field goal giving the Riders a 43-40 victory over the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the 1989 Grey Cup.  We jumped in the back of a pick up truck and drove around downtown Regina after the game.  

It was a big deal.  

On Friday, my nephew and his girlfriend came to Toronto for the weekend to attend the game yesterday. They are huge fans (pictured here, front and centre, in green) and along with many other keen CFL lovers, have been roaming the city for the past week. I went to Nathan Philips Square and Yonge and Dundas with them where we did yoga on a makeshift field, tasted new flavours of Frank's Hot Sauce and tossed a football at some tires in a cage. Next year's Grey Cup is in Regina. 

It will be a big deal. 

Whether it's sports or writing or any other thing you want to make a big deal about, below is some wise advice from Natalie Goldberg, a big deal in her own right.  

“Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go.” 

Friday, November 2, 2012

the blog heard around the world

No one knows how it started -- I don't, at least -- but writers are linking from blog to blog in a virtual game of 'tag, you're it.' 

In this 10-question interview, writers talk about the Next Big Thing they’re working on, then tag five other writers, each of whom does the same, tagging another five, and so on and so on...a kind of literary chain letter, only not annoying, but fascinating. Really.

For writers, it's an opportunity to share work-in-progress, perhaps refining an idea that hasn't quite taken full shape or revealing a book in the final stages of editing.  For readers, these linked blogs offer a chance to 'look behind the curtain' of the writer's imagination - to see stories before they become books, discovering what inspires and shapes them.

My thanks to novelist, poet and essayist Diana Fitzgerald Bryden for tagging me. 

At the end of this post, I've tagged a few other writers you might want to get to know. Visit their blogs and you may just discover a work-in-progress destined to become the 'next big thing' to read on your bookshelf or e-reader.


Here goes...

What is your working title of your book?
Moving Parts 

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I started writing short stories and they started to add up.  Now there are almost enough for a book.

What genre does your book fall under?
Short story collection.  Fiction.  Short fiction.  

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
If the story, Moving Parts got made into a feature, I think Keira Knightley and Jason Segel would make a good Edie and Ditch, a nerdy pair of star crossed lovers who met in a grocery store line up. There are also several linked stories, that could be a collection of short films where Frances McDormand would be a perfect Yvonne, the neurotic, bug-eyed, dog-loving narrator.  If Let Me Call You Lovely were a movie, Fred Willard should play Uncle Nick, Jennifer Coolige for the role of Charlene and Michael Cera as Jeremy.  My friend's cat, Rockford, could play Jarslberg (see photo below). 
Apart from Cera and the cat, I wish I knew more Canadian actors who fit these roles. 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In this collection of stories about striving and longing, sad yet hilarious characters encounter truth, fear, and love in their own peculiar ways; through speculation on the private lives of strangers, through imaginative digressions from the mundane and through careful observation of the ordinary.
A bit rambly, but that's the gist of it.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
To be announced.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Still in the works.  Going on three years. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

As an emerging writer I am going to shamelessly compare my work to writers I admire and their books that inspire me, which include Do the Windows Open? by Julie Hecht,  And Also Sharks by
Jessica Westhead, No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories by Miranda July, Open by Lisa Moore, and Pastoralia by George Saunders.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Reading the books listed above.  And, in a way, I was inspired to write these stories because I am fascinated by human behavior.  I notice a lot of weird shit and want to know more about it.  Examine it. Dissect it.  Laugh with it.  Live with it.  Survive it. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My writing has been noted as:
“…remarkably assured prose and full of unexpected and wonderfully bizarre detail.” – Grace O’Connell
“…hilarious, smart, cutting, wry, careful, moving…” - Sarah Selecky
“…rich in voice, satisfying in narrative…” - Zsuzsi Gartner
“…compelling...with surprising leaps of imagination…” – Jessica Westhead and Matthew J. Trafford

Below is a short excerpt from Let Me Call You Lovely, winner of the 2012 Random House Creative Writing Award through The School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto.

Uncle Nick had named all the cats after cheeses.  Gouda, Brie, Kojak (from Colby-Jack) and Zola, (short for Gorgonzola).  They were all adoptions from The Toronto Cat Rescue, except Zola who came from the Internet.
“Have you seen that Kajiji?” Nick said to Jeremy, “Every five minutes another goddamn animal goes up for adoption.”
Last month, there was a new one.  Neither a rescue nor an adoption, but a little orange stray that started hanging around the yard.  Nick let her in and started feeding her.  He called her Jarlsberg. Jarlsberg had taken to sleeping in the basement with Jeremy. Repeatedly, he had woke to the cat curled up beside his head, purring in his ear. Not only did she sit outside the bathroom door while Jeremy showered, the cat followed him around while he dressed and stared at him while he watched The Dragon’s Den on his laptop. She would carry bits of particleboard from upstairs in her mouth and drop them at Jeremy’s feet and wait.  When Jeremy kicked the scrap wood away, Jarslberg would bat it around the room then bring it back to Jeremy’s feet.  She’d stare at it until Jeremy kicked it for her again.
Nick and Charlene had been renovating for the last nine years.  Any time Jeremy had stopped in with his mother to see Uncle Nick, the place was in a new state of disarray. Sheets of drywall were stacked against frames of two by fours in the dining room. An unfinished kitchen floor was lined with buckets of plaster.   Loose wires sprouted from light fixtures that were not fully installed.  But visitors were always welcome.  Nick would throw a sheet of plastic on the dining room table and offer them herbal tea and some gluten free cake or cookie--Charlene was allergic. 
It was difficult to have conversations with Nick and Charlene because they often spoke at the same time.
            “We’re going to work on the bathroom this week,” he’d say.
And Charlene, “Nicky’s changed his mind about the layout again.”
Nick loved anything with stained glass so the windows were the only parts of house that were finished. The front door housed a particularly intricate landscape design along with a small window beside it that was made of a combination of orange and yellow stars.  The three tall windows in the dining room contained sections of coloured glass that cast patterns on the plastic liner where they drank their tea.
“Isn’t it the most lovely and amazing thing?” Charlene said.
And Nick, “Would you look at that goddamn light.” 


And now I’m tagging a few talented writers. Visit their sites and find out about them and their work.  

Christna Fletcher

I had hoped to get five writers, but didn't.  
Some may still show up so come back.

Message for tagged authors:
Rules of the Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five (or as many as you can) other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

Friday, September 21, 2012

back to school

September has that crisp, cool feel about it.

New book bags, binders, and blue jeans.  The air is lighter, foliage is in transition and everything starts to calm down and settle in.  It's like running your hand across a freshly made bed.

That, and there is learning to be done.

I'm heading into week four of a writing course called Found in Translation.

What happens is, we are given a translation (the bare bones) of a poem from its original language - so far we have covered Chinese, Spanish and Russian.  Then we translate it into our own words, while still honouring the poet's choice of words and, ideally, maintaining their intention, meaning, and vision.

That's what happens.  

But there is much more to it than that, of course.

It's an online class taught by long time Zen practitioner, author, teacher Peter Levitt and is made up of people from Germany, Scotland, Israel, Italy, Vancouver Island, the USA, the GTA and various parts of Ontario.

So many perspectives.  So great.

Week one most of us didn't understand the instructions of what to do or the actual assignment and went ahead and did the work anyway.

The result?


Learning through being vulnerable, through not knowing, through trust, intuition, letting go, slowing down, and having confidence.

This approach to writing is not easy.  It's different than anything I have ever done.  It's challenging, enlightening, frustrating, fascinating, tiring, and...highly enjoyable.

We have spent a fair amount of discussion on the value of rigour and discipline.  Of facing things as they are, and keep coming back to this image:

Once inside the bamboo tube
the snake
finds a new way

I'll say.

And I'll say this.  I find bits of this course - this careful, subtle, process - seeping into other areas of my life.  I am doing other things more wholeheartedly, with more honesty, with fewer constraints.

I think it is healthy to be reminded about the value of rigour and discipline.  A useful quote that Peter shared with us is from CG Yung on the definition of discipline: "Discipline is the obedience to awareness."

Good advice for writing, and, well, everything else.

Like skydiving, for example.

Last weekend I did a whole lot of learning about formation skydiving at Skydive Burnaby.  And a lot of that learning had to do with facing things as they are.  A lot of it was about being relaxed and focussed.  It was about trust, intuition, letting go, slowing down, and having confidence.

I edited a highlight video of the jumps I did and posted it here.

Poetry in motion?

You tell me.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

better choices

On February 7, 2010 Chad Olsen ran a red light and slammed into the car of Krista and Brad Howe, killing them instantly, orphaning their five children.

Last week, in a Red Deer Alberta court room, Olsen was given full parole after serving 16 months of an original 27 month sentence.

Sandra Green, Krista's mother, continues to fight for stiffer penalties against drunk drivers.

"It went exactly as I thought it would go, knowing what our system is...that doesn't represent justice in any way as far as I'm concerned," Green told the Calgary Sun.

Sandra happens to be my mom's cousin.  I spent summer vacations with her and her family in Northern Saskatchewan.  She and the rest of the family are coping as well as they can.  Coping with a situation that was entirely preventable.  

The fact that she continues to move forward and fight for penalties for drunk driving that are swift, certain and severe is a testimony to her strength and courage.  What are her options?  Stop and give up?  Keep quiet and leave things status quo?  It won't take the pain away.  It won't lessen the family's grief.  It won't bring Brad and Krista back.   

Sadly, we live in a system that does not support a court of justice, but a court of law.

And if government wanted to change the laws, they would change the laws.

Olsen's initial 27 month sentence was increased to 42 months, then he got parole.  Even if he regrets what he did and is taking steps to change, it doesn't feel like the penalty was enough.  And if the sentence wasn't served, what message does that send?

Justice is one thing, and prevention another.  A focus on prevention i.e. stiffer penalties, would be an effort to stop, or lessen, events like this from happening.  Events that will only stop happening if people start making different choices.  

I'm currently working on a project for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the message for heart health is: prevention.  Eat right, quit smoking, exercise, get enough rest.  

The cost of medical treatment and lost productivity for chronic diseases in Canada is estimated at $80 billion annually and climbing.  That number should not be that high for things that are largely...preventable.

But, we are flawed and continue to poison our bodies and minds for whatever reasons we can find.

Among the distractions and noise and excuses it seems obvious that we should be making better choices:  maintain a healthy lifestyle, do your best, don't judge, want what you have, volunteer, don't drink and drive. 

But if people wanted to make better choices, they would make better choices.

Unfortunately, nothing will change what has happened as a result of one very bad choice.

Google Brad and Krista Howe, Sandra Green, or Chad Olsen to find more articles and videos like this  The Edmonton Journal article or the video the CBC.   There is also a facebook page in their memory.
And an interview with Karla Green, who is now caring for her nieces and nephew.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

the "sport" of competitive eating

In Monday's Globe and Mail I read an article titled, Fame and (gluttonous) glory.

The piece was a condensed interview with Meredith Boxberger from Barrie, Ontario – ranked 31 in the world by Major League Eating – who will be competing at Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, N.Y.

I don't get it.

People choose to do this.  Willingly, they shove as much food into their bodies as they can to see who can get the most in there, the fastest.

I just don't get it.

In a world of starvation, famine, food banks, malnutrition, undernourishment, how does this even exist?   It's disgusting.

The article asked Ms. Boxberger: Is there any money in competitive eating, or is it just a passion thing?

A passion thing?

I did a small survey and asked a few people what their passion was. They said: gardening, writing, film, the forest, education, music, golf, travel, hunting for the next vintage find, politics, ice cream, soccer, motorcycles.

Not one person said competitive eating.

No one even said food.  That's me.  I love food.  I love eating.  And if you ask my husband, he might say that sitting across from me with a basket of fries between us qualifies for competitive eating. 

I love to cook and bake and try new recipes. And I consider myself fortunate to have access to, and can afford to buy, all kinds foods.  I am lucky that I get to experiment as much as I do.

I like to eat things like collard greens (pictured above), quinoa, amaranth, beets, brussel sprouts, dandelion greens.  Don't get me wrong I love my fries and popcorn and ice cream as much as the next person.  I just don't see the need to shovel as much of it, as fast as I can, into my face in order to...well that's just it.

In order to what?

Have some serious indigestion? Feel like crap?  Prove that I am an asshole with nothing better to do with my time?

Google "competitive eating" and you'll get close to three million hits, of which the first is Major League Eating and The International Federation of Competitive Eating.

I had no idea.

Theses folks conduct approximately 80 events annually and the first sponsor listed is Procter & Gamble (Pepto-Bismol).  Major League Eating has produced dozens of hours of original programming for SpikeTV, ESPN, Fox, and Bio. The ESPN broadcast of the Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest has generated a higher rating than any Major League Baseball telecast on July 4 in the United States.

Competitive eating is not a sport.  That's ludicrous.

But turns out it's not just a passion thing, there is money involved.  Today, at Nathan’s, each winner of the women’s and men’s events is going to walk away with $10,000.  There’s also a $20,000 purse for each division.

Cash, TV fame and heartburn - the glory of gluttony.

I still don't get it.

Happy fourth of July.

Friday, June 15, 2012

in transit

It is fair to say this is the astronomical event of the century, as the next time Venus transits the Sun will be in the 22nd century. Only six transits of Venus have ever been observed in recorded history.  (source: SkyNews May/June 2012)

Photo: Lorna Harvey

Last week, thanks to my clever and resourceful husband, I was able to witness, with my own eyes, said astronomical event from our balcony. He picked up two copies of SkyNews magazine that included a pair of special cardboard glasses that allows a person to look directly at the sun.

Just after 6:00 p.m. ET, on June 5th, while staring at the sun, we saw a notch of black appear in the upper right section of it. Over the next two hours we watched Venus transit, the whole time remarking how amazing it was. How incredible. How lucky we were to be able to have this experience.

As the transit continued the notch became a half circle, then a whole perfect circle of our neighbouring planet, as you can see pictured above.

To say it was backlit is an understatement.

We shared our glasses with our neighbours from the first floor who came up to have a look. We called our friend Jill who lives on the sixth floor of the building and took our glasses up there, gaining a few more viewing minutes. Her friend Julie who lives around the corner also dropped by for a view.

Then it clouded over and we went home.

I used to find astronomical information overwhelming. I felt small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Black holes, stars, galaxies, particles, the universe and our part in it. But after listening to a few talks from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, whom I discovered from my curious husband who does a lot of research, I feel much better about where we fit into the grand scheme of things.

It was Neil's explanation on how we are made up of the same particles as the universe that eased my mind.

We are the universe, and it is us. Like it or not, we are all connected to it, and each other.

And the whole lot of us transit.

Like Venus, we are passing from one place to another. Young to old, ignorant to aware, dark to light, confusion to clarity, life to death. We transition in different ways at different speeds, not always knowing where we are headed or what lays ahead. 

But creative folk who make things like the Scale of the Universe provide perspective on exactly where we are, and how we fit in.

Among those creative types is my friend Lorna.

You can see what she saw on June 5th from her home in the Cayman Islands, pictured above.


She used a 80-400mm lens at 400, then set the camera to iso LO.3, f42, shutterspeed 4000/sec. And a Nikon D300, manually focused. Also the image was shot on high-res and then cropped as there is no way a 400mm lens would ever get THAT close.

Lorna witnessed the transit with her baby, Kai who is nine months old.  Depending on the advancements of life-prolonging medical breakthroughs, he may be around to see the next transit of Venus, which is only 105.5 years away.

Maybe I'll send my cardboard glasses her way just in case.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

how you want to frame it

In February, HBC announced that by fall of 2012 there will be no stores operating under the Fields banner in Canada. Perhaps this was the reason behind the disgruntled worker's attitude when I tried to return a couple of picture frames.

"No returns," she said, pointing the sign written in thick Sharpie above her head.

I needed the kind of frame that stood up on a table and I failed to check the back of the ones I'd just bought to see if they had that flap of cardboard on the back.  Mistakenly, I'd bought the kind with just the metal loops that can only be hung on a wall.

"I was here five minutes ago."

I was holding the two, 8 1/2 x 11" black frames that were still wrapped in plastic, a $4.95 price tag stuck to the top right corner of each.  I also had the two frames I needed, with flaps on the back, each with a $4.50 tag on them.

"It's not even a return," I said. "I need the cheaper frames, and already paid for the higher priced ones."

"Store policy," she said.

Her face was now flushed, serious.  She was visibly upset.   She pointed up at the sign.

"But I need them to stand up.  I can't use the other ones."

She wouldn't budge.

"You can use them for other pictures," she said.

I didn't tell her that I was aware of how a picture frame could be used.

Instead I said, "I need to put photos of my dad in the frames so they can stand on a table at his funeral tomorrow.  I can't use the other ones. Throw them in the garbage.  Take them home if you want.  Put them back on the shelf.  They are not what I need.  I made a mistake."

It just came out.  I didn't even want her sympathy.  I didn't want to be there at all.  I wanted to scream. I wanted to shake her. I wanted to ask what the hell was wrong with her.

Moreover, I wanted some pictures frames that stood up.

I get that there are rules, policies. There are also times to bend those rules and ignore those policies.

Or, as the case was, not.

I paid for the frames, thanked her for being unreasonable, and wished her a nice day.

Maybe the imminent store closure was the reason behind her temperament.
Maybe the death of my father was the reason behind mine.

I guess it all comes down to how you want to frame it.

RIP, Fields.

Monday, March 19, 2012

solar flares and dancing souls

On 6 March 2012, a massive solar flare erupted and an associated coronal mass ejection was launched toward Earth. Video of the solar flare from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory can be viewed here.

This was also the night before my father's funeral.

We returned home from the prayer service in a blizzard but within a few hours the storm had cleared entirely and the northern sky above my childhood home lit up with a spectacular display of aurora borealis. The sky was literally dancing. White lights got brighter and whiter and turned shades of green. They moved in magnetic whips and swirls from east to west directly above our heads.

I don't believe that was simply coincidence.

My dad loved nature, the outdoors, and the night sky. He taught me names and locations of constellations. He did research and followed schedules of meteor showers and space station travel. was one of his favourite sites. He and my mom would drive out to the golf course, lay on the hood of their truck and observe the stars undisturbed from light pollution.

We included an excerpt from The Desiderata in the bulletin that was handed out at the funeral.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Then this...

My dad was a proud member of many organizations throughout his life, including The Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The faith recognizes many Saints and Holy days throughout the year. The calendar sites March 1st, the day my dad passed away, to be the day of Great Martyr Theodore of Tyro.

My dad's name is Theodore (Ted).

The community lost one of its finest citizens.
A lot of groups lost a valuable contributor and volunteer.
I lost a father.

But my mother lost her partner, lover and best friend of fifty-one years.

My husband says hardship doesn't build character, it reveals it. And this event has clearly revealed my mother's strength.

She is carrying on. She is putting one foot in front of the other. It is painful and difficult and she knows things will be different. Things are completely different, yet exactly the same. But she is managing and coping and adjusting to new way of living. It is remarkable and admirable to witness her courage.

Like him, she is an inspiration to us all.

After the funeral we ate, drank, laughed and told stories, exactly as my dad would have wanted. Perhaps my cousin summed it up best, While the visit had its sorrow, I think there was a lot of joy that was felt at the same time. Hard to believe that those two emotions could be unleashed simultaneously.

When someone dies no one really knows what to do or say. They bring food, they offer condolences and say, please let us know if there is anything we can do.

At the lunch following the service my sister and brother and I each said a few words.

These were mine:

What you can do is honour his memory by continuing to practice the values that my dad believed in. Be kind, generous, patient and fair. Ask questions, have ideas, learn. Laugh, love and find peace.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

for the love of books

In the wake of the news that independent Canadian publishing house McClelland & Stewart was bought out by Bertelsmann AG, owner of Random House of Canada, I just want to say that I love books.

Let me say it again, I love books.

I saw a designer on a talk show years ago where they recommended lining up books next to each other from tallest to shortest for a clean, organized look.

So I did it with my cookbooks.

Sometimes I stack my books. Like the bookshelf in the hall that has books both lined up and stacked. Or the bathroom bookshelf. Or the shelf in my closet that houses a collection of notebooks and books I reference more frequently. Or the box of books shoved under the bed because we don't have room for another bookshelf.

Or the every rising stack of books on my bedside table.

I love my books.

Watch this very cleverly creative video posted two days ago from Type Bookstore in Toronto and tell me you don't want to pick up a book. Tell me you don't want to own more books. Tell me you don't want to run out to the store and browse and buy and read more books.

I understand Kobos and Kindles and e-readers. I get the popularity. I see people using them all the time. I was even a runner up in a writing contest last year and had a short story published. In fact, it is only available in electronic format. It was e-published. It was e-xciting.

You can find out more about the contest and download the story, Moving Parts, here.

Still, I love books.

The McClelland & Stewart buyout story, like all stories, has two sides:

The big guy takes over the littler guy in efforts to help them out with financial challenges and issues of dealing with an industry with increasingly more digital assets.

The littler guy now has to report to the big guy, but the plan is that the publishing house will continue to be run in the same manner, by the same people, with minimal changes.

Okay, there are actually three sides. The third side is the bottom side, also known as the line, which we don't know. No financial terms were revealed. We don't know how much the U of T got from Random House.

From all media accounts it is seemingly an amicable move.

The story of the McClelland & Stewart buyout however, is not the story of The Chronicle Herald in Halifax.

The Chronicle Herald remains one of the last independent dailies in Canada. Graham Dennis who served as its owner and publisher for 57 years died at the age of 84 on December 1, 2011. According to his obituary, he was proud of the paper's independence, saying that all offers to buy it were rebuffed, politely but firmly.

The Globe and Mail quoted former Tory MP Bill Casey with saying, "He was genuinely interested in everything that was going on in the province."

Genuine interest.

That's the kicker. I hope, for the sake of books, Canadian books in particular, in the M&S and RHC story, that the big guy takes a genuine interest in the littler guy's efforts, ideas and mandate.

There is reason to believe they will.

In a press release Random House said they have made significant long-term commitments in undertaking this full ownership.

Random House stated they will continue to fund and support the M&S Poetry program, the publication of The Journey Prize stories, and ongoing support for the Writers Trust Journey Prize. They are establishing The McClelland & Stewart Lecture, an annual event to be held at the U of T that will be focused around the advancement of writers and their ideas. They say they will keep the McClelland & Stewart imprint and retain the New Canadian Library, Emblem Editions and Signal imprints.

Here's hoping.

PS: I had lunch today with the fine folks from The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. We talked about books. And we talked about the upcoming event on March 5th where this year's winner will be announced. We also talked about animals and food and travel and family.

But we were there because of books.