The Biblio File Hosted by Nigel Beale
Twenty - forty minute interviews with accomplished authors, publishers, biblio people, conducted by an excitable bibliophile.

David Staines is a Canadian literary critic, university professor (English at the University of Ottawa), writer, and editor.  He specializes in three literatures: medieval, Victorian and Canadian. He is editor of the scholarly Journal of Canadian Poetry (since 1986) and general editor of McClelland and Stewart’s New Canadian Library series (since 1988). His essay collections, include The Canadian Imagination (1977), a book that introduced Canadian literature and literary criticism to an American audience, plus studies on Morley Callaghan and Stephen Leacock.

But it’s not for any of this (save a defense of Callaghan in the face of John Metcalf’s condemnations) that I sought  Prof. Staines’ company. Rather it’s because he co-edited Northrop Frye on Canada (University of Toronto, 2001). Frye, Canada’s most celebrated literary theorist, a man many hold responsible for the dearth of evaluative analysis in Canadian criticism; a man whose thoughts and person Staines knows (and knew) very well; is the reason we met.

Please listen here to a conversation that reveals the author of Fearful Symmetry and The Anatomy of Criticism as a surprisingly self contradictory critic; speaks to the remarkable talent of Alice Munro and Canada’s current stock of strong fiction writers; outlines criteria for acceptance into the New Canadian Library; and identifies some of the best Canadian novels.

Direct download: David_Staines_031608-095233.mp3
Category:Literary Critics -- posted at: 11:54am EDT


Oak Knoll Books – specialists in books on books – was founded in 1976 by Bob Fleck, a chemical engineer by training, who let his hobby get the best of him. Oak Knoll Press, the publishing arm of the business was established two years later.

Today, the thriving company maintains an inventory of about 23,000 titles. Specialities include books about bibliography, book collecting, book design, book illustration, book selling, bookbinding, bookplates, children’s books, Delaware books, fine press books, forgery, graphic arts, libraries, literary criticism, marbling, papermaking, printing history, publishing, typography & type specimens, and writing & calligraphy – plus books about the history of all of these fields.

I met  with Bob recently to talk about the story of his company, about his love of books, of A. Edward Newton, of traveling the globe to meet fellow bibliophiles, of visiting used bookstores, and of the plan Bob has to partner with Between the Covers, The Kelmscott Bookshop, and The Old Bookshop of Bordentown,  to convert the second story of his existing premises into a new store called The Bookshop in Old New Castle. Grand Opening: May 1 (Click here to see a slide-show of the remodeling process). Please listen here:


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Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Bob_Fleck_1_800130_01.mp3
Category:Bookseller Interview -- posted at: 11:30am EDT

Photo: Nigel Beale.

Richard Holloway is a Scottish writer/broadcaster  and former Bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church who was educated at Kelham Theological College and the Union Theological Seminary, New York City. Between 1959 and 1986 he was curate, vicar and rector at parishes in England, Scotland and the United States, at which point he became the Bishop of Edinburgh, a position he resigned from in 2000. Now an outspoken commentator on religious belief in the modern world, he is author of more than 20 books, well-known for his support of liberal causes, including human rights for gays and lesbians in and outside of the church. Holloway lives in Edinburgh with his American-born wife Jean. They have three adult children.

We talk here about one of his most recent books, Between the Monster and the Saint, as he puts it: ‘a gradual plea for self awareness and forgiveness, and through this, tolerance and compassion toward others.

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 Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.
Direct download: Richard_Holloway.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:27am EDT


Poet, playwright and novelist Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956 and grew up in India, Cameroon and England. After graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1979, he started a theatre company and toured villages and schools before moving to London where he taught Drama and English Literature. Thorpe lives in France with his wife and three children. His most recent books are a collection of short stories, Is This The Way You Said? (2006); a poetry collection, Birds with a Broken Wing (2007); and the novels  The Standing Pool (2008) and Hodd (2009) in which he depicts Robin Hood as a glorified 13th century gangster surrounded by a group of psychopathic thugs, desperate men preying on the innocent.

We talked recently in Toronto at the IFOA, about the Robin Hood myth, and our apparent need to create heroes to address injustice, to express indignation, and right the wrongs of an unjust world. In the conversation we riff off William Flesch’s contention that fiction satisfies our desire to see the good vindicated and the wicked get their ‘comeuppance.’

Listen here

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Direct download: Adam_Thorpe.mp3
Category:Author Interview -- posted at: 11:22am EDT

Photo: Gaspereau Press.

"Good reviewing," writes Carmine Starnino in the not-to-be-missed introduction to his A Lover’s Quarrel Essays and Reviews, "- reviewing that believes in literary failure – is invaluable because by calling one poem good and another less good, and adducing clear reasons for those claims, it offers one writerly interpretation of a particular achievement, and invites the reader to sypathetically tag along; his or her senses momentarily borrowing the reviewer’s responses."

We met recently in a somewhat echoey corner of the National Gallery in Ottawa to hold Starnino’s most recent collection of poetry, This Way Out, up to scrutiny, naming names. Which of his poems are good, which bad; who are the best and worst contemporary Canadian poets. Listen here as we walk the walk of A Lover’s Quarrel:

Direct download: Carmine_Starnino_800306_01.mp3
Category:Poets -- posted at: 8:56am EDT

"The Quill & Brush was established in 1976 as an outgrowth of a part-time business run by Allen and Patricia Ahearn who started collecting and cataloging books in the early 1960s. The Ahearns have over 45 years of experience in the field. At present the Quill & Brush is operated by Allen and Pat and their two daughters, Beth Fisher and Sue Regan.

The Quill & Brush specializes in first editions of literature, mystery/detective fiction and poetry, as well as collectible books in all fields. The firm focuses mainly on books published from the middle of the 19th century to the present. Their stock of over 15,000 books is housed in a beautiful library in the Ahearns’ home, nestled in the woods at the base of scenic Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland…"

 …which is where we met to talk about ebooks and their impact on the future pricing of collectible books, about collecting what others don’t; first books; Larry McMurtry, best used book selling practices and much more. Please listen here:

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Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Ahearns_012708-155254.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 8:39am EDT