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

Jack Kerouac is an American icon thanks to his novel On the Road (1957). During the late 1950s, he and fellow members of the Beat generation captured something essential about the American psyche, defining a desire to break away from conformity in search of an alternative form of self-fulfillment. As William S. Burroughs once put it , On the Road  "sold a trillion Levis and a million espresso machines, and also sent countless kids on the road" (Charters, 1991, xxviii).

One of those kids was Ottawa native Rod Anstee who, at  age 16, hitch-hiked across the continent, part of a life-long relationship he formed with Kerouac that involved collecting his books and letters, connecting with Beat authors, and writing a bibliography.

I met with Rod at his home recently to get the story; to trace the arc of his collecting experience; to understand as best I could, the core anatomy of a book collector.

Direct download: Rod_Anstee_130808_001.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

Alexander Monker is an Ottawa-based collector of Canadian poetry. I met recently with him to talk about his passion for these and other books, and to get some advise on the art of book collecting. Please listen here:

Direct download: Alexander_Monker.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 12:32pm EDT

This part was easy. I just clipped and pasted from here. "From ornate floral patterns to cityscapes, the boldest book designs of the Golden Age are gathered here. Readers accustomed to today’s more utilitarian bindings will find breathtaking images—gold leaf patterns intricate enough to replicate the shimmer of feathers, forests rendered in rich color and silver, and elegant allusions to Asian art. The diversity and ingenuity of these books will capture the imagination of book lovers and collectors—and anyone who enjoys design.

Selecting the most beautifully crafted and influential pieces from his two-volume, limited edition catalog, Minsky uncovers the world behind a lost art. Dividing these breathtaking designs into distinct categories, he discusses the use of silhouettes, pattern, Oriental influence and more. He also reveals key artists, their signature designs and flourishes, the designs they inspired, and the designs that inspired them.
Richard Minsky founded the Center for Book Arts in 1974 and has worked for more than 35 years to draw attention to book art and encourage artists in the field. His work has been shown around the world and remains in public collections, including the National Gallery of Art and The Victoria and Albert Museum. He has received many fellowships, grants and awards of recognition, including several from the National Endowment for the Arts."

Then came the difficult part: getting Richard to talk about this great 'Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930' project (and if you believe that...). Please listen here:

Direct download: Richard_Minsky_2_130518_002.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 3:28pm EDT

Véhicule Press is re-releasing a series of Montreal Noir titles.

As weird as it might seem today, people from New York used to come up to Montreal for a good time. Gambling houses, drugs, clubs, fast women...Montreal was one of the coolest places to be in post-war North America. Fun, racy, naughty...for a few fleeting years Montreal had a real Noir vibe.  A handful of cheap, disposable novels captured this era in ways that more main stream novels never could. According to literary historian Brian Busby, their colour and detail provide an important historical record. These nine pulp fiction paperbacks documented the landscape and life of the period in an exciting, unusual way. They've since been largely ignored by historians and, in some cases, hidden by their authors.  I met recentlywith Busby to talk about Sugarpuss on Dorchester Street, The Executioner and other such titles, and why this series of paperbacks is worthy of our attention.

Direct download: Brian_Busby_Montreal_Noir_ZOOM0001_2.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 10:42pm EDT

Tim Bowling's collections of poetry include Fathom, The Book Collector, and The Memory Orchard. He has written three novels, including The Bone Sharps and The Paperboy’s Winter. Twice shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, Tim has won the Canadian Authors’ Association Award for Poetry and two Alberta Book Awards. In 2008, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

Tim was in Ottawa recently for Versefest. We met to talk about his book In the Suicide's Library,  an entertaining, fast-paced meditation ( yes, unusual) on modern life, the responsibilities of marriage and parenting, middle-age  and books and book collecting. Topics covered include book collecting, coincidence, suicide, the spirit, passion and harmony of books,  the use of hands, the line between bibliophiles and maniacs, the importance of physical books to the culture; we also cover writing about one’s book collections;  the sense of community among book collectors, the temptation of the material, possession, The Great Gatsby and green light, Las Vegas,  the power of knowledge, the pros and cons of the Internet, Serendipity Books, ‘shattering the groove,’ mid-life, change, parenthood,  and investing life with meaning.

Direct download: Tim_Bowling_amp_R09_0002_4.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 8:06pm EDT

Hard not to like Randy Bachman. He's smart, friendly, interested, passionate...and a collector. Why a collector? Because in 1976 his favourite guitar was stolen from a Toronto hotel room, and he wanted to get it back. What? A late-1950s orange Gretsch guitar, the Chet Atkins model.Bachman used it -- "my first real professional guitar" -- on the Guess Who hit Shakin' All Over, and later for Bachman-Turner Overdrive's Takin' Care of Business. He has yet to find it.

Not all was lost however. Thirty years of hunting, on and off line, through music stores, pawn shops, websites and garage sales resulted in the world's largest and finest collection of Gretsch electric guitars. This trove of roughly 380 instruments was sold to the Gretsch company several years ago for its museum in Savannah, Ga.

I met with Bachman recently in Ottawa - he was here to promote his new book Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap Stories, a written telling of stories told on his popular CBC radio program of the same name. Please listen here as we discuss the madness and wonder that is guitar, vinyl and book collecting. Budding collectors: be sure to note the records he suggests you go after.

Direct download: Bachman_R09_0005_2.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 3:53pm EDT


Whilst in Texas recently I did what all crazed literary tourists do, I checked around for listings of interesting conferences that were taking place at the time, in the area. The Popular Culture Association was holding one in San Antonio, and this is where I caught up with Cheryl Torsney, (at the time Dean of Hiram College, now Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the State University of New York at New Paltz), who was delivering a paper called Collecting as Pedagogy. Listen here to our conversation:

Direct download: Cheryl_Torsney_on_Collecting_Boost_R09_0004.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 11:33am EDT

James Keeline

James Keeline  liked to take apart radios as a young boy. He was also interested in space technology and computers. While in school he worked for a used bookstore. He ended up managing the place and running its web site and computer network. He also started researching and writing about children's series books. His particular interest and expertise is the Stratemeyer Syndicate and its founder Edward Stratemeyer. I met James recently in San Antonio to talk about collecting the Tom Swift series of books. Please listen here:

Direct download: James_Keeline_BoostR09_0005.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 11:34pm EDT

Richard Virr

Richard Virr is the Head and Curator of Manuscripts at the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the McGill University Library. We met recently in Montreal to talk about book collecting, characteristic traits of the book collector, and different kinds of collections, including the Stone and Kimball collection that was purchased by McGill in 1972. It holds most of the books published by Stone & Kimball (1893-1897) of Cambridge, Chicago and New York, a publisher important primarily because of its focus on book quality and design. Please listen here:

Direct download: Richard_Virr_062908-104202.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 5:34am EDT

Prof. Mac Johnson

W.McAllister (Mac) Johnson is a retired professor of art history at the University of Toronto. Some years ago he donated his collection of close to 1000 scholarly, art historical titles to the Carleton University Library in Ottawa.  The collection is unusual, in that it was assembled not by titles, but by categories of art-historical scholarship, including works on provenance and association; technical and theoretical works; museum, exhibition, and auction catalogues; translations and re-editions; connoisseurship (attribution) and criticism; reference works and ephemera. Together the books offer insights into the intellectual, institutional, social, and commercial activity of the art world in France and other European countries in the period spanning the Renaissance to the 20th century.

Johnson, an American-born art historian of international repute,  taught at the University of Toronto, where he trained two generations of Canadian scholars and curators, as a professor of Art History. The library he has donated to Carleton University represents the material evidence of his scholarly activities over the past four decades.

We met recently to talk about some of the practical approaches, philosophies and joys of collecting.

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Copyright © 2010 by Nigel Beale.

Direct download: Mac_Johnson_031408-171551.mp3
Category:Book Collector -- posted at: 7:58am EDT