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THE BIBLIO FILE is a podcast about "the book," and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by Nigel Beale it features wide ranging, long-form conversations with best practitioners inside the book trade and out - from writer to reader. Why listen? The hope is that it will help you to read, write, publish, edit, design, and collect better, and improve how you communicate serious, big, necessary, new, good ideas and stories...

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Dec 10, 2022

John Metcalf is angry that after working in Canada as a "storyteller, editor, novelist, essayist, and critic" for more than fifty years his books still only sell about 500 copies each. Regardless of this, he's made a significant contribution to Canadian literature through his editing, teaching, critiquing, compiling of anthologies, publishing, and promotion generally of Canadian writers and the short story form. His work is known for its satire, intense emotion and imagery. In fact, his whole career can be said - John says it himself in Temerity and Gall, the book we discuss here today - to have been an extended conversation with Ezra Pound's Imagism.
In our chronological conversation we examine John's life (he was born in 1938) starting with England and his relationship with his father, clergyman Thomas Metcalf; we talk about John's work with Oberon Press, ECW, Porqupine's Quill, and Biblioasis; about him teaching in the Montreal school system and almost dying of boredom, about publishing textbooks, and drinking with Mordecai Richler; about Michael Macklem (some people think he was a dick); about early catastrophes with Jack David and Robert Lecker, a lack of communication with Tim Inkster, and a love of Dan Wells's ambition. It's not all just juicy Canadian publishing gossip however, we also discuss James Joyce and the advent of film and modernism, Hemingway's first short story and the misspelling of his name, the serious ideas that underpin John's writing and editorial practice, and the success he's enjoyed, over many decades, of getting important books published. And finally, in the end, there's his patient, respectful wife Myrna working in the other room.