Monthly Archive: October 2012

Stories we used to tell

The announcement today that Random House and Penguin Books will merge is another sad step in the downward spiral of a business already in disarray. The press release was full of cheerful wording about how writers will benefit from the new arrangement. Indeed, individual relationships may continue but important aspects like advances will suffer since the two are unlikely to bid against each other for a work they want. With famous Canadian houses such as McClelland & Stewart, Stoddart, Key Porter and Douglas & McIntyre merged or bankrupt, fewer players in publishing is not good. Perhaps it no longer matters....

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Lincoln Alexander 1922-2012

When I arrived in Ottawa in 1970 as a young, green press secretary to Robert Stanfield, there were a few MPs who took me under their wing. Lincoln Alexander was one of them. I met a lot of politicians then, and more in the years since, but it’s safe to say that Linc was the only one I ever knew who had no enemies. None. Stanfield’s followers were not always loyal to their leader. Nor did Pierre Trudeau help Stanfield’s cause when he placed before the House a resolution confirming bilingualism, even though the policy had previously been approved. As...

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Hurrah for other things

My five-year-old grandson recently announced that he didn’t like SpongeBob SquarePants. I always found him a bit grating too, but rather than agree, I asked why? Without hesitation he said, “Some people like some things and other people like other things.” Maybe that insight applies to all ages and explains why I like some people and not others. Take Salman Rushdie, for example. Now that he has turned his murderous fatwa into a novel, Joseph Anton, he has become inescapable. Not to wish another period of danger upon him, but I liked him better when he was in hiding. Then...

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Frank talk

I spent yesterday with Frank Hasenfratz, founder and chairman of Linamar Corp. He is the subject of a new book called Driven to Succeed (Dundurn) written by Susan M. Papp and me. Usually it’s the authors who promote their books, but Frank is such a great storyteller and media savvy business leader that we thought the focus should be on him. Before Frank spoke at lunch to the Toronto Rotary, one of the members droned on for far too long about the public relations effort involved in the club’s one hundreth anniversary. Fortunately there was an interesting tidbit amid the dross. She...

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The titleist

The title of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s memoir, Total Recall, is perfect. It reminds us of his films and promises truth. Even such awful stories like how bad he feels again and again about cheating on his wife with the housekeeper. Still, a good memory about terrible events may be better than Bob Dylan who couldn’t remember anything about the 1960s when he sat down to write his life story which should have been called Total Blank. Anyway, all this got me to thinking about titles for memoirs yet to be written. Titles sell books, so here’s a few that may or...

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The Power of Why

Amanda Lang’s book launch last evening was a great success. Held in the CBC’s Barbara Frum Atrium on Front Street, it attracted a high-profile crowd of 150. There were politicians such as Paul Martin Jr. and Frank McKenna, authors Allan Fotheringham and Michael Bryant, and CBC colleagues News Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire and Kevin O’Leary, Lang’s partner on The Lang & O’Leary Exchange. In addition, there were numerous friends and family members including her mother Adrian, step-father Donald Macdonald, and various siblings and offspring. The book, The Power of Why (HarperCollins) is about innovation, how it happens, and how we can...

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