Welcome to this cyberplace, set up as a space for news and reviews of A Gentleman of Pleasure and occasional jottings about John Glassco. Five years have now passed since publication, and I've moved on to other projects, but I'm leaving this up with the thought that those drawn to Glassco's writing will find something of interest.

30 April 2011

Today at Blue Metropolis


Two Montreal writers, Mordecai Richler & John Glassco, and their wildly different backgrounds, careers, and legacies. With Charles Foran, Charles Taylor Prize-winning author of Mordecai and Brian Busby, author of A Gentleman of Pleasure: One Life of John Glassco, Poet, Memoirist, Translator, and Pornographer.

CBC Blue Literary Series

The CBC's Jeanette Kelly will be hosting.

Tickets at the Blue Metropolis website.

27 April 2011

A Gentleman of Pleasure McGill Lecture

From earlier this month, in its entirety, the lecture that launched the book, complimented by opening remarks by my good friend, bookseller Adrian King-Edwards, Dr Richard Virr of McGill's Rare Books and Special Collections and the very gracious Sheila Fischman.

23 April 2011

Anne Chudobiak in The Gazette

If, at the end of this book, which so exhaustively lists Glassco's many crimes against love and literature, I am left with an appreciation for the man and artist, and a desire to read his "memoirs," I can only attribute it to Busby's tact and humanity as a biographer. He presents Glassco, a survivor of childhood abuse, as a three-dimensional person, with strengths and weaknesses, with his primary strengths being his prose and his charm.
The complete review can be found here. Sadly, the review is no longer available online.

22 April 2011

Philip Marchand in The National Post

Busby quotes Glassco’s self-assessment as “trifler, dilettante, petit-maître,” and maintains this is too harsh. Certainly Glassco was more than a trifler and a dilettante — he pursued his writing for years under the most adverse conditions — but petit-maître sounds about right. It is not such a bad thing to be. Maîtres are rare in literature, grand or petit, and the sad ghost of this one may at least derive some satisfaction in knowing that the finest of his volumes, Memoirs of Montparnasse, is of permanent interest to readers.
The entire review can be found here.

21 April 2011

John Glassco and Writing Pornography for Money

A short clip from the Q&A session that followed my recent lecture at McGill University, this in response to a question about Glassco's own attitude towards his pornography.

16 April 2011

Souvenirs of the Eastern Townships

A favourite of the thirty images in A Gentleman of Pleasure, this 1940 photograph captures John Glassco riding outside the Eastern Townships community of Knowlton. Seated next to him is his "housekeeper" Sappho, Mary Elizabeth Wilson, the third in one of several ménages à trois he enjoyed with Graeme Taylor.

A week ago, A Gentleman of Pleasure was launched at Knowlton's Brome Lake Books. Driving home the next day, I snapped these photos.

The Knowlton United Church, where on 18 February 1941 Taylor married Sappho. The union was witnessed by Glassco and the minister's wife.

In a letter to his friend Robert McAlmon, Glassco wrote that after the ceremony he joined the newlyweds in consuming "the last champagne in the district". Sappho left the two men in 1944 – she divorced Taylor five years later.

Jamaica Farm, Glassco's first home in the village of Foster. In 1945, he moved into this yellow farmhouse with Taylor. The two men lived alone until 1956, when they were joined by Elma Koolmer, another "housekeeper". Roughly six months later, Taylor died of Buerger's Disease in Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital.

Glassco's second and last Foster house, built in 1966 for Elma. Five years later, he would scatter her ashes in a stream that can be seen from the rear windows.

Crossposted at The Dusty Bookcase.

13 April 2011

A Gentleman of Pleasure in Men's Fashion

"John Glassco's Memoirs of Montparnasse is a classic in the literature generated by Paris in the 1920s, a time when Glassco, born in Montreal in 1909, got to hang with Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. But as Brian Busby points out in the first sentence of the introduction to his new biography, A Gentleman of Pleasure: One Life of John Glassco, Poet, Memoirist, Translator, and Pornographer ($40, McGill-Queen's University Press), Glassco, among all those other things, was also, by his own confession, an 'accomplished liar.' That by itself promises a tale of truths as fascinating as fiction."

11 April 2011

Stephen Henighan in The Walrus

After a wonderful and wonderfully busy time in Quebec last week – more later – I arrive home to find Stephen Henighan's review of A Gentleman of Pleasure waiting in my mailbox:
As principal translator of the groundbreaking Poetry of French Canada in Translation (1970), Glassco is also a pioneer of Canadian literary translation. A prestigious annual prize bears his name, and his own verse won the Governor General’s Award for poetry in 1972. Regardless of these successes, this scrupulous and often amusing biography suggests that the best of Glassco’s work, like much of the truth of his life, remained hidden from the public eye.
The entire review of the book, one of what The Walrus deems "seven new titles you need to know about," can be found here (and, of course, at newsstands across the country).

04 April 2011

A Gentleman of Pleasure is Recognized

The first review of A Gentleman of Pleasure today – this from literary historian, antiquarian bookseller and author Stephen J. Gertz.
...A Gentleman of Pleasure is the long-awaited biography of Glassco, one of the most fascinating characters of twentieth century literature in English yet one, for the most part, completely unknown. That should change with this thoroughly researched, engaging, and elegantly written book.
How to honour the occasion? Why with a previously unpublished photo of John Glassco and Graeme Taylor strolling along the boardwalk in Nice, of course.

Crossposted at The Dusty Bookcase.