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.

15 December 2012

John Glassco: 103 Years

John Stinson Glassco
15 December 1909 - 29 January 1981
"I believe, actually, that birthdays should be dated from the moment of conception or fertilization, because that was undoubtedly a pleasanter occasion for everyone concerned."
—John Glassco, letter to A.J.M. Smith, 27 Oct 1964

29 July 2012

Selling Jamaica Farm

Photo by Stewart Cooke

Newly installed on the barn at what was once John Glassco's Jamaica Farm, site of the much-missed Foster Horse Show. The farm itself is again for sale, this time in two parts.

The barn, milk house and three acres of land. "Known locally as the original site of the Foster Horse Show."

The house Glassco built for first wife Elma. The realtor's listing recognizes its past:
JAMAICA FARM - CHANNEL YOUR INNER POET when you choose this home, formerly Buffy Glassco's residence. Discreetly sheltered by majestic pines, neighbour to Brome Lake Golf Club and well-located near Autoroute 10 and Brome Lake, your home and its 23+ acres has much to offer.
At $745,000 for both properties, the farm ranks as one of the most expensive pieces of Glasscoiana. Well worth the investment, I say.

The Eastern Townships Advertiser, 16 August 1961

13 June 2012

Hector de Saint-Denys-Garneau: cent ans

Hector de Saint-Denys-Garneau
13 June 1912 - 24 October 1943

I’m reading Garneau’s Journal now. This is, as you say, a unique thing in this country. He seems to have been like one of those mediaeval prodigies who developed almost overnight: poetry, metaphysics, art, nature, music, politics – he is brilliantly at home in all of them: only his sense of guilt and forlornness, his despair, are all too modern, and give him an astonishing depth. 
— John Glassco, letter to F.R. Scott,  28 November 1957

The Journal of Saint-Denys-Garneau
McClelland & Stewart, 1962

Complete Poems of of Saint-Denys-Garneau
Oberon, 1975

01 June 2012

The 2011 Gabrielle Roy Prize

Photo by Wendy Roy

That's me on the far right with my fellow Gabrielle Roy Prize nominees (l-r) Sophie McCall, Alan Filewod, Herb Wyile and Susan Murphy this past Saturday at the Wilfrid Laurier University.

Congratulations to Herb, who took home the medal for his Anne of Tim Hortons: Globalization and the Reshaping of Atlantic-Canadian Literature.

28 May 2012

Conversing with a Literary Tourist about Montreal

Audio of my recent conversation with Nigel Beale has just been posted here at the Literary Tourist.

Mordecai Richler, A.J.M. Smith, F.R. Scott, the Writers' Chapel, the Seville Theatre and Les Mas des Oliviers figure... as does Fiddler's Green Irish Pub, the establishment that has taken up residence in John Glassco's old Bishop Street pied-à-terre.

Cross-posted at The Dusty Bookcase

13 May 2012

Images of the John Glassco Soirée

A few photographs of the John Glassco Soirée, held late last month at the Writers' Chapel of Montreal's St James the Apostle Anglican Church. All images and captions come courtesy of the fine folks at the Argo Bookshop, sponsors of the event.

Reverend Robert Camara started us off with a few opening remarks.
Michael Gnarowski, a good friend of John Glassco, followed Robert Camara with anecdotes about his old friend. A personal favourite was the recipe for one of Glassco's favoured summer drinks, the 'Glassco special':
1 part gin
1 part sparkling water
1 part orange juice
& sugar to taste
Judy Nesbitt spoke as a direct bloodline connection to Glassco. Before she spoke at the event about her Uncle Buffy, at the bar, she passed around the oldest photographs of the Glassco family.
One of our two featured speakers was Brian Busby, author of A Gentleman of Pleasure, enlightening us with facts and factoids, details and illuminations on Glassco's life and work.
Our other featured speaker was Carmine Starnino, who had edited John Glassco and the Other Montreal, a selection of poems. He had taken the side of interrogator and interviewer for the evening, posing questions to Busby about the contexts and underpinnings of Glassco's work.

Last, but certainly not least, Bryan Sentes would season Carmine and Brian's conversation about Glassco by reading excerpts and poems: specifically, the poems "The Rural Mail" & "Brummel at Calais", with excerpts from The English Governess/Harriet Marwood, Governess, and the first three paragraphs of Memoirs of Montparnasse.
Argo co-owners Jesse Eckerlin and Meaghan Acosta at the book table.
It seems such a cliché, but there truly was something magical about the evening. I offer my thanks, once again, to the Argo Bookshop for sponsoring the event. Anyone looking for copies of A Gentleman of Pleasure, John Glassco and the Other Montreal and Memoirs of Montparnasse need look no further.

Cross-posted at The Dusty Bookcase.

18 April 2012

Shortlisted for the Gabrielle Roy Prize

The Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures (ACQL) is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2011 Gabrielle Roy Prize (English Section), which each year honours the best work of Canadian literary criticism published in English. This year’s shortlisted finalists (in alphabetical order) are Brian Busby for A Gentleman of Pleasure: One Life of John Glassco, Poet, Memoirist, Translator, and Pornographer (McGill-Queen’s UP); Alan Filewod for Committing Theatre: Theatre Radicalism and Political Intervention in Canada (Between the Lines Press); Sophie McCall for First Person Plural: Aboriginal Storytelling and the Ethics of Collaborative Authorship (UBC Press); and Herb Wyile for Anne of Tim Hortons: Globalization and the Reshaping of Atlantic-Canadian Literature (Wilfrid Laurier UP).

The shortlist was chosen by a jury composed of David Creelman (UNB, Saint John), Carrie Dawson (Dalhousie University), and Cynthia Sugars (University of Ottawa).

The winner will be announced publicly on May 26th, 2012, at the Gabrielle Roy Prize reception at the Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures annual conference, which this year will take place in Waterloo, Ontario. The prize reception will be held from 6:00-7:30 p.m. on May 26th in the Graduate Lounge on the first floor of the Student Services Building at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The jury was unanimous in selecting A Gentleman of Pleasure for particular recognition. One member described the book as “a beautifully written and very well researched account of Glassco’s life and, equally interesting, of his interactions with so many other Canadian writers, artists, and intellectuals. Never before has the mid-twentieth-century Canadian literary and cultural scene appeared so … scandalous!” Another wrote: “Balanced, incisive, and precise, Busby has produced a carefully researched and elegantly written biography. Focusing on a minor writer with a persistent talent, the book is more than a chronicle of the main events of Glassco’s life. A Gentleman of Pleasure captures the tone of the different eras through which Glassco moved and is imprinted with the anxieties and difficulties of an uncentered writer emerging in the midst of the emptiness of the modernist era. The writing is professional, clear, and engaging, and the research is meticulously documented.”

Cross-posted at The Dusty Bookcase

16 April 2012

A John Glassco Soirée

Later this month I'll be joining Carmine Starnino, editor of the recent John Glassco and the Other Montreal, in a discussion of Glassco's life and work at St. James the Apostle's Writers' Chapel:
A John Glassco Soirée
The Writers' Chapel
Church of St. James the Apostle
1439 St. Catherine Street West (corner Bishop)
Friday, April 27, 7:00 pm
Glassco's good friend Michael Gnarowski, editor of John Glassco: Selected Poems with Three Notes on the Poetic Process and publisher of the only Canadian edition of The English Governess, will be hosting the evening.

St. James the Apostle was the church of Glassco's childhood. The plaque celebrating his life, placed in the affixed to its walls in 2009, marked the beginning of the Writers' Chapel.

This is a free event is presented by the Argo Bookshop.

All are welcome.

Cross-posted at The Dusty Bookcase

10 April 2012

Patricia Godbout in Canadian Literature

Alongside the quest for pleasures and their undersides, there is a formidable search throughout Glassco’s life that Busby identifies and traces for the reader: that of the troubled relation between memoirs and memory, living and telling, the truth of an instant, and the requirements of narration. Almost as soon as he arrived in Paris with Graeme Taylor at the end of the twenties, Glassco started to memorialize and fictionalize his own movable feast. Thus, the biographer’s endeavour consisted not so much in trying to separate fact from fiction as in tracking how Glassco constantly blurred the lines between them.
 Another positive review – this one from Patricia Godbout in Canadian Literature. More here.

01 April 2012

Now that April's Here...

Spring has sprung and the thoughts of a middle aged man turn to work. Much of these past few months have been spent going through John Glassco's letters in preparation for a volume to be published this coming autumn.

More on that another day.

This morning, rereading correspondence between the poet and his old McGill friend Leon Edel, I was stuck – for the nth time – by their final exchanges. Glassco, not long for this world, continues to be haunted by a short story published a half-century earlier: Morley Callaghan's "Now that April's Here".

The story is one the writer's most anthologized, but I've never quite understood its weight; Callaghan had better than this. Its real value lies in it being a nouvelle à clef, with Glassco cast as Johnny Hill, a young, chinless expatriate who is writing his memoirs. Glassco's friend Graeme Taylor appears as Charles Milford, whom Johnny supports through a small monthly income. As portrayed by Callaghan, they're two gay boys who delight in snickering at others. Robert McAlmon makes an appearance as Stan Mason, a boozy writer who is hurt to discover that he is their chief target.

Graeme Taylor, John Glassco and Robert McAlmon, Nice, 1929

The story was first published in the Autumn 1929 number of This Quarter, by which time Callaghan had completed his "summer in Paris" and was safely back in Toronto. He never got to witness the effects the time bomb left behind in Montparnasse had on Glassco's friendship with McAlmon. Leon Edel came to Glassco's aid by dismissing story in his "Paris Notes" column for the Montreal Daily Star. Late in life, after Glassco's death, he allowed that Callaghan's depiction of the "two boys" was accurate.

For Glassco, it was a story that just wouldn't go away. In 1936, he saw it given a place of prominence in Now that April's Here and Other Stories. It would return in Morley Callaghan's Stories (1959) and lives on in the man's misleadingly-titled Complete Stories (2003).

Then we have Now that April's Here, an odd 1958 feature comprised of four Callaghan short stories": “Silk Stockings”, “Rocking Chair”, “The Rejected One” and “A Sick Call”, but not the one that gives the film its title.

Now that April's Here enjoyed a gala opening in Toronto, closing after two weeks. After a few more runs through a projector in Hamilton, it was never screened again. Glassco was spared the distress of reading the title on Montreal movie marquees.

This seven minute clip, courtesy of YouTube, reveals why the film is forgotten:

Criterion will not be interested.

Cross-posted at The Dusty Bookcase.

21 March 2012

Remembering Glassco and Nowicki

The new issue of Concordia magazine features my tribute to the late Larry Nowicki, to whom I dedicated A Gentleman of Pleasure.

Lawrence Peter Nowicki
Brasserie Lipp, Saint-Germaine des Prés, Paris
February 1987

01 January 2012

George Fetherling in CNQ

George Fetherling reviews A Gentleman of Pleasure and John Glassco and the Other Montreal in the new issue of Canadian Notes and Queries:
I imagine that Busby, like many other literary biographers, ended up with a much different book than the one he had in mind originally. As he gathered more and more detail (he is a master of research), he must have rethought his previous assumptions, coming to see Glassco as a terribly sad figure: someone at odds with his wealthy family, frequently broke or seriously constrained in various ways by what he called “the two features of my psychosexuality, the fetishistic and the masochistic.” Yet in the process Busby proves himself most sympathetic as he goes about revivifying a complex and (in this instance) highly conflicted individual consciousness, which is what serious biographers aspire to do.
What a yarn…