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.

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.