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ROY MACSKIMMING (Reading & Signing)

Tuesday Sep 25 2007 7:00 pm, Winnipeg, Grant Park Store, in the Travel Alcove

Macdonald, is a novelistic recreation of the last days of Canada’s indomitable first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. The year is 1891. There is a very real fear of absorption by the United States while a political scandal in Quebec threatens to topple the Macdonald government. Narrated by his personal secretary, Joseph Pope, the book reveals the Macdonald’s immense charm and personal magnetism and delivers an exciting portrayal a young emerging nation.

In the grand literary tradition of Gore Vidal’s novels about American political history, Roy MacSkimming has conjured an extraordinary novelistic recreation of the last days of Canada’s indomitable first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Narrated by his private secretary, Joseph Pope, Macdonald opens with stirring scenes of Sir John fighting his last great election battle on issues that uncannily echo our national concerns today. The year is 1891, and there is a very real fear of absorption by the United States. Meanwhile, a political scandal in Quebec threatens to topple Sir John’s government. Exhausted by his electoral victory, the old leader fights to keep his iron grip over his party and life itself.

Joseph Pope renders his chief in intimate detail, revealing the immense charm and personal magnetism that gave Macdonald such mastery over people and events. As the novel moves majestically towards his final hours, Sir John himself addresses the reader directly, reflecting on his past and present. The spellbinding narrative features a memorable cast of characters ranging from President Ulysses S. Grant, Louis Riel and Sir Wilfrid Laurier to Macdonald’s feisty second wife, Lady Agnes Macdonald, and their disabled daughter Mary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ROY MacSKIMMING has been a book publisher in Toronto and literary columnist and books editor for the Toronto Star. He has held positions with the Canada Council for the Arts and the Association of Canadian Publishers. A native of Ottawa, he lives in the country near Perth, Ontario. His next novel will deal with the double life of Canada’s second great Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Roy MacSkimming’s previous book The Perilous Trade: Publishing Canada’s Writers was a Maclean’s bestseller, a finalist for the National Business Book Award, and a Globe and Mail Best 100 Book of the Year.

See:

The Perilous Trade

- by Roy Macskimming

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A book that will fascinate and inform readers who love Canadian writing

"Publishing Canadian books has always been an experiment. Like the great experiments of building a transcontinental railway and a national broadcasting system, it constitutes one of the nation's defining acts. Publishing, after all, is a people's way of telling its story to itself."
-from the Introduction

Part cultural history, part personal memoir, this accomplished, sweeping, yet intimate book demonstrates that the story of Canadian publishing is one of the cornerstones of our literary history.

In The Perilous Trade, former publisher, literary journalist, and industry insider Roy MacSkimming chronicles the extraordinary journey of English-language publishing from the Second World War to the present. During a period of unparalleled transformation, Canada grew from a cultural colony fed on the literary offerings of London and New York to a mature nation whose writers are celebrated around the world. Crucial to that evolution were three generations of book publishers - mavericks, gamblers, entrepreneurs, political activists, and true believers - sharing a conviction that Canadians need books of their own.

Canadian publishing has long made headlines -be it Jack McClelland's outrageous publicity stunts, American takeovers, the collapse of venerable imprints, or bold political moves to ensure the industry's survival. Roy MacSkimming takes us behind the headlines to draw memorable portraits of the men and women who built Canada's literary renaissance. With a novelist's eye for character and incident, he weaves their tangled relationships with authors, agents, booksellers and each other into a lively narrative rich in anecdote and revealing personal recollection. Canadian publishers large and small have nurtured a literature of extraordinary diversity and breadth, MacSkimming argues, giving us English Canada's greatest cultural achievement.