Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Thanks & Another Top Tip: Robertson Davies

Hello ethereal friends.

Thanks to those of you who picked up the book this last week.  I hope you'll like it and tell others.  If you don't like it, fair enough, but you should feel free keep that to yourself.  (Kidding! [sort of]).

Anyway, while you were shopping for books this weekend I was taking my high-school-senior daughter on a whirlwind tour of the great universities of Ontario and Quebec.
U of T in the summer sun...

On this trip, for the first time in my long association with Canada, I visited the University of Toronto.  For me this is literary hallowed ground.  It has produced uncounted Canadian (and world) eminences, including Margaret Atwood, but for me it is to be cherished as the sometime intellectual home of Robertson Davies.  He was the founding master of Massey College there. Davies  is one of my literary heroes.  His physical appearance (beard, eyebrows etc.) - and his name - inspired the character of Morgan Davies in Up, Back, and Away, and his work, especially his masterpiece, Fifth Business is my top  tip for you today.

When I got home to Vermont after our trip this weekend I did a quick search on Amazon and found to my near horror that there is no e-version of Fifth Business, nor of any of Davies' other books available for sale.  This is really incomprehensible (executors of Davies' literary estate, take note).  He died in 1995 and he seems to have vanished into almost complete obscurity in the US and England.  Canada keeps the flame (Fifth Business was number 13 on the Canadian Classics list on when I checked this morning).  Dear reader, I truly have your best interests at heart in recommending Davies to you.  Fifth Business is his best work - I once saw it called the best book ever written in Canada.  It's an engaging, lively page turner full of wisdom and mystery too.  I enjoyed it at twenty as much as I did at 45 - for different reasons.   You can start with that. I'm betting you'll want to carry on reading the rest of the Deptford Trilogy immediately.

When I was 22 I wrote a letter to the great man, and he wrote back.  Here's a link to a blog post about that, including the text of his kind reply to me.

As noted, you can't get an e-books by Davies, but used copies abound and your library ought to have at least a few titles by him.  If they don't you might tell them to get some.

I hope you'll read Fifth Business and maybe some of his other books and come back here to tell me "Thanks!"  Cheers.