Armed with a sharpened pencil and the weight of words, a discerning editor’s role must also respect the integrity of an author’s intentions. No easy feat when editing the works of Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, Alice Munro and Pierre Trudeau.
Douglas Gibson, who has had one of the most remarkable editing careers in Canadian literary history, will take the stage at Okanagan College in two performances of his penned collection of memoirs, Stories about Storytellers.
The public is invited to attend the free events on Tuesday, Sept.15, 7 p.m., at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus lecture theatre, and on Wednesday, Sept.16, 3:30 p.m., in the lecture theatre at the Vernon campus.
“The Department of English is very pleased to have a figure of Douglas Gibson’s stature join us to talk about his experiences in the publishing industry,” said Matt Kavanagh, chair of Okanagan College’s English Department.
“We’re especially excited to introduce a new generation of students to one of the editors most responsible for putting Canadian literature on the map.”
Gibson’s works read like a library of Canada’s biggest literary names, an amalgamation of his 40-year career that included roles as an editor, publisher, and ultimately president of McClelland & Stewart Publishing House.
In 1991, he was awarded the Canadian Booksellers Association President’s Award, and in 2005 was the recipient of the Editor of the Year Award.
In a role reversal, the editor/publisher-turned-author recognizes that in theory authoring a book should have been easy for him, but quite the contrary. Even he, who had edited more than a hundred books and published countless others, was not immune to a case of writer’s block.
But like all good tales, the stories eventually took shape and had a beginning. Stories about Storytellers has been acclaimed for its wittiness, modesty, and delightful tales.
It’s no surprise that the one and only Alice Munro, the first Canadian female author to win a Nobel Prize in literature, penned Gibson’s introduction. Munro called it “my prize read for people interested in books, writers, Canada, life, and all that kind of thing.”
Following the success of Stories about Storytellers, later this month Gibson will release his second collection of memoirs about Canada’s most prominent authors, Across Canada by Story.
“These two events are an extraordinary opportunity and resource for the College’s English and writing students,” says John Lent, retired Okanagan College Regional Dean of the North Okanagan and acclaimed author.
“The Okanagan community and Canadian literature aficionados are bound to find great entertainment in hearing inside information about these iconic writers, from a man who knew them so well.”