Douglas Gibson has edited some of Canada’s biggest names, from Pierre Trudeau to Alice Munro. Now he’s coming to Brock to talk about it.
The 40-year publishing veteran who founded his own imprint at McClelland and Stewart will be the keynote speaker for Brock’s Two Days of Canada conference on Thursday, Nov. 3. Gibson, who penned the recently released book Stories About Storytellers, will present a slide show and tasty anecdotes about some of the literary and cultural giants he’s worked with.
He’ll include colourful stories of dashing through traffic with Trudeau, or committing a “home invasion” to get Alistair MacLeod’s manuscript of No Great Mischief. What spectators won’t get, he said, is dirt.
“The key thing about this whole collection is it’s not a bitter, get-even book,” he said. “I like all the writers I write about, and if I didn’t like them, I didn’t write about them.”
With one phone call from Alistair MacLeod, for example, “the world seemed to be a better place. He was such a decent man.” Gibson is also credited with keeping Alice Munro writing short stories. After Munro, who wrote the introduction to Gibson’s book, won the Governor General’s Award for her collection Dance of the Happy Shades, everyone in the book trade pressured her to write a novel, he said.
“If you keep writing short stories, I’ll keep publishing them, and I will never ask you for a novel,” Gibson recalls saying to her.
“Alice is now probably the English language’s greatest short story writer.”
Gibson’s talk is free and open to the public. It will be from 7 to 9 p.m. in Pond Inlet. The 25th annual conference spans over two days, ending Friday, Nov. 4. The theme this year is “Canadian Studies, Canadian Stories: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Pedagogies.”
Gibson’s presentation will touch on the core of the Canadian identity, said Marion Bredin, co-organizer and associate professor of Communication, Popular Culture and Film.
“We wanted a dynamic storyteller who’s been at the forefront of getting Canadian stories out there,” she says. “He’s really covered the range of Canadian thought and popular storytelling.”
Two Days of Canada is sponsored by the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Centre for Canadian Studies, the Humanities Research Institute and the departments of English Language and Literature, History and Communication, Popular Culture and Film.