Preview

Books

The year of the tumor, Howard Hughes, and more zipless intercourse

BARBARA AMIEL January 10 1977
Preview

Books

The year of the tumor, Howard Hughes, and more zipless intercourse

BARBARA AMIEL January 10 1977

Books

Preview

The year of the tumor, Howard Hughes, and more zipless intercourse

“Well,” said Michael Baxendale of Optimum Publishing in Montreal when asked about his company’s big hopes for the 1977 publishing season, “what we're very excited about is an illustrated upbeat book on cancer.” It was downhill all the way from there. Last season’s preoccupation with books on heart attacks is to be replaced by this year’s enchantment with radical surgery. Dr. Gifford-Jones (better known to his Niagara Falls patients as Dr. K. F. Walker) will weigh in with What Every Woman Should Know About Hysterectomy (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) and the personal physician of ex-first lady Betty Ford is enthusiastically endorsing Your Breast And Its Care by Dr. T. R. Shantha (Thomas Nelson.) If the advance flackery of publishing houses is to be believed, all that can out-boffo books on disease and discontent—now that we have universal literacy—are best sellers of gossip about our betters (and worsers) and books known in the trade as basic S-n-G for Sodom and

Gomorrah. Still, there’s rarely a publishing season without at least a silver sleeve. Here, together with what publishers are touting as sure winners for 1977, are a few selections of our own.

It’s not a bumper year for established Canadian authors. No Richler fiction, no Robertson Davies, no Brian Moore—not even a Joyce Carol Oates on the Windsor horizon (surely a catalogue oversight given her bi-weekly gestation period). But there is a brand new Morley Callaghan novel Too Close To The Sun (Macmillan). “And we’ve got a new Pierre Berton book.” claims McClelland and Stewart’s Anna Porter, “but we're not allowed to tell what it’s about.” Margaret Atwood is coming across with a collection of short stories, and

journalist Walter Stewart is doing a doubleheader with a spring paperback As They See Us (described as an antidote to last year’s U.S.-Canadian Gemütlichkeit Between Friends) and a fall book on the right to strike. Best sellers at M & s will likely be Leonard Cohen’s new book of poetry,Death Of A Lady’s Man, and James Houston’s new novel Ghost Fox. From Quebec via Gage Publishing comes a translation of Anne Hébert’s 1974 Governor General Award winning Children Of The Black Sabbath and publisher Alain Stanke’s memoirs of his World War II childhood So Much To Forget.

Macmillan of Canada still has the corner on political memoirs and will kick things off with Grattan O’Leary’s People, Press And Politics to be followed by volume three of Diefenbaker’s Memoirs and the second book of Charles Ritchie’s recollections—this one covering his early years in Nova Scotia. In the muckraking/fussmaking category. Canadians are coming along nicely. Out of Sight, Into Vision (Collier-Macmillan) is reported to be a tough exposé of optometry rackets in Canada, while the man who gave us the class action suit against Ford’s rusty cars, Phil Edmonston, has written (together with Ellen Roseman) Canadian Consumer’s Survival Kit (General). Lest we forget mercury pollution, ACTRA award winning journalist Warner Trover will tell all in No Safe Place (Clarke Irwin.) And in an innovative move, publishers Lester & Orpen are bringing out a paperback book of essays on the federal government’s working paper on the post-controls period. Titled The Way Ahead For Canada, the book will have essays by such trendies as Alvin Toffler and will include a detachable questionnaire to be filled in by concerned readers and mailed back to Ottawa.

Old retainers are not what they used to be. The final kick to those of us nourished and sustained on the true and faithful servant ethic comes this publishing season as Mormons and just-plain-materialists run off at the mouth about Howard Hughes. (Can a tell-all book about Robert Stanfield By His Barber be far away?) The Hidden Years by James Phelan (McGraw-HillRyerson) is touted as the big winner, filled with interesting esotérica on the length (and color) of Howard’s toenails. His Weird & Wanton Way: The Secret Life OJ Howard Hughes by Richard Mathison (Morrow) promises to tell about Hughes’ sex life—according to the people who helped him with it—although given Hughes’ reported phobia with germs and

contamination, this book may be more restrained than its title implies. Tolkien aficionados are in for a treat as yet another “last” Tolkien manuscript surfaces. The Silmarillion (Methuen), started in 1914 and finished by Tolkien fils, is guaranteed to be the final tome and solves the nagging problem of how middle earth was created. Liberated ladies (and those still trying) can carry on learningwith Erica Jong’s How To Save Your Own Life (Holt-Rinehart) which promises us further tales about the

same wonderful folks we met in Fear Oj Flying. Advanced libbers may reflect on Kate Millett’s Sita (McGraw-Hill Ryerson) described as Millett’s autobiographical account of the end of her love affair with an “older woman.” For the blue-rinse-chocolates-and-ET/ge-q/'-ATg/?? set comes Erich Segal’s Oliver’s Story (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) in which the hero of Love Story is still unable to come to terms with his grief “even though all around him friends go on in the joyous experience of living.” Tailored for this market as well is the plethora of glossy, gossipy books marking the 1977 silver jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Horses, horsefaced scions of the House of Windsor and homilies on the self-sacrificing monarchy will be standard book shop fare throughout the year.

Serious readers await with some eagerness two new Solzhenitsyn books: The Gulag Archipelago III (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) and Persian Nights (McGraw-Hill Ryerson), a narrative poem on Solzhenitsyn’s experiences as a young artillery officer in World War II. Montreal-raised Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book America In A New World {V\tz\\Qrvry &. Whiteside) takes on added significance with Brzezinski’s appointment to Henry Kissinger’s old job as head of the National Security Council.

In the nettle-fields of Canadian publishing politics, two issues are beginning to give book people nasty red rashes. The third Montreal International Book Fair is scheduled for this April and already little gusts of regional spleen are surfacing. Last year some French-Canadian exhibitors did not take kindly to the prohibition on selling directly to the public. This year they managed to get the fair opened up to the public four days out of five (though some mornings and early afternoons will still be limited to book trade people) and a special section designated for book sales. Sniffed one Anglo-Canadian publisher: “They want to turn the fair into a Rive Gauche flea market.” Explained Claude Choquette, assistant to the fair’s executive director J. Z. Leon Patenaude: “The Italians and the Germans as well as the French want to sell to the public and meet ethnic groups.”

Back in the Us versus the U.S. battle, Congress’ elimination of the American manufacturing clause that prevented Canadian publishers from exporting their books to the United States without losing copyright is having a curious effect on our publishers. Y ears ago some Canadian publishers righteously maintained that the minute that nasty manufacturing clause was abolished they would support ending the equally nasty 10% tariff on many classes of American books entering this country. Now that Congress has acted (about time, too) a deadly silence has descended over the Canadian publishing industry. “Wedon’thave any statement on that yet,” says Arden Ford of the Association of Canadian Publishers. Linus, it seems, doesn’t know what to do without his blanket. BARBARA AMIEL.