WE WERE listening to two men discussing Bruce Hutchison's new book on
Canada — “The Unknown Country.” One said, “There’s some splendid descriptive writing in it, but I think Hutchison is fundamentally a bit of a romanticist. I mean he seems to be something of an idealist, if you know what I mean.”
The other man said, “Idealist be blowed. He’s practical. Why the book’s selling for $4.50, and do you know what the lending library is charging? FIVE CENTS a day ! I asked the library woman if she’d never heard of the wartime price ceiling.”
We meekly suggested that perhaps authors don’t have much to say in fixing book prices; that production costs, style of book, potential market and other considerations did enter into it. And that with few exceptions the royalties received by authors, if worked out on no other basis than that of so much per working day, would scarcely cause Mr. Ilsley to swoon with delight.
But we meander. What we set out to say was that what has impressed us is the number of folk who have paid $4.50 to read about their own country, and who are discussing the book with vigorous interest. That fact adds zest to page five of this issue of Maclean's, whereon Bruce Hutchison, with nary a preliminary cough or er, says boldly, “Look, This Is Us.”
• In 1940, Mr. Shumiatcher, a graduate of the University of Alberta, won an essay contest on Canadian-Japanese relations, conducted by the Japan Times. The prize was a trip to Japan. There, he tells us, he made every effort to get off the beaten track, away
from the official sponsors, but it seems that no matter where he decided to go, a Japanese policeman was seized by the same idea at the same moment. However, the deification of Japanese war dead wasn’t any secret, and his observations, in respect of which he writes, were freely made. Mr. Shumiatcher is now taking a postgraduate course at University of Toronto Law School. His father, a Calgary barrister, came from Russia thirty-two years ago.
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