________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 3 . . . . September 29, 2006


Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors' Reflections.

Danielle Schaub, photographer & ed.
Edmonton, AB: The University of Alberta Press, 2006.
368 pp., cloth, $60.00.
ISBN 0-88864-459-0.

Subject Headings:
Authors, Canadian-Books & reading.
Authors, Canadian-Portraits.

Grades 10 and up / Age 15 and up.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

*** /4


Beyond the multiple narrative layers that bind text and image, this book gives access to writers through personal texts and natural photographs. The combination affords a new vision of the writers - closer, more human, almost as real as the writers themselves. By photographing Canadian writers and creating images of those who dream us, this project allows readers to dream about them and to interact with them not only through their texts, but also through these personal images they provide.

Danielle Schaub, a teacher of Canadian fiction and autobiographical writing, has brought together two of her passions in this book: photography and literature. The result is an interesting collection which will appeal to students, to teachers, to book clubs, to anyone who loves to read.

     Schaub includes over 160 Canadian writers, both newcomers and well-known names, from a variety of backgrounds. In a short essay, each author discusses the role of reading in his/her life. This is often a personal anecdote revealing their first memories of books and reading or the thrill (or perhaps terror!) of doing public readings of their work. Some of the essays are more philosophical, investigating the relationship of reading and writing or attempting to answer the question of what motivates readers to, in fact, read. Most of these essays are in English and prose, but several are in French, and occasionally the writer expresses thoughts in poetry.

     Much of the charm of this book comes from the photographs of the individual authors which accompany their words. The black and white close-up photos are less posed than those we usually encounter on book covers and provide a sense of knowing the writer a little more personally. It is enjoyable to let one's eyes drift from the writing to the photo and back again - almost like having a conversation.

     Within a classroom or library, this book could provide just that little extra insight needed when researching an author. It might even serve as a model for an ambitious teacher of creative writing who wants to produce a similar volume of class work at the end of the term.

     Although not a book that one is apt to read from cover to cover, Reading Writers Reading provides a unique opportunity to look up a favourite author or perhaps encounter someone new. The information provided is sometimes repetitive, but all of the writers seem to glow with the enjoyment and excitement of reading. Their enthusiasm is palpable!


Ann Ketcheson, who lives in Ottawa, ON, is a former teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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