Circumnavigating the Globe
Plus, the Canada Council says you need to be better
Welcome to the 147th edition of SHuSH, the weekly newsletter of The Sutherland House Inc. Hit the button—it’s free:
Last Friday’s newsletter, SHuSH 146, caused us a bit of discomfort. I quoted a long critique of the book sections in Canadian newspapers by Emily Keeler, somehow forgetting that I was due that evening to launch Eric Reguly’s new book, Ghosts of War, on the Globe & Mail’s premises. I even elaborated on Emily’s criticisms, applying them to all arts coverage in newspapers, with the Globe as Exhibit A.
Who was the first person I encountered on entering the Globe’s event space last Friday evening?
Publisher Phillip Crawley.
Turns out he’s a loyal SHuSH reader.
Fortunately, Phillip was gracious about my criticisms (I acknowledged that newspapers had been through tough times and that arts sections tend to underperform in reader surveys). He admitted my point and said that arts coverage was something the Globe hopes to address in the months ahead. He is cognizant of the fact that his is the only Canadian newspaper capable of leading a national conversation on the arts, and he expects that as event spaces begin opening again, arts-and-entertainment advertising will bounce back, and coverage will follow. That is excellent news.
The Globe’s event space, incidentally, is far too good for a newspaper, up there on the seventeenth floor with a 360-degree view of Lake Ontario and the Toronto skyline (you can see a bit of it in the photo above, which has Eric, left, being interviewed by Brian Stewart). It was booked almost every night prior to the pandemic and then sealed for two years. We were one of the first events the Globe has hosted since the great reopening got underway. I was relieved that it wasn’t quite warm enough to open the doors to the sprawling outdoor terraces (terrified of heights), but you could see why the space is popular not only for corporate events but weddings (book here).
We square, Phillip?
Twitter can surprise you
Canada Council says you need to be better
The Canada Council for the Arts held its annual public meeting March 30 and a video of it is now up on YouTube where, as of Thursday night, 321 people had tuned in to see CEO Simon Brault’s new shoelaces.
It’s not time for another deep dive into the ameliorative ambitions of Canada’s leading arts funding agency. We’ll just note that everything I observed in SHuSH 139 is on abundant display in this video, from the exhaustive land grant acknowledgment to non-stop discussion of equity, climate change, and Ukraine to a (mercifully short) speech by council chairman Jesse Wente, most of it dedicated to his usual one-note Indigenous activism (you’re supposed to rep all artists, Jesse).
Cheque-mailer-in-chief Brault, who obviously finds the real work of his position boring as fuck, says his immediate and long-term priorities (at a time when most of the nation’s artists and arts organizations have been economically devastated by the pandemic) are “elimination of racism and discrimination… and focusing on decolonization in people’s minds, in systems, and in institutions.”
Every square on the bureaucratic buzzword bingo card is covered: “intentionality;” “innovation,” “risk-taking,” “sustainability,” “inclusivity,” etc.
It’s like these guys watched Anne Hathaway on “WeCrashed” and convinced themselves they can “elevate the world’s consciousness” through arts grants.
Will they succeed? Given that they can’t match the production values of local cable despite a half-billion budget, odds are long.
Anyway, their not-quite-viral symphony of sanctimony is an experience. Give it a watch.
I complain about book reviewing in Canada but we are not alone. Dan Stone’s newsletter recently did some math to determine whether the New York Review of Books is as clubby as reputed. (The historian Richard Hofstadter once referred to the publication as the “New York Review of Each Other’s Books.”)
Stone looked at all 59 years of the NYRB, covering 1,128 issues and 17,268 articles (mentioning 31,579 books) and found that the criticism is just.
As of April, “27% of all NYRB book reviews have reviewed works by writers who had previously contributed” to the magazine:
Stone found one edition of the magazine from 1995 in which every article but one featured a past contributor’s book.
He also found that the surest way to get noticed by the NYRB is to contribute to it. In fact, 60 per cent of people who have written for the magazine have had their books reviewed in it, and 71 per cent of people who have written for the magazine more than once have had their books reviewed:
Blow it out your Amazon
As part of its ongoing bid to swallow the retail industry, Amazon recently announced a new service that makes available to third-party merchants its Prime delivery service and Amazon checkout system. It’s a direct shot at Shopify, which has had great success helping independent retailers build and manage their websites (if you ignore the fact that Shopify has lost
75% 76% 77% 78% 79% of its market value since November).
Amazon is marketing its new offer as Buy With Prime. The good folks at Publisher’s Lunch are chosing to call it Amazon as a Service, or AAAS.
Click this link to make the above map come alive.
Better yet, click here for the Sutherland House website and order one of these:
Our Newsletter Roll (suggestions welcome)
Steven Beattie’s That Shakespearean Rag, a newsy blog about books and reading
Art Kavanagh’s Talk about books: Book discussion and criticism.
Gayla Gray’s SoNovelicious: Books, reading, writing, and bookstores.
Esoterica Magazine: Literature and popular culture.
Benjamin Errett’s Get Wit Quick, literature and other fun stuff
Jeet Heer’s The Time of Monsters: political culture and cultural politics
Lydia Perovic’s Long Play: literature and music.
Tim Carmody’s Amazon Chronicles: an eye on the monster.
Jason Logan’s Urban Color Report: adventures in ink (sign-up at bottom of page)
Anne Trubek’s Notes from a Small Press: like SHuSH, but different
Art Canada Institute: a reliable source of Canadian arts info/opinion
Kate McKean’s Agents & Books: an interesting angle on the literary world
Rebecca Eckler’s Re:Book: unpretentious recommendations
Anna Sproul Latimer’s How to Glow in the Dark: interesting advice
John Biggs Great Reads: strong recommendations
THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK. THANKS FOR READING. PLEASE SIGN UP OR CONVINCE SOMEONE ELSE TO SIGN UP, OR SHARE, OR LEAVE A COMMENT: