When I last left off, all those weeks ago, I was just about to re-construct this summer’s Stephen Leacock concert, called A Pocketful of Mariposies. This job is done, rehearsal begun. It took some doing. I won’t go into details of my agonies. They are too tedious to recount. I don’t know whether it’s because I am getting old, or because this time around the subject is a tough one to tame for the purposes of a storytelling concert, but either way, so it proved, until I finally emerged on top. I think it’s going to be a good one, full of entertaining and interesting stuff for Leacockian neophyte and seasoned aficionado both.
As this was going on I embarked upon a concerted effort to collect Stephen Leacock books. This has gone very well, and has been great good fun. I have been travelling a little, and as soon as I know where I am going I search Biblio.com for bookstores there and along the route. Then I search their catalogues for Leacock books, either by or about him. When I scent game I write to the target bookstore, tell them I am going to stop by, with cash, and when, and ask them to hold the books I want. This has lead to pleasant encounters with booksellers all over the place, some of whom sported large Leacock collections at very reasonable prices. My Leacock shelf is now becoming both long and respectable. Occasionally, if I see something good at long distance, I make an on-line purchase in one of the standard ways. This works fine too.
I therefore want to kick off the new wave of this blog by saluting the used-book sellers of Canada, tucked away in their shops and frequently in their houses. I am amazed at what I have been able to find at reasonable prices, and most grateful for, but not amazed at, the good service I have received. Not amazed, because it is natural, I believe, for people who work surrounded by old books to be exceptionally nice people.
Thanks to these people I have come a long way in the collection of Stephen Leacock Literature, or StephLeaLit, as I suppose one might call it, but still have a long and I am sure equally pleasant way to go.
For the next few months of this blog, therefore, I am going to look at what Leacock wrote, not as a reviewer or literary critic, which I am not, but as a storyteller, which I am, telling the story of my encounters with his works, to the extent that I have been able to encounter them.
I started my Stephen Leacock Project with a focus on Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, a book about which I have a most mixed opinion. In order to grapple with it I started reading biographies, and discovered that the story of Stephen Leacock himself is, to my mind, more interesting than anything he wrote, which is saying a lot. I propose to look, therefore, one episode at a time, at what he wrote, and what was going on when he wrote it. I think it will make a good story, entirely blog-suited, and if it takes a while to tell it, I hope my readers will find the long process worth-while.
As I proceed, I will build a catalogue of my collection and reading, which I will post as a page on this blog.
This should keep me going until some other idea comes along.