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Giving back during social distancing

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances, where my city has all but shut down to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Like you, I’m self-isolating. I also wanted to reach out somehow.

One of the few outdoor activities sanctioned by Toronto Health is to walk (but keep your distance from others!). And there are small community book boxes dotted around a few neighbourhoods I border. So yesterday and today I wandered about placing random copies of my first five titles (Wuthering Heights, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Age of Innocence, Mrs Dalloway, and The Scarlet Letter) into those little libraries. I hope that they find good homes! (One kind neighbour took the time to find my email address to thank me for putting a copy of Hound near their home, which made my day!)

Gladstone Press books inside a community little library in Beaconsfield Village neighbourhood of Toronto.

So if you are walking in the Beaconsfield Village, Dufferin Grove Park, Parkdale, or Roncesvalles neighbourhoods of Toronto, perhaps check out the boxes and see if there’s something there for you. Oh, and be kind: leave a book of your own if you can. It may make someone’s self-isolation period that much more enjoyable.

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Interview on All Lit Up

It’s not easy to find the right symbol, much less find a lesser-used symbol: if you look at other editions of The Scarlet Letter, the vast majority use the red ‘A.’ It’s impossible to avoid using it, really, so I did use the red ‘A’ – but in the title itself and on a red background, so it is invisible. I’m just trying to find ways to make a person stop, think, and reevaluate this book. Perhaps these symbols intrigue them enough to get them to read.

I was interviewed about Gladstone Press’s mandate, how the designs happen, etc. on All Lit Up’s blog. You can read it here.

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The Scarlet Letter in Quill & Quire

The Scarlet Letter is particularly germane for anyone looking around at contemporary America and wondering how it got to this point. Though the story may be fanciful – Hawthorne called it a “romance” – it is nonetheless based in the reality of its day. Outside of the four central characters, Paulson points out, every named figure in the novel is a real historical personage. “He wanted it to work as a moral tale,” Paulson says. “But he also didn’t want anyone to think that he had made up anything else that was just so weird about the Massachusetts Bay colony.”

– Steven W. Beattie, Quill & Quire Omni, August 29, 2019

I talked with Steven W. Beattie at Quill & Quire about why I’m publishing The Scarlet Letter now, how it relates to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and what’s with the missing ‘A’ (I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s not really missing, it’s just the same colour as the background). You can find the article here [subscriber only] .

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First Anniversary Party in The Toronto Star

Deborah Dundas, The Star’s books editor, dropped by the first anniversary party for Gladstone Press (held at my go-to book store, Type Books on Queen Street West in Toronto – thank you for everything you do to support my wee press!). Even though the article says otherwise, I was too nervous to drink before giving my speech, so I was holding sparkling water. The wine followed soon after the speech… You can read about our conversation here.