Jack: a life with writers : the story of Jack McClelland

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Knopf Canada, 1999 - Biography & Autobiography - 435 pages
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From one of Canada's most esteemed literary biographers, the extraordinary story of the gregarious, trail-blazing man who propelled the country into a cultural coming of age, and whose life has been every bit as 'page-turning' as many of the books and writers he published. Jack McClelland, the man who set out in the fifties to transform McClelland & Stewart into the country's most exciting publishing house, is renowned as a risk-taker and an entrepreneur, indefatigable, irascible, funny and humane, who did some things well and some things badly - both in extreme measures. He is credited with bringing Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, Irving Layton, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Laurence, Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton, Roloff Beny and many others to centre stage in Canada and around the world. He is famous as the hard-drinking, chain-smoking publicity hound whose flamboyant stunts, calculated to bring attention to his books, made front-page news. But he was also an astute reader who denied his skill as an editor, an inveterate, spicy letter writer, an ardent nationalist, loyal friend, devoted family man, and a man whose passion for the family business delayed his leave-taking until the company's financial difficulties nearly killed him. James King interviewed Jack McClelland himself, his family, as well as numerous friends, authors and publishers, and was given unprecedented access to Jack McClelland's papers and the archives of McClelland & Stewart. This is the candid, captivating biography of a legendary man - and a vivid window onto the lives and habits of this country's writers, as well as the story behind Canada's rise to prominence as a literary powerhouse. "You were the real Prime Minister of Canada. You still are. And even though it's all gone down the tubes, the country that you govern will never fall apart." Leonard Cohen to Jack McClelland, 1996

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