Thursday, September 18, 2008

Maud versus Maurice. . .

Two huge Canadian icons, two big centenaries, lots and lots of books.
If you're Canadian, you would have to have been living under a rock not to know that 2008 marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables. And coming this November, will be a big, meaty biography of its author. Mary Henley Rubio has spent over twenty years researching Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings and this promises to be the definitive biography. I've only read snippets so far, but I can already tell this will be my major reading over the Christmas holidays.

And then there's the inevitable hockey frenzy that will accompany the centenary of the Montreal Canadiens in 2009. It's inexplicable to me, despite over fifteen years in the book business, how the Canadian market can sustain so many hockey books on every conceivable subject, season after season after season. However, even I fully understand the gluttony of books that will appear on this historic occasion. Growing up in a suburb of Montreal, I too had a Guy Lafleur hockey card. And of course, who hasn't cherished Roch Carrier's The Hockey Sweater? First out at the end of this month is D'Arcy Jenish's The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory, in which he constructs the history of the team using the work of the contemporary sports journalists as his major source material. His goal was, "to recapture the spirit and excitement of events as they unfolded" because "history is never more exhilarating than the day it happens." And though there are photos and illustrations, this is really a solid biography of the team and its personalities, not a glossy coffee table book.
I actually have a bet with my boss as to which book will have sold the most after one year. I expect both will be very popular as gifts during the holiday season and based on initial orders, hockey has taken a lead in the first period. But don't count Maud out just yet, or the power of Anne. Maybe I'm naive but don't more women than men read and buy books? (and yes, I know there are tons of female hockey fans out there as well). I've also got my hopes pinned on the P.E.I. summer tourists. Look for Lucy Maud to take it in the third. Let the battle begin.

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