Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oh Danny Boy, the pipes are calling. . .

The latest issue of Active Adult magazine carries a travel article I wrote after sailing around Ireland last year. We enjoyed that trip so much that we're going back this year. You can find the piece (and see some spectacular photos) in the March/April issue of Active Adult. It begins: With The Gathering Ireland 2013 taking place, this year marks the perfect time to discover all that the Republic of Ireland has to offer. Organizers of the year-long celebration expect to entertain 325,000 visitors, and as of February, had confirmed more than 2,500 separate gatherings. Some 8,000 visitors will attend the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin; 1,400 will meet to celebrate the surname Gallagher; and nobody can say how many people will turn up for a gathering of redheads. If you’re looking for a slightly less celebratory experience, you might want to travel west to discover Ireland’s isles. You can explore the botanical gardens at Garinish Island and climb to the top of a Martello tower built to guard against Napoleon. In the Skellig Island, you can see stone-built meditation huts where, centuries ago, monks lived for months at at time. And on one of the Aran Islands, if you dare, you can hang over the edge of a cliff at a famous prehistoric site and, looking down, see the waves crashing into the rock face 100 metres below. Yes, you can drive to Dingle and do the rest in stages. As it turned out, we were lucky enough to do it the easy way, by circumnavigating Ireland — as paying customers, mind — with Adventure Canada. We ate superb meals in a dining room with white linen tablecloths. We gathered often in the main lounge, which had a well-stocked bar, and listened to experts sort out the geography, history and politics of Ireland. “If you’re not confused,” one of them explained, “it’s because you don’t understand.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Franklin Story is Coming to Television

Does anybody remember my review of The Terror by Dan Simmons? OK, I didn't think so. It ran in the Globe and Mail almost six years back. I declared the novel a tour de force, and lauded the way it transformed the fate of the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin into a supernatural, hell-bent narrative. "The most impressive achievement of this brilliant historical novel," I wrote, "is that the author manages to account plausibly for all the known facts. In recreating the harrowing true story of the final expedition of Sir John Franklin, who disappeared into the Arctic with two ships and 128 men in 1845, Dan Simmons offers imaginative solutions to the thorniest mysteries. After spending a first winter at Beechey Island, why did Franklin leave no note saying where he was sailing? Why did sailors, and especially officers, begin dying in such numbers? When, in 1847, the men abandoned the two ice-locked ships, the Erebus and the Terror, why did they drag sledges towards the continental mainland and not Fury Beach, where food supplies lay waiting?" I went on in this vein. Anyway, others have recognized the possibilities. According to Wired, the folks at AMC, makers of The Walking Dead, are turning their hand to the Franklin saga. Purists will soon be raging. But I for one will be happily tuning in.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Collected McGoogan: 10 titles, 13 books!

Limited edition. Our Hero has put together two complete sets. The Collected McGoogan comprises ten titles, thirteen books, all signed by the author (to you if you wish). Each set includes one copy of How the Scots Invented Canada, Fatal Passage, Ancient Mariner, Lady Franklin’s Revenge, Race to the Polar Sea, Calypso Warrior, Chasing Safiya, Going For Gold (with Catriona Le May Doan), Canada’s Undeclared War, Visions of Kerouac (3 editions plus French translation, Le Fantome de Kerouac). All excellent condition, mix of hardcovers and paperbacks. Once in a lifetime! Bidding starts at $350. Includes shipping within North America. Use Comments/No Comments below to make a bid. Open until Feb. 16.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fifty Canadians Who Changed the World

Hurrah! Let the bells ring out for Fifty Canadians Who Changed the World. Today I sent the final, edited typescript to the managing editor at HarperCollins Canada. Substantive edit: done. Copy edit: done. Word count: 88,527.  Publication date: this September. At left, a photo of Our Hero that evokes his jubilation. Otherwise, it has nothing to do with the forthcoming book. (For more on the photo, pick up the April-May issue of Canada's History magazine and refer to an article called "Return to Rae Strait.") [Photo credit: Sheena Fraser McGoogan].