A Good Home, Artists, Arts, Authors, Book lovers, Book Stores, Books, Booksellers, Stratford, Ontario

Must Love Books

Let’s face it: you have to really love books to own a bookstore these days.

Blog Photo Fanfare Sign1 by Hamlin Grange

That’s what I say to Bob Newland, owner of Fanfare Books in Stratford, Ontario. 

Blog Photo Fanfare and downtown by Dale Ratcliffe.JPG
Credit: Dale Ratcliffe

Q. Owning a bookstore doesn’t seem like a way to get rich quick. Why do you do it?

A: You are right: money is not the motivator. But the store provides many other satisfactions:
1)The people- I get to hobnob with the most intelligent, erudite and well-read people on the planet.
2)The books- Everyday is Christmas!
3) Sundry satisfactions- While it doesn’t happen as often in reality as it does in The Little Paris Bookshop,  every now and then someone will say that a book that I sold them years ago made a profound change in them. Often a book is a personal thing and it’s nice to think that I have made a difference, however small, in their lives.

Blog Photo Fanfare and Bob by Hamlin Grange
Credit: Hamlin Grange

Blog Photo Fanfare Story Downtown Traffic and Street by Dale

Thousands of people visit Stratford each year. It’s a beautiful city, with nature (including the Avon River) adding its charms.

Blog Photo Stratford River by Dale Ratcliffe

Blog Photo Stratford Swan by Dale Ratcliffe

It’s also home to famous artists, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Stratford Summer Music Festival, and it’s singer Justin Bieber’s hometown.

Blog Photo Stratford and shakespeare by Dale Ratcliffe
4 above photos by Dale Ratcliffe

Q: Who are some of the individual shoppers who have delighted you by coming to your bookstore? 

 A: The most fun story that I have is this:
First Saturday in December is our sale day. We’ve been doing this for thirty years and it is usually the busiest day of the year. A couple of years ago, Colm Feore came in- as he sometimes does- and held half of the substantial crowd in thrall for about half an hour as he described how he grilled a steak. Now THAT`S entertainment!

(Colm Feore is one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, but his home is in Stratford and he’s a beloved star of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.)

Blog Photo Fanfare and Shoppers by Hamlin Grange

Bob’s mother, a teacher, fostered a love of books. He studied English literature and Bob managed bigger bookstores before buying Fanfare in 1989. 

Fanfare carries books by big-name authors such as Louise Penny, Alice Munro, W.O. Mitchell, Robertson Davies, John Irving, Timothy Findley, Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott, Alan Bradley and others.

But it also carries books by less well-known authors like me. (Thank you, Bob, and store manager John Woodward.)

Book image An Honest House 1

Blog Photo Fanfare window and Street by Hamlin Grange
Above photos by Hamlin Grange

Q: Why should readers and society in general value bookstores today? 

A: Books are the instruments that produce and preserve culture and civilization.
Okay, it sounds like hyperbole but it’s actually true.

The bookstore is a place of discovery.

It’s where you discover passions that you didn’t know you had.

It’s the place where serendipity happens. Also, taking text out of the equation, a well-made book is an object of beauty in and of itself. I love the look and feel of a book where the designer had the talent, patience, awareness and materials to make something special.

Blog Photo Fanfare address

 

 

A Good Home, Art, Artists, Arts, Canadian life, Creative Writing, Poetry

Home Is Where The Art Is

 

So — you think your dwelling is too small? Try living on a boat.

Margaret Mair and husband Richard live on their boat “Into The Blue”.  Margaret also paints and writes her poetry there. And produces her blog.

Margaret's Boat

“The space is very compact, and set up for both living and sailing”, she says. “That means having to think about everything we bring on board: it must be something we need (that includes art supplies, for me) and can store securely.”

Some people have a room to create their art. Margaret has “a corner”.

Margaret's Corner on her boat

There are advantages. She and Richard have traveled widely, from Canada to the US, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

“We can cast off our boat and move, go exploring or visiting and know that we have our own comfortable place to stay.  Anyone who lives on a boat lives very close to nature. We have an intimate relationship with the weather: when the wind blows hard the boat rocks and creaks and the ropes groan; when the sun shines the water sparkles; ripples on the water gurgle against the hull of the boat.”

Margaret's Painting of Boat on Beach

Margaret’s poems and pictures  often reflect her close relationship with the sea:

It calls, the sea,
To the restless boat
Uncomfortably cotched
On a sandy shore,
Longing for
Rocking waves
And cooling current
And the feel
Of wake moving
Singingly along
Her planked hull….

Acrylic on canvasboard; 20 x 16

Margaret started writing poetry as a teenager. She started painting in her forties, first learning to draw and work with colour – chalk pastels. 

“I worked my way through chalk pastels to experimenting with other media until I arrived at the medium I most frequently use, acrylics.”

Margaret Mair's painting - We are Islands

“It took a friend’s introduction to SPARK  in 2011 to make me think most deeply about how paintings and poetry could work together. I did not really start creating my own melding of the two until quite recently – January 2014.”

Many poems and pictures followed, as you can see on her blog.

Her pieces often evoke powerful responses.

“Everyone responds in their own way, and finds the thing or things that speak to them and their experience.

“I gave my mother a piece that hung on her wall until she died, a first iteration of my Tree of Life, much larger and more delicate. One day while I was visiting I watched a young girl stand silently in front of it for a long time, just looking. That was one of my favorite responses.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And a few final words about home:

“I have learned that what you bring to a place is as important as the place itself. Keep it reasonably clean and relatively tidy, as cool on the hot days and as warm on the cold ones as you can (we’ve lived in some drafty places), put your favorite pictures on the wall and fill the bookshelves with your books and magazines and pieces of art, let music fill the rooms, make space to do the things that are important to you, and love the people who share it with you.”

Brava, Margaret.

All photos by Margaret Mair. Artworks copyrighted.