Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - GPS -

For me, McNally Robin­son Book­sellers is like a sec­u­lar church. I can­not imag­ine life in Win­nipeg with­out the bookstores that Holly and Paul McNally built over the years. The ef fect of th­ese places and es­pe­cially the pres­ence of lo­cal and na­tional writ­ers in the stores has been im­mense. You could le­git­i­mately ask whether Win­nipeg would have much of a lit­er­ary com­mu­nity with­out McNally Robin­son; we are a ge­o­graph­i­cally iso­lated, mid-size city that lacks pop­u­la­tion den­sity, and the fleet­ing pres­ence of restau­rants, bars and other venues that have hosted lit­er­ary read­ings over the years would have been no re­place­ment for McNally Robin­son as a vi­tal cul­tural institution. Build­ing that institution was an act of busi­ness lead­er­ship, risk-tak­ing and love, and I feel im­mensely grate­ful to the McNallys for what they have done.

I re­mem­ber my first launch at McNally Robin­son Book­sellers... Me, a fledg­ling writer, be­fore a packed crowd at the Prairie Ink Restau­rant, with me­dia there and ev­ery­thing. It made me feel like I could do some­thing in the world of writ­ing...

Af ter I had be­gun my own writ­ing ca­reer and would tour the coun­try when a new book ap­peared, McNally Robin­son at Grant Park was my favourite place to do events. Not only was Win­nipeg a home crowd for me, but the beau­ti­ful store with its wel­com­ing staff was lo­cated in the shop­ping mall where I used to cut classes from Grant Park High School. Some sort of full-cir­cle feel­ing would hit me ev­ery time. I joked about need­ing a heads-up if a man who looked like he might be a vice prin­ci­pal ap­peared so I could make a quick exit.

A book­store can be as much at the heart of a city’s cul­tural life as a the­atre, bal­let com­pany or symphony orchestra. In fact, I’d say a great book­store is even more im­por­tant than those other in­sti­tu­tions, es­pe­cially if it draws its in­spi­ra­tion from its home­town — and that is what the two of you have proved. It is sim­ply im­pos­si­ble to think of what Win­nipeg’s lit­er­ary or cul­tural life would have been like with­out you and your end­less ded­i­ca­tion, in­no­va­tion, and hard work.

Sam­ples of McNally Robin­son’s pub­li­ca­tions from over the years.

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