NO LOSS FOR WORDS
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.