GATH­ER­ING DUST

Geist - - Endnotes - —Thad Mcil­roy

The plea­sure of Brian Busby’s The Dusty Book­case (Bi­b­lioa­sis) is in the dip­ping. And the dou­ble dip­ping. At ran­dom I open the book to page 302 and learn of the 1954 novel Mur­der with­out Re­gret, by E. Louise Cush­ing, a mystery set in Mon­treal fea­tur­ing In­spec­tor Mackay of the “Mon­treal Po­lice Ser­vice” and a young fe­male pro­tag­o­nist not much in­ter­ested in men. On page 53 is a re­view of An­dré Langevin’s Or­phan Street, which Busby con­sid­ers just about the great­est Cana­dian novel he’s ever read. Page 257 leads with Ken Mcleod’s “light… fun… and a bit of a rib­ald read,” A Body for a Blonde. Mcleod was a pseu­do­nym for my fa­ther, Kim­ball Mcil­roy; this re­view was my en­trée into The Dusty Book­case’s trea­sures. The book is filled with “Canada’s forgotten, ne­glected and sup­pressed writ­ing.” The col­lec­tion is, Busby writes, “a plea to look be­yond the canon, the lat­est award win­ners, and the grotesque gong show that is ‘Canada Reads.’” There was a time, we dis­cover in these pages, be­fore Can­lit be­came so self-con­sciously Can and Lit, when many Cana­dian au­thors just wrote nov­els. The book is an out­growth of Busby’s blog of the same ti­tle and fea­tures just over 100 of the nearly 300 re­views that have ap­peared on the blog, each one “re­vis­ited and re­vised.” Busby has a fluid style—the writ­ing feels more like a fire­side chat. He’s a part of the story, shar­ing his own bib­lio­philic back­ground with snip­pets of most au­thors’ bios, ac­counts of how their book was first re­ceived and clear guid­ance of what to look for in each find. A vex­ing prob­lem with the book is the ab­sence of an in­dex. The book en­cour­ages re­peat vis­its to cer­tain au­thors and their re­mark­able work. But try find­ing same in a 364-page book loosely or­ga­nized into chap­ters with names like “Big­ots & Busi­ness­men” and “Pop & Pulp.” It’s a ma­jor an­noy­ance in what’s oth­er­wise a gem of a col­lec­tion.

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