Speaking Volumes

Today’s Swerve Magazine, the weekly magazine found in The Calgary Herald, includes a profile I penned about Wayne Skinner. Skinner is caretaker of the most marvelous collection of books I’ve ever seen. Over the past twenty-five years or so, Skinner has collected about 14,000 books. Almost all of them Canadian and almost all of them signed.

Everyone in Calgary’s literary scene knows Skinner. He is the gentleman who goes to every book reading, lines up at every signing table, and buys all of our books. We all love him. I, however, had the rare privilege of seeing Skinner’s collection first-hand. He gave me a tour of his bookshelves last month and showed me some of the more precious treasures. Among them was a ten volume biography of Abraham Lincoln that belonged to Sir Wilfred Laurier, a Farley Mowat novel dedicated by the author to the late poet Al Purdy, and signed first-editions of just about every Canadian book anyone has ever heard of.

(Including my own. I was flattered to see my two books sharing a shelf with the autographed memoirs of former Canadian Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker.)

The Swerve profile is titled “Speaking Volumes”. In it, I discuss Skinner’s collection, his motivation, and muse a little about the secret life of books.

'Dief,' whose book shares a shelf with mine in Wayne Skinner's collection.