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The Editor / Writer Relationship

0 November 3, 2012 in Views & Meditations by

Some writers have a fear of the editorial process. There may, of course, be a slight justification for this fear perhaps in the notion that editors at larger publishing houses have demanded that writers ‘savage’ their work to make it more ‘consumer-friendly’. However, in my knowledge and experience, this is not applicable to publishing houses that support and encourage high literary work.

     Even a literary icon such as Hemingway admitted he needed a good editor, and those writers who feel their works are so precious that no word, sentence or section can be changed, do their readers a disservice. It’s the responsibility of the writer to use his/her art to communicate their visions or ideas, and more often than not sloppy writing can obscure and/or undermine that communication (and it doesn’t matter whether the style of the writing is conventional or layered or complex or ambiguous, if it’s not written well it will fail to communicate properly.) It’s the responsibility of a good editor not just to correct spelling and grammar but also to point out to the writer when something ‘doesn’t work’; and it’s not the job of the editor to re-write it for the author, that’s the author’s job. Editors are more like ‘early-warning critics’, pointing out the weaknesses (if any) in a work before it ends up in the hands of book reviewers and the reading public.

     A good editor will work with an author to realize the author’s vision, and to help the author with difficulties that may appear in the writing and can potentially undermine what the author wishes to communicate. A good author will realize that not everything they write is precious, and will be open to constructive criticism.

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VJM reviews Way Down That Lonesome Road

0 September 15, 2012 in Reviews by

Lonnie Johnson was a brilliant guitarist who was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s—though perhaps blues singer was the way he was typecast by his record label, OKeh. Johnson had a strong jazz sense and well, as evidenced by his recordings with Duke Ellington, Eddie Lang and Louis Armstrong. And, outside the studio, he was also a crooner of pop tunes. So when Johnson opened his initial gig in Toronto with I Left My Heart in San Francisco, the audience was aghast. It wanted the “old” Lonnie. And he obliged, to a degree.

     Lonnie Johnson spent his last years in Toronto making a steady, if not lucrative, living as the city’s resident folk-blues artist. Playing clubs and, occasionally, with local trad bands. This book offers a detailed account of  those years to offer a portrait of a very decent man who was grateful for a new lease  on his career and who kept his artistic  integrity to the very end.

     Johnson had already reinvented himself several times before arriving in Toronto. The pioneer blues artist first recorded in 1925 with his family members, and the earlier-mentioned guest-spots on jazz discs. In the 1930s, he recorded for Decca, including several jazz instrumentals, then for Bluebird with jukebox-oriented blues. He again turned in some best-selling hits – all pop tunes— for King records in the late-1940s and early 1950s. Lonnie recorded several albums for Victoria Spivey’s label in the 1960s, but was working days as a doorman (not a janitor as the book says) as a doorman for a Philadelphia hotel.

     In Toronto, Johnson continued to play all of these roles. After all, he was a professional musician, not a rural blues singer. And while the reviews were sometimes mixed, he, at least, garnered enough interest to be reviewed and he liked it that way.

     The paperback book contains a number of interesting photos, some never before published (or published in obscure places) including a “reunion” photo with Louis Armstrong. Recommended for blues fans.

- Russ Shor, VJM Jazz & Blues Mart


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Brian Dedora reading at the Teksteditions launch

0 July 3, 2012 in Video by

Brian Dedora reads from his newest book of poetryA Few Sharp Sticks, at the Teksteditions inaugural launch at The Supermarket, Toronto, on December 5, 2011. With an introduction by editor/publisher Richard Truhlar.

Watch the video on the Teksteditions YouTube channel: Brian Dedora

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Richard Truhlar reads Opal Nations’ Mr. Body

0 July 1, 2012 in Video by

Richard Truhlar reads from Mr. Body, the newest book by Opal Louis Nations, at the Teksteditions inaugural launch at The Supermarket, Toronto, on December 5, 2011.

Watch the video on the Teksteditions YouTube channel: Truhlar reads Nations

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