Friday, 19 February 2010

Canadian Best-Seller Library Part I

This blog is subtitled "Canadian Paperbacks of the 40s and early 50s" but books from the 60s and 70s will find a home here from time to time. A couple of recent posts included books from the New Canadian Library series published by McClelland & Stewart from 1958 to 1978. The series was one of a number of series that M&S published to feature Canadian writing. The original NCL series had 152 books. After a three year hiatus the series started up in 1981 and continues to this day. Among the other series that M&S published was the 46 book Canadian Best-Seller Library (CBL) from 1964 to 1968. Three-quarters were non fiction (with iconic Canadian writers such as Pierre Berton, Peter Newman and Farley Mowat).

Some of the fiction were recycled as part of the NCL including one of the two books described here.

The Incomparable Atuk was Mordecai Richler's fifth novel, published in 1963, four years after The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. The American title is Stick Your Neck Out. Unlike any of his previous novels, Atuk is a broad satire on Canadian celebrity and culture. As a recent Richler biography says "Richler exposes all the pettiness and smallness of the cultural scene as he saw it, hanging out to ridicule the pretensions and absurdities patently obvious in the cultural nationalism of the day" (M. G. Vassanji, Mordecai Richler, Toronto: Penguin, 2009, p. 26). M&S published the first paperback edition in 1965 as CBL 7, then again as NCL 79 in 1971.

Leslie McFarlane has almost certainly had more of his books sold than Richler. Under the publishing house name Franklin W. Dixon he wrote 21 of the Hardy Boys adventures. His hockey novel McGonigle Scores! was published as CBL 21 in 1966 as a paperback original.

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