McLeod, Don. “An Interview with Stephen Temple – Collecting English-Canadian Literature: Boom or Bust?” CNQ 56 (1999): 4-11.
CNQ: So what’s the problem with CanLit?
ST: The problem with CanLit is Canadians. That’s the problem! It’s not the books, it’s Canadians. It’s the Canadian character.
CNQ: They don’t appreciate their own literature?
ST: Canadians tend to be cheap. They tend to be not very well informed about books. They don’t seem to care about much. That’s the problem.
CNQ: I know that Hoffer brought this up in his article ‘Cheap Sons of Bitches’.
ST: He was right!
CNQ: And he used to rant and rave about academics….
ST: That’s right. They’re the worst offenders. Some academics make a good living teaching this stuff, but they don’t believe either. They won’t pay anything for books! They don’t really believe in it. If they did, they would pay, because people will reach into their pocket for things they really care about. (10)
2 thoughts on “Steven Temple in Interview with Don McLeod, on Bookselling”
Reading your Hoffer/Temple posts, I hear two separate complaints. “CanLit is inherently worthless” on the one hand — Hoffer, mostly — and “CanLit doesn’t sell well at the prices I set” on the other hand– Temple, mostly. The former is demented nonsense, of course. The latter seems to represent a frustration with basic market forces — as though book selling should be above such things — from a time (1999) when, admittedly, the Internet was turning many retail businesses upside down.
There is a long discussion of the internet and book prices in the full Temple interview. I am, of course, only pulling small pieces from longer essays and interviews, trimming away the context of the full discussion, to post bits that strike me as interesting for different reasons. I’m also avoiding passing any judgement or taking sides with these, just collecting them for the time being. I’m fascinated by these polemical positions in the world of CanLit as counter-forces to the cheerleading at the opposite end of the spectrum.