In Other Words is a lively, charming, gossipy memoir of life in the publishing trenches and how one restlessly curious young woman sparked a creative awakening in a new country she chose to call home.
“We need our own dreams.” —Anna Porter
When Anna Porter arrived in Canada in early 1968 with one battered suitcase, little money and a head full of dreams, she had no idea that this country would become her home for the rest of her life, or that she would play a major role in defining what it means to be Canadian. And where better to become a Canadian than at the dynamic publishing house, McClelland & Stewart, an epicentre of cultural and artistic creation in post-Expo Canada?
Anna Porter’s story takes you behind the scenes into the non-stop world of Jack McClelland, the swashbuckling head of M&S whose celebrated authors—Leonard Cohen, Margaret Laurence, Pierre Berton, Peter C. Newman, Irving Layton, Margaret Atwood—dominated bestseller lists. She offers up first-hand stories of struggling young writers (often women); of prima donnas, such as Roloff Beny and Harold Town, whose excesses threatened to sink the company; of exhausted editors dealing with intemperate writers; of crazy schemes to interest Canadians in buying books. She recalls the thrilling days at the helm of the company she founded in the 1980s, when Canada’s writers were suddenly front-page news. As president of Key Porter Books, she dodged lawsuits, argued with bank managers, and fought to sell Canadian authors around the world. This intriguing memoir brings to life that time in our history when—finally—the voices Canadians craved to hear were our own.
In Other Words is a love letter to Canada’s authors and creative agitators who, against almost impossible odds, have sustained and advanced the nation’s writing culture. Moving effortlessly from the boardrooms of Canada’s elite and the halls of power in Ottawa, to the threadbare offices of idealistic young publishers and, ultimately, to her own painful yet ever-present past in Hungary, Porter offers an unforgettable insider’s account of what is gained—and lost—in a lifetime of championing our stories.
“A compelling narrative that does great justice to Kasztner’s memory.”
“Represents a much higher level of literary accomplishment, a worthy addition to the growing literature of displacement, and a poignant reminder that the best history is not always written by the winners.”
Praise for Kasztner’s Train
“Anna Porter’s book on the genocide in Hungary’s Jewish communities is the best book on the Holocaust by a Gentile ever written and rivals Prof. Michael Maruss’ holocaust work on the subject. Anna Porter is an absolute marvel as a historian of the Nazis and the Jews in Hungary."
“Porter manages a difficult feat—she conveys the heartbreaking innocence of childhood with an overlay of the knowledge and humour of the person she is today.”
"A gripping work of popular history.”
“The Storyteller shows that great storytellers are both born and made. Like grandfather, like granddaughter.”
"Porter covers a dense landscape of loss, grievance, revenge and barely submerged guilt that echoes to the present day, raising troubling moral questions.”
Praise for The Storyteller
"The Storyteller speaks eloquently of the uses—and misuses—of history and the power of narrative.”
Praise for The Ghosts of Europe
“Porter offers a succinct, highly readable, contemporary history, interspersed with interviews with influential national figures regarding past, present and future.”
"This book is like reading Anna Porter's personal diary as she chronicles -- with wit and wisdom-- the most amazing era of books and book publishing in Canadian history. Full of stories, secrets and wry observations, it turns literary legends into real people -- Atwood, Lawrence, Cohen, Purdy, Birney, the great Jack MacClelland and dozens of others are all here in these pages, struggling with their own trials and tribulations. Plus attending amazing parties! This book will make you yearn for the Golden Age of Canadian culture."