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abstract: For Whistler Reads members, our next book discussion will be Canadian author Wayne Johnston's new novel, A World Elsewhere (RandomHouse CA 2011). Click on the link to purchase from for $20.56, or locals go see Dan Ellis at Armchair Books in Whistler and receive our 10% WR member discount off retail. GREAT NEWS! The author is coming to Whistler for the Whistler Readers & Writers 2011 Festival on Sunday October 16th from 10-2pm along with another award-winning Canadian author, Miriam Toews. Purchase your ticket ($35 includes breakfast) here if you'd like to attend. Check out the rest of the festival line-up here for daily blog entries promoting the program and inspiring us all to write and read.

True confession: Wayne Johnston is the reason I created this website 9 years ago. I don't know whether to thank him or taunt him with the fact that he essentially changed the course of my life?

It all began in Los Angeles circa April 2002.


August 22, 2011
— I'd just been gifted an Macbook laptop and wanted a task to inspire me to explore its features. As the only Canadian in an all-American book group whose turn it was to host, I exercised a patriotic prerogative and picked a Canadian author.

I chose Wayne Johnston's superb historic fiction, The Colony Of Unrequited Dreams (a finalist in both the GG and the Giller Prizes, 1998) about the life of Joey Smallwood, Newfoundland's first premiere, written in delightful prose that is as funny as it is lush in description of the place and times. As with most book groups, our meeting format had the host leading discussion by providing background information about the author and related research along with some prepared questions to start the discussion.

I went one step further and made a video of my presentation by taping a summary of my online research and playing sources such as a clip of Shelagh Rogers' interview with Wayne for CBC, excerpts of Newfy songs and jokes to further demonstrate that unique brand of Canadian culture. The group loved the book, (complained I said "er" and "um" too much) and learned some Canadian history. The whole experience made me wonder (remember, this was pre-Oprah Book Club), "Why doesn't someone create a website just for book groups that lists the best books for discussion with links to research, interviews, reviews, member ratings etc? That thought led to this website, launched the following April at the LA Times Festival of the Book. Nine years later, here we are folks: over 5,000 online member book groups located all over the world, 2.5M hits a year, over 100 author segment podcasts and all 600 plus of YOU here at Whistler Reads. So Wayne, thanks for keeping me occupied over the last er, decade.

With that bit of naval gazing out of the way... Have you got an anecdote to share [wr @] about a book or author that particularly affected you or perhaps changed the course of your life? Write to me and we'll add it to our discussion.

A World Elsewhere is in the same sweeping style of Colony that I know you are going to love. But don't take my word for it:

Wayne Johnston is a brilliant and accomplished writer and his Newfoundland boots and boats, rough politics and rough country, history and journalism is vivid and sharp.
-- Annie Proulx

Unlike most recent bestselling novels that are remembered for the plane flight and then promptly forgotten, Wayne's stories have characters who move in and take up permanent residence.
-- Mary Walsh

Johnston is a literary giant who has god-given talent.
-- Will Ferguson, The Globe and Mail

Author Resources

Wayne Johnston's Website
Video of author discussing this book.
Globe and Mail book review by T.F. Rigelhof
Quill & Quire Article: Wayne Johnston's World about Johnston's memoir titled, Baltimore's Mansion.

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