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Freedom to Read Gallant Memoir

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A book has been assembled, and an attempt is being made to stop its circulation. This campaign raises funds for the defence of press freedom and for authors' rights in Canada.

The  book under attack is Notes from the Gate: A Remembrance of Mavis Gallant, an explosive memoir that contains private letters exchanged between Walter Bruno and his friend, the internationally acclaimed writer Mavis Gallant, who died in 2014.

Bruno corresponded with Gallant for 30 years and there are 500 letters in his collection. Technically, they are his property, with shared rights only for publication. This case appears to be the first time in Canadian history that the publication of private letters from a great writer has been attacked.

After writing his book, Bruno learned of the existence of a last will signed by Gallant, and drawn up in Paris merely 18 months before the great author's death. The will establishes an estate with one beneficiary, the executor-- an academic in Nova Scotia. However, Gallant had vowed to Bruno that she would never draw up a will or name an executor.

Now, despite the fact that Bruno has no objection to negotiating with the estate for permission, the executor's lawyer has sent Bruno a letter warning him that Bruno has no right to publish the book.  Merely to check into the source of these claims, Mr. Bruno has already spent $1300. 

What is this about?
It's all about politics, the politics of the 1980s-90s, when the Sixties counter-culture finally took hold of literature. At the time, the debate was about who defined authorship, and how it was understood, and about how some voices were promoted, while others were suppressed.  

Today, much of fiction and social-studies literature reflects that event, now ruling as a monoculture. In opposition to that, Bruno's book records dissident banter by Gallant, penned by a literary mind that was solitary, restless, and sceptical.

Even at the time, Gallant's objections would have irritated the new tastemakers. Today, they're considered heresy. Even more ominously, famous names in publishing are cited in the book -- and not all for praise. 

As the book demonstrates, Bruno and Gallant had grown up in Montreal, and were birds of one political nest, despite their difference in age. They shared a set of views on history, social justice, merit, the nature of art, and the shallowness of culture czars.  This critique is at the heart of  Bruno's book .  

However, many of their views will trouble the small club that rules publishing today and the politicized academy from which the club emerged.  Some views are even politically incorrect. That seems to have made the executor and her university unhappy.

At any rate, it appears that the Nova Scotia academic is determined to suppress these letters and this book.  You can prevent that from happening.

HELP US and HELP MAKE HISTORY: defend the freedom to know, and the freedom to read.


Walter Bruno
Laval, QC

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