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Alberto Manguel

Jennifer Maiden's The Fox Petition: New Poems (Giramondo) conjures foxes 'whose eyes were ghosts with pity' and foxes of language that transform the world's headlines

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During 2007 I became enamoured of podcasting. The Canadian Broadcasting Commission’s Big Ideas and Elaine Wachtel’s Writers and Company were among my favourite programs and I would podcast these each week, irrespective of the topic or the interviewee. Thus I heard Alberto Manguel’s CBC Massey Lectures, a series of five wonderful presentations collectively titled ‘The City of Words’. It was not simply the content of these lectures; Manguel’s delivery is lyrical, intimate, andante and almost shockingly seductive. These lectures worked on me as reading does, drawing me in and then spinning me out to numerous other readings. Some of the books prompted by the lectures were rereadings, such as Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz and Borges’s stories others were new to me, and some, including Gilgamesh, had long been on my must-read list. Manguel provided the necessary nudge.

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