With award season now having wound fully down, readers who missed Toronto Star columnist Philip Marchand’s post-Giller musings will find them worth a look. He writes: “Literary scholars have a word for those little parts of a book that really aren’t part of the book – footnotes, prefaces, indices, dedications. They call them ‘paratexts.’ In the same way, all this talk about books, prizes, public readings, is para-reading. Para-reading may coincide with the actual reading of a book, or may overlap a bit, or may entirely replace it.” From there, he’s off to a discussion of the biggest publishing phenomemon since Harry Potter – The Da Vinci Code. “If you took a survey of the guests at the Giller Prize dinner I would lay odds 80 per cent of them had read The Da Vinci Code. That’s more than the percentage of guests who had read any one of the six books nominated for the prize, you can be certain.” The reason for the book’s staggering success, Marchand suggests, is the spirit of the times, which are unusually friendly to conspiracy-minded imaginings of sinister governments and shadowy cabals of power.
In yesterday’s Star, publishing reporter Judy Stoffman looks at the latest attempt to extend the Da Vinci brand — a new, second hardcover edition, this one illustrated and selling for even more than the first. Random House of Canada’s Brad Martin tells Stoffman the company is “well under way to selling a combined half million copies in Canada of the two editions.”