Culture & Entertainment

Remembering Farley Mowat, 1921–2014

By: Guest Blogger
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Remembering Farley Mowat, 1921–2014

By: Guest Blogger
14133892144_1b7804a188_z Just a few weeks after the death of Alistair MacLeod comes the loss of another Canadian literary giant: Farley Mowat. According to the Toronto Star, Mowat passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 92. Long a staple of Canadian high school reading lists, Mowat was the author of Never Cry Wolf, A Whale For the Killing, The Dog That Wouldn’t Be, Lost in the Barrens, and more than 40 other titles. His books, almost all of which are about the natural world and its despoliation by man, are often credited with helping to establish the modern environmental movement. I have to confess here that I’ve never gotten around to reading any of his works, so I’m going to cede the rest of this space to the best anecdotes published about him today: From the Star: The author was still active in campaigns to protect nature in his beloved country right up to the end. In fact he was recently quoted on CBC’s The Current , complaining in his trademark indignant and energetic manner about a plan to increase Wi-Fi service in Canada’s national parks. “My thoughts can be expressed quite simply. I think it is a disastrous, quite stupid, idiotic concept and should be eliminated immediately,” he said. From the National Post: Many years ago, while on a publicity trip to Vancouver, Farley Mowat spent a day visiting bookstores in small towns outside the city: Powell River, Sechelt, Campbell River. As the day grew late, Mr. Mowat found himself at a local airport, where he tracked down an old friend who worked there to see if anything could be done to get him back to the city more quickly. It didn’t take long.“A very sleek, private jet was deadheading back to Vancouver landed,” recalls his longtime friend Scott McIntyre, who was then working as a sales rep for McClelland & Stewart, Mr. Mowat’s then-publisher. The pair chartered the plane and flew back to the city, post-haste. “That whole notion of Farley conjuring an airplane out of the sky is just kind of delicious.” From Quill & Quire: Of his own writing, Mowat was self-effacing. “I’m a simple man,” he told Q&Q in 2008. “I loathe all talk of ‘artistry’ in writing. Literary fiction delves into character and motivation, but I never get into the heads of my characters. I don’t know how. Hell, I don’t even understand myself, never mind anyone else. And if someone tells you writing is easy, he is either lying or I hate him.” From The Globe and Mail: Determined to go out at his post, banging away on his manual typewriter on the second floor of a heated shed in his backyard, Mr. Mowat insisted that writing was the only function – “well almost only function” – that he was still capable of performing at 88. He refused to have a bulging aortic aneurysm treated or to undergo a triple bypass several years ago, and he insisted until the end of his life that refusing medical intervention not only prolonged his existence, but enabled him to enjoy a higher quality of life. “I’m floating on a very, very thin surface tension, which can erupt at any moment” he said in November, 2009. (Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Common.)
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Remembering Farley Mowat, 1921–2014

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