First Chapter: The Canadian Writers Photography Project


120 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-920159-87-7
DDC 779'.2'092






Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



Fifty authors. Fifty photos. Fifty quotes. That’s it—the work of six
years boiled down to a tightly organized package. Simple? Only on the

Don Denton photographed 50 Canadian authors—a mix of the famous and
the unknown—and asked each to answer two questions: How do you work?
What advice would you give to yourself as a young writer? He gives a
page to each photo and another to the author’s answers. Some are wordy
and attack the margins of their allotted page. Others keep it down to a
couple of pithy lines. The long answers are interesting reading. The
short ones merit deeper study. Length of response comes close to being
in reverse relationship to degree of fame. Atwood says it all in 30
words. Susan Musgrave, of course, responded with a poem.

Clever, maybe even ponderable, words are what we expect from authors.
From the photographer, we expect a clean portrait, a clear image. What
we get is a story written in film, a portrait that puts the soul on
paper and writes the author’s philosophy and attitude not with a pen
(or computer), but with the grey scale. Probably writers won’t have
time for this sort of coffee-table album, but readers will revel in it.
The book was made to order for high-school CanLit courses.


Denton, Don., “First Chapter: The Canadian Writers Photography Project,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 20, 2024,