After David Stouck's Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life (D&M 2013) was nominated for the 2014 RBC Charles Taylor Non-Fiction Prize in early 2014, Stouck received both the Roderick Haig-Brown Prize for best book about B.C. and the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize at the 2014 B.C. Book Prizes on May 3, 2014. Then came the news that he would be the second recipient of the Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for best scholarly book about British Columbia, presented at UBC Library on June 5, 2014. The judges for this award had met and made their decision back on February 3, 2014 (Basil Stuart-Stubbs' birthday).
On behalf of the judging committee, historian Roderick Barman wrote: "An iconic figure in the cultural heritage of British Columbia, Arthur Erickson (1924-2009) has received in David Stouck’s new biography a thoroughly researched, revealing, and honest yet friendly study of his complex character, notable achievements and marked failings. The judges of the Basil Stuart Stubbs prize are honoured to give this year’s award to Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2013). This well-written, finely-crafted work elucidates not only the individual but the culture – provincial, national and global – in which he lived, which shaped him and which he himself did much to shape.
A review in Macleans magazine stated, “Stouck… offers a serious, sympathetic portrait of a walking contradiction.” BC Studies praised the book, saying, “David Stouck has written a remarkable history. More than a biography, it is an encompassing account of a remarkable figure in later modern Canadian and international cultural history."
Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life is the first full biography of Erickson, who died in 2009 at the age of 84, and traces his life from its modest origins to his emergence on the world stage. At the BC Book Prizes gala, Stouck thanked Ethel Wilson’s niece, Mary Buckerfield White, for suggesting he should write the biography of her friend, Erickson. "It was an enormous privilege to approach and study the man whose buildings and their theoretical extensions have had such an impact on our lives," said Stouck, when accepting the Haig-Brown Prize, "I thank my wife Mary-Ann for agreeing to travel to some unlikely parts of the world in the footsteps of my subject. I thank my friend Wayne Elwood and my editor Barbara Pulling for their professional help in reducing the original manuscript by 40,000 words. The biography was published because of two venerable figures in this province’s publishing industry. Scott McIntyre responded enthusiastically to the manuscript when I submitted it in 2011 and, after Douglas and McIntyre closed, Howard White in 2013 made it possible that the book go forward. I thank them both. I would also like to pay tribute to Roderick Haig-Brown for whom this prize is named, by quoting something that Ethel Wilson wrote. 'A man writes about a river,' she says, but 'Roderick Haig-Brown writes about a river that never sleeps. That is to say, there is truth and there is creation; the outward eye and the inward eye. And that is one of the mysteries that make literature.' And I would add that it is only with the inward eye that we truly perceive the buildings of Arthur Erickson."
During the B.C. Book Prizes gala in 2014, the host asked if anyone had ever met Ethel Wilson, born in 1888, after whom the province's annual fiction prize is named. David Stouck was the only person able to put up his hand. Stouck's Ethel Wilson: A Critical Biography (UTP, 2003) replaces a much earlier study by Wilson's colleague Desmond Pacey and a more recent portrait by her intensely loyal friend Mary McAlpine called the The Other Side of Silence. McAlpine's biography is inaccurate and doesn't explore the genesis of Wilson's stories and novels with much depth. Stouck's biography benefits from painstaking research into Wilson's voluminous correspondence, revealing how the fiction and the life were meshed. It is the most complete and fair-minded biography of a major British Columbian literary figure if one disregards the relative 'drop-ins' to B.C., Malcolm Lowry and Pauline Johnson. Despite its literary and scholarly mandate, Stouck's Ethel Wilson biography was shortlisted for the 2004 VanCity Book Prize for best book pertaining to women's issues by a B.C. author.
[Whereas E. Bennett Metcalfe's fascinating and frequently brilliant biography of Roderick Haig-Brown, A Man of Some Importance, goes out of its way to be contentious, Ethel Wilson: A Critical Biography is responsible scholarship that reveals Wilson's character with consistent respect and care. The other persons after whom B.C. Book Prizes are named--poet Dorothy Livesay, bookseller Bill Duthie, children's literature critic Sheila A. Egoff and children's author Christie Harris--are not subjects for biographies, although Livesay most certainly will be. Alan Twigg's Hubert Evans: The First Ninety-Three Years was never intended to serve as a biography and was commissioned as a series introductions to Evans' work for a omnibus reader that was never published.]
David Stouck has been one of the relatively few English professors with an abiding critical interest in British Columbia writing. Along with his biography of Ethel Wilson, he has provided a biography of Sinclair Ross, the author of As for Me and My House, who spent his final years in Vancouver. He followed his Sinclair Ross biography by co-editing a collection of Ross correspondence entitled "Collecting Stamps Would Have Been More Fun": Canadian Publishing and the Correspondence of Sinclair Ross, 1933-1986, with Jordan Stouck.
CITY: West Vancouver
DATE OF BIRTH: 1940
PLACE OF BIRTH: Beamsville, Ontario
ARRIVAL IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: 1966
ANCESTRAL BACKGROUND: UEL
EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: instructor, SFU
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life
Ethel Wilson: A Critical Biography
Ethel Wilson: Stories, Essays, and Letters
Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life (Douglas & McIntyre, 2013) $34.95 978-1-77100-011-6
Collecting Stamps Would Have Been More Fun: Canadian Publishing and the Correspondence of Sinclair Ross, 1933-1986 (University of Alberta Press, 2010), co-edited with Jordan Stouck.
As for Sinclair Ross, (University of Toronto Press, 2005)
Ethel Wilson: A Critical Biography, (University of Toronto Press, 2003)
Genius of Place: Writing about British Columbia (co-ed.), (Polestar, 2000)
West by Northwest: British Columbia Short Stories (co-ed.), (Polestar, 1998)
Willa Cather's O Pioneers!: A Scholarly Edition (co-ed.), (U Nebraska Press, 1993)
Sinclair Ross's 'As for Me and My House': Five Decades of Criticism, (ed.) (University of Toronto Press, 1991)
Ethel Wilson: Stories, Essays, and Letters (ed.), (UBC Press, 1987)
The Wardells and Vosburghs: Records of a Loyalist Family, Jordan Hist. Museum of the Twenty, 1986
Major Canadian Authors: A Critical Introduction Lincoln (University of Nebraska Press, 1984)
Willa Cather's Imagination (University of Nebraska Press, 1975)
[BCBW 2014] "Literary Biography" "Classic"
Genius of Place (Polestar $24.95)
In her 1947 novel Hetty Dorval, Ethel Wilson wrote “To some, the genius of a place is inimical; to some it is kind... My genius of place is a god of water.”
For editors David Stouck of SFU and Myler Wilkinson of Selkirk College, their Genius of Place (Polestar $24.95) is an anthology of 29 B.C. non-fiction pieces from the earliest days of European exploration to Bill Richardson.
It starts with the famous ‘Narrative of Adventures and Sufferings’ by John R. Jewitt, published in 1815, to recall Jewitt’s capture by Nootka and to replicate the commercial success of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
“Anyone who presumes to map a literary tradition by making a first anthology,” says Stouck, “will not only experience the pleasure of discovering writers, but must wrestle with the humbling fact that choices are arbitrary.”
Along the way the editors stopped to smell the roses—literally, Lancaster roses—with Gray Campbell in Sidney, visited Hilary Stewart on Quadra Island, talked to Hugh Brody on the other side of the Atlantic, met with Arthur Erickson in his False Creek offices and shared a glass of wine with Helen Meilleur in her North Shore apartment.
Meilleur is one of their ‘finds’. Born and raised in Port Simpson, just south of the Nass River, she spent the first five years of her life on the Tsimshean reserve where her parents operated a fur-trading and general store. In her only book, A Pour of Rain (1980), Meilleur combines personal recollections with details from the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Simpson journals.
“Nearing ninety,” Stouck says, “and astonishingly vital, she ended our talk with the sly observation, ‘I fear I shall live to a great age’.” 1-896095-48-8
[BCBW Summer 2000]
Visiting Ethel Wilson
With Janet Giltrow, a graduate student, David Stouck first crossed paths
with Ethel Wilson in December 1975. He recalls:
"Young and unthinking, we went to the Arbutus Private Hospital in the evening
and found her lying prone on a bed with metal sides raised -- in Janet's words,
'like a sarcophagus.' She was barely awake, evidently sedated for the
night. It was depressing to see the elegant writer we greatly admired so
diminished by circumstances and we hurried away, promising ourselves and a
staff attendant that we would return another day. But the paraphernalia and
ambiance of a nursing home -- or perhaps just the glimpse of an arborite
table with a little plastic Christmas tree and some tattered issues of the
Reader's Digest in the hallway -- discouraged us from going back any time
"But when we did return, on a spring morning having arranged the visit in
advance, we found Ethel Wilson fresh from the hair salon in a smartly
tailored dress, ready with her nurse's assistance to entertain visitors for
tea. There was little conversation with the author who at eighty-eight was
profoundly deaf -- the nurse talked instead --, but there was poise and
self-possession in Ethel Wilson's august, watchful presence. I went by
myself one afternoon in 1977 and enjoyed dry sherry and biscuits, and Ethel
Wilson watched me closely with her piercing blue eyes; during that visit
she pointed to her husband's photo and told me it was her father. Did I try
to correct her? I have wondered since.
"There was one more visit, three years later, this time with Malkin family
researcher, Barbara Wild. Ethel Wilson was now ninety-two and had suffered
several cerebral hemorrhages which had eraced almost all evidence of the
person that had once inhabited the body. The nurse insisted that she had
selected the blue dress herself to wear for company, but Ethel Wilson
remained silent and her opaque stare gave little sign of a knowing
presence. Later that year, at the funeral service and reception, I noted
that no one exhibited the grief that comes from a loss, aunt and cousin
having long departed." -- David Stouck
AS FOR SINCLAIR ROSS
Article by Joan Givner (2005)
As most graduate students of Canadian Literature can tell you, it was 17 years before Sinclair Ross’s sobering story about a preacher and his wife during the dustbowl days of the Depression, As For Me And My House (1941), was reprinted as a New Canadian Library edition, hailed as a classic, and started to be recognized as “Canada’s most critically discussed novel.”
Two other novels, The Well (1958) and Whir of Gold (1970), received scant attention, and only his fourth novel, Sawbones Memorial (1974) was widely reviewed and praised by the likes of Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood. After two collections of short fiction, The Lamp at Noon and Other Stories (1968) and The Race and Other Stories (1982), Ross’s writing income remained slight.
Few could blame him if he insisted the writing game was not worth the candle.
Although the final phase of his life was marred by Parkinson’s disease, along with its side-effects of depression and mental confusion, it was during his final 14 years in Vancouver that Sinclair Ross finally received the widespread respect he deserved. This attention, he admitted, made “a drab, frustrated writing career seem a little less so.” Confined to a wheelchair, unable to travel, Ross received honorary degrees, the Order of Canada, and an academic conference on his work—and three distinguished literary visitors.
Having first sought out Sinclair Ross in Spain, playwright and novelist Ken Mitchell continued their relationship in letters and used his contacts to produce The Ross File, a programme for CBC radio in Saskatchewan, as well as Sinclair Ross: A Reader’s Guide (1981).
Novelist Keath Fraser became his most frequent Vancouver visitor, closest friend and confidante. Having first met Ross in Spain, Fraser produced a very readable memoir, As For Me And My Body (1997) which records Ross’ embellished versions of his life.
Like many writers no longer able to order their experiences by producing fiction, Ross enjoyed fictionalizing his autobiography to some extent, and he had more reasons than most for doing so.
As a gay man in his time, Ross had been forced to live under a veil of secrecy. When times changed—everyone, he said, was coming out of the closet—the freedom to speak openly about his sexual life proved to be a heady experience. He evidently took pleasure in shocking his eager listeners by boasting about his sexual adventures and prowess.
It has now fallen to David Stouck, Professor of English at Simon Fraser University, to discern the truth at the heart of Ross’s autobiographical fictions. A scholar with a distinguished track record as a literary biographer, Stouck is an attentive and patient listener who also corresponded with Ross.
In no haste to publish, Stouck has been able to balance his first-hand observations with careful authentication and painstaking research for As For Sinclair Ross (University of Toronto Press $45). Seven years after Sinclair Ross’s death, the result is a sensitive, even-handed biography, particularly good in his treatment of Ross’s sexual history. Stouck has suitably honoured his subject.
Sinclair Ross will always be claimed by Saskatchewan—his birthplace in 1908 and the inspiration for most of his fiction—yet Stouck’s subject left that province at age 25 and lived most of his life elsewhere. He spent his most creative decade in Winnipeg until enlistment in the army freed him from his work as a bank clerk, and from his domineering mother.
He had a good war, serving as an Ordnance clerk for four years in London, where he enjoyed the theater, and met some prominent British and American literary figures. A memorable experience was hearing T.S. Eliot read and talk about literature.
Back in Canada, he avoided returning to life in his mother’s house by moving to Montreal. There he mostly worked for the Royal Bank of Canada until his retirement in 1968 freed him to return to Europe. He had ten good years, living first in Greece and then in Spain, before deteriorating health brought him back to Montreal. He settled in Vancouver, where he mostly lived at the Brock Fahrni Pavilion, a new veterans’ wing of the former Shaughnessy Hospital, and died at age 88.
-- Joan Givner of Mill Bay has written literary biographies of Katherine Anne Porter and Mazo de la Roche.
“Collecting Stamps Would Have Been More Fun” by Jordan Stouck & David Stouck (U. of Alberta Press $34.95)
from Sheila Munro
The epoch of most writers is about the same as for NHL hockey players—or less. Few literary careers, or even their spates of notoriety, last for more than two decades.
NHL hockey players often retire gimped-up but at least they have money in the bank. Writers, on the other hand, invariably get shunted aside by changing manners, changing personnel in publishing houses, and generally don’t have much to show for it.
Even worse, writers can get gimped-up psychologically when they realize there’s a fresh crop of brash, photogenic young-‘uns,’ with far less talent, who are the latest flavours of the week. A trailblazing novel from twenty years ago counts for diddly-squat.
That’s why the title of a new book based on the correspondence of one of Canada’s most venerable writers, Sinclair Ross, who wrote a ‘classic’ called As For Me And My House, is entitled Collecting Stamps Would Have Been More Fun. It’s a line from one of Ross’ letters in which he describes his lifetime of struggling for recognition, ultimately dying in relative obscurity in Vancouver, plagued by Parkinson’s.
Ross’ letters are edited by Jordan Stouck and David Stouck (who has written biographies of Sinclair Ross and Ethel Wilson). They reveal the extent to which Sinclair Ross, a closeted homosexual, was acerbically alienated from the CanLit world, essentially angry, despite his affiliations with the likes of Earle Birney, Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood. And he was a guy who wrote a classic, a book that has been required reading on high school reading lists for more than two decades, dating back to the 1940s.
Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life (D&M 2012)
Canada's pre-eminent and most flamboyant "philosopher-architect," Arthur Erickson, frequently spoke of cement as the marble of our times.
In 1964, he said, "I think one thing that characterizes what we do [in British Columbia]--whether it is architecture, painting or anything else--is a hangover of being pioneers, and that is innovation. We had no traditions, nothing tying us down, no ancient architecture, no tradition of building materials that stopped us from making a fresh and interesting experiment at that time. I think this spirit still exists here to a certain extent."
Born in Vancouver on June, 14, 1924, Arthur Erickson studied at UBC and McGill, began working professionally as an architect in Vancouver in 1953, and became the only Canadian to receive the American Institute of Architecture's gold medal among his many honours. Although he had a jet-set lifestyle and befriended Pierre Trudeau and Elizabeth Taylor, he eventually filed for personal bankruptcy in 1992 before he died at age 84 in 2009. The Arthur Erickson Garden Foundation has preserved his two-acre residence in Point Grey as a heritage site.
The Architecture of Arthur Erickson (Douglas & McIntyre, 1988) examines and celebrates the career of Vancouver's most internationally renowned and notorious architect, up to 1988. Erickson, who designed Simon Fraser University, Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall, UBC's Museum of Anthropology and the Robson Square Complex, is also the subject of Edith Iglauer's Seven Stones (Harbour, 1981), excerpts of which appeared in The New Yorker. In 2006, an overview of Erickson's best work was written and edited by Nicholas Olsberg of Arizona for Arthur Erickson: Critical Works (Douglas & McIntyre, 2006), featuring photographs by Ricardo L. Castro of Montreal. This has been followed by a biography by David Stouck, Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life (D&M 2013). $34.95 978-1-77100-011-6
Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life (Douglas & McIntyre $34.95)
from Shane McCune
It must be a dilemma for any biographer of a creative person: How much do you focus on the life and how much on the work?
The problem is magnified in the case of Arthur Charles Erickson, Canada’s best-known architect. Because in addition to all that iconic concrete and glass, there’s a lesser-known private life that is positively baroque.
In Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life, David Stouck wisely takes the middle road, a more or less chronological approach that opens and closes with insights into the man and the people he loved, with stops in between at the major events, encounters and works of a half-century career.
The early chapters are a revelation. Arthur’s parents, Oscar and Myrtle Erickson, were an ebullient and eccentric pair straight out of You Can’t Take It With You. Despite losing his legs in the First World War, Oscar was a dynamo at his dry goods business, a keen sportsman and an amateur painter. Myrtle was an enthusiastic, if not entirely competent, cook, social convenor and arts patron who helped found the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Once, after a quarrel, Arthur’s younger brother Don killed all the fish in Arthur’s aquarium. The family couldn’t afford to restock the tank, so at his mother’s urging Arthur painted fish on his bedroom walls instead.
“He began by copying two fish from photographs in National Geographic and then, with growing confidence, covered all four walls of his room with underwater scenes featuring sunken wrecks, seahorses, sharks, shrimp.”
Impressed, his father bought the boy his own set of paints. Arthur then painted his brother’s room in a jungle theme, making it a favourite hangout for neighbourhood boys. Then one of Myrtle’s friends paid the budding muralist $50 to paint an English hunting scene in her basement.
The book includes strikingly detailed accounts, not only of Arthur’s accomplishments and education, but also of his adventures with friends and even of his thoughts.
Stouck says in an author’s note that the biography is “grounded” in a series of interviews with Erickson in the four years preceding his death in 2009. But he has also spoken to dozens of the architect’s friends, family and associates, going back to his adolescence in the 1930s. Fortunately, several key figures lived into their 80s with their memories in good shape, as well as Jessie Binning at age 100.
Despite lacklustre UBC grades, Erickson was accepted into the architecture program at McGill thanks to the intercession of Lawren Harris, who was part of his mother’s arty set in Vancouver. Erickson was especially taken with Mies van der Rohe’s expansive use of glass and Le Corbusier’s work with concrete — two media that would dominate Erickson’s major designs.
In the summer of 1949 he worked with a Vancouver architect whose commissions included Park Royal in West Vancouver, the first covered shopping centre in Canada. And from this juncture architecture projects become the principal plot driver of Stouck’s book, along with the incessant travel that became a constant in Erickson’s life.
One of Erickson’s first and most celebrated commissions was the Filberg House in Comox, designed for the heir to a lumber fortune, who intended it to be a conference centre for world leaders.
The design incorporated, as Stouck relates, “elements from Andalusian Islamic architecture — delicate filigreed screens to fend off the direct sun, highly polished terrazzo floors, and a reflecting pool.”
It was by all accounts a stunning design that boosted Erickson’s reputation, especially after a photo spread in Canadian Architect magazine. Yet Stouck notes that the accompanying text by Abraham Rogatnick (at one time a teaching colleague of Erickson’s at UBC) touched on a criticism that would dog Erickson throughout his career, that of pandering to the rich.
“There is a touch of Versailles here,” Rogatnick wrote. The dramatic lines and flourishes “all culminate in the kind of inevitable formality which fine clothes, epicurean tastes, and a luxurious atmosphere unconsciously impose. This house will be hated by Puritans, as it will be loved by purists.”
But Erickson didn’t hit the big time until he and partner Geoff Massey won the competition to design Simon Fraser University. That caffeinated project — just 28 months in the making from design competition announcement in May 1963 to opening classes in September 1965 — would embody the best and worst of Erickson: His bold vision and self-assurance, his defiance of authority and above all his impatience with trifles like leaky roofs.
Stouck insists the leaks weren’t a product of Erickson’s design but caused by substitution of materials and poor work by subcontractors. But he doesn’t mention that a legal wrangle with the university dragged on until a 1976 settlement, the terms of which were not disclosed.
Other Erickson projects, including the courthouse at Robson Square and the Waterfall Building in downtown Vancouver, developed leaks.
In chapter 12 david stouck
introduces us to Francisco Kripacz, “a dark-skinned, handsome boy of about 19” whom Erickson met at a party in 1961. Within a year they would become “partners” (for some reason Stouck doesn’t call them “lovers”).
Most of Erickson’s friends took a strong dislike to him, though Stouck suggests this may have been because it forced them to acknowledge that Erickson was gay.
Stouck himself seems less than fond of Kripacz, but he holds back, perhaps out of respect for his subject.
“I visited Arthur and showed him the biographies I had written of writers Ethel Wilson and Sinclair Ross, and he was especially interested in my handling of Ross’s bisexuality,” Stouck wrote in the Globe and Mail shortly after Erickson’s death.
“He wanted to know how I would tell the story of his long friendship with the designer, Francisco Kripacz, and he made it clear that while he didn’t want the story to be sensational he wanted it to be frank. He hoped, on the other hand, that I would limit the details of his bankruptcy, but placed no restrictions.”
Ultimately the book is more frank about the bankruptcy than the relationship, although Stouck clearly links the two.
Erickson opened an office in Los Angeles to prepare for a massive downtown renovation project, and he bought a house among the movie stars in Bel-Air.
“Arthur was easily seduced into this good life as Francisco arranged it, and in the 1980s, they lived in extravagant luxury,” Stouck writes.
As the decade progressed, there were episodes with sheriffs and
bailiffs. Clients’ payments to the Toronto office were shifted to L.A., where Erickson and Kripacz tooled around in a Maserati and Lamborghini, respectively, and spent almost $1 million on renovations to an office with a three-year lease.
Stouck acknowledges all this, yet always plays up the humane, even humble character of his subject. That’s hard to reconcile with the way Erickson squandered his backers’ money on himself and Kripacz while his staff ran out of office supplies.
There is much about hobnobbing with Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine, Katharine Hepburn, Donald Sutherland, Richard Gere, sundry counts and contessas, arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Charitable works? Not so much.
Eventually Kripacz took up with a teenaged student (identified only as Jan) and Erickson with a young married man named Allen Steele.
By the end of 1990 both Jan and Allen would be dead of AIDS-related illnesses, and in 1992 Erickson declared personal bankruptcy.
Toward the end of his career he worked for a former employee and designed the new Portland Hotel, a public housing project in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. For once he stayed within budget while demonstrating genuine thoughtfulness in designing living spaces that would withstand rough treatment while affording as much privacy and dignity as possible.
Fans of architecture might argue that the discussions of style and design Stouck raises with each project do not sufficiently address some of the biggest criticisms levelled at Erickson’s public works — that they are monumental, impractical and cold.
But in the end, the narrative of Erickson’s life carries the day,
as is only fair for a book subtitled An Architect’s Life. It’s an adventure story and a morality play, and David Stouck is smart and skilled enough not to paint the lily. 978-1-77100-011-6
Shane McCune writes from Comox
PREVIOUS BOOKS ON ERICKSON:
The Architecture of Arthur Erickson (Tundra, 1975; Douglas & McIntyre, 1988) by Arthur Erickson examines the career as the man who designed Simon Fraser University, Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, UBC’s Museum of Anthropology and the Robson Square Complex.
Erickson is also the subject of Edith Iglauer’s Seven Stones (Harbour, 1981), excerpts of which appeared in The New Yorker.
In 2006, an overview of Erickson’s best work was written and edited by Nicholas Olsberg of Arizona for Arthur Erickson: Critical Works (Douglas & McIntyre, 2006), featuring photographs by Ricardo L. Castro of Montreal.
ARTHUR ERICKSON SHORTLISTED FOR THE RBC TAYLOR PRIZE / January 15, 2014
Toronto, ON - Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life, by David Stouck, has been shortlisted for the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize. Arthur Erickson is one of five titles to be selected for this prestigious award recognizing excellence in literary non-fiction writing.
Three jurors decided the RBC Taylor Prize shortlist: literary scholar Coral Ann Howells, author and professor James Polk, and author and creative instructor Andrew Westoll. The jury considered 124 book submitted by 45 publishers.
Of Arthur Erickson, the jury noted: “Biographer Stouck brings a subtle yet distinct narrative flair to this study of the whirlwind, colorful life of Canada’s most famous architect. The genius behind Simon Fraser University, Roy Thomson Hall, and many other private and public gems was a complicated man with more tragic flaws than a Greek drama. Through deeply sensitive portrayals of Erickson’s idealistic philosophy of art, his creative and financial troubles, his charisma, his arrogance, and his sexual identity, Stouck demonstrates the empathy and rigour of a truly fine biographer. His full-length portrait also reveals much about the cultural life and personalities of Vancouver in the 1940s and 50s. This book tells all, and in the telling is a work of art in itself.”
Awarded to one author each year, the RBC Taylor Prize consists of $25,000 plus promotional support. The winner will also announce his or her choice for the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer’s Award, consisting of $10,000 and the opportunity to be mentored. All runners up receive $2,000.
David Stouck will be in Toronto for a series of celebratory RBC Taylor Prize events in early March. The award winner will be announced on March 10 at The King Edward Hotel in Toronto.
For more information about Arthur Erickson, or to schedule an interview with author David Stouck, please contact Zoe Grams: