Sundridge author Jim Newman says he had a better-than-expected book signing at Allison the Bookman in North Bay. Newman didn't get into numbers but said “it was better than I anticipated.” He also appreciated the book store's commitment to “support local authors by allowing the book signing.” Newman is the author of 'That Dog Don't Hunt', a humourous look at hunting and the stories people pass down to family members and friends. The book is a collection of three years worth of columns Newman has written for The Nipissing Reader. Some people called to say they couldn't make it to the book signing, but still wanted a copy of the book. “So I left some signed books for them,” Newman said. Newman said awareness of his book has grown and during the book signing he got to reconnect with a person he hasn't seen in 20 years. Newman created a website www.thatdogdonthunt.ca to further promote his book. The site also includes a section called 'Watch the Puppy Grow,' an accounting of how his book evolved beginning in May 2020 when he completed a first draft of the book. “It's been amazing to see how involved and attached people have become with the process of how the book evolved,” he said. Newman's appearance at Allison the Bookman over the Victoria Day long weekend was his first book signing in North Bay and he's now trying to arrange for a second appearance. He's already had two signing events in Sundridge and will be in Parry Sound in August for another signing there. This week the book goes on sale at Ramaako's Source for Adventure sports store in Sudbury. Newman says online and book store sales of “That Dog Don't Hunt' continue to perform well. He says women have been big buyers of the book as birthday or Christmas gifts for their spouses and with Father's Day just around the corner he expects another uptick in sales. Newman wrote the book as a result of numerous suggestions from people saying he should collect his columns and put them in book form. Newman continues to write his monthly column, and he's collecting an entirely new set of stories he plans to include in a second volume of his book which will be called 'That Dog Still Don't Hunt.' Newman is also working on a human interest book that looks at old, obsolete technology that played a major role in the lives of grandparents and great grandparents in the region. “These are things that would have been historically important to our area,” Newman said. He's been interviewing residents in the Almaguin and Parry Sound region and recording the more comical side of their experiences when working with past technology. Three of those people are women in their 90s who used to work as operators at the former Parry Sound-Muskoka Phone Company. As luck would have it, the phone company switchboard was located in the home of Newman's grandparents in Sprucedale. The log house was built in 1896 and Newman said the switchboard was in the home when his grandparents moved into it during the 1930s and was still used. “It was a very different time back then,” Newman said. “The switchboard would close at 8 p.m. every night until the next day unless there was an emergency.” This would also be the days of party lines, where people could pick up their phone and quietly listen to other people talking to one another. Newman said one area resident had a habit of eavesdropping on calls and would stay on the line for quite a while just listening. The woman's last name was Brown and Newman said people knew she was on the party line although she wouldn't say anything. He said on one of those occasions his grandfather was on the phone talking to someone else when suddenly he yelled out “Mrs Brown your beans are burning.” After a moment Mrs. Brown, who had continued to listen to the conversation, exclaimed over the phone “Oh my God they are.” Newman has collected about 10 interviews to date. He's collecting as many interviews as quickly as he can because he knows time is not on his side, since many of the people he wants to talk to are in their 80s and 90s. As a result for now, there is no specific timeframe for when he'd like to release his next book. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget