The Next Chapter·Dog-eared Reads

Why historian Ted Barris regularly re-reads his father's memoir

The military historian and writer loves re-reading the 1969 book The Pierce-Arrow Showroom Is Leaking.
Ted Barris is an author and historian. (Ryerson Press, CBC/Sinisa Jolic)
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Military historian and writer Ted Barris has written 20 books, including the nonfiction bestsellers JunoDam Busters and Rush to Dangerwhich was on the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize longlist.

He tells The Next Chapter that he regularly finds writing inspiration by re-reading The Pierce-Arrow Showroom Is Leaking, a 1969 memoir by his father, the late CBC television reporter, journalist and broadcaster Alex Barris. 

"I have a lot of reference books in my office that are well used, dog-eared, rumpled and dirty. One that I refer to a lot doesn't have an awful lot to do with the centre of my life — which is writing about wartime and veterans and veterans' experiences. 

"It's a book by my father, Alex Barris, and it's called The Pierce-Arrow Showroom Is Leaking. This book was published in the 1960s. It's essentially a memoir he wrote about his experience as a journalist, reporter and columnist. 

If I'm not feeling up to writing, this book lets me remember that he blazed the trail and I'm trying to catch up to him.- Ted Barris

"It's a touchstone for me to remember the drive my father had as a journalist. It lets me remember why he chose this profession as a journalist, historian and a broadcaster. If I'm not feeling up to writing, this book lets me remember that he blazed the trail and I'm trying to catch up to him."

Ted Barris's comments have been edited for length and clarity. 

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