Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Local History Launch @ Walkerville Brewery Tonight!

Dear Windsorites,

Please join us Tonight at the Walkerville Brewery for a launch of two new local history books from Biblioasis: David Newman's Postcards From Essex County and Patrick Brode's The River & The Land!

David Newman's Postcards From Essex County is the long-awaited follow-up to the popular Postcards From The Past, published by Walkerville Publishing in 2005. Boasting over 315 historic postcards featuring the churches, factories, fairgrounds, houses, beaches, trains and cars of the old towns in Essex County, this is a beautiful gift book in hardcover with full-colour illustrations.

With The River & The Land, Patrick Brode, author of The Slasher Killings and Unholy City, gives us an authoritative history of Windsor up to 1900. Featuring sections on Windsor's role in the American Civil War, Confederation and street-car manufacturing, and chronicling the cultural tensions between the French, English, Irish, and Scottish settlers of the region, The River & The Land is a thorough, compelling and readable history, sure to set the bar for local historians for years to come.

Doors open at 6 and readings/presentations will begin at 7. There will be snacks available and beer and pop are available for sale. Books are also of course available, cash or credit. See you there!




Friday, November 07, 2014

Wild Writers Literary Festival Is Upon Us!

Dear friends in the Waterloo/Kitchener/Guelph area: 
don't forget that this weekend is the date of the Wild Writers Literary Festival!
The weekend features some amazing programming, 
including appearances from K.D. Miller, Diane Schoemperlen, Ray Robertson, and Kathy Page.

For more info on schedules, tickets and directions, please see the festival's website

Happy Weekend!


Thursday, November 06, 2014

"Showstoppingly Exquisite Writing": Toronto Star on Freedom in American Songs

Over at The Toronto Star last week, Emily Donaldson said some kind words about Kathleen Winter's newly released short story collection The Freedom in American Songs.

"What unites these tales is the loneliness and isolation that besets their female characters," writes Donaldson. "Winter’s uniqueness as a writer lies...in her resistance to conventions such as narrative arcs and neat endings."

Donaldson is especially fond of the collection's opening "Marianne Stories," which chronicle the misadventures of a young woman who has moved from the city to a rural Newfoundland fishing village.  The complexity and beauty of Marianne as a character is that she "embraces her outsider status knowing it lets her see things others don’t." Yet Marianne also paradoxically yearns to belong, so that, as Donaldson puts it, "the simple achievement of building a fire that burns the same white smoke as her neighbours" becomes a cause for elation. 

 Donaldson calls the writing here "showstoppingly exquisite." 





Writing Spaces: Kerry-Lee Powell and Kathy Page

Ever wondered about the writing habits of your favourite Canadian authors?

For those of us that do, The New Quarterly's online Writing Space feature  helps satisfy some of that curiosity by providing an insider's glimpse into the working spaces of various authors.

Pictured below is Kerry-Lee Powell's tasteful yet functional office set-up whose beautiful matching desk and chair overlook some lovely verdant trees. Kerry-Lee says she keeps the "curtains open on that side of the room at night so that I can see their silhouettes against the sky."



And who wouldn't want to toil daily in Kathy Page's awe-inspiring rugged cabin/office in Salt Spring, situated by a "wooded valley visited by pileated woodpeckers, ravens, and many other birds, as well as rabbits and black-tailed deer."  



Writers as diverse and distinct as their natural habitats. Anyone else feel a smidgen of envy? Time to start organizing that office...


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

What Africa Does the African Writer Write About?



Demands are made of an African writer that are not made of a European or American writer.  Insistence is made on proof of authenticity. Questions are asked about the degree to which it is ethnically genuine. No one questions whether José Saramago represents Portuguese culture. It's irrelevant to know whether James Joyce corresponds to the cultural standards of this or that European ethnic group. Why should African writers have to show such cultural passports? This happens  because people persist in thinking of the production of these African writers as belonging to the domain of anthropology or ethnography. What they are producing isn't literature but a transgression of what is accepted as traditionally African.
The writer isn't just someone who writes. He’s someone who produces thought, someone capable of pollinating others with feeling and delight.
More than this, the writer challenges the basis of thought itself. He goes further than challenging the limits of political correctness. He subverts the very criteria that define what is correct, he questions the boundaries of reason.


An excerpt from the rousing essay "What Africa Does the African Writer Write About?" by 20 Neustadt Prize-winner Mia Couto, published for the first time in English earlier today on the BITSblog. The piece is also forthcoming in Pensativities: Selected Essays, Couto's first collection of non-fiction in English, forthcoming from Biblioasis in April. 

K.D. Miller in Maclean's and Globe and Mail: up for Writer's Trust Tonight!

Besides teaching me so much about writing, Alice Munro once taught me something about being a writer. It was 1986. She had just launched The Progress of Love and was doing a reading in a local library. I couldn’t afford to hand her one of the glossy new hardcovers to sign, so I took along my least-tattered Munro paperback – Lives of Girls and Women. She opened it tenderly, looked up and gave me a gracious smile before signing her name.I learned that night that the reader is to be honoured – even if she shows up with a second-hand copy of the wrong book.
A lovely anecdote from K.D. Miller about the graciousness of Alice Munro in The Globe and Mail as part of yesterday's feature on the Writer's Trust award, for which K.D. is up tonight. 

And speaking of influence and homage, K.D. was also featured in Maclean's this past Monday, where she spoke of her debt to Flannery O'Connor and her ability "as a religious person, to see beyond the borders of her faith and at times stare straight into the eyes of evil," something readers acquainted with All Saints and the character of Alice Vipond will no doubt be familiar with.




The Writer's Trust Award is announced tonight at 6:30PM at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.

Our fingers are crossed for you, K.D.!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Alphabet Featured on Shelf Awareness

Each week, Shelf Awareness and its top industry insiders select and feature the top 25 new releases of the week.

In addition to the countless hits on its website, Shelf Awareness's weekly newsletter also goes out to over 300,000 subscribers.

Featured today on their front page is Alphabet by Kathy Page, an incredible novel we've released for the first time this fall in the United States, and also reissued here in Canada as part of our new Reset reprint series.

Shelf Awareness loves it:
Alphabet transforms from a novel of crime and punishment into a nuanced psychological profile of a killer, ultimately providing a gut-wrenching reminder of the atrocities contained within institutional walls and the lengths to which we are willing to go in order to protect our innermost selves. … Heartbreaking and emotional.
We're thrilled to see such great coverage for Kathy. Alphabet is gaining momentum and quietly making waves in the states. It's definitely a book to keep your eye on.

And it's not just Shelf Awareness and the starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus I'm talking about.


Hearty recommendations from the likes of indies like Emily Pullen from Brooklyn's Word Bookstore, featured below, give us the additional pleasure of knowing that the book is physically being put in people's hands. This is a book that will transform readers of all stripes, and there are people on the ground getting behind it and making this happen. 

We hope that those of you discovering the book through Shelf Awareness for the first time will try to seek out the novel from such unacknowledged heroes as Emily before making the digital rounds:


If you like fiction that makes you a little uncomfortable (but still has a compelling voice), try Alphabet by Kathy Page. The narrator is in prison in the UK for killing his girlfriend, and we see his various coping mechanisms and treatments and eventual attempts to learn how to connect with people in a healthy way. His journey will surprise you. - Emily Pullen

The Toronto Star loves Diane Schoemperlen's By The Book


A very intelligent review of Diane Schoemperlen's By The Book appeared in The Toronto Star today, courtesy of James Grainger. 


Calling Diane "a relentless literary experimentalist who challenges the conventions of the short story and novel formats" Grainger goes on to show why even, in her most radically challenging work, Diane has won "a wide and devoted readership in a marketplace increasingly hostile to “difficult” or “challenging” texts."


So what sets By The Book, her most formally adventurous work since the Governor General's award-winning novel Forms of Devotion, apart from the current experimental crop?

Grainger has some ideas, and we couldn't agree more:
One of the reasons for the popularity of Schoemperlen’s inventive work, which incorporates elements of collage, fragmentation, and other postmodern tropes, is that she seems to be having so much fun creating it. Her fiction also avoids turgid academic language in favour of playful re-imaginings of such mundane sources as romance advice columns, devotional texts, catalogues, and lifestyle questionnaires....Schoemperlen wants us to consider the randomness, absurdity, and militant certainties not only of another era’s texts and images but of our own, which will one day be judged as quaint as those of the Victorians. By the Book is a challenging read, but it never talks over or under the readers’ head, which should endear it to Schoemperlen’s fans and to adventurous readers unfamiliar with her work.
We've talked before about the undeniable weirdness of this book, its beauty and distinction  as a printed objet d'art, but perhaps this is the best way to view By The Book: as the work of a restlessly creative mind that above all else is reveling in having fun, and moreover a brand of fun that the reader is free to participate in. Like Douglas Glover says of By The Book, "none of the conventional words cover it for they miss the fantastic wit, the energy of humour, the divine ability to find comedic ore in the print detritus of our culture." The book is yours to discover. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Writing Is The Way I Pray: K.D. Miller in conversation with Lori McNulty

This week, The National Post's Afterword is featuring several conversations between the authors nominated for the 2014 Writer's Trust Award. Yesterday featured a fascinating conversation between Lori McNulty and our very own K.D. Miller, giving readers a chance to eavesdrop on their observations on the art of the short story, developing and maintaining personal writing habits, the act of writing as a leap of faith, and much more. Here's a taste of what K.D. has to say: 
Writing is the way I pray. It’s through writing — the creative act — that I come into my own. I frequently have doubts about my relationship with my religion and my church. But writing? Never. ... As an actor, I was taught to observe, to listen and to empathise. As a director, I was taught to evaluate every detail of a scene from the standpoint of the audience. That balance of absorption and objectivity has been a big help to me as a writer.
All Saints is a finalist for the 2014 for the Writer's Trust Award and one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year, proclaimed an instant Canadian classic by Macleans and others.


Happy 10th! Robyn Sarah on The Lily Pond

Sometime in 2007, fellow Biblioasis writer Mike Barnes sent me, in manuscript, an essay he’d just written called “Two Rooms”, asking for my response.  From the first paragraph, I found it electrifying, astonishing, and (remarkably) strangely beautiful despite its harrowing subject matter. It described his hospitalization, in his early twenties, following a bizarre self-mutilation, and what came after: misdiagnosis, two years of failed drug trials, electroshock treatments, a staff meeting that nearly saw him transferred to a long term care facility; then months of near-coma resulting from a prescription dosage error.  “Two Rooms” was the genesis of The Lily Pond: A  Memoir of Madness, Memory, Myth and Metamorphosis (Biblioasis, 2008), a series of four interlocking personal essays that probe the impact of mental illness on a life over a period of thirty years.

The Lily Pond is a one-of-a-kind book.  It is so much more than a book about mental illness; it could hardly be further from a self-help book or a popular-style “recovery memoir”. There is not a buzz-word to be found in it, not a single stereotype or oversimplification, not a second’s pandering to the voyeuristic impulse of a public hungry for sensational true stories. No sermonizing, no self-congratulation.  Instead, with humbling honesty, and bringing a formidable intelligence to bear on the subject, Barnes gives us a rare inside look at mental illness and its treatments, interweaving autobiography with reflections on paintings, literary works, myth, metaphor, and scientific lore.  His interest is in the psyche’s resources for healing and in the universals of the human condition as filtered through the particulars of his life experience. His book is, perhaps more than anything, a work of philosophy and a testament to human resilience and creativity.


One of the things I love in The Lily Pond is the voice in which the essays unfold: measured and sober, meditative, freeassociative, often mesmerizing, yet enlivened by unexpected turns of the imagination (think Oliver Sacks, think W. G. Sebald.)   It’s a book that digs deep and wakens wonder – a deep-sea dive of a book, able to pull me in again and again to surface each time with an enriched appreciation of the things that matter in life. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mia Couto Wins the 2014 Neustadt!


Everyone here at Biblioasis was thrilled to hear that Mia Couto was awarded the 2014 Neustadt Prize for Literature last Friday. The prize, which carries a $50,000 purse, is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma, and was made possible in perpetuity by a generous endowment from the Neustadt family of Oklahoma and Texas.

The Neustadt is colloquially referred to as the "American Nobel" for a good reason: a tremendous percentage of its recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, including Czesław Miłosz, Gabriel García Márquez, and Octavio Paz. Couto, an environmental biologist and the author of 25 books of fiction, essays, and poems, is the first writer from Mozambique to be awarded the Prize.

This isn't the first important literary honour that Couto has been presented. He received Portugal's most prestigious literary award, the Camões Prize, in 2013, and the Latin Union Prize in 2007.

The Tuner of Silences, which Biblioasis published in the fall of 2012, was Couto's debut with a North American publisher. It was received as his most mature work to date. The striking language that has established him as the most original prose stylist writing in Portuguese today is as evident as ever in David Brookshaw's masterful translation. A jury assembled by Radio France-Culture and the Paris magazine Télérama named The Tuner of Silences as one of the 20 best works of fiction published in France in 2011 (along with books by Jonathan Franzen, Haruki Murakami, and David Grossmann).

Next spring, Biblioasis is excited to launch Couto Collected Essays, the debut English translation of his timely and important non-fiction. Needless to say, it's one of the most anticipated books on our outstanding spring list.

If the Neustadt Prize's past is any indication of even higher international acclaim—and we believe it is—there's no doubt that Mia Couto is an author destined for global renown.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy 10th! Amanda Jernigan on Track & Trace


Dear Biblioasis,

I've been dipping back into Zach Wells' book Track & Trace, which I bought and browsed when it first came out -- but it's only now, on further reading, that I appreciate the neat fit of Seth's austere cartoons (if I can call them that) with the rigorously pent emotions in Zach's poems. As John Metcalf once wrote to me, talking about Ben Jonson's "On My First Daughter," "It may be that it is the distance itself which is so moving."

That's a brief appreciation, as I can hear the baby stirring and the toddler (who's been at the park with his saintly grandmother) approaching home, but I hope it will serve your turn. I, too, lament the speed with which backlist books fall off the publicity radar. For years I've dated the flyleaves of books according to when I bought the books -- but it's often years before I really get round to reading them. Better, I think, to record the date (with a really good book, dates) of reading: the date(s) when the words actually entered/re-entered your thought and life.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Windsor's Small Presses Featured Tonight @ The Capitol!

Have you ever thought about starting your own publishing house?

Are you an aspiring writer who has wondered about how to go about getting published and how the mystifying world of submissions, advances, and royalty statements works?

Or have maybe you have simply wondered what it is exactly that a publisher does?

If you answered yes to at least one of the above questions, then it's your lucky day.

Tonight, Thursday, October 23rd @ 7PM Bookfest Windsor will be presenting a special free feature on the small presses of Windsor at The Capitol! Each publisher will have a feature author representing their press who will give a brief reading, to be followed by an informative panel discussion on publishing in the region.

Rampike will feature poet Susan Holbrook, Cranberry Tree will feature novelist Rosalind Knight, Palimpsest will feature poet Ariel Gordon, Black Moss will feature poet Mary Ann Mulhern, and Biblioasis will be proudly presenting award-winning magazine and non-fiction writer Chris Turner who will be reading from his fantastic new collection of essays How To Breathe Underwater!

Come out and see the best of what the region has to offer and get your questions about the publishing industry demystified! 

For more info, please see Bookfest's Website or give us a call at 519-968-2206.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy 10th! Tom Dilworth on Light Lifting

Light Lifting, for which Biblioasis acted as midwife as well as publisher is a great book, important for me for lifting the west end of Windsor into literature of a high, international calibre and, in doing so, establishing its publisher as an important one. 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kirkus Interviews Kathy Page on ALPHABET

While it's not uncommon for our authors to win over the hearts of reviewers, there's always something so gratifying about encountering a new critic who both understands and deeply appreciates their work. This happened today with Kathy Page, who was interviewed by Pete Warzel of Kirkus Reviews. 

After briefly introducing the novel, Warzel writes of the unlikely affection we begin to feel for Alphabet's illiterate protagonist, Simon Austen, who was incarcerated for murdering his girlfriend during a moment of sexually-charged passion:
The reader is drawn to [Simon's] innate intelligence, his sense of humor, his delight in learning how to read and write to fill the time of his life sentence. Page sees the dichotomy of the dark and light side of her character as critical to the story. “I accept that both are true—the terrible side to these men, but the damaged, human facet also,” she says. This encompasses the question at the heart of this fine novel: Can a man, a murderer, insensitive to the violence around him, become functional, sympathetic, create and sustain relationships on a personal level? “Simon strikes me with sympathy and horror, sympathy and suspicion," says Page. "It is his 'bothness.'"
It may be this complexity of character—not just with regard to Simon Austen, but with all the characters, both criminal and "correctional," that accompany him during his journey through the prison system—that made Alphabet such a celebrated novel in the U.K. and Canada in 2005, and make it one of the best American releases of 2014.

This important and compelling work took ten years to find its way to American readers, but we agree with Mr. Warzel: Alphabet was worth the wait.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Biblioasis Roll Call for Bookfest Windsor this Weekend!

Biblioasis Authors @ Bookfest
This Coming Weekend: Windsor Bookfest, October 25th-26th! October 20th, 2014

Dear Bibliophiles, 

As many of you know, Windsor's great annual literary festival Bookfest is less than a week away!

Taking place in and around The Capitol Theatre this weekend on October 25th, with a special additional books & brunch event on Sunday the 26th, Bookfest features readings and presentations from some of the best authors from around the world, including Nino Ricci, Steven Galloway, and Wayne Grady. There will also be several Biblioasis authors presenting this year, and a list of these authors as well as their event details are listed below.

Please note that we also have day passes for Saturday as well as for the francophone dinner available for sale in the bookstore. The Saturday day pass is 20$ (5$ for students) and the dinner is also 20$. Please see Bookfest's website for more details. If you would like to buy or reserve tickets, please swing by the shop or give us a shout at 519-968-2206. And keep in mind that many of the featured readers' books are available for sale here at Biblioasis bookstore! 
CHRIS TURNER: Field Notes from the Front Lines of Radical Change
Sat, Oct 25th, Kelly Theatre, 10:30am-11:30 am

Chris Turner is one of the most celebrated literary journalists of his generation. The winner of nine National Magazine Awards, including a President's Medal and two Best Essay prizes for work in The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, Shift, and many other publications, he is the author of five books, including The War on Science, The Leap, and Planet Simpson. He will be presenting from How To Breathe Underwater, a collection just published by Biblioasis and including his best essays on the digital change beat, the green economy, and video games, all written with a flair and touch of the gonzo, confirming his place as one of the leading magazine writers in Canada. 


 
KERRY-LEE POWELL: Poetry Cafe (w/ Tom Dilworth, Louis Cabri, and John Reibentanz). Joy Theatre: 11:30-1:00 PM, Oct 25th.

Kerry Lee Powell's work has appeared in journals throughout the United Kingdom and North America, including The Spectator, The Boston Review, and the Malahat Review. She will be presenting from Inheritance, her debut book of poetry inspired by a shipwreck endured by her father during World War II. Admired by the likes of Nathan Englander and Junot Diaz, and with two fiction books forthcoming from Harper Collins, she is an exciting young talent on the rise. 

 
NANCY JO CULLEN: Fabulist Fiction (w/ Steven Galloway, Marissa Reaume, and Richard Scarsbrook). Moderated by Peter Hrastovec. Sat, Oct 25th, Pentastar Theatre: 2-3 PM
Nancy Jo Cullen is the author of three collections of poetry and one collection of short stories. She lives between Kingston and Toronto and will be reading from Canary, a lively and occasionally raunchy collection of stories that takes us from the communal showers of hot yoga studios to the hitchhiking, joint-smoking seedy underground of Vancouver's East Side. 
SETH and SEGBINGWAY: Aspects of the Book: Graphic Arts (w/ Scott Chantler and Marta Chudolinska). Moderated by Dale Jacobs. Sat Oct 25th, Kelly Theatre, 7:00-8:00 PM


A panel with four beloved graphic artists, focussing on underground comics and graphic novels as literature. Segbingway is the moody and lyrical illustrator of The Reasonable Ogre and Yinyue, co-authored by Mike Barnes. And many of you will recognize Seth as the designer of our in-house magazine CNQ, as well as an award-winning New Yorker cover artist and the designer of many things Biblioasis, including our storefront banner. He is the author of many books, including the graphic novel classic It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken and the forthcoming Palookaville 22

 
A Tribute to the Life and Literary Legacy of ALISTAIR MACLEOD
Hosted by Piya Chattopadhyay. Sat, Oct 25th: 8:00-10:00 PM




A tribute to the life of friend, mentor, and Windsor literary icon Alistair MacLeod, with Caroline Adderson, Ryan Burchill, Steven Galloway, Nino Ricci, Antanas Sileika, Douglas Gibson, and, Daniel, Kenneth, Lewis, Marian, and Alexander MacLeod
 
CHARLES FORAN and CAROLINE ADDERSON: Books & Brunch (w/ Merilyn Simmonds). Moderated by Asha Tomlinson. Art Gallery of Windsor: 11AM-1:30PM. Sunday, October 26th.

 









And last but not least, Charles Foran and Caroline Adderson will help close out the weekend as part of a special Books & Brunch event at the Art Gallery of Windsor on Sunday. Charles Foran's most recent novel is Planet Lolita, and he is the author of such books as Mordecai and a collection of essays from Biblioasis called Join the Revolution, Comrade. Caroline Adderson is the celebrated author of multiple books including Bad Imaginings and the Jasper John Dooley books for children. Her most recent book is Ellen in Pieces, published by Harper Collins. Biblioasis will be republishing her novel A History of Forgetting in 2015. 
 

Happy 10th! Patrick Warner on Malarky

I look to small presses for the unexpected, for books that remind me that there is always a fresh way to approach literature. What reader isn't looking for work that knocks the stuffing out of the hoary old maxim about there being nothing new under the sun? Of course there is. A few years ago I picked up a Biblioasis title, Malarky, by Anakana Schofield. I hadn't heard of the author and didn't know anything about the book. I wasn't even done the first page when all of the lights came on and stayed on for the next two hundred odd pages. What's more brilliant than brilliant? I don't know, but Malarky is a good example of it.

Congrats on your tenth! 


Friday, October 17, 2014

Diane Schoemperlen on By The Book

These six stories are not exactly stories at all. 


Rather, each piece is a construction or a deconstruction or a reconstruction (or maybe all three). I did not exactly write any of the lines in any of them. 



I discovered them (like a continent), mined them (like gold or coal or potash), unearthed them (like bones), excavated them (archaeological artifacts), solved them (like a crossword puzzle), deciphered them (like a secret code), organized them (like a filing cabinet or a clothes closet), choreographed them (like a ballet or maybe a barn dance), arranged them (like a symphony or a bouquet of flowers).


In each case, I picked out the pieces (like gold nuggets from gravel or maybe like worms from the garden), shuffled them many times (like playing cards), and then put them together again (like a jigsaw puzzle, ending with a picture entirely different from the one on the front of the box).


Order By The Book, the adventurous sequel to Forms of Devotion, from Biblioasis

Local History Launch at The Walkerville Brewery on November 12th


Dear Friends and Colleagues in Windsor,

Please join us at the Walkerville Brewery for a dual launch of two new local history books from Biblioasis:  David Newman's Postcards From Essex County and Patrick Brode's 
The River & The Land! 

David Newman's Postcards From Essex County is the long-awaited follow-up to the hugely popular Postcards From The Past, published by Walkerville Publishing in 2005. Boasting over 315 historic postcards featuring the churches, factories, fairgrounds, houses, beaches, trains and cars of the old towns in Essex County, this is a beautiful gift book in hardcover with full-colour illustrations. 

With The River & The Land, Patrick Brode, author of The Slasher Killings and Unholy City, gives us an authoritative history of Windsor up to 1900. Featuring sections on Windsor's role in the American Civil War, Confederation and street-car manufacturing, and chronicling the cultural tensions between the French, English, Irish, and Scottish settlers of the region, The River & The Land is a thorough, compelling and readable history, sure to set the bar for local historians for years to come.

Doors open at 6 and readings/presentations will begin at 7. There will be snacks available and you are of course encouraged to partake in a few of the Walkerville Brewery's famous beers. Books will be available for sale, cash or credit.

See you there!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Translation Tuesday: Birth of a Bridge excerpted on the BITSblog

Site meeting – sometime after seven o’clock in the morning and Diderot is talking, standing mountainous at the end of the oval table. Bare room, thin partitions, thin carpet hastily placed, smell of glue, smell of new, freeze-dried coffee, classroom chairs dragged in. These accommodate some fifty individuals, among them Sanche Cameron, the crane operator, and Summer Diamantis, the girl in charge of concrete – Diderot watches these two surreptitiously, the boy with the dazzled face, the girl who takes notes without lifting her head. He directed the comment at them when he said, fingers joined in a bouquet over his chest, hey, rookies, call me Diderot. 
He clears his throat and begins in a loud voice. Okay, let’s get started. Plan of action: one, dig the ground – he lifts his thumb; two, dredge and clear the river – he lifts his index; three, get started on the concrete – he lifts his middle finger. Turns to pull down a wall-mounted screen, starts up a laptop, turns back, slowly surveys the audience, and then slams down the first words.

Just a taste of Maylis de Kerangal's 2010 Prix-Médicis-winning novel Birth of a Bridge, excerpted today on the BITSblog. Happy Translation Tuesday!

Happy 10th! Shane Neilson on CNQ


The magazine CNQ changed my life. I remember picking up a copy of the version edited by John Metcalf and printed by Tim Inkster, elegant and woodsy, in 1999. I must have bought it at a dreaded Chapters big box store, perhaps in Clayton Park when I was going to medical school. I remember reading Carmine Starnino deglove a couple of Canadian poets, perhaps Anne Szumigalski and David Donnell; John Metcalf corrected a reputation too. Was it M.G. Vassanji? I can't recall, but what I do remember is the payload of the prose: megatons of devastation wrought on a literature that was, vastly, too nice. CNQ was the only place to go for, if not the truth, then for passionate disagreement with received wisdom. The spirit of that issue, and the issues thereafter that have come under the editorial eye of Alex Good, inform my writing still. 


Friday, October 10, 2014

Happy 10th! Catherine Chandler on Time's Covenant



Eric Ormsby's Time's Covenant, published by Biblioasis in 2007, is a fine example of exquisite, meticulously crafted, musical and meditative poetry. Quite simply put, the volume is a treasure-trove, containing Ormsby's five published books of poetry as well as many of his (at the time) unpublished and uncollected poems for the period 1958 to 2006.

Ormsby is a master of metaphor and imagery. His evocations of people, places, things and ideas are breathtaking in their beauty, luxuriance, precision and scope, witnesses to his love of the “doubleness of things”—as he writes in his poem “Spider Silk”—and to a linguistic brilliance hinted at in his poem “Quark Fog.” And while examples of his gorgeous lines and stanzas are too numerous to list here, by way of illustration I would include one of my favorite Ormsby poems, “Amber”, a meditation on love and mortality where—as in many of his poems—universal truths are to be found in everyday objects and isolated moments of time. The poem, quoted in its entirety below, is dedicated to his wife, Irena.

Amber
                For Irena

Prismed by amber, the insect's wing
Curves outward in a resinous nonchalance.
Casual fatality has paused in its dance.
I am tenderest when I touch this glozened thing.

Time's imagination stumbles me,
The way time tastes the roof beam's future ruin
Or calibrates the hovering, faint tune
In the siskin's wingbeat, with its brief veracity.

The stillness of surviving objects pleases
Our reveries. The inarticulate
Obduracy of a tigrine chip of agate
Spilled from a misplaced cuff link seizes

Our attention, so mere things appear
Stationary, resistant, and impervious.
The opera glasses, pearl-lensed, that will outlive us
Accord a terrible pleasure of mortality. We're

Cruelly honoured in our transience,
Evanescent instances of some unique
Reticulation. I hear you speak
Close to my ear. I feel your diffidence

As you slip your clothes and then your jewelry
And press against me till our nakedness
Warms us with momentous gentleness
And we lie hidden in that clarity.

K.D. Miller Graces the Digital Pages of Chatelaine

What better way to start a Friday morning than with more exciting news about our own K.D. Miller?

She was interviewed, along with her fellow 2014 Rogers Writers' Trust Award shortlisted authors, by glamourous Chatelaine magazine. When asked how her book All Saints developed into a series of linked short stories, K.D. replied:

It started as two stories, “Still Dark” and “Ecce Cor Meum,” that were strongly linked. Then Dan Wells, publisher of Biblioasis, asked for “more Anglican stories.” So I started to think about the people who might rub shoulders, however lightly, with a small, struggling urban church.  The characters started to show up after that — Simon the rector, Kelly the long-time parishioner, Alice the mass murderess who used to teach Sunday School…

After answering more questions about favourite books and hidden talents, K.D. ends the interview by naming "Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)" as her favorite song. One happy listen later, we couldn't resist sharing. This one's for you, Ms. Miller.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Chris Turner to Launch "How to Breathe Underwater" with Shift Mag Alumni


You know it's going to be the literary headbanger of the season when Shit from Hell, Canada's favourite geriatric punk band, is booked as the closer.

Chris Turner is gathering with the scattered alumni of Shift, Toronto's late legendary tech & culture magazine, to celebrate the launch of his new collection of award-winning journalism, How to Breathe Underwater: Field Reports from an Age of Radical Change.

In addition to a few words from Chris, Shift co-founder Andy Heintzman will speak, and (with any luck) a number of former Shift writers will man the turntables.

The event is open to everybody. Mark it on your calenders!

For more information and updates, visit our Facebook event page.