Thursday, December 22, 2011
Just when you thought Thirsty was waterblogged, we find ourselves trudging back to the well. Something about drinking salty ink? Congrats to Ms. Rosenblum for making the top 10 books of Canadian short fiction for 2011, & thanks to Chad Pelley for the shoutout. (It's worth visiting the site for the picture of Zsuzsi Gartner alone, who looks not unliked the winged Nike of the CBC. Yowsers.)
Just a quick note to say that the Who Killed CanLit? issue of CNQ is now not only on the newsstands, but up and running online. Check out notesandqueries.ca for select features, select online-only features, new fiction from Nathan Whitlock, and new poetry from Nyla Matuk, and more!
I'm sure many of you have seen this already, thanks to the its appearance on the Walrus Blog and of course thanks to Quill & Quire, but in case you haven't, take a listen. This interview with Catherine Bush was recorded in October of this year, when Clark was in Toronto for IFOA and the Writers' Trust Awards. It's called "Clark Blaise and the Writing Life," but really it's just about Life full stop, and It. Is. Great. Why--gasp--is writing a short story harder than writing a novel? How does the son of an Amoskeag Mills bobbin boy end up studying with Bernard Malamud? And what, most tantalizingly, is our very own master storyteller and border-crosser planning next? If you don't already know, find out now.
But now we know it's really true, because NPR and the Boston Globe say so. Congratulations to Amanda Jernigan, whose Groundwork will appear shortly on NPR's top 100 poetry books for the year, and again to Marsha Pomerantz, whose Illustrated Edge made the Boston Globe's Best Poetry Books of 2011.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sounds like a limbo move or a calculus maneuver, but no: it's Laura Boudreau, live from The Story Prize Blog. Our dynamic cosmopolite talks about Singer, Carver, travelers, and what (if anything) holds a collection of short fiction together. Take a look!
Good morning, folks. As Christmas rolls down toward the two-tongued sea here by the Bibliomanse (or rather, as piffling amounts of snow continue to melt into Lake St. Clair), it seems that our minds are turning to two very important seasonal things: poetry, and cake. On December 18th, Marsha Pomerantz was the Poetry Daily Poet with the title poem of The Illustrated Edge. Since December 18th is exactly one week before Christmas, and since one of her "edges" is a table with "drips and crumbs and bellies pressed up close," I figure I can segue rather neatly to the unexpected theme of 2011: CAKE. The year of cake closed with one final slice this Saturday at the London Children's Museum, where David Hickey read to a captivated crew of children and parents. What happens when you combine cake, gum, balloons, and poetry? See for yourselves. More pictures shortly. Also keep an eye out on the London Free Press, who did (bless 'em!) give us a shout-out before the launch, and an interview during.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Congratulations to Ray and everyone who made the longlist!
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Well, Biblioasis is happy to boast that our authors have thus far authors participated in, arranged, slogged through, flew to, trained towards, and gloried over EIGHTY-TWO events this fall. Now (as people are doing their pre-Christmas memory dumps, perhaps?) the photos are trickling in, and they are MARVELLOUS. Yes indeed.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Monday, December 05, 2011
Great news, folks: all this week our very own Rebecca Rosenblum will be guest editing The National Post's Afterword. Curious as to why she's more interested in stray Shreddies than the movements of the stars? Here's a taste:
This weekend parenting blog host Dad of Divas took a look at A Very Small Something, and here's what he called it:
Saturday, December 03, 2011
from today's Telegraph-Journal:
This review was originally going to be a survey of some of this fall's debut Canadian short fiction
collections. But Laura Boudreau's Suitable Precautions was so superior it would have been a disservice
to her fine collection to have it share the spotlight.
I first read Boudreau, who was born and raised in
Toronto and lives in London, England, in the The
Journey Prize Stories 22. Her story, Dead Dad Game,
with its non sequitur twists left me wanting more. And
Suitable Precautions delivers.
Like her precocious, deviant tween girl Lauren in the
Poses, Boudreau is definitely someone who doesn't
know when to quit. She is best when at a ramble speed,
with words and thoughts spewing until the narrative
leads you someplace quite different from where you
began. And the wayBoudreau does it, these twists
don't feel like forced tricks - they come on like the slow
boil a frog feels sitting in the pot.
For the full review, please go here.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
"That it exists? Um, that it’s a book about people who work, who have jobs and lives and fall in love and get sick and eat sandwiches and care about each other, but sometimes not enough or not in the right ways."
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Hey, Toronto! Looking for something to take the edge off your shovel? The starch out of your shirtcollar? Come on out to Type Books, this Thursday, for a little Wage Slave Recreation. Details below.
WHAT: An After-Dinner Party for the After-Dinner Man: The Toronto Launch of The Wage Slave's Glossary
WHO: Hosted by Mark Kingwell and Seth
WHERE: Type Books, 883 Queen West
WHEN: Thursday Nov. 17, 6-8 PM
CONTACT: Tara Murphy, 519 968 2206, firstname.lastname@example.org
Admission is free; however, because of the nature of the event, we ask that you RSVP to Tara at email@example.com.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
The Toronto Star also wrote a short review of Rebecca Rosenblum's The Big Dream:
Monday, November 07, 2011
Laura Wells over at The East Hampton Star also reviewed Lucky Bruce, calling it "a true testament to decades of hard work, of perseverance ... in true Don Quixote fashion, Friedman is fascinated by everything going on around him."Check out the rest of Wells' review.
Keep an eye on NY1 tomorrow for an interview with Bruce Jay Friedman on The New York Times Close Up that aired over the weekend.
The Big Dream has also been receiving the love (not war!) from our friends in the media. Check out Mark Paterson's review at The Rover, where he says: "Rosenblum is an entertaining master of minutia, she has a prodigious ability to take ordinary details and restyle or adorn them in just the slightest way, transforming the mundane into the eccentric. The stories in The Big Dream come alive with orange-juice stained pillows, Zellers jeans, and jam sandwiches ... The Big Dream thoroughly succeeds ... Rebecca Rosenblum is a gifted chronicler of our time."
Hello, Toronto. Missing IFOA? The hustle? The crush? The hospitality suite? Yep. Me too. Every day should be IFOA. And though we at the Bibliomanse don't have the budget for complimentary single malt, we can afford some pretty great poesy, and we're giving it to you as a post-IFOA present. Come hear Amanda Jernigan and David Hickey at Type (wonderful Type!) tonight at 6.
Sunday, November 06, 2011
An article in the University of Toronto newspaper also sheds some light on Why Not?:
At most, you’ll find a kindred spirit in this book; at least, you’ll add a few shiny new quotations to your collection. A University of Toronto grad (and a former editor-in-chief of the newspaper), Robertson read his share of Kant and Hume. He found a large part of the heavily analytic philosophy program to be “not enough about what life is really about”, and turned his talents to writing. It came to be that “novels were a sort of philosophy co-op program” for him.
Why Not is, in a sense, a practical application of philosophy, but that’s not to say he made any sacrifices stylistically. Straightforward and never shy, the reader feels welcome and respected as Robertson plays the role of earnest life professor. He remains true to his literary tone in real life. “All the writers I like have voices. Language and the way they sound was always important to me,” Robertson said. “I think of myself as a sort of highbrow lowbrow. My needs are simple, but with that comes an honesty.”
Perhaps surprisingly, one of the fifteen reasons is the antithesis of life. “I didn’t realize until about three quarters of the way through the book there was going to be a chapter called Death. That kind of snuck up on me, but it seemed appropriate, because no matter how wonderful things are you’re still going to die.” It’s that sort of off-the-cuff realism that makes Why Not an entertaining and insightful read.
You can read the rest here.
Photo by Marty Gervais, taken this past weekend at Bookfest Windsor.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
On this year's Dia de Muertos, Biblioasis and the Consulate General of Mexico are proud to launch the seventh volume of our International Translation Series: Love Poems, by Jaime Sabines. Regarded as one of the major poets of the twentieth century, with admirers known to overflow auditoriums and to whisper raptly along at his readings, Sabines attained a status in Mexico that few poets achieve in life. His Love Poems are now available for the first time as a collection in English. Join Irish-Canadian poet Colin Carberry as we celebrate his spectacular new translation.
Admission is FREE. The event will be in English and Spanish.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Clark Blaise is a border-crosser.
In life, Blaise moved between Fargo, N.D., where he was born to Canadian parents, Montreal, Iowa City, Toronto, Calcutta, Delhi and San Francisco, among other cities. In his literary output, Blaise flits across even more divides, between generations and races, regional boundaries within nation states — even the boundary between corporeal solidity and spiritual boundlessness. So it’s no surprise that Margaret Atwood’s blurb on his latest book, The Meagre Tarmac (Biblioasis, $19.95), calls Blaise a “master border-crosser.”
“Borders themselves are very close to the short-story form,” Blaise says in an interview in Toronto during the recent International Festival of Authors. “They compress, they keep things within a tight structure. And I think maybe I am more comfortable in the short story form than the novel. In the short story, the boundaries are pretty well defined and you have to stay within them. And I enjoy that compression, where everything counts, every act has a consequence. And the consequences of any action in a short story are manifest, especially if you’re a sensitive reader.”
The Meagre Tarmac is a collection of 11 stories, some grouped, as the first three are, into mini-narratives — all concerning the sutures and broken seams of Indo-American families who’ve immigrated to the United States in the 1970s in search of prosperity amid burgeoning technological innovation in northern California. There’s the patriarch who, because of personal shame related to a sexual dalliance before his wife and son arrived in the U.S., is tearing apart his family 16 years later by insisting on a move back to India. It’s a story told arrestingly from the father’s, mother’s and most jarringly by a 13-year-old daughter, Pramila’s perspectives.
“It used to be called among Indian immigrants ‘12 and out.’ When your daughter reaches 12, if you don’t take her back to India, you’ve lost her,” Blaise says. “But those people who didn’t go back, their children are doing what North American children do; they break away from their family, they don’t want to go back and live with their parents and they don’t want to have their parents come to live with them. But that’s the way it is in India. That’s the overriding arc of this book — that they prospered here, but they can’t stay.”
Later in the book, another male household head recounts spending his $250,000 dot-com bonus saving an uncle back in Calcutta, losing his immediate family back in the U.S. in the process. We revisit him six years later in the very next story, wandering and lonely, after recognizing his own folly during a sojourn in Tuscany.
Finally, the collection closes with a successful executive who’s played the North American game successfully, accumulated vast wealth and a network of friends and acquaintances, even embracing the ephemera of American cultural life, only to give it all up while yearning for “Old Calcutta.”
“These people are missing one thing in life, and that is that India could prepare them for success in America, but it could not prepare them for happiness in America, personal satisfactions, sexual gratification, marriage,” Blaise says. “Those were all to be given by parents. Arranged, and maybe love would follow, maybe it wouldn’t. All the men are, in some way, failed as fathers, husbands, lovers. They are all looking for something.”
Blaise, 71, resides now in San Francisco with his wife, writer Bharati Mukherjee, a tenured faculty member at Berkeley. They’ve been married since 1964, and have two sons. Until the recent California budget crisis, Blaise was himself teaching at Berkeley as an adjunct professor in creative writing, after a distinguished academic career that included an eight-year stint as director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2009 for his contributions to writing and scholarship, and for founding Concordia University’s creative writing program in the late 1960s, Blaise is now widely considered to be one of the foremost practitioners of the short-story form. With The Meagre Tarmac, which is shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, due to be announced in Toronto Nov. 1, even he, while being quite modest about it, feels he’s reached a new level.
“In this book, I had in my life for the first time the experience of being a director. It was like having actors milling around the wings waiting for their cue to come on. Most of the times you have to methodically grind it out. ‘What would she say now? What would he do now?’ This time, they all came with a backstory.
“Of course, I also have 50 years experience with Indo-Americans and Indo-Canadians, struggling here, and not struggling, maybe even succeeding here,” he says. “And I’ve seen many happy families, but you know, as Tolstoy said, you don’t write about them.”
It’s in the interplay between events, deeds, thoughts and dialogue between family members being ripped apart by the stressors of immigration that Blaise tells a heartbreaking group of stories almost all concerned about loss, estrangement, heart ache and alienation. In the end, the master border-crosser doesn’t seek to make any political points about assimilation vs. ethno-diversity; his stories, affairs of the heart, especially as they cross thick, irreversible borders, prove to be far messier, and far more human in scope and interest.
“The dream of immigration, I suppose, is to find yourself at home in a new place. All of them [the characters in The Meagre Tarmac] find themselves successful in this new place, but it’s missing something,” he says. “They didn’t have the Archie and Veronica moments: making out in the back seat of a car, the songs, the movies, the sports. They didn’t have all the things that make North America North America.
“They didn’t have the trivia. And you can never catch up with the trivia. You can integrate the great ideas, but you can never integrate the trivia.”
Monday, October 31, 2011
Some authors are straggling home. Some are sticking around. And some are even headed to Windsor. Interested in BookFest? Dan talks about it to Ted Shaw of the Windsor Star here. I also wanted to post a few photos from the Jernigan/Hickey reading of last Thursday, a) because it was AWESOME, and b) because of the funny. Kudos to Waterloo for being a poetry hotspot. And in the middle of IFOA, no less!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Biblioasis poet & children's author David Hickey, with his lovely partner-in-crime Erica Leighton, dazzled children and parents alike yesterday at the Gladstone. The audience was small (literally!) but the enthusiasm big, and everyone had a great time.
Hamilton Art Gallery, Oct. 27, 7 PM: Reading from the Writers' Trust Nominees
READING: Coady, van der Pol, Wells, Wolitzer
READING: Marx, McWatt, Wells, Wilson
Thursday, October 20, 2011
In anticipation, David has put together this book trailer, which I must say is one of the best I've seen. It gives you a great sense of the story and Alexander's wonderful illustrations.
If you would like to listen to a full version of the story, please visit the book website www.averysmallsomething.com, and click on the link.
for now, the trailer:
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
42 LAND OF PLENTY
Friday, October 21, 2011 - 10:00am - 11:30am
$17 / $8.50 for student groups (Buy Tickets Online)
Canada is populated largely by immigrants, all with stories that carry shadows of what they’ve left behind, and how they’ve been welcomed to their new land. In his new novel, Peter Behrens transports the O’Briens introduced in his award-winning first novel from Ireland to Canada. Clark Blaise’s collection of short fiction tackles the struggle between tradition and modernity faced by Indian immigrants to America. And Ling Zhang, whose last novel became the highest-grossing film in Chinese history, gives voice to Chinese immigrants to Canada’s West Coast in her multi-generational saga. Join three compelling storytellers whose fiction embraces the possibility of success in a new land, where roots are shallow and cultural identity and personal identity are often at odds.
54 CLARK BLAISE AND RUDY WIEBE IN CONVERSATION
$17 (Buy Tickets Online)
When a writer releases a volume called Collected Stories, 1955–2010, you know that this is a writer with “legs,” who has certainly stood the test of time. When an author who has published 20 books of fiction and non-fiction releases his first collection of short stories in nearly 20 years (The Meagre Tarmac), you also know that you’re looking at great talent.Rudy Wiebe and Clark Blaise, now both in their 70s, sit down together this morning to talk about their lives as writers, the craft of the short story, the “Canadian experience” and anything else that leaps into their fertile, inquisitive and sharp minds.
68 VANCOUVER 125 LEGACY BOOKS
$17 (Buy Tickets Online)
Vancouver’s 125th Birthday Party continues and this time we are celebrating our city’s literature and the republication of 10 lost Vancouver literary gems, ranging from the classic oral history of Daphne Marlatt and Carole Itter's Opening Doors to Vancouver's most notorious unsolved murder mystery in Edward Starkins' Who Killed Janet Smith? Come armed with your “Best of VanLit” lists as host Michael Turner talks with Vancouver literary devotees Anakana Scofield, Stephen Osbourne, Dan Francis and Jean Barman about what makes our city’s literature great and what titles you must have on your shelf.
A reception at The Dockside Lounge at the Granville Island Hotel to follow.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Attention all Toronto-area Biblioasis-o-philes: we'll be in Toronto tomorrow evening to launch Claire Tacon's Metcalf-Rooke winning In the Field at the Dora Keogh (141 Danforth Ave). Start time: 7 pm. Attendance mandatory, without a note from the doctor. And no, attending Dani Couture's launch of Algoma at the Gladstone tonight is not a valid excuse: if we were in Toronto, we'd be going to both as well. (We'll catch her here in Windsor in the next few weeks.) It's book launch season, folks: suck it up.
Looking forward to seeing (most of) you there,
Dan & Tara
PS: Please pass along to all non-Biblioasis connected folk: they are welcome as well.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
In what is certainly a first for a press-published book,
Funny novels, like funny movies, rarely gain traction with prize committees. “People assume that it’s the gloomy buggers that are the serious ones,”
There’s a bit of
Mr. Friedman, also a playwright and screenwriter, called one of his plays “a tense comedy,” and that phrase describes his best fiction. It’s a bundle of neuroses. The Friedman book I hold most dear is “The Lonely Guy’s Book of Life” (1978), which was made into a mediocre
Mr. Friedman returns now with “Lucky Bruce: A Literary Memoir,” a buoyant book. He is 81, but his prose, in terms of its vigor, is still in its 30s. “Lucky Bruce” is about a kid from the Bronx who finds early literary fame; fritters away some of his prime years, dabbling in movies and theater; makes and loses a load of money; eats very well; has close and funny friends; sleeps with more than his allotment of beautiful women; and, agreeably for his readers, has a way with anecdotes.
The author is big and gregarious; he seems like the kind of guy who might, out of the blue, decide to give you noogies. That’s what he essentially did to Norman Mailer, at a party at Mailer’s town house in the late 1960s. In return he was head-butted by Mailer, whose wife, Beverly, yelled, “Kill the bastard, Norman.” The pair took it outside. Mr. Friedman got in a few belly punches and won the fight, but Mailer bit him in the neck. Mr. Friedman ended up at Lenox Hill Hospital, on the receiving end of a tetanus shot.
There are a lot of stories like that one in “Lucky Bruce.” Mr. Friedman warned his friend
Mr. Friedman criticizes himself for name-dropping in “Lucky Bruce,” but he needn’t worry: the stories are good ones. And he never strays far from his own shapely life story.
He decided to be a writer because he thought it might help him with women, and his early role model was J. D. Salinger. Mr. Friedman sold one of the first stories he wrote to The New Yorker. A letter he received from the magazine read, “All of us here are delighted with your story and we would like to publish it in the magazine.” Mr. Friedman’s response was, he writes, “All of us here in the Bronx are delighted that all of you there at The New Yorker are pleased with my story.”
By the time he was in his late 20s, Mr. Friedman had three sons, an unhappy marriage, a house on Long Island and a job editing low-brow men’s adventure magazines. He wrote his first novel, “Stern,” on subways and commuter trains.
“I recall writing the book in a heat,” he says, “as if I was being chased down an alley.”
The book sold only 6,000 copies, but its editor, Robert Gottlieb, assured Mr. Friedman that they were “the right copies.” The author later wondered, “Would it have been so awful to sell a few hundred thousand of the ‘wrong’ copies?”
Literary fame came; so did the smell of money, coming from the film business. Mr. Friedman wrote the screenplays for “Splash” and “Stir Crazy.” One of his short stories, adapted by Neil Simon, became the Elaine May film “The Heartbreak Kid.” He had cameos in three
Pryor asked Mr. Friedman if he wanted to get high. The author responded by explaining why, as he put it, “there were no (or very few) Jewish junkies.” The three reasons: “Jews need eight hours of sleep”; “They must have fresh orange juice in the morning”; “They have to read the entire N.Y. Times.”
In his best work, Mr. Friedman has always bounced his comedy off dark human action and emotion, and those things are here too. He worries that he was not a good father to his sons.
“I’d always felt shabby,” he writes, “about not doing a good enough job in looking after my father before his death.” He berates himself for career missteps.
“I’m a great fan of comeback stories,” Mr. Friedman writes in “Lucky Bruce.” His book is a pretty good comeback story of its own.