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, email@example.com
Admission is free; however, because of the nature of the event, we ask that you RSVP to Tara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.”