Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rosenblum makes the Cut

Rebecca Rosenblum, the winner of the most recent Metcalf-Rooke Award, has just made the short-list for this year's $10,000 Journey Prize for her story, Chilly Girl. Congratulations! The other two contenders are Craig Boyko and Krista Foss. Go, Rebecca! She's deserving: her stories are that good!

She's also going to be on stage with recent Giller winner Elizabeth Hay in June at the University of Toronto. And in Peterborough next week for a panel on Canadian fiction. And all this without a book to call her own!

We'll soon remedy that!

Congratulations again, Rebecca.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cold-cocked: the Blogger's Take & Flirt:The Interviews

After beating the traditional bushes to try and get some play, we sent review copies of Lorna Jackson's Cold-cocked: On Hockey to some of the leading hockey bloggers in the land. Over the last few weeks, several of these have posted reviews. They can be found by following the links below:

On Frozen Blog:

Hockey Blog in Canada:

Scarlett Ice:

Untypical Girls: /

Women's Sports Blog:

There were a couple of others I can't seem to locate right now, but i'll direct them to your attention later. More also quite likely to follow.

Lorna's next book, Flirt: The Interviews should come back from the printer within the next week. There's three hockey-related "interviews" in this collection -- Bobby Orr, Markus Naslund, and Janet Jones-Gretzky -- to go along with Ian Tyson, Alice Munro, Richard Ford, Michael Ondaatje and Benjamin Britten. "Interviews", in quotation marks, because they are, of course, fiction, or a pastiche of fiction, interview, news articles and biographies, and lord knows what else. It's the oddest book we'll be publishing this year, the hardest to define, and perhaps the most enjoyable. A collection of linked fictions in interview form conducted by a woman who would much rather tell her own story than listen to those of her famous subjects, by a woman who simply cannot stop talking about herself. Everything is about her, from Richard Ford's feelings about landscape and Bobby Orr's oft-injured knee, to Ian Tyson's lyrics, Alice Munro's motherhood, Markus Naslund's spirituality. Janet Gretzky's curves. Flirt might be a comic essay on adolescent grief. Or a comic essay on creativity. But perhaps its best to leave it as a collection of linked comic short fictions that mock real interviews and question the sort of information we often find in them.

As I said earlier, the pitching begins. And this is certainly one of our spring books that y'all should make sure you pick up. It's as much fun as you're likely to have between two covers. Which, alas, may say something about those of you who tune into this blog semi-regularly.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Upcoming Biblioasis Events

A couple of events to bring to your attention:

David Hickey will be reading this Thursday with Elizabeth Bachinsky (Nightwood Editions) at the Landon Branch of The London Public Library, 167 Wortley Road on Wednesday, February 27th at 7:30 pm.

And Stephen Henighan and Ondjaki will be touring Ontario and (hopefully) Montreal between March 10th and 22nd in support of Henighan's translation of Ondjaki's Good Morning Comrades. More details to follow as we have them, but here's what is lined up thus far:

–March 12, 2:30 PM, Visit to Portuguese Class, University of Toronto.
-March 12, 7:30 PM, English-language Reading, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto.
–March 13, 12:00 Noon, Bilingual reading, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario.
–March 15, 7:30 PM, Bilingual Reading, Collected Works Bookstore-CafĂ©, Ottawa, Ontario
–March 18, 2:30 PM, Bilingual reading, York University, Toronto.
–March 19: 1:30 PM, Bilingual Reading, University of Guelph, Ontario.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sex, Literature and Video Tape

Someone at last week's Valentine's Day launch of Russell Smith's adult fairytale Diana: A Diary in the Second Person, has posted 5 minutes or so on YouTube, about the origins of Diana. You can watch it here:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Few Spring Covers

Early looks at a couple more of our Spring titles. Two of Spring '08's titles -- Russell Smith's pornographic fairy tale Diana: A Diary in the Second Person (#1 on's erotica lists at the moment (proof that smut(h) sells) -- part Story of O, part Molly Bloom, part Penthouse Letters (mainly Penthouse Letters) -- and Ondjaki's Good Morning Comrades (see below) are already out and available. Charles Foran's Join the Revolution, Comrade and Lorna Jackson's Flirt: the Interviews will be out April 1st; Stephen Henighan's A Report on the Afterlife of Culture min-April. The remaining list -- Patricia Young's Here Come the Moonbathers and the Zach Wells edited Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets, will be coming out towards the end of April. I'll have you covers for them as soon as we're a touch closer to being satisfied.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ondjaki's Good Morning Comrades

Ondjaki's Good Morning Comrades is available now, the second official title in the Biblioasis International Translation series. This is the first title by Ondjaki available in english, beating out Aflame Edition's The Whistler, from what I gather, by a matter of days. Translated by Stephen Henighan, who's also stepping in as General Editor for the series.

Looks like we'll be launching Good Morning Comrades at Harbourfront March 12th. Ondjaki's coming into Canada for a whirlwind tour that will include several Toronto appearance, Guelp, Brock and elsewhere. More details to follow.

You'll be seeing more Biblioasis translation titles beginning in 2009, as we hope to make translation a bigger part of our publishing program. We have Hans Eichner's Kahn & Engelmann lined up for spring '09; hopefully Horacio Castellanos Moya's Dances with Snakes in the Fall of '09. Also Goran Simic's next volume of poetry, The Tattooed Land. Lots of good stuff.

Speaking of translation, we're working on the next issue of CNQ, which will be focusing on translation. It's been a very difficult issue to assemble, though it's finally taking shape. Contributors include Mike Barnes, Alberto Manguel, Robyn Sarah, Steven Henighan, Goran Simic, Eric Ormsby and others. Also a few regular critical pieces, including a fabulous Giller Report by Alex Good.

So why haven't you subscribed? $14.00 won't even buy you a Danielle Steele paperback anymore, and we know how much that's worth. Come on: it'll make you feel smart. When's the last time that came so cheap?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Beyond the Blank Page

K.D. Miller may not be one of ours -- as in a Biblioasis author -- but she's one of mine, as in a writer I greatly admire. She has a new creative writing course, and I thought I'd post information about it here. Spread along to any who might be interested.


Do your plans for spring cleaning include dusting off a manuscript you put away months or years ago? Do you have a novel, memoir, play or film script, short story or poetry collection in the works? Could you use some positive, practical feedback? If so, you may want to sign up for "Beyond the Blank Page: A creative writing course to help you revise and revitalise your work-in-progress."
This six-week course will introduce you to a community of writers who, like you, have a work in progress. Come and share your writing, give and receive valuable commentary, and sharpen your self-editing skills.
When and Where: I will be teaching the course at Fairlawn Neighbourhood Centre (28 Fairlawn Ave. just a few steps west of Yonge St.) on the following Wednesday evenings from 7:30 till 9 pm: April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and May 7. The Centre is six blocks north of Lawrence subway station. Public parking is available just east of Yonge on Glenforest Ave.
Cost is $150.00 per person.
To register, phone the Centre at 416 - 488 - 3446 and ask about Course AE14

NOTE: Each participant is asked to submit to Fairlawn Neighbourhood Centre between 5 and 20 typed, double-spaced pages of their work-in-progress prior to the start of the course.

Please share this message with anyone else you think might be interested. Below my signature, I've pasted in the answers to some frequently asked questions.
Hope to see you there,
K. D. Miller
(416) 487-0966
Enjoy my books:

BEYOND THE BLANK PAGE – Frequently Asked Questions

Q – I wasn’t able to take the first Blank Page course. Can I still take this one?

A – Yes. The only prerequisite for Beyond the Blank Page is to submit between 5 and 20 manuscript pages of your original, unpublished writing to Fairlawn Neighbourhood Centre prior to the first class, which will take place April 2, 2008. Your submission should be identified with your name, phone number and the words “Beyond the Blank Page.”

Q – What is meant by “manuscript page”?

A – 8 ½’ X 11”, typed, double-spaced, one side. The type should be clean, clear and legible, to allow for photocopying. Poets should allow one poem per page (length permitting.) Novelists or writers of other longer projects may submit a brief synopsis with their excerpt.

Q – What will a typical class involve?

A – A brief talk by the instructor on a topic related to revising and self-editing - characterization, structure, dialogue, etc. - followed by discussions of the writing of two of the participants. At the end of the class, copies of two more manuscripts will be handed out, for the next week’s discussion.

Q – Will people criticize my writing?

A – The class will have had a week to read and think about your submission. They will evaluate the strengths of your work, and offer constructive suggestions for making it stronger. You will have a chance to respond and ask for more specific feedback. At all times, the atmosphere will be courteous, supportive and professional. And remember – you will also be evaluating the work of your colleagues.

Q – What if I have more questions before the course starts?

A – You are welcome to contact the instructor, K.D. Miller, by e-mail: or by phone: (416) 487-0966.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Posting and Punditry

This space, for those handful of you who check in on occasion, has been quiet for awhile. After the first few weeks I began to receive queries about my well-being. Was I all right? Had something happened, or was I in any sort of trouble? Even one person who feared the silence indicative of something they had feared bound to happen: we'd bitten off too much and it had finally caught up with us. Blog silence as a sign of impending doom.

I'm happy to report that not only am I well, but that the press is no closer to collapse than it was a month ago. Nor, alas, is it any further away from it. My reasons for quitting Thirsty for awhile were both personal and professional. I've too little time any more and keeping up the chatter seemed not worth it. I decided it would be more beneficial to read a book if I had a half an hour to kill, to get back to reading for pleasure, something I've had a hard time doing over the last couple of years. So I sat down with Roth and Houellebecq and Arthur Krystal; Grant Buday, Cormac McCarthy, Arturo Perez-Reverte. Most recently, Charles Foran's Last House of Ulster. Reading these seemed much more worthwhile than sitting for yet another half an hour a day trying to keep a blog current. If you're actually reading this, I expect it is because you're one of the few who still care about books and good literature; if you're like me, you're finding it harder and harder to find time to get to the books you want to, to keep up to date on what's new and worth reading, to get to the stack of classics sitting on your shelves or piled next to the nightstand. In my own case, the volumes of Clive James, including his latest, Cultural Amnesia, which I picked up this past week in Toronto; Bolano's Savage Detectives, Casares's Invention of Morel, The Best Canadian Stories and Journey Prize anthologies. This blog meant that I had that much less time to read, to remind myself why the hell I spend the time I do behind this computer in the first place. We'd all do better to spend less time with blogs, more time with books, so taking a break seemed a way to deal with this.

But it was more than that. When I started this blog it was the hope that it would be a press blog, with all of Biblioasis' many talented writers contributing. That lasted for about two weeks. It became a publisher's blog, news, reviews, views. I've been told, more than once, that it quickly developed into the best example of its kind in the country, which says more about how poor the rest must be than how good this one was. But the rule of blogging is that new content is essential. If you can't keep people coming back, there's no point doing it at all. So I tried to post regularly, every day for a while, and then at least several times a week. I posted reviews, announcements, the odd poem, editorial, rant. Some were good, some I later regretted. Some were posted in anger and frustration, and caused problems I'd not foreseen. One, unintentionally, caused a person a fair amount of embarrassment and pain. I became a touch careless, not checking up on things as I should, got in the habit of commenting on things in a way that, had I stopped for a few minutes, I probably wouldn't have. In my search for content and commentary, in my attempts to keep things fresh, I posted about things best kept a bit more under wraps. I began to feel less a publisher where this blog was concerned and more a pundit.

This focus on the new is part of the problem. It's a cliche to say that literature is not about the new. But in publishing, in literary publishing, it's getting damned hard to talk about anything else. It's hard to get anyone to even consider covering/reviewing/discussing a book that's even a couple of months old. Want to try and get a writer from last spring a few gigs in April? Forget it. Here we are, February, the Spring 2008 season hardly even begun, and I need to have all my covers and catalogue copy and everything else to my US distributor for Fall by tomorrow evening; to our Canadian sales force in less than two weeks. At the same time, books that were ordered 45, 60, 90 days ago are already being returned to the warehouse. The preparation for a season's titles begins earlier and earlier; the actual selling season seems shorter and shorter. And no one any longer is interested in backlist. The fact that Leon Rooke's Hitting the Charts remains one of the most important books we've published -- and are likely to for many a year -- is irrelevant. A master's selected stories, stories which, in the words of Russell Banks, "work out there in the terra incognita, mapping limits" and hardly anyone has read it; and now that it is backlist, relegated to the amazonian 3-5 weeks, unavailable on bookstore shelves across the land for the casual browser to trip upon, t'is unlikely anyone will. How many out there will find David Hickey's In the Lights of a Midnight Plow now? Eric Ormsby's Time's Covenant? Goran Simic's From Sarajevo With Sorrow? Pray for a course list, as it's the only chance of a book having a meaningful afterlife, and in the age of the coursepak even this is damn remote. No, alas. Rather, let's talk about what's new.

So I thought, in some sort of strange, tangential, way, this blog might be contributing to the problem. Punditry, by focusing on the new, on keeping the content fresh as opposed to the quality of it. Not sure that makes any sense at all, but t'was my thinking.

Anyway: I'm back at it again. New books to push, new frustrations to share. Though, as this semi-coherent rant has already taken much too much time, perhaps I should leave it here.

Cultural Amnesia. Clive James' volume, sitting an arm's length away. Says it all, really. Perhaps when I finish General Ludd -- perhaps a future Renditions book (the pitching begins) -- I'll pick up there.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Valentine's Day Launch at the Gladstone Hotel : 7 pm

Russell Smith - Diana: A Diary In The Second Person

The pornographic novel that the Globe & Mail's Russell Smith published ten years ago under the pseudonym Diana Savage is a notorious text which, till now, has been increasingly difficult to find. To launch a revised literary edition of Diana: A Diary In The Second Person (Biblioasis), Smith will have a frisky Valentines Day conversation with renowned sex columnist Josey Vogels about the voice as an instrument of seduction and other matters of the heart. — A This Is Not A Reading Series event presented by Pages Books & Magazines, Biblioasis and

Gladstone Hotel Gallery, 1214 Queen St W, Toronto
Thurs, Feb 14; 7:30pm (doors 7pm) free