Sunday, April 13, 2008

Another glowing review of boYs ...

... is due out this week in The Current, St. John's cultural paper, though it can be found in toto early here:

An excerpt:

This book defies a nutshell summary. There is no genre that could encase this collection of short stories. It is too fresh, too new, too unique, and in the best way possible. This book is alive! Every sentence pops like firecrackers ... It is a book you read for it’s ultra-modern, punchy, lucid diction. ... Kathleen can portray the normalcy of things with a rare and gifted simplicity. As I read the pages I saw images, not words. It is one of few books I’ve read that appeals to all of the senses.

Oh yes: I should also include this one last tidbit. After all, it's not every day the publishing house gets kudos in a review!

Lastly, hats off to her publisher, Biblioasis, for taking a shot on this atypical collection of short stories, and I am glad to see it is working out for them! Biblioasis might be proof that the book industry is not so rigid after all.

The book industry rigid? Bah!!! And I thought we were all shining examples of dynamism!

Adam Getty, Al Moritz, Shane Neilson

Over the last few weeks a few books have made their way across the transom here at chez Biblioasis. Each is by a writer with press associations: two by poets we published as part of our chapbook series, and the third by a poet we expect to publish a first full trade collection by in the next couple of seasons.

The first is a new collection by Shane Neilson titled Exterminate My Heart. Another beautiful, beautiful Frog Hollow Press Production, wonderfully illustrated with wood engravings by George Walker. It's a lovingly produced volume of love poems to Neilson's wife, daughter and mother. But like all else by Neilson, this collection of love poems is not typical, neither sweet or saccharine. They are tensely dark and open and howling and beautiful and loving and generous and read true. Very powerful. What I have is number 15 of 25 cased copies, so there are not many left, though there's a trade edition I've not yet seen to boot. If you would like to take a further gander, please go here:

The next two books arrived late this past week, and I haven't had enough time to do more than flip through them. But Adam Getty's 2nd trade collection, Repose, and A. F. Moritz's The Sentinel, both contain poems we published in chapbook form a couple of years ago. Adam is one of my favourite poets and procrastinators, and I look very much forward to getting into this collection. (And in some future issue of CNQ, I'll be publishing his essay Poetry in the Slaughterhouse: I've only had the chance to read half of it, and the threat of Windsor thugs with aluminum bats has not yet frightened the rest of it out of him, but what I've seen is proof enough to know Getty can write well about anything, in any form, whenever he puts his mind to it.) I've read many of the poems already in the Moritz collection -- he is also a Frog Hollow alumnus -- but look forward to revisiting them soon here, alongside other work.

Alas, neither of these two books are for keeps: I'll need to send them off packing to a reviewer for CNQ. But I'll soon be buying both, and along with Neilson's above, would recommend that those poetry lovers out there add them to their lists as well.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Two Biblioasis authors -- Zachariah Wells and Rachel Lebowitz -- are tying the knot this weekend. Congratulations! For any of you out there who are attending, please take plenty of photographs. I hear Z cuts a mean figure on the dance floor. There are those, of course, that think he cuts a mean figure most of the time, though anyone who knows him can vouch that this is simply not so: he's as generous a soul as I've met in this rather small world of Canned Letters, a poet and critic who longs to say yes, and needs it to mean something. He'll be both saying and meaning it this weekend, and I'm thrilled for him, for both of them. I haven't had the chance to get to know Rachael yet half-as-well, but I look forward to the time when I will.

So: best wishes to both of you! You'll both be in my thoughts this weekend. i'll look forward to listening to the audio record over at CLM later next week.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Words at Large

CBC has released Shelagh Roger's interview with Russell Smith about his pornographic novel Diana: A Diary in the Second Person as a Words at Large Podcast. It can be found here:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Fun Begins: A Report on the Afterlife of Culture

Over the last few weeks, some advance excerpts and reviews of Stephen Henighan's new collection of essays, A Report on the Afterlife of Culture, have begun to appear in various journals and blogs across the land. Due back from the printer in 2 -2 1/2 weeks, it's probably safe to say that it is one of the most anticipated new collections of literary and cultural criticism of the year. Here's a quick run-down of what has been going on, and what will be coming up.

In the April Quill and Quire, Henighan is interviewed on the subject of translation publishing in Canada in an excellent article by Shaun Smith. I don't believe this is available online, but it is certainly alone worth the cover price.

In the same issue, there is an excerpt from Report on the importance of literary translation. This has led to the following article on the UTNE Reader's website:

In the forthcoming issue of Quill & Quire (May), there is an advance review of Report by Steven Beattie. It is now online, and can be found here:

An excerpt: Fortunately, Canadian criticism can boast Stephen Henighan, a persistent thorn in the side of the Canadian literary establishment, but also a fearless and perceptive observer of our literary culture. Henighan’s criticism is not of the Dale Peck school of unthinking snark. He prefers a careful reading of texts and authors, and a deliberate analysis of how cultural forces in our society shape the kind of literature we produce. ... for his willingness to say the unsayable, and his enthusiastic piercing of the balloons of Canadian literary pretension, Henighan’s new volume is a welcome addition to the annals of CanLit criticism. ­"

(Beattie isn't completely positive about the collection, but I don't feel the need to excerpt that here. Follow the link for the full review.)

Beattie continues the discussion on his own blog, found here:

Looking forward, there is an excerpt in the upcoming translation issue of CNQ, which should hit shelves next month; there will be an interview with Stephen in Books in Canada in the April or May issue; an excerpt will also be appearing in Subterrain at the end of April. And I am certain that this is just the tip of the proverbial.

It's going to be interesting to see how this book gets read. There are those who will want it to be When Words Deny the World Part II, and though it certainly is related, and expands on many of the themes in that first collection, it was never intended as a mere follow up. I'm interested in how expectations will shape how this gets read, what gets focussed on, and what seems to get people's dander up most.

I've been using it these last few months to discover writers I may not have picked up otherwise: Roberto Bolano, Maria Vargas Llosa, Casares, Houllebecq. Henighan is a wonderful guide through world literature, and in the end, despite the attention that may get paid to his criticism of Canadian literary culture, this may be one of the most important things Report contributes: furthering our awareness of literature in other languages. Is there another Canadian critic out there who would even try to do so?

It's also interesting that those out there who would like to dismiss Henighan try to paint him as some small town and equally small-minded hick, when he is perhaps -- along with Manguel, and perhaps one or two others -- one of our most worldly, aware and cosmopolitan writers. How many other Canadian writers and critics out there can read and write in four or five languages, and are as well-versed in world literatures as Henighan? I can't think of many. We've seen otherwise intelligent writers sent into spasms of incoherent and reactionary rage over the past 12 months, with both rickets and racism invoked. I'm not quite sure how Henighan's criticism has led to an increased number of cases of rickets (!), but I can't think of anyone who is less deserving of being labeled racist. I have great respect for Michael Redhill, but he should have known better.

Anyway, the next few months should be fun. We'll be planning events in Guelph, Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, and with Geist's help, Vancouver. We'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Charles Foran & Rebecca Rosenblum

For those of you in Toronto tonight -- where I should be, if I was not so tired of travelling -- there's two Biblioasis-related events going on. First, Charles Foran will be reading with Pico Iyer at Harbourfront from Join the Revolution, Comrade, at 7:30 pm. Indigo's order came in a little slowly on this title, though it's through now, and copies of Charlie's collection of essays should be everywhere across the country no later than the middle of next week. It's already at any independent bookshop worthy of the name.

Also going on tonight, Rebecca Rosenblum will be at the Writer's Trust Gala in anticiaption of the Journey Prize announcement. Rebecca is one of the three finalists for the 10,000 dollar prize, for her story Chilly Girl. Rebecca also, you might recall, won last year's Metcalf-Rooke Award. Her new collection, Once, in its final, edited state, has finally crossed the transom at chez Biblioasis, and I'll be looking forward to getting right into it. It's one of the books were most excited about this fall. Congratulations to Rebecca, and let's all keep our unused appendages crossed for her this evening in the hope of a Rosenblum victory!