Monday, January 31, 2011


Zach Wells has a poem in this issue of the Walrus, called, I think 'Underwhelmed, if that's a word," which can be read here.

Again, in the Walrus, Biblioasis-friend and regular CNQ contributor Jeet Heer has an interesting essay on the Canada Reads phenomenon.

Stephen Henighan -- currently warping young minds over in Paris, France -- is at it again the pages of Geist, this time with an thoughtful essay on the BookNet Dictatorship.

There's a fab new Amy Jones story up at Taddle Creek, titled Atikokan is for Lovers.

Cynthia Flood has a new story up at Found Press called Addresses.

Though it isn't online, the current issue of Fiddlehead has a moving story, Freight, by Shane Neilson.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wanted: Salary Serf for Biblioasis employment

That's right. The rumours are true. Biblioasis is looking to hire a full-time publishing assistant, to start some time in early March. Though it will involve moving to the Windsor-area, we will do our best to make it worth your while. Details, for those interested, below. Please pass along to any and all who might be looking to get ink -- real and proverbial -- under their nails.

* * *

About Biblioasis:

Biblioasis is one of the leading independent presses in the country, and has been called “the torchbearer for literary publishing in Canada” (Richard Bachmann, Different Drummer Books), “one of the bravest entities in Canadian literature” (The Walrus), and “the nation’s literary troublemakers.” (Maclean’s). Established in 2004 and based in Emeryville, 10 minutes outside of Windsor, Ontario, we prefer to think of ourselves as an intimate and motley assemblage of windmill chasers. Since 2004 we have published more than 80 trade books and chapbooks by many of the leading writers from Canada and abroad: these include Caroline Adderson, Clark Blaise, Bruce Jay Friedman, Terry Griggs, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Annabel Lyon, Alexander MacLeod, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Rebecca Rosenblum, Ray Robertson, Leon Rooke, Robyn Sarah, Kathleen Winter and many others. Press series include the Biblioasis International Translation Series, edited by Stephen Henighan, and the Biblioasis Renditions series of Canadian classics. We also publish the critical journal CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries thrice yearly, a contrarian journal of cultural reviews, views and interviews (hence our reputation as the nation’s troublemakers.) For those interested in a full-on immersion in the world of Canadian publishing, where they can make a lasting contribution to literature in Canada, this is an opportunity not to be missed...


As we are a smaller independent press – quite literally a garage-based indie start-up – the prospective employee can expect to roll up his/her sleeves and eventually get involved in nearly all aspects of our publishing program, including editorial, administrative, production and marketing. Biblioasis responsibilities will include:

- copy-editing

- basic typesetting and design

- editorial and project management

- marketing press titles, including the writing and setting of copy and press releases, media mailings, following up on review copies, pitching media, and working on author tours

- helping to manage the website and press social media applications,

- general administrative tasks, including basic bookkeeping, bibliographic and database management.

On the CNQ side of the bill, the successful applicant can expect to work on editorial and marketing, including helping to manage our subscription campaigns.

Training will be provided, and the successful applicant will also accompany the publisher to a variety of trade shows, book fairs, sales conferences and PD sessions.


Post-Secondary Education

One-to-two years experience working in publishing and/or graduation from accredited publishing program


A knowledge and appreciation of Biblioasis titles, and a wider awareness of Canadian independent publishing and the Canadian literary community

InDesign, Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Word, Excel and Filemaker experience

Familiarity with a range of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and blogging software.

Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Extremely organized and detail-oriented

Ability to multi-task and work to deadline

The ability to create and edit EPUB files would be an asset

Interested applicants can send their resumes to Applications will be accepted until February 13th, with interviews to be scheduled over the following couple of weeks. For further information please contact Dan Wells at

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ray Robertson on Dire Straits, Literature & Literalness

When I was in Grade Five, my first errant rock & roll epiphany came while listening to Billy Joel's It's Still Rock & Roll To Me, from Glass Houses. I remember the AHA!!! moment: so that's what I'd been doing wrong! That and my egg salad and dill pickle sandwiches.

It was a good lesson in not taking music (or literature) too literally.

In today's Globe & Mail, Ray Robertson (Moody Food and this Fall's Why Not?) weighs in on the current Dire Straits/ Money For Nothing censorship stupidity. In Grade Seven, every single one of would have given anything to be that little faggot in the earring and the mink coat. Some of us still would. Sadly, my mink-wearing days are long behind me.

Robertson writes:

Every writer with a new book to peddle knows the drill: put together 10 to 15 minutes of what will work best as spoken-word material in preparation for the readings one will be expected to give while out on the publicity circuit. What works most effectively live, I’ve found, is plenty of dialogue combined with a few choice passages illustrating one’s hopefully unique way with the shaping and saying of the English language. Conversely, what rarely works in front of an audience is irony. Better your chances of charming a skeptical crowd of would-be book buyers with potentially alienating scenes of sex and violence and the repeated use of profane language than to ask one’s listeners to understand that the narrative voice to which they’re listening is not to be taken at all times 100-per-cent literally. And double the prospective trouble if your narrator is even slightly less than wholly reliable.

What most of the recent to-censor or not-to-censor brouhaha surrounding Mark Knopfler’s song Money for Nothing fails to uncover is that humour and its prized offspring, irony, are literature’s primary instruments of genuine exploration. Blunt literalness is fine for schoolchildren, who need to be clearly instructed that race and sexual orientation aren’t how we should identify individuals, but the twin scalpel blades of humour and irony are needed to dissect, for instance, the more adult concern of why this is unfortunately so often not the case.

For the rest of Ray's piece, which ranges through Welty, Twain and Kundera, and pinpoints all of the standard stupidities this mess brings to the surface, please go here.


It's frightening, especially since we're not technically even through our Fall 10 list yet, but we've been working on Fall 11 presales the past couple of weeks. My initial teleconference is Tuesday, so I've been trying to get my head around our Fall list, while working on finishing up our Spring. The Fall list will be pretty spectacular: a second collection by Rebecca Rosenblum titled The Big Dream (which I finished last eve for the first time. Trust me: it's every bit as good as Once, if not better.), Ray Robertson's latest collection of nonfiction Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live, a memoir of the golden age of Hollywood, American theatre and publishing by Bruce Jay Friedman (Lucky Bruce), Claire Tacon's Metcalf-Rooke winning novel In the Field, Laura Boudreau's darkly playful first collection of short fiction Suitable Precautions, David Hickey's first children's book (illustrated by Alexander Griggs-Burr), and a first collection of poetry by the poet pictured above, Amanda Jernigan. I'm tired (though excited) just thinking about it.

Is it too early to begin praising our Fall list? Even when I've yet to shine light on our Spring? (Fear not: that will follow.) No, especially when Douglas Glover's highlighting one of our Fall authors on his Numero Cinq. Below, Aubade, from Amanda's Groundwork. Early September, 2011. For four additional poems, and a short write-up about the book and poet, please go here.


The time, if time it was, would ripen
in its own sweet time. One thought of dawn.
One felt that things were shaping up,
somehow, that it was getting on.

Day broke. Upon the waters broke
in waves on waves unbreaking and
night fell, unveiling in its wake
one perfect whitened rib of land.

I slept, and while I slept I dreamed,
a breaking wave, a flowering tree,
and all of one accord I seemed.
I woke, and you divided me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Globe and Mail Reviews Combat Camera

Calling it a "violent, funny, thought-provoking novel," and comparing it with the work of Ernest Hemingway, Jules Lewis reviews A.J. Somerset's Combat Camera in today's Globe & Mail.

From the review:

Combat Camera opens with Zane on the ropes: 46 years old, drunk, friendless and possessing “no detectable ambition at all.” To pay the bills, he works as a photographer at Diamond Blue Productions, a small Internet pornography company on the outskirts of Toronto. Zane is perfect for the job: As in war, he can detach himself from the subject and let the camera do the work. When one young woman gets her face punched in by her brutish co-star, Bill, for an unsatisfactory performance, Zane feels nothing. He simply continues taking photos, mentally congratulating himself “on his excellent shutter timing.”

Somerset – a one-time soldier and a freelance photographer – paints a convincing picture of Zane’s messed-up head: The reader follows as his mechanical eye scans a bleak, desolate Toronto, paying more attention to the lighting on people’s faces, their potential to become still images, than anything else. All that can puncture this barrier – his iron lens, as it were – are Zane’s horrifying war flashbacks.

Yet he maintains a consistent sense of humour – self-deprecating, gruff, curmudgeonly. Somerset’s prose illuminates this. In one scene, Zane looks at his cellphone with “loathing, as one might regard a coiled and dangerous snake.”

For the whole review, please go here.