Friday, December 28, 2012

The Best Reading of 2012: The Toronto Star

Well the press offices have officially gone dark for a couple of days, but we're re-emerging for just a second with a little Christmas candle: yesterday both Alice Petersen's All the Voices Cry and Anakana Schofield's Malarky were listed as two of the Toronto Star's Best Books of 2012. Congratulations to Alice and Anakana, a Merry Boxing Week to those of you braving the crush, and a very happy new year to you all. Peace and love (and good reviews!),

Malarky by Anakana Schofield 
"Unaccountably overlooked by this year’s prize juries, Anakana Schofield’s ribald story of an Irish farmwife’s descent into late-life cougardom and mental breakdown is a standout debut and one of the best Canadian novels of the year: the sort of book that forces you to read it over again as soon as you finish."

All the Voices Cry by Alice Petersen
"Why does Canada produce so many great short story writers? For the record here’s another. Alice Petersen’s first collection reads like the work of someone who is already a master of the form, her writing dense with understatement, subtlety and ambiguity."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Everybody That Matters and Then Some

"According to everybody that matters," wrote Kerry Clare yesterday, "this was one of the best books of the year, and when it comes out in the UK next year, the whole world is going to know it."
High praise indeed. And it's a good excuse to revisit an exciting piece of news that might have been overlooked in the year-end recap of last week: British rights to Malarky have been purchased by Oneworld, who will be releasing a UK version of the novel in 2013. This is in addition to the half-dozen best-of lists that Anakana's topped in the past month, including three new ones this weekend:
The plaudits keep on coming, but Michael Hingston at the Journal may have said it better than I could. I'll leave you with his comment. My congratulations to Anakana once more.
Great fiction takes risks. That's why descriptions of a classic and an utter fiasco can sound so similar. And yes, in theory, the debut novel by Vancouver's Anakana Schofield is far from a sure thing: it's an obsessive, voice-driven novel about a grieving Irish housewife that runs along irregular timelines and lingers at unusual places. It also never, ever apologizes for itself. More importantly, it all works. Joe Biden may have done more to repopularize the word "ma-larky" this year, but Schofield's electrifying novel will leave a much longer impression.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Daubers Press Exhibit & Reading: Dec. 14-Jan. 6

This just in from Amanda Jernigan. If you're in the neighbourhood, stop in. Their broadsides are beautiful.

- - - - - -

Dear friends and family --

John and I will be having a small exhibition of our Daubers-Press collaborations at the Sylvia Nickerson Studio (126 James St North, 3rd floor), opening during December's art crawl: Friday, December 14th, from 7 - 11 p.m. Please drop by for a mug of mulled wine, to help us celebrate. (I'll be giving a brief poetry reading at 7:30 p.m.)

For those of you who don't know, Daubers Press is the private press imprint under which John and I have issued a series of letterpress-printed pamphlets and broadsides, usually featuring a poem of mine and a photograph of John's -- sometimes a wood-engraving. Many of these have been holiday keepsakes, issued in small editions and distributed to family and friends. Sylvia Nickerson has been a collector of these keepsakes since the early days, and it is at her generous behest that we have chosen to gather the full run for this Christmas exhibition.

A poster is attached. Feel free to distribute, to others who might be interested.

With warm wishes from us all --
Amanda, John, Anson, & Ruby

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 in Review

As we were putting together the latest edition of The Draught, we at the Bibliomanse decided it would be fun to hop on Wagon Retrospect. Reflect a little on the accomplishments of 2012. Tip our hats to the authors and readers who make each year exceptional, perhaps say a few words to all of our new friends here in Windsoria (all of whom, by the way, we're delighted to see so often at 1520 Wyandotte East). Thirsty can never quite cover all that we do over here, and you only see so much from the storefront: we thought we'd try and bring you more of the story. Or at least a plot synopsis. A cover letter? Biblioasis for Dummies? Filemaker Made Easy? (Oh wait. Those last two are for me.)
Um. Without further adieu …  

We have a lot to be proud of in our little corner of the world. We’ve won awards, we’ve been written up warmly, and of course our new storefront was greeted with great enthusiasm by both the Walkerville community and Windsor at large. Yet—and as we hope will always be the case—our primary accomplishment remains the publication of stupendous authors. This year saw new works by Mark KingwellDouglas GloverMarty GervaisLiliana Heker,David HelwigNadine McInnisAlex BoydJessica HiemstraNorm SibumMike Barnes, and C.P. Boyko. Our stable continues to boast titles by Caroline Adderson, Clark Blaise, Charles Foran, Mavis Gallant, Annabel Lyon, John Metcalf, Alexander MacLeod, A.F. Moritz, Eric Ormsby, Ray Robertson, Seth, and Guy Vanderhaeghe.This year we’re especially proud to have added two books to our collection of astonishing fiction debuts: Anakana Schofield’s Malarky, which was selected for the extremely competitive Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program in 2012, and Alice Petersen’s All the Voices Cry (winner of this year’s QWF First Book Prize). As followers of theThirsty blog will know, Anakana's coverage this year has been exceptional, and we're happy to say that UK rights toMalarky were just sold to Oneworld; with a little luck her plaudits will continue long into 2013. We're also downright tickled about Alice, who it seems was only yesterday delighting audiences from Windsor to Montreal.

2012 saw Biblioasis authors win the Canadian Author's Association Award for Poetry (Goran Simic) and the City of Hamilton's Bryan Prince Award for Poetry(Amanda Jernigan,who was also shortlisted for the Pat Lowther). We had invitations to the Brooklyn Book Festival, WordFest, Winnipeg’s Thin Air, Blue Met, VIWF, IFOA, and Portland’s Wordstock. Both Malarky and C.P. Boyko’sPsychology made the Editor’s Picks list for 2012, and Douglas Glover’s Attack of the Copula Spiders appeared in the Globe Top 100 column and was praised in the Wall Street Journal. We’ve had multiple features in each of The National Post, The Globe & Mail, The Vancouver Sun, and The Montreal Gazette, as well as American reviews in The New York Review of Books, The Economist, Reader’s Digest andThe San Francisco Chronicle. This builds upon the recognition our press has received in previous years (including shortlists for The Giller Prize, The Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Award for Nonfiction, The Red Maple Award, The Winterset Award, The Danuta Gleed Award, The Archibald Lampman Prize, the B. C. Award for Canadian Nonfiction, the Relit Prize, The Frank O’Connor Award, a Commonwealth Award, the Thomas Head Raddall Award, and much else). We’re happy to say that critical recognition for Biblioasis titles is growing.

On the whole in 2012 Biblioasis made exceptional contributions to its fiction, non-fiction, and poetry lists, and we continued our mandate to publish exciting new authors. As Thirsty readers are by now extremely aware, for a debut novel Anakana Schofield’s Malarky received overwhelming attention, both for the exceptional nuance of its voice and the extraordinary likability of its protagonist. “Schofield starts at a pitch of inspiration most novels are lucky to reach at any point,” observed The Montreal Gazette, “and remarkably sustains that level all the way through”: her 20+ other reviewers largely agreed. So did the selection committee at Barnes & Noble Discover Program (“it was the voice that got me,” commented Program Director Miwa Messer); “Quirky, raucous, and utterly unconventional,” said Reader’s Digest. And a contingent of elite online bloggers (including Ann Kjellberg of the New York Review of Books, Kassie Rose of NPR, and Scott Esposito of Quarterly Conversation) have called it everything from “a miracle” to “the most engaging storytelling ever encountered.” Now, approaching 9 months after publication, Anakana has been to many of the premier festivals in North America (including Brooklyn, Portland, IFOA, VIWF, and Victoria), and continues to receive invitations to speak in her home province.     
Yet Malarky isn’t the only one of our fiction titles to be well-received this year: Alice Petersen’s All the Voices Cry, edited by John Metcalf, was another remarkable debut, lauded for its facility with metaphor and (how many times can we say it?) awarded the QWF First Book Prize. And this fall we published the sophomore collection of Journey Prize-winning short story writer C.P. Boyko, glowingly commended in The National Post, The Toronto Star, Quill & Quire, and The Winnipeg Review. All three books had covers by Gord Robertson of Toronto; the Boyko and the Schofield in particular have been praised for their striking geometric designs. We had a strong showing from Nadine McInnis (Blood Secrets), as reviewed in The National Post and the Ottawa Citizen; our paperback reprint of Ray Robertson’s David is perhaps one of the most attractive books we’ve done, inside and out; and last but certainly not least we had Mike Barnes’s The Reasonable Ogre, hailed by the leading American expert on fairy tales as “a marvel, and a tribute to the power of story.” Altogether our 2012 fiction list demonstrates our commitment both to exceptional style and the genre of the short story (Malarky being the only new novel).

In poetry we were proud to publish sophomore collections by Jessica Hiemstra and the Lampert Award-winning Alex Boyd; we also published a new collection by veteran Montreal author Norm Sibum, whose debut novel (The Traymore Rooms) is our lead fiction title for Spring 2013. (Yes, that’s the one presently clocking in at a monumental 800+ pages.) Both the collection and the novel treat on American imperialism in a way we find exciting, moving, saddening, and frightening by turns. Hiemstra’s book contains a fine selection of pen-and-ink drawings done by the poet (also a visual artist), and Alex Boyd’s book marks the first Biblioasis title to be typeset by our new production manager, Chris Andrechek. Both Sibum and Hiemstra saw substantial excerpting in The Montreal Gazette.

2012 was an exciting year for Biblioasis nonfiction as well. Our two local history titles (Marcel Pronovost: A Life in Hockey and Marty Gervais’s Ghost Road and Other Forgotten Tales of Windsor) have both proved immensely popular and are also valuable contributions to the local history of the Windsor-Essex region. They contain a wealth of archival photos and are meticulously researched. There was Cooking with Giovanni Caboto, herculean, gorgeous.There was the postponed-till-there's-a-hockey-season book on the Detroit Red Wings (and man is it a looker). Last but not least we were especially excited to publish two nonfiction titles from acknowledged experts in their  fields: Governor General’s-Award winning novelist and creative writing instructor Doug Glover released Attack of the Copula Spiders and Other Essays on Writing, and longtime philosopher Mark Kingwell made waves with Unruly Voices: Essays on Democracy, Civility and the Human Imagination. The essays of both books demonstrate Biblioasis’s ongoing commitment to the publishing of critical works about literature (or, in Kingwell’s case, the literary imagination). So far Mark Kingwell has been excerpted and interviewed in Harper’s, has seen several reviews (with one forthcoming in The Rumpus), and appeared twice on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paiken.

Altogether it's a year to be proud of and we want to thank our authors heartily for their hard work. You're what we do it for, ladies and gentlemen: a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you from Biblioasis.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Malarky hits 2012 best-of lists

Malarky was singled out in The New Statesman's
Read-All-About-It list for 2012. Yup, that's it there.
To the left of the Acacia tree and to the right of the fire.
Morning folks, and happy Monday. Malarky's hit a few more best-of lists this past week, beginning with a shout-out in The New Statesman's Read-All-About-It section for 2012, where Jenny Diski called it one of her top three novels of the year, and remarked on its "notable style and imaginative power." What else? Malarky was also singled out on David Gutowski's Largehearted Boy's Top Novels of 2012, where he praised it as "a brilliant debut that depicts one woman's descent into madness with dark humour and an intimate eye for grief and sorrow."

Yep. Grief, sorrow, snowlessness, good news. It's Monday in Windsor. Want more? Both Malarky and Psychology and Other Stories were listed as part of Mark Medley's "The Underrated" column in The National Post last week, which highlighted "unjustly overlooked Canadian favourites from the fading year." And lastly Malarky was of course selected as an Editor's Pick for 2012 and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Authors selection. For a full range of coverage—which as Thirsty devotees know is quite extensive—you can take a look at the book's website, or visit its page later in the week.

On an unrelated note, for those of you who are just parched for want of The Draught, rest assured that your monthly slug is coming. It's in barrels. It's on the boat. The Coast Guard has their greasy envelopes. All that remains is to massage the kinks out of our new subscription model for spring 2013 ... so in other words, good deals ahoy! It's worth waiting for the real thing. Just ask Arnold Rothstein. 

(For those of you who aren't yet signed up for our monthly newsletter and would like to be, as you should like to be, indeed, if you're the discerning & capable souls I imagine you are in my heart: email me.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Celebrate the holidays, Biblioasis style.

It may be dreary and quite mild outside, but we here at Biblioasis plan to ignore the weather and unpack the festive cheer this month. We've decked the storefront with boughs of...garland. We've strung lights on the tree. Wrapped books in shiny paper, ribbons and bows. We're even adding some festive spices to our morning coffee.

Yes, everything here at the Biblioasis store says it is the holiday season, and what better thing to do during the holiday season than throw a little celebration?
We invite you to join us for some merrymaking of the best kind, the kind with books, food and drink!
All day long you'll save 20% off Biblioasis titles (including Marty Gervais' Ghost Road and The Caboto Club's Cooking With Giovanni Caboto) and 10% off all other books, including children's books.

Then from 5pm until 9pm, we will eat, drink and make merry! Mingle with other book lovers and members of the community and generally enjoy a cozy evening at your local bookshop. See you there?


Thursday, December 06, 2012

Round up, round down ...

Hi, folks, and happy Thursday. Lots of little publicity hits buzzing around the office the past week—must be the unseasonally warm weather, makes 'em breed?—so I thought I'd line some up for you. Like the bees in Black Books. Nutritious, delicious, pairs well with absinthe. Here we go!

Strange Voyages and Joyce Carol Oates: Nadine McInnis featured on Hazlitt's Shelf Esteem series
Join the author of Blood Secrets as she discusses her book collecting habits, her favourite poetry collections and novellas, and her unexpected fondness for travel narrative.

All the Voices Cry makes Steven Beattie's Books-of-the-Year list at Quill & Quire
"Finely crafted and pared down to their bare essentials," sings the heavenly Quire: "These are stories that work on multiple levels, and continue to divulge their secrets after several rereadings."

Malarky is one of The Georgia Straight's Best Books of the Year ... thrice over.
Quoth Alexander Varty: "The immensely gifted Anakana Schofield’s vivid study of a middle-aged Irish housewife’s nervous breakdown has a huge heart and a fierce brain; Malarky is, by a wide margin, the most memorable fiction I’ve read this year." (... I think the phrase is boo-ya?) Malarky is the first-ever book to be selected by three of the Straight's annual round-up critics, with other endorsements coming from Michael Hingston ("Joe Biden may have done more to repopularize the word malarky this year, but Schofield’s electrifying novel will leave a much longer impression"), and Books Editor Brian Lynch ("a fully realized marvel  ... raw, sad, funny ... and yet consistently surprising"). 

Emma Donoghue Comes Out in Favour of Malarky
No link for this one, but the author of ROOM has said this about Our Woman's saga: "A caustic, funny and moving fantasia of an Irish mammy going round the bend."

Monday, December 03, 2012

At the back of the bookshop: The Making of a Cover Design

I judge books by their covers. By their type design. By their choice of cover image. By their use of colour and line. Call me shallow, but what a book looks like strongly contributes to whether or not I will pick it up, read the back cover copy, flip through its pages, and ultimately buy it.

I would argue that many if not most people, despite whatever adage instructs us to the contrary, do the same. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. However, what it means is that book designers need to create the right impression with their covers. And this can be a lengthy process.

Take, for example, Marty Gervais' recent Biblioasis book Ghost Road and Other Forgotten Stories of Windsor, which looks like this:

However, it didn't always look this way. This book began life with a different title and a vastly different cover concept, using this image:

For anyone who hasn't read Ghost Road yet (PS you will enjoy it, so come in and pick up a copy!), this 19th-century image of Detroit and the Straits from the Huron Church certainly makes sense with the content of the book, which spans Windsor, Essex County and the Detroit area from the 18th through to the 21st century. However, there was something about the image that just didn't reflect the historical variety in Gervais' stories.

Ghost Road not only went through a few covers but several possible titles as well. With the final title Ghost Road came a new image and new direction for the cover. Marty, an accomplished photographer as well as a writer, provided the photo of the ghost road itself, a strip of abandoned drag racing road from the 1960s and '70s, now overgrown and hidden by farmers' fields.

I decided to take a more contemporary approach to the cover, and, inspired by the circular motif of the single tire, came up with this:

While I liked this design a lot, with the slightly feathered edges of the text giving it a slightly ghostly feel, the rest of the Bibliostaff agreed (and once they mentioned it so did I) that this version didn't look like a work of non-fiction; it had more of the aesthetic of a novel or short stories collection, and that could be misleading to the prospective reader.

This design was certainly getting closer though, and so I borrowed the circular motif, feathered texture, and of course the photograph, and combined them into what would become the final cover design for Ghost Road. I echoed the tire in the teal circle that holds the title (a similar teal to the Rumrunners cover, the companion book to Ghost Road). To balance the contemporary design elements and give a nod to the book's historic content I went with quite traditional fonts, Academy Engraved and Georgia, and altered them to suit the shape of the circle. After a good deal more fine tuning, and the blessing of Dan and Marty, Ghost Road had a cover. Tada.

While this particular book didn't go through a large number of different cover designs, some books take a few more tries before a suitable design is reached.

With Nadine McInnis' book, Blood Secrets, the initial idea was to go with an image of clothes drying on a washing line, to reflect some of the imagery in the title story.

Another concept was to use an image of peeling wallpaper. After dozens of different wallpaper options, some grungier than others, there was still something about this cover concept that was not quite working for the book.

When I started at Biblioasis, I was offered the chance to take a look at the Blood Secrets cover and see what I could come up with. My first offering drew from the prominence of hospitals and other care facilities in the book:

Yes, a bland and boring looking plate of hospital food. We quickly realized that while the layout and type treatment were working quite well, the image was so completely unappealing that it might turn the readership off the book. Bad sign.

So I tried this:
Still hospital themed, still a similar type treatment, but without the lunch meat. What stood out to me about this photo was its linearity and the strong contrast offered by the red panels. However, with the input of the rest of the Bibliostaff, it became clear that it also was more generally suggestive of minimal urban architecture than specifically of a care facility. I was moving a bit too far away from the manuscript with this one.

Anyone who has picked Blood Secrets will recognize this cover, the final outcome of the cover design process: a hospital window with curtains overlooking an outdoor scene that can read as quite hopeful or quite bleak depending on your view. To match the curtains and sky, I changed the background colour, and, as in the red panel version, added "stories" to the title of the book. Nadine felt this one was a lot more reflective of her book, and we all agreed it was a lot more appealing than a hospital dinner.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Globe Top 100: Announcing Mr. Glover

It seems the arachnids have netted a few more late-season plaudits for Mr. Glover, whose remarkable Attack of the Copula Spiders and Other Essays on Writing was included in this year's Globe Top 100 list. (If you follow the link it's right at the bottom, split over pages four and five). 

This would be wonderful news in any case, yes, but the inclusion also also gave me the chance to revisit one of my favourite pull quotes from the year (courtesy of Mr. Charles Wilkins). Mr. Wilkins had been skeptical of Mr. Glover at first, a smidge apprehensive of his tone. And yet? 
"By the time I reached the penultimate chapter," he concludes, "I had decided that every literate person in the country should be reading Glover’s essays.”

Well. Whaddya think about that. Every literate person, he says. A quote like that makes my job easy ... and has the added advantage of being true. Congratulations to Doug. It's a well-deserved tip of the hat. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Other Word: Scott Esposito and Daniel Medin interview Stephen Henighan on Couto, Sebastian, Canadian translation, and more.

Stephen Henighan, Editor
Biblioasis International
Translation Series.
Earlier this week Scott Esposito and Daniel Medin featured Biblioasis's International Translation Series editor Stephen Henighan on their podcast "That Other Word," which they do periodically for the Center for the Art of Translation in San Francisco. They discuss what Henighan calls his “deeply-rooted rootlessness,” as well as "the Canadian relationship to English and translation, and the challenges of procuring and producing translations for the Canadian market ... Mia Couto’s “rural modernism,” his literary influences, and why the author travels well, despite being essentially “untranslatable” ... [and the] comical and haphazard story of how he came to learn Romanian, and describes the process of translating and trying to publish Mihail Sebastian’s The Accident." You can listen to the full podcast here, and you're of course formally invited to check out the International Translation Series website for a full list of titles. 

The Agenda with Steve Paiken: Mark Kingwell on Coarse Discourse and the Politics of Luck

Unruly Voices author Mark Kingwell has been chatting with TVO's Steve Paiken on The Agenda. The first segment aired Nov. 5th and is called "Coarse Discourse"; the second aired yesterday and is called "The Politics of Luck." They go handsomely together. Enjoy!

Nov. 5th: Mark Kingwell on TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paiken ("Coarse Discourse")
Nov. 27th: Mark Kingwell on TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paiken ("The Politics of Luck")

Friday, November 23, 2012

Barbed 'n arrestin Laura Boudreau

This arrived in my inbox this morning courtesy of Laura Boudreau ... and Gizoogle.

Suitable Precautions 

When a biatch uncovers a fortune up in tha attic, her ass begins a pilgrimage dat takes her ta tha knife-edge between blessin n' curse. Two fatherless lil pimps think Mista Muthafuckin Crisander is not a god damn thang mo' than a creepy next door neighbour until they nearly bust a cap up in his thugged-out lil' pot-bellied pig, n' learn tha secretz of his thugged-out lil' past fo' realz. A lil' ho yammers bout grade six, jackin blunts, n' her sister’s no-chicken diet while bein photographed by a internizzle pornographer.

Da storiez of Suitable Precautions is fresh n' hustlin. Da charactas within em exude a bitta beauty fo' realz. And while they lives may be derailed, refronted, celebrated, and questioned, what tha fuck holdz em together is what tha fuck also bindz tha stories up in dis collection: dat is, a sense fo' tha strange, tenuous fragilitizzle of human bonds. Suitable Precautions be a incisive n' movin debut, n' Laura Boudreau a voice ta be remembered.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mark Kingwell on The Commentary

On Wednesday afternoons, most people tend to start feeling a little sluggish. A little run down. A little ready for yet another cup of coffee to stimulate their brains into action.

If you are looking for something to zap your mind into intellectual alertness this afternoon, and coffee isn't doing the trick, we recommend taking a listen to Mark Kingwell, discussing his latest book Unruly Voices with Joseph Planta on The Commentary.

Here's a link, just click, relax, listen, and learn.

UPDATE: Mark Kingwell was also recently featured on Harper's Magazine's website as part of their "six questions" feature. You can find that interview here.

All the Voices Cry YES! Announcing Alice Petersen, Winner of the QWF First Fiction Prize

Winner of the Concordia University
First Book Prize

It was with great delight that we caught Alice Petersen's name floating around the twitterverse this morning, and it's with even greater delight that we announce her 2012 story collection (All the Voices Cry) was last night declared the winner of the QWF's First Book Prize. Congratulations to Alice! Twas well-earned, madam. To celebrate, here's a teeny tiny excerpt from one of my favourite stories in the collection. All the Voices Cry is also this month's featured book on the Biblioasis website, so should you desire, it can be yours for 30% off. Enjoy!

from All the Voices Cry

Winner of the QWF Concordia University First Book Prize

"Scottish Annie"

ON SATURDAYS AT FIVE Archie McLean visits the retirement home to take requests at the piano. Each week the seniors try to trip him. “Robins and Roses,” they’ll say, naming some old tune that they used to dance to on the wind-up. They can’t catch Archie out. Archie knows them all and he sings in that old-fashioned radio way, leaning back on the piano stool, nodding to the ladies. At the end, he opens the piano lid right up and plays an extra fast bumblebee song. I’m usually out in the garden when Archie gets back after the tea and scones, and then he leans over the hedge to tell me about it. 
“Well Ruby,” says Archie, “I think we wowed them today.” It always makes me laugh. You would think he was a whole orchestra the way he talks. Archie is a nice young man. Genteel, my mother would have said. We play Scrabble on Wednesday nights. He’s been my neighbour for nearly fifteen years now. Back in March, he celebrated his fiftieth birthday, and I made an eggless chocolate cake, because Archie doesn’t believe in exploiting the hens. He served me a slice and said, “so when’s your birthday, Ruby?” 
“Get away with you,” I said, “a lady doesn’t admit to her age until she’s in for a telegram from the Queen. All I’m saying is I’m not old enough to be your mother. Have some more cake.” 
Last week, when he had finished toting up the score for the word umbilical, Archie told me that he has to move, because his landlord wants to sell the house. I was very sorry to hear that. Archie has been a great friend to me. 
After mother died, three years ago next February, Archie got me started volunteering at the retirement home. He said it was better than hiding in the potting shed. At the time, I said that I wasn’t hiding and that I’d think about it. Now I take the seniors out on wee trips in the car. Archie is the piano man and I am the driving jukebox. They tell me where they want to go, and I take them, within four hours and within reason. Often they like to go back to where they were born, or where they’ve had picnics in the past. One afternoon I drove ninety-year-old Willy Callaghan to Oamaru. We idled outside a renovated villa on Vine Street while Mr. Callaghan wept for the loss of the corrugated iron sheets on the roof and the front room where he had been born. I said that a nice conservatory full of tomatoes was nothing to cry about. Still, I let him have a good old weep, and then we went for an ice cream and came home. It takes me a year to get through all the seniors, so some of the older ones don’t come more than once. 
When I arrived up at the home last week, Mrs. Webster was waiting for me in the foyer, all wrapped up warm for her outing. She always wears mohair cardies that her niece from up Ranfurly way knits for her. The light catches in the hairs. 
“You’re glowing, Mrs. Webster,” I said, and she was pleased. Mohair keeps your chest warm, but it’s not cheap, and it gets stringy. Better to mix it with a bit of wool. 
“Anyway,” I said, “where are we off to today?” Mrs. Web- ster wanted to go to the nursery at Blueskin Bay, to buy a miniature rose for her bedroom. She had a coupon from the paper. They do love coupons. So off we went, out through Pine Hill and over the motorway to the nursery. She got a wee apricot rose to match her curtains. I almost got one too, but then I thought it was silly to get over-excited about plants that don’t survive the winter. 
Mrs. Webster was sitting in the car looking at the rose bush on her lap. Then she looked at me quite shyly. 
“Do you think we could take the road along the coast, through Seacliff?” she asked. 
“Of course we can, Mrs. Webster,” I said. “My wish is your command.” So away we went, winding along above the sea, past the rabbit holes in the yellow clay banks and the twisted macrocarpa trees along the fence lines. 
“Seacliff always makes me sad,” I said, just to make conversation. It’s the kind of thing that people say when they drive through Seacliff. The paddocks there fall so steeply towards the sea that it’s hard to tell how a sheep might hold on in the wind, let alone a farmer on a bike. And you think you might hear some ghost from the asylum wailing away in the breeze. It was a grand old place, the asylum at Seacliff, majestic and crenellated. They had proper lunatics in those days.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Pronovost Day

Photo Courtesy Dan Janisse,
The Windsor Star.
We're in a festive mood (an icy mood?) over here at the shop. Marcel Pronovost Day is making airwaves courtesy of the CBC and Councillor Percy Hatfield, who's our emissary from the Mayor's Office. There's a cake coming that looks like a Red Wings jersey (and while it never occurred to me to compare the taste of fondant to the taste of wool)—there's a spiffy little write-up in the Windsor Star courtesy of Jim Parker—and of course, we're preparing for a BIG PARTY tonight over at Walkerville Brewery. 

There's also good news for all you devoted-yet-perhaps-through-circumstances-skint hockey fans out there: lots of opportunites forthcoming to win a free copy of A Life in Hockey. Spent all your money on shinpads for the kids? Marcel's autobiography could be yours still. Just do any or all of the following:

1. Enter the Goodreads giveaway via the widget to the left.
2. Email with your name and telephone number. Include "Marcel Pronovost Giveaway" in the subject line.
3. Tune in to AM 800 for the next Spitfires game and listen for your chance to win. 

And, of course, you can turn up to the launch tonight, where you can enter to win $100 in free Biblioasis books. See you there! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

City of Windsor's Inaugural Marcel Pronovost Day

What's it like to win a Stanley Cup without playing a single regular-season NHL game? To play for the Red Wings alongside Gordie Howe, Red Kelly, Ted Lindsey, Terry Sawchuk? To have been on the ice for that last Leafs Cup Win in 1967? To have dedicated nearly seven decades to the ice, both in Windsor and across North America?
Tomorrow night, in honour of a spectacular career and his lifetime of dedication to the game of hockey, the City of Windsor will declare November 20th to be Marcel Pronovost Day. We'll be gathering at Walkerville Brewery around 7 to celebrate. At 7:30, Councillor Percy Hatfield will read the official proclamation; then Bob Duff will conduct a short interview with Marcel; and after that, Marcel will autograph books and memorabilia, talk to his fans, and we can all eat cake. (And possibly, just possibly, have a glass of that funny stuff they make in those big steel cylinders on the other side of the room.)
The event is kid-friendly, so by all means bring the family. For a review of the autobiography, grab ahold of the latest issue of Biz X Magazine (p. 55)—and don't forget to RSVP on Facebook today!

See? Three covers!
Biblioasis proudly presents
the inaugural
to celebrate the career of the 
HOCKEY HALL OF FAMER to call Windsor home.
525 Argyle Rd, Windsor
Tuesday November 20
7-9 PM
Books will be available for signing.

About Marcel Pronovost and A Life in Hockey
“Marcel was the most underrated defenceman ever to play in the league. When he hit you, you were hit. He was a tremendous skater and defensively, he was as good as anyone. He might have been overlooked by the press, but he was never overlooked by his teammates. Years later, I brought him back to Detroit as a coach. He is very knowledgeable and a very astute observer of the game.”Hall of Fame left-winger Ted Lindsay (Pronovost’s teammate from 1949-57 and 1964-65)
In the spring of 1950, Marcel Pronovost was called up from the minor leagues to play for the Detroit Red Wings during the Stanley Cup playoffs. The 18-year-old defenceman had never seen NHL ice time before, but his performance in the playoffs was so impressive that he took regular turns in the final series against the New York Rangers. That year, Marcel Provonost became the ninth player in history to win a Stanley Cup before playing a single regular-season NHL game.

So began Pronovost’s 65-year career in pro hockey.  As a Red Wing he became a star defenceman in Detroit’s golden age, winning three more Stanley Cups between 1952 and 1955, and skating side-by-side with Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, and Terry Sawchuk (who became a lifelong friend). He played a pivotal role in the Toronto Maple Leafs' last Stanley Cup win in 1967. He earned recognition on the NHL's First and Second All-Star Teams. And he has continued to serve the game for decades, becoming one of the few NHLers to have success as a player, a coach, and as a scout.

Now, with Marcel Pronovost: A Life in Hockey, this legendary defenceman and Hockey Hall of Famer tells these and other stories for the first time. With over 125 photos and with on-the-ice recollections from the most exciting Original Six Era games ever played, A Life in Hockey is a hard-hitting memoir, and an insider’s take on playing, coaching, and scouting that spans seven decades, and surveys one of the longest hockey careers of all time. A must-have autobiography for Red Wings fans, Leafs fans, and hockey buffs everywhere.

Available with a Red Wings cover, a Leafs cover, and in a limited edition split Leafs/Wings signed hardcover edition. Paperbacks are $22.95; signed ltd. edition hardcovers are $39.95. 

A Grand Grand Opening

Garland was hung. Apple cider was mulled. Coats were collected for those in need. And Biblioasis officially opened.

Yes, the Biblioasis bookshop (located at 1520 Wyandotte St. E., in Walkerville, Windsor, for those who haven't had the opportunity to come visit yet) hosted our grand opening this past weekend in conjunction with the always successful Walkerville Holiday Walk-About.
We love local authors!

Things were, of course, a bit hectic around the store in the days leading up to Friday's launch, with books still arriving by the box, ready to be shelved before customers hit the store for the first time. I was hastily photoshopping signs for our displays of local books, sale books, Biblioasis press books, beautiful books and more, and we had a whole crew of helpers stringing holiday decorations to help with our festive mood.

Friday evening rolled around and we were ready to go, except, oops!
no coffee. I threw my coat on and strolled out past stilt-walkers and carolers down the road to Ten Thousand Villages to pick up a bag. Wyandotte Street was already filling up with Walkerville Holiday Walk-About Goers, heading store-to-store to stamp their cards for the chance to win 500 Walkerville dollars. Not a bad way to spend a beautiful Friday night.
"Just what we like! Tall shelves!"
(Seriously. They said that.)

By the time I returned with the coffee, the shop was abuzz with shoppers browsing shelves and displays, munching on cookies and sipping hot apple cider, and meeting and greeting with local Biblioasis authors like Marty Gervais and Sal Ala who stopped by to sign some books and talk with readers.

Biblioasis also had the pleasure of being the drop-off point for the Rotary Club of Windsor's coat collection drive to support those in need, and Windsorites generously donated many, many coats to keep folk warm in the city this winter.

aren't we festive?
The excitement continued on Saturday, when horse-drawn carriages brought shoppers through the streets of Walkerville, and even more people discovered our brand new bookshop. We weren't the only new business appearing in the area either; I had the chance to do a bit of a Walkerville wander myself and discovered a brand new coffee shop, as well as some existing businesses I hadn't had the chance to experience just yet. The Holiday Walk-About is a great way of encouraging shoppers to step outside their usual habits and try somewhere new, a perfect event for finding fresh, local and exciting places to shop, eat, exercise, and more.

Thanks to everyone who came by the store and for all the congratulations on our opening. We're excited to be in Walkerville as part of such a great local community. Now that we are open, feel free to stop by, have a browse, a chat and find the perfect books for everyone on your holiday list (or, you know, for yourself).