The Miramichi Reader Fall Preview Part One

Are you in shape for the fall book season? Time to cut the arms off that old UNB t-shirt, and turn those UBC sweats into some rocking jogging pants. Take a few cans of chickpeas from thy pantry and start doing your arm curls, because you’re gonna be hauling prime cuts of book lumber for your next shopping spree haul reveal video. #OMG #Books #Fall #2022 #LetsGo

It’s that time of year when our nation’s radio station begins to broadcast its epic book lists. Yes, 19 different lists of 63 books we should be on the lookout for this fall from all departments. (That is 1197 new books if you’re doing the math.) And of course, we the book lovers, the bookmarking sniffing jackals that we are, all of us with our expensive wifi connections (Canada is in second place for most expensive internet service prices in the world) will be scrolling our eyeballs out over each and every jpeg on those sweet HTML sirens. Why I can hear them now. Until those sweet satellite tears of ISBN joy come falling from the genre heavens on Front Street (minutes from Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto), I thought I would compile a mini-epic in three parts simply called, The Miramichi Fall Preview.

If you are like most people, you’re addicted to yarn and knitting with an unstoppable appetite for rug hooking. Luckily, Nimbus is ready with the panacea, with The Garret Bluenose Patterns: Celebrating Nova Scotia’s Rug Hooking Heritage.  “Rug-hookers both new and old school are bursting with excitement to own this treasure. World-renowned. An heirloom!” says Phyllis Murray, who works in customer service at Nimbus in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The late, queer author RM Vaughan, (playwright, poet, journalist, video artist, friend, mentor) who was born in New Brunswick in the mid-1960s, would be delighted to see his book Pervatory out in the world. Coach House Books describes it as “a novel about Berlin: a city for artists and libertines, a perfect place to find love and madness.” Vaughan spent a few years in Berlin making friends and art that he’d cherish forever. It was so nice to talk to so many of his friends from all over the world. And I was honoured to read some of the early drafts of this book. I hope you’ll pick it up. There will never be another RMV.

In Stephen McNeil: Principle in Politics (Nimbus), journalist Dan Leger draws back the curtain on the motivations of one of Nova Scotia’s most significant premiers. Full of insight and surprising new facts about McNeil’s time in office. From the copy “In today’s moralistic politics, to differ is to sin. But Stephen McNeil actually was different; he willingly committed the political sin of valuing principle over popularity. He was premier of Nova Scotia for seven years – which is no doubt enough time for a heck of a read for those who love to devour the human story.

Prolific Fredericton writer Mark Anthony Jarman returns to travel writing with Touch Anywhere To Begin, where readers can go attend the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai, get serenaded in Shanghai by a band of retired People’s Liberation Army, and sympathize with the intubated victim of a drunk-driving accident and a pair of jet-lagged Arctic throat singers. It’s all going to be explained by your pilot, so don’t fret, you’re in good hands. If you’re new to Jarman’s work, the author recently published a piece called ‘Death Near Venice’ in Canadian Notes & Queries: CNQ and Czech Techno (Anvil Press). “The Jarman paragraph is a spinning, lyrical, and striking gathering of language that grabs us and is unrelenting in its grip,” says reviewer Jeremy Thomas Gilmer, the perfect way to describe the frenzied world the author continues to reflect in his work.

This next book (also from Goose Lane) seems so epic it needs to be appreciated not only for its content but for all the moving pieces that likely went into its realization, which never comes across in all those detailed documentaries on the book industry in Canada. – FOOTAGE NOT FOUND – (meaning, for those of you asleep on your rocking chair – detailed documentaries on the book industry in Canada don’t exist – you’re stuck with me).

Wabanaki Modern | Wabanaki Kiskukewey | Wabanaki ModerneThe Artistic Legacy of the 1960s “Micmac Indian Craftsmen”  Ta’n Koqoey Naqtmuksi’kɨpp 1960ekk “Mi’kmewaqq L’nu’k ta’n Natawiteka’tijik” | L’héritage artistique des Micmac Indian Craftsmen des années 1960. From the catalogue “The “Micmac Indian Craftsmen” of Elsipogtog (then known as Big Cove) rose to national prominence in the early 1960s. At their peak, they were featured in print media from coast to coast, their work was included in books and exhibitions — including at Expo 67 — and their designs were featured on prints, silkscreened notecards, jewelry, tapestries, and even English porcelain.” This is a hardcover book so you know it’s going to look great – This is a joint venture with the Beaverbrook Gallery and our friends at Goose Lane Editions.

Let’s carry on. One of this country’s most original novelists, Suzette Mayr returns withThe Sleeping Car Porter, (Coach House Books)which tells the story of Baxter, a queer Black sleeping car porter, who has to content with the perils of white passengers, ghosts, and his secret love affair. On this particular trip out west, the passengers are more unruly than usual, especially when the train is stalled for two extra days; their secrets start to leak out and blur with the sleep-deprivation hallucinations Baxter is having. I’ve read all of Mayr’s novels and they are all good. Says This Magazine about the author’s writing “Mayr engages readers with her meticulous attention to detail, providing vivid descriptions of not only her characters but also the heavy emotions churning inside them.”

Jason Smith’s debut novel The Closer (NON Publishing) offers a gritty, uncensored glimpse into the grind of pro baseball. After snorting up his first-overall pick money and wrapping his Ferrari around a telephone pole, Casey’s baseball days are unambiguously over before they’ve even begun. That is, until the general manager of his hometown Toronto Blue Birds pays him a surprise visit, making an unlikely offer. The team is eager for Casey to sign, but on one condition: he is to be the personal catcher for the team’s star closer, Phil Reardon, a seven-foot-tall lumberjack of a man with a bad attitude and even worse manners. The two form a pact: Reardon will help Casey stick with the team if Casey promises unwavering loyalty. This knuckleball of a debut will be out during the final throes of the World Series. 

The Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten Even More Tales From The Accidental Veterinarian by Dr. Phillip Schott (ECW Press) is no waiting room boredom flip. No, not with a title like that. This hilarious third installment in the series comes from the mind of a professional cat and dog whisperer with decades of experience. Dozens of stories concerning cats, dogs, angry pelicans, bug-eyed goldfish an escaped newt. Plus readers will glean an understanding in what goes on behind the scenes at your local veterinarian. What does it take to become a vet? Is it gross? Am I bathing my dog correctly? Why does my cat look at me like that? Find out in October. 

“What I love about H&A Christensen’s debut thriller Stealing John Hancock is the way it reflects how people’s lives have become enmeshed in the digital universe and asks us to consider who we really are, physical or digital,” says Turnstone Press associate publisher Jamis Paulson. The thriller takes readers through the twists and turns of digital anxiety and offers hope that we can reconcile the balance of both extremes: the digital and what we believe to be the real. If you’re into those documentaries about multi-million dollar real estate fraud, identity theft, and of course, a nasty break up, this is one that is for you. Detective Nya Grey won’t disappoint.

Brent van Staalduinen, the author of Cut Road, says he’s looking forward to Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. “I’ve been a fan of Kingsolver since Poisonwood Bible, where she skewered religious missions, so I’m looking forward to her re-imagining of Dickens Copperfield, and its criticism of the world we’re leaving our youth.”  Inspired by the unflinching truth-telling of David Copperfield, Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead gives voice to a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.

Chris Johnson, managing editor at Arc Poetry journal, is looking forward to Openwork and Limestone by Frances Boyle, (Frontenac House). “A reader can come to Frances’ third poetry collection with expectations of strong and striking descriptions of images, scenes of familial love and grief, and confrontations of memory and history… but beware of Frances’ delivery the unexpected!”

Noelle Allen is busy putting the final touches on Wolsak & Wynn’s fall books. Allen believes this fall has an “exceptional poetry” line up this fall, describing both Amber McMillan’s This is a Stick Up and Ontoniya J Okot Bitek’s A is for Acholi as stand outs. “They are fearless books asking tough questions with elegant lines. It’s rare to have two books this bold in one season.” Allen is also excited for A.G. Pasquella’s Welcome to the Weird America. “The writing is top-notch and I’ve not read anything quite like it before.” 

That was fifteen books. Stay tuned for parts two and three later this summer.

*Image by hudsoncrafted from Pixabay

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