It’s already September, which means everyone is buying highlighters and three-hole packages of paper and thumbtacks. The choreography is breathtaking. Juice boxes fly through the air into shopping carts as seamlessly as a famous basketball player doing something thought by most to be impressive. And now, books.
Rhiannon Ng Cheng Hin’s debut collection Fire Cider Rain looks at the limits to which shared cultural and geographic histories can hold a family together. It follows the lives of three Chinese-Mauritian women on the course of dispersing, settling and rooting over northern landscapes, and the brittle family bonds that tie them to one another and to their home country. “In reading Rhiannon Ng Cheng Hin’s poetry, I became immersed within a deep sense memory of why I came to love poetry in the first place.” Liz Howard, author of Letters in a Bruised Cosmos.
If you are into plants and animals and curious about the natural world, Canada Wild: Animals Found Nowhere Else on Earth is “perfect for any budding naturalist–young or old!” says Olivia Ingraham, Publisher’s Representative for Nimbus, while Nimbus editor Claire Bennet suggests Eric Allaby’s The Sea Wins will win readers with its “tales of heartbreaking tragedy and harrowing survival to life with his experience exploring shipwrecks as a diver.”
Kitchener’s Emily Urquhart’s Ordinary Wonder Tales (essays) will have readers conjuring up memories of their first encounters with fairy tales, fables and storytelling. The magic of speaking or reading or dramatizing. Urquhart reveals the truths that underlie our imaginings: what we see in our heads when we read, how the sight of a ghost can heal, how the entrance to the underworld can be glimpsed in an oil painting or a winter storm – or the onset of a loved one’s dementia. “Urquhart’s as interested in championing individuality as she is in embracing our shared humanity,” wrote the Globe and Mail of the author’s recent book Beyond The Pale.
If you love Madmen and Netflix biopics about ruthless tie-wearing maniacs, if you’re wanting the fourth wall to come crashing down on a discussion about class and poverty, if you’re compelled to imagine the mysterious forgotten worlds of imagination, of fables and possibilities, if you’re into fiction that doesn’t drag its reader around the room in a sleeper hold, you’ll probably need to pick up at least one of these books from Biblioasis. Big Men Fear Me: The Fast Life and Quick Death of Canada’s Most Influential Media Tycoon from the best-selling author of Bush Runner, tells the fascinating story of Canada’s would-be dictator.
Kate Beaton returns to the graphic novel shelf this fall with Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands. It tells the autobiographical story of Kate who has the singular goal of paying off her student loans. To do this, she heads out west to take advantage of Alberta’s oil rush—part of the long tradition of East Coasters who seek gainful employment elsewhere when they can’t find it in the homeland they love so much. Here she encounters the harsh reality of life in the oil sands, where trauma is an everyday occurrence yet is never discussed.
We Spread (Simon & Schuster) The author of the “evocative, spine-tingling, and razor-sharp” (Bustle) I’m Thinking of Ending Things that inspired the Netflix original movie and the “short, shocking psychological three-hander” (The Guardian) Foe returns with a new work of philosophical suspense. We Spread will give us Penny, an artist, who has lived in the same apartment for decades, surrounded by the artifacts and keepsakes of her long life. She is resigned to the mundane rituals of old age until things start to slip. Before her longtime partner passed away years earlier, provisions were made, unbeknownst to her, for a room in a unique long-term care residence, where Penny finds herself after one too many “incidents.”
ReLit Award-winning poet Daniel Scott Tysdal returns with The End is in the Middle, the daring and unflinching in its gaze poetry collection examines madness as lived experience and artistic method. Taking inspiration from Al Jaffee’s illustrated fold-ins in MAD magazine, Tysdal explores living with mental illness through a new kind of poetry: the fold-in poem. Tysdal remains one of the most engaging and entertaining live readers in the country. His poetry is equally excitable and other adjectives that steer you towards warmth and curiosity.
In this powerful, intimate poetry collection, a young woman travels between Paris and New York to pursue a career in modelling. Alternating between the world of fashion, where “it’s no longer enough / that the sample size fits,” and the eponymous Program, a place to “discover / what’s underneath,” Megan Fenny Jones’s debut collection pulls the reader deep into the realms of psychiatric care and romantic relationships and probes a long tradition of female suffering. The Program (Ice House/ Goose Lane) is a compelling debut about how we are seen, and how we see ourselves. Think of a hungover Frank O’Hara’s vulnerability meets Girl Interrupted with a side of Sheila Heti’s thoughtful philosophies. Also of note: this book was edited by one of my favourite American poets.
“Quiet Time is a visceral, raw, heartbreaking exploration of a young woman coming of age and confronting ghosts both real and imagined, while vividly exploring trauma, art-making, grief, and healing,” says Whitney Moran who is the managing editor at Nimbus. This is the debut novel by Katherine Alexandra Harvey, taking readers on an unforgettable coming-of-age tale fuelled by drugs, lust and a deep desire for connection. This intensity pushes Grace and Jack’s turbulent relationship into dark, obsessive, and dangerous terrain. While Jack’s star ascends, Grace finds herself disappearing — becoming transparent like the many ghosts that appear to her. Between blackouts and binges, hallucinations and psychotic breaks, Grace begins to wonder whether anyone sees her at all.
Unfortunately, little has been documented in book form about the Acadians who served in Canada’s armed forces during the Second World War. There were approximately 24,000 Acadians who voluntarily joined the Allied forces in the biggest battle of good and evil of the 20th century. Thnk language barrier, the culture of exclusion and we can see that life still beats to the same sad drum in our everyday lives. Bombs and Barbed Wire: Stories of Acadian Airmen and Prisoners of War, 1939-1945 by Ronald Cormier is published by Goose Lane Editions with the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society and is out in October.
To be concluded in the next installment. You can read Part One here.