196 pages/trade paper
Available in the US
World Rights Available
These twenty short stories interconnect the friendships of four First Nations people — Everett Kaiswatim, Nellie Gordon, Julie Papequash, and Nathan (Taz) Mosquito — as the collection evolves over two decades against the cultural, political, and historical backdrop of the 90s and early 2000s.
These young people are among the first of their families to live off the reserve for most of their adult lives, and must adapt and evolve. In stories like “Stranger Danger”, we watch how shy Julie, though supported by her roomies, is filled with apprehension as she goes on her first white-guy date, while years later in “Two Years Less A Day” we witness her change as her worries and vulnerability are put to the test when she is unjustly convicted in a violent melee and must serve some jail time. As well as developing her characters experientially, Dawn Dumont carefully contrasts them, as we see in the fragile and uncertain Everett and the culturally strong and independent but reckless Taz.
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292 pages/trade paper
After the move to Delwood, Matt Humphreys, sixteen, comes to understand that his father, Jack, is a broken man not looking to heal after losing his wife. It has left him angry, bitter, and a drinker. Matt knows it falls on his shoulders to provide care and attention for his younger brother, Ben; he wishes he could give Ben another life other than the upheaval he’s known.
Matt has once again reestablished himself — new friends, a spot on the basketball team, a girlfriend — and if he was given a chance to stay, he might just do something meaningful with his life. All it takes is a collision between the nomadic Humphreys men and the town-born-and-bred Rutger family to set their erratic lives in motion once again.
Byrna Barclay ed
Readers of Wanderlust, an anthology of travel stories, will at once feel that need to roam, the longing for surprise, the thrill of just recognizing the threat of danger, and the nomadic impulse simply to move oneself for the sake of moving, that restless and endless quest for a new beginning — even if it means the end of one life and the start of a new one.
In every story a character embarks on a journey of discovery. They travel through the Nordic Viking age, experience family life in Italy, interpret the Lascaux Caves in France, climb Nicaragua’s volcanoes, undertake a road trip through the villages of Mexico, and finally are brought back to the Canadian prairies. Editor and contributor Byrna Barclay draws inspiration from the philosophers who expounded on the theory that, rather than change, a person simply becomes more of what he or she already was at birth.
248 pages / paper
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Eighty years have passed since flash floods, droughts, and tornadoes have ravaged the North American landscape and mass migrations to the north have led to decade-long wars. In the thriving city of La Ronge, George Taylor and Lenore Hanson are lawyers who rarely interact with members of the lower classes from the impoverished suburb of Regis and the independently thriving Ashram outside the city. They live in a world of personalized Platforms, self-driving cars, and cutting edge Organic Recreational Vehicles (ORVs), where gamers need never leave their virtual realities.
Lenore befriends political dissenter and fellow war veteran Richard Warner, and George accidentally crash-lands his ORV near the mountain-sheltered haven of a First Nations community, they become exposed to new ways of thinking. As the lives of these near-strangers become intertwined, each is forced to confront the past before their relationships and lives unravel.
Taking its title from the Latin name for the Trickster bird of First Nations, Norse, and Christian mythologies, Corvus examines the illusions of security we build through technology and presents a scathing satire of a world caught up in climate change denial and the glorification of war.
"Corvus is an impassioned, formally innovative twist on the dystopian genre." — Jade Colbert, The Globe & Mail
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180 pages/trade paper
Throughout the years, Campbell’s work has remained consistently engaging, her tone steady and trustworthy and her control of imagery precise. There are subtle changes in her presentation of the natural world and slight shifts in her metaphysical approach to space, time, and possibility. But in this retrospective there is no doubt that her strength lies in her ability to capture the transcendence that occurs when nature informs the mind and the commonplace rises to philosophical insight. Though universal in scope, the poems only give up all their richness upon slow and careful readings.
The Poetry Show, CKUW Winnipeg
Sandy Marie Bonny
Historian Tanis and high school teacher Neil have just purchased their dream home on Saskatoon’s west side: a fixer-upper with plenty of character and an abundance of history to uncover. But as Tanis moves deeper towards uncovering the secrets of the Tanner family who originally inhabited their home — and the cause of the mysterious stains on the attic floor — Neil is pulled into a drama of his own, as two aboriginal teenagers from his school have gone missing and he is being looked to as a suspect. Taking its title from the Old English nursery rhyme “How Many Miles to Babylon?”, Yes, and Back Again examines the personal journeys required to bridge the distances between individuals, cultures, and generations in an atmosphere marked by class and racial divisions.
240 pages/trade paper
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At 46, Miles Hann gives it all up for the little cottage he has built on the slopes of his native Ingonish, Cape Breton. Miles has five times circumnavigated the globe and in his years of wandering has grown weary of man’s work of mendacity and pursuit of pleasure. Mostly though, Miles is tired; even a trip around the harbour is a weighty prospect. He writes himself a letter to express better his commitment to stay away from all, to contemplate the animals of the slope and to try for even one day with no ill thought of others. He does not manage it. For, people climb the hill to his door. They know Miles is a quiet man, a polite man; that Miles has travelled everywhere there is to travel and that he alone must have the answers to the burning questions singeing their hearts. Also — who else is there free like this to drop in on any time you want? No one is who.
Miles listens to every word of how yet again the world has been maligning even these poor gentle folk. And, afterward, though he has told them nothing, each visitor agrees that: yes, Miles Hann is one wise man. On their way back down his hill they agree to it; they stop and turn to his lofty house and say aloud: “Yes! Wise if ever wise there was one. The man bothers with not a soul!” Miles waves his hand and he shakes his head too, turning for his trees: ‘Further proof of the pride,’ he says. ‘And that everyone is a wound.’ The next time that someone comes (and it is every day now), Miles runs for the cover of his trees, to crouch and hide from them. He spies at the same instant the little red fox that had been visiting him: ‘Charlie, the one who found my glasses! the one who now leads me haphazardly up the mountain proper and out onto the beautiful lonesome rockslide scree of a blackening evening. Here is one place I have not been up to in many, many years’, and as he remarks further at its utter forlornness, lurking in the black spruce fringe is a badly starved coyote pack, one grown desperate and bold, one that has killed.
At 46, Miles MacPherson gives it all up for the little cottage he has built on the slopes of his native Ingonish, Cape Breton. Miles has five times circumnavigated the globe and in his years of wandering has grown weary of man’s work of mendacity and pursuit of pleasure. Mostly though, Miles is tired; even a trip around the harbour is a weighty prospect. He writes himself a letter to express better his commitment to stay away from all, to contemplate the animals of the slope and to try for even one day with no ill thought of others. He does not manage it. For, people climb the hill to his door. They know Miles is a quiet man, a polite man; that Miles has travelled everywhere there is to travel and that he alone must have the answers to the burning questions singeing their hearts. Also — who else is there free like this to drop in on any time you want? No one is who.
Miles listens to every word of how yet again the world has been maligning even these poor gentle folk. And, afterward, though he has told them nothing, each visitor agrees that: yes, Miles MacPherson is one wise man. On their way back down his hill they agree to it; they stop and turn to his lofty house and say aloud: “Yes! Wise if ever wise there was one. The man bothers with not a soul!” Miles waves his hand and he shakes his head too, turning for his trees: ‘Further proof of the pride,’ he says. ‘And that everyone is a wound.’ The next time that someone comes (and it is every day now), Miles runs for the cover of his trees, to crouch and hide from them. He spies at the same instant the little red fox that had been visiting him: ‘Charlie, the one who found my glasses! the one who now leads me haphazardly up the mountain proper and out onto the beautiful lonesome rockslide scree of a blackening evening. Here is one place I have not been up to in many, many years’, and as he remarks further at its utter forlornness, lurking in the black spruce fringe is a badly starved coyote pack, one grown desperate and bold, one that has killed.
Immediately before his tragic death, stuttering mechanic Dave visits his younger brother Denny with a note for their sister Dianne. “D-don’t r-read it. D-don’t open it. D-don’t n-nothing it,” Dave commands before taking off one last time for the abandoned family cabin at Mahihkan Lake, a place where disputes are settled with shotguns and arson is written off as an act of God. After the funeral — and a brief stint in rehab for the gin-dependent Denny — he and Dianne head north to spread their adopted brother’s ashes and attempt to rebuild their fractured relationship. Meanwhile Harold, a truck driver who has lost everything, sets out on a solo canoe trip towards his own cabin at Mahihkan, but a series of mishaps leaves him bruised, drenched, and possibly losing his mind, as he thinks a wolf might be stalking him northward.
312 pages/trade paper
Cluck is a darkly comic novel about Henry, an only child whose mother has bipolar disorder. As a teen, Henry becomes a radio junkie lost in the world of music. As a young man, he becomes obsessed with a female DJ whose evening show mysteriously beams out of Idaho and into his car while he’s driving over Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge. Henry has to live his life in the shadow cast by his mother, but he never completely gives up hope that he can find his place. In his thirties, his life slowly starts to open in positive directions, including sporadic success with chicken farming, outsider art (he calls himself a knit reactor), and romance. It’s not until Henry is in his fifties that he comes into his own and feels free to be himself, but not without one final struggle with his own quirkiness.
Cluck was a finalist in The Great BC Novel Contest (2013), and a version of a chapter was shortlisted for a story contest run by the American literary journal Glimmer Train.
"Cluck almost defies description. It's an upbeat, humorous and yet also poignant and strangely believable novel — original but never daft. Henry emerges as a likeable victim who struggles hugely to find his place in the world against formidable odds." — Cherie Thiessen, BC BookWorld
216 pages/trade paper
When avalanching glaciers thrust a massive Antarctic ice sheet into the open ocean, the captain of an atomic submarine must risk his vessel to rescue the survivors of a smashed polar research station; in Washington the President’s top advisor scrambles to spin the disaster to suit his master’s political aims; and meanwhile two intrepid newsmen sail south into the storm-lashed Drake Passage to discover the truth.
Onboard the submarine, as the colossal ice sheet begins its drift toward South America and the world begins to take notice, scientists uncover a secret that will threaten the future of America’s military power and change the fate of humanity.
And beneath the human chaos one brave Blue Whale fights for the survival of his species.
304 pages / paper
Britt Holmström’s stories contain all-too-human portraits meticulously rendered but with enough mischief and humour to keep the reader rapidly turning the pages. With an acutely clear eye she describes fateful events through narrators that are utterly authentic, and intimate. Her style is, as ever, incredibly lucid, her narrative powers effortless with a generous warmth of vision, her tone oscillating between gentle nihilism and practical optimism. Each tale bristles with a very human fierceness.
At the heart of each story is her remarkable ability to reveal painful truths visible only when we turn a critical eye upon ourselves. These are stories of hard-fought revelation where picaresque meets romance, tales of mismatched couples, doomed encounters, and “If only…” moments in Canada and abroad.
274 pages / paper
At the core of almost every story in Audrey Whitson’s collection is a female protagonist on a searching journey towards meaning and personal validity. Regardless of whether she is a small child on an Alberta farm, a middle-class woman in California or a nurse struggling with her faith, there is a constant and undeniable authenticity of voice that is arrestingly intimate. This palpable honesty enables the reader to feel fully involved in each character’s journey and cements their personalities in the mind.
Spirituality and the protagonists’ individual beliefs are central to each tale in The Glorious Mysteries. Whitson takes this traditional theme and makes it fresh by incorporating modern and timeless social and personal issues. In “The Water Witcher”, Christianity and white magic make surprisingly comfortable partners; “The Missionary” sees a young girl ponder the true meaning of idol when comparing Christ and the Beatles, and “The Parts of a Man That Can Be Held Together” features a devout Catholic desperately struggling to resolve his religious identity with his sexual orientation.
Guiding Whitson’s tales of emotional impact is narrative that is steady, careful, and enriched by powerful imagery, in-depth research, and very evident personal knowledge of place.
The author is highly insightful in her psychological renderings and remains in tight control of her characters’ spiritual journeys. Whitson has evident respect for each protagonist as an individual and is clearly awed by the forces that shape them. The Glorious Mysteries has a unique spiritual edge and readers will find it alluringly imbued with secretive, significant, and mysterious events.
224 pages / paperAvailable in the US
World Rights Available
The Little Washer of Sorrows is a collection of short stories that explores what happens when the expected and usual are replaced with elements of the rare and strange. The book’s emotional impact is created with strong, richly drawn characters facing universal issues, but in unusual settings. The collection is both dark and comical with engaging plot twists and elements of the macabre as characters attempt to cope with high-stakes melodramas that drift further out of their control. The threat of something sinister lingers beneath the surface in many of Fawcett’s stories, as she explores the messy “what ifs?” of life and the ever-present paradox of free will.
"Fawcett has a flair for quiet drama and unfussy detail, and her dialogue positively fizzes. Little Washer startles, however, thanks to its commitment to the fantastic." — Jason Heller, NPR Books
384 pages/trade paper
Hanne and Her Brother is a dynamic novel that plays with the distinctions between the light and dark sides of life, and though the subject matter is difficult at times, the tale never strays too far from the light. Stenson writes with whimsy, weaving rich, long sentences to capture the odyssey of Hanne Lemmons. Between her protective father, lack of siblings or friends, and isolated homeschooling, Hanne yearns for a companion to bring drama and excitement to her life. At sixteen, however, she is thrust into a journey of both hardships and personal discovery that takes her across Canada from the Cowichan Valley to Eastend, Saskatchewan.
The novel places Stenson firmly in the vibrant tradition of contemporary writers fascinated by the complexities of small town life. Though this tradition begins with George McKay Brown, Joyce Carey and Dylan Thomas in England, it is extended by our own western Canadian writers Ethel Wilson, Jack Hodgins, and Sandra Birdsell and painters like William Kureluk and E.J. Hughes. These artists create big, boisterous canvases that begin in realism but morph into something more mysterious and funny, a bold, ragged beauty full of character and country.
Stenson is enchanted by the landscapes of British Columbia and the prairies, and in the story, these landscapes are as magical as the characters who struggle to live in them. Hanne Lemmon’s story is a brawling tale of love and loss and strength, set in small towns and villages with a cast of characters as large with life and humour as the landscapes around them. There is a vast love beneath this novel that is contagious and irresistible and there is also a great subtlety to this tale that shudders in a renaissance clockwork beauty. Readers who like W.O. Mitchell, John Irving, Kent Haruf, or Per Petterson, will love Stenson’s new novel.
152 pages/trade paper
The short fictions in Rea Tarvydas’ debut collection collectively capture various versions of the expat life that share the feeling of being between two worlds, the experience of being neither here nor there and trying to find a way to fill that space.
The stories follow a kind of “life cycle” of expatriates in Hong Kong, a place often called the “most thrilling city on the planet”. From the hedonistic first days in “How To Pick Up A Maid in Statue Square”, as Fast Eddy instructs on how best to approach Filipina maids on their rest day, through the muted middle in “Rephrasing Kate”, as Kate encounters a charismatic bad boy and is forced to admit her infidelities, to the inevitable end in “The Dirty Duck”, as Bill realizes his inability to commit and resolves to return home to Australia — Hong Kong alters each of these characters with its frenetic mixture of capitalism and exoticism.
Characters exist between the worlds they once knew and this place which now holds them in its spell and shapes them to its ends. Their stories explore how they cope with this space where loneliness and alienation intersect, a place where insomniac young bankers forfeit their ambition by chasing deviant sexual encounters, or consume themselves with climbing the corporate ladder. It is a world where passive domestics live and work for the money they can send home, while their keepers assemble poolside to engage in conversations aroused by the expats’ desire to connect to others who share their fates.
204 pages/trade paper
The collective force of Judy McCrosky’s Lifting Weights is a raw adventure into the unknown. In “Death TV”, we meet a butterfly collector whose explorations into the violent mayhem of television programming draw out society’s preoccupation with watching people die as a source of entertainment. A journalist with a nose for a good story takes us inside the world of “thinking machines” as she tries to discern whether cybernetic horses conform to her dictum that living means being true to your identity. In the surreal tale “Sand Dove”, an unhappy woman leaves her husband and makes her way to a small beach community where she finds an injured bird that conjures for her a sort of baby to compensate for all the miscarriages she has had. In the title story, “Lifting Weights”, Jane and Sandra, future archeologists on an alien planet, have their lives tested in climbing to the surface of a dark underground cavern into which they have fallen. In their quest to survive one of them discovers a new inner strength that had always eluded her, while she solves an ancient mystery as to why the civilization on the planet became extinct.
McCrosky’s imagination knows few limits, though in her quest to entertain in these twelve stories she remains true to her themes of optimism and exploration, while maintaining her central vision that our greatest fears and threats are conquerable.
In 1997, Guatemala is emerging from thirty-six years of civil war. Amparo Ajuix, a determined young woman who lives in a Mayan village with her husband, runs a savings club for the local women with the help of an American NGO. Eager to take advantage of Guatemala’s new democracy to strengthen the culture of the Mayan people, she campaigns to switch the language of instruction in the village’s primary school from Spanish to the local language of Cakchiquel.
But Amparo’s life is wracked with tensions. Dona María, an older woman who influences the market where Amparo sells her handicrafts, is jealous of Amparo’s savings club. Amparo’s best friend, Raquel, is a born-again Protestant who disdains Amparo’s devout Catholicism. Yolanda, Amparo’s pretty seventeen-year-old sister, flirts with foreign men in the nearby tourist town of Antigua. Most seriously of all, Amparo’s husband, Eusebio, suspects that he is not the father of her second child, with whom she is pregnant. The erosion of complicity between them poisons their marriage.
In 2003, Amparo works as a teacher in a language school for tourists in Antigua. She is tasked with the special case of a man, whom she calls Ricardo, who wishes to study her native Cakchiquel Mayan language. The experience of teaching this man confronts her with the in-between nature of her own culture. She does not speak Cakchiquel perfectly, as her parents do, yet as a Native person she cannot be completely accepted into Spanish-speaking Guatemalan society, and her Catholicism is mixed with beliefs in traditional Mayan gods. Her crisis about what to preserve and what to discard from her culture is accentuated when her son, Pablito, an enigmatic boy whom she struggles to understand, falls ill.
"I think it is extremely hard to write on Mayas by any non-Maya author, not only because of the language, but because of the cosmovision that informs their thinking. Stephen Henighan’s did however an excellent job of dealing with Kaqchikel, and a better job than all non-Maya Guatemalan novelists, with the possible exception of Mario Payeras, in crafting the Maya belief system."
— Dr. Arturo Arias, Prof. of Central American Latin & Mesoamerican Indigenous Cultural Studies, UC Merced
184 pages / paper
The stories in this collection represent the coming of age of a young writer. His earliest published work is here along with his later more sophisticated literary efforts. Perry’s fiction explores contemporary life mostly in urban centres like Toronto, though they are not bound by this parameter with stories also set in places such as Venice and Nicaragua. The pieces range from dark satirical perspectives to situational ironies and explore a wide variety of events like wedding receptions, poverty, family life, travel, urban fear, dating, and disenfranchisement. The stories fit well into the urban fiction motif and although they frequently carry images of struggle, fatigue, and loss, they move the people who populate them into decisions that offer tense moments of hope and beauty. Not always plot specific, the stories frequently set in motion a paradox or unresolved event with which the reader is left to grapple.
For example, in the story “The Locked Out”, a young man who has been out late must weigh a decision of whether or not to wake his shift-working girlfriend to get into their apartment. The story “I Think I’ll Tell Her Today”, finds a domestic in a complicated sexual relationship with her employer, but the question of who is using whom is not entirely clear. In “The Short Life Of Gary Q Stuffholder”, a young woman attends a wedding party without her boyfriend and wades through various forms of imagined pathos heaped on by the other guests. In the title story “Hamburger”, a man waits in the heat of a restaurant thinking about all the things wrong with his dating life, creating a pictures of distain and self-loathing while a young waitress hovers expectantly.
"The Toronto writer's stories are entertaining, provocative and original." — The Toronto Star
"Tastes in hamburger vary, but as far as this reviwer's palatte is concerned, Perry's shorter pieces are the most successful: narrow slices of contemporary life dealing with characters who seem to have just missed epiphanic moments, as though being late for a bus." — Quill & Quire
"Daniel Perry's stories are confident and nuanced." — The Winnipeg Review
208 pages / paper
These urban, commuter-friendly stories capture quirky events in satisfying ways. Their dark undertones and sharp-witted ironies employ familiar settings such as apartments, lofts, studios and city streets , but use unusual and unexpected urban moments as backdrops to outré characters and their given idiosyncrasies.
Some of Hayes’ characters are on the social fringe, such as the mentally challenged narrator of the title story who finds his way through urban life with the aid of his seventy-year-old neighbour and the possibilities inherent in a game of chess. Some obsess privately, such as the protagonist in “The Runner” who becomes neurotically repulsed by the hair follicles on his girlfriend’s upper lip, while others, like the proven street ball “cager” of the story “In the Low Post” stews over his eroding prestige and control on the inner-city basketball court.
Edgy, smart and unpredictable, Derek Hayes; stories bend linear story-telling, and shift the narrative voices with such an energetic frequency that readers will want to go back again just to them just to see how he does it.
200 pages / paper
In her first collection of short fiction dee Hobsbawn-Smith creates protagonists struggling to navigate the domestic troubles common to life everywhere, including children attempting to make their parents proud, the disintegrating of romantic relationships, and dealing with death and loss. Her stories are rife with the disasters of homelessness, domestic violence, and child abuse, as she exposes the difficulties that arise in relationships between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and parents and children. Hobsbawn-Smith’s keen observation and the unflinching eye which she directs towards her characters’ flaws bring the land and its inhabitants into painful focus as they grapple with loss.
What Can’t Be Undone is a collection anchored in the Western Canadian landscape, and the natural imagery which has become synonymous to the area reigns supreme. These stories are strongly informed by local colour. Horses’ hooves echo from coulee walls, blue jays, crows, and eagles announce the seasons, and coyotes wail from distant valleys as Hobsbawn-Smith travels with her protagonists across rolling prairies, unforgiving mountain ranges, and along coastal highways.
192 pages / paper
Brunch with the Jackals is both a throwback to and an advance on the "hard-boiled" style of forerunners like Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane. At times clipped and edgy, the tone never completely gives way to bleakness or brooding, but hovers on the boundaries between light and darkness. Mistrust and betrayal drive the plots, death lurks in the shadows, and blood is often spilled, demonstrating McLellan’s love of the literary grotesque.
A man seeking the high life realizes too late that he has destroyed his possibilities for happiness. Four junkies wait anxiously for a drug dealer who seems to have forgotten their existence. A gang leader attempts to navigate racism, greed, and mutiny within the ranks. An aspiring writer assesses and obsesses over a crime close to home as a young neighbour’s boyfriend is on trial for her murder. In Brunch with the Jackals, Don McLellan explores the dark side of urban life through stories that combine black comedy, observational invective, and heart-wrenching irony in a collection of neo-noir fiction whose protagonists range from a young boy playing war games with toy soldiers to a terminal cancer patient plotting his own death.
504 pages/trade paper
This novel interweaves Renaissance artist Piero di Cosimo’s fifteenth-century viewpoint with the twenty-first-century reality of two young Canadian students: Agnes Vane, an art history major fascinated by di Cosimo’s multi-layered imagery, and Peter (Pinto) Dervaig, a student of philosophy passionate about preventing cruelty to animals. Both Agnes and Pinto were marginalized in their adolescence because of their unusual appearance. Agnes has slightly simian features. Pinto is a huge man with a multihued skin pigmentation.
When Agnes, as a lonely and alienated child, discovers di Cosimo’s empathetic paintings of animals and human-animal hybrids, she feels she is looked upon gently for the first time in her life. That moment influences her decision to become an animal rights activist, a commitment that ultimately brings her both anguish and insight. Her story is echoed by chapters from di Cosimo’s perspective as he pits his solitary vision, of a golden age when animals did indeed speak, against the dictatorial grip in which Savonarola, destroyer of secular art and culture, holds the city of Florence.
Availability Message: Available October 1, 2017
The Bone Eater is the third installment of Marty Chan’s successful and hugely entertaining Barnabas Bigfoot series.
Book three once more follows the daring adventures of sasquatch Barnabas and his pals, Hannah and Ruth. This time, the intrepid trio must confront the Bone Eater; a legendary creature from sasquatch mythology who suddenly enters their world. Barnabas, Hannah, and Ruth must warn the scattered sasquatch tribe about this fearsome monster who surely poses a greater threat to their existence than the dreaded hunting humans. Or does she?
Throughout the novel, established loyalties are pushed to the limit as our protagonists face a triple threat: the Bone Eater, Mr. Roland’s relentless sasquatch hunters, and double-crossing sasquatch Dogger Dogwood. As the action-filled narrative develops, Barnabas is forced to stand up for what he knows to be right, even in the face of disbelief from his own tribe. Resultingly, the long-standing values of sasquatch culture — loyalty, selflessness, honesty — are thoroughly tested. Will they prove to be solid and unyielding, or will they crumble at the hand of adversity?
The Bone Eater is a tense, fast-paced tale which is balanced perfectly by an abundancy of Chan’s trademark warm humour and inviting dialogue. The book also provides many teachable, lesson-filled moments about tolerance, identity, and forgiveness. These messages are always delivered with subtlety and blended seamlessly into the action. The ending, pointing towards a new and great adventure, is guaranteed to leave young readers wanting more from Marty Chan and his charming sasquatch creation, Barnabas Bigfoot.
“Love is actually a blend of science and art, and like any science or art, it must be studied. It must be approached with the right attitude and from the right angle—from the point of view of finding someone to love — not of finding someone to love you.”
This is the key lesson that self-proclaimed World’s Greatest Lover, eighty-year-old Alberto Camelo, aims to teach his skeptical neighbour Adriana in this comical novel about sexuality, relationships, and aging. Hilarity ensues as Alberto recounts the lascivious details of his lifetime of experience including his first brief sexual encounter in the garden to his marriage to a gold-digger. He frankly recounts his exhaustion at being tasked with a lover whose spontaneous ecstasy becomes too much for him to handle, his short-lived stint in the navy, and how he ran a franchise of “specialty” restaurants — into the ground, that is.
Alberto is never shy about revealing the many wrong turns he has taken during his travels into the realm of romance or about offering philosophical (and often hilariously misguided) musings on the differences between men and women. An aura of absurdity pervades this humorous satire of a life characterized by awkward amorous encounters, lascivious liaisons, and erotic irreverence.
114 pages / paper
A tale woven over the course of four days and fifty-four years, based on the relationship between bees, angels, spirits, and one Franco-Albertan family.
“If heaven is full of angels like me, hell must be empty.” So begins, Autant, a tale woven over the course of four days and fifty-four years, based on the relationship between bees and one Franco-Albertan family, the Morasses, of Autant, Alberta. Tension emerges in the balance of power between siblings, between seen and unseen forces of good and evil, between perception and reality, between loyalty and traitors, and between what we are taught and what we actually learn.
Poised between the ever-practical God and quixotically old Coyote, it is a tale told to explain the disappearance of bees in northern Alberta and becomes a sometimes not-so-subtle exploration of how old and young, male and female, humans and non-humans perceive love.
As easily as sunlight bends through a jar of clear golden honey mead, we witness an angel sitting atop the fridge in the kitchen, watching his favourite set of lights twirl about in their respective orbits. Everyone oblivious to his presence except for six-year-old Bella, whose gift it is to see such beings, and Lily, the “other angel”, sent by Coyote to mix things up a bit.
Autant reminds us that life can be more exciting when you believe that magic is real and Dubé’s expansion of this idea in the story through characters and plot, and her lively and controlled blending of fantastical elements with the everyday occurrences of the Morasses family help keep this magic alive.
268 pages / paper
The characters from Susan Musgrave’s Cargo of Orchids are back in this brilliantly engaging novel. Rainy, the Mexican-American woman, and Frenchy, the African-American, along with Musgrave’s narrator X have returned and convincingly insist their story is not done. Once inmates on death row, now reunited and hanging out at an old house in a BC outport, they create a grand new afterlife adventure. As we are shuttled along an energetic storyline in an old hearse, through gated communities in Vancouver to BC’s First Nations island outposts, we witness the transformation of lives on the slopes of purgatory. The passageways are rife with wild rides, social satire and visually hilarious encounters. Musgrave’s trademark undercurrents of lurking peril and unexpected havoc play out against murder, drug encounters, and sexual tension but Given is a novel with its own rules of engagement. Musgrave’s comic gifts and ability to transcend this earthly plane create a ghost story that becomes a masterful allegory for personal loss and the potency of love.
Urban Legend, a street-smart and contemporary collection, is comprised of gritty, urban tales about troubled individuals attempting to mitigate loss by searching for their own personal antidote. These city-centric stories encompass a wide variety of cultures, characters from varying social strata, and earnest examinations of how individuals react when forced out of their comfort zone.
In “Paris is a Woman”, we meet a man hoping that by escaping to liberating Paris, he will heal his uncontrollable emotions; however, he soon finds that it is not that easy to run away from your own heart and mind. “The Golem of New York” features personal devastation that leads to utter desperation and fascinating esoteric experimentation. In “Stolen Words”, the protagonist uncovers a trove of unpublished literary works that he hopes will result in fame and stolen fortune. “Phoenix Rising” introduces a deeply-troubled sculptress and a cat that manages to prevent her suicide and subsequently bestow instant noteriety upon her.
Jerry Levy’s smart and clear stories are driven by well-paced action and an inherent gift for capturing the aggressive vigour of people in the midst of serious emotional upheaval. Urban Legend is filled with predominantly tough-minded and arresting prose but Levy’s writing also provides moments of eloquence and grace. His depiction of place is vivid and lends a realism and clarity to the collection. Levy’s relentless pursuit to delve inside the minds of his characters gives these stories a psychologically intense, compelling edge which, in addition to the emotional depth created by the inclusion of a wealth of personal details, raises Levy’s characters from the page and places them firmly in the mind of the reader.
244 pages / paper
Parallel Rivers is a collection of stories that were coaxed into existence from Kenyon’s interest in seeing what fiction might learn from film, particularly the German, French, Italian, and Japanese cinema of the 70s. While Kenyon’s fictions are often immersed in postmodern sensibilities, adding the rituals and techniques and experiments of film to the process changes some of the ground rules.
The collection has two sections that run stylistically parallel to each other. The first section consists of short, often surreal or uncomfortable fictions; the second contains longer stories of larger, more realistic worlds. In the shorter fictions, each story creates its own world order, and presents hyper-utilizations of point of view, time shifts, and disconnected physical detail. Here you will find stories about construction buddies who are violently transformed by their marriages; a cold war incident that causes a Canadian circus in Russia to fragment and disintegrate; a political runner at a Ravi Shankar concert who must cope with death and detachment; and a surreal train that derails the purpose of a man dying.
In the longer pieces considerably more tradition and familiarity are used. There’s the story “Jane Hart’s Airband” where the Tom Waitsian energy sweeps the reader along in a tale of music, quirky adventure, and character conjecture. Or in the memory lament “That Time in Palm Springs”, that closes out the collection. Gone is the anarchy and randomness that purpose the earlier shorter pieces. Here the speaker, a man caring for his ancient father, efficiently gathers his memories around him and recounts in a controlled reliability those moments that may have shaped him. In Kenyon’s fictions, the concept of memory as in our narrator’s case may not be reliable nor may his life have been lived as he suggests, and his immersion in movies and television might create enough distrust that the reader can easily be left unsure. These fictions exist as dreams exist, yet within this framework truth is revealed and the full play of language exercised.
216 pages / paper
Part intellectual mystery and part spiritual adventure, A Year At River Mountain tells the story of an aging actor from Vancouver who has immersed himself in monastic life in China and is now examining his past as an actor, husband, and father. As his Western consciousness grapples with Taoist philosophies and acupressure techniques, he assesses his life and records the struggles of transformation that accompany such thinking.
The monastery’s Old Master has given the narrator permission to write the commentary he shares with us while raising the question of who “reader and narrator” really are. At times uncertainty leads him to confuse the monastery with another kind of institution. Fellow monks, particularly the American bellringer, Frank, are often as humorously baffling as they are ritualistically inviting. But the force driving his obsessive commentary and his year at River Mountain is the anticipation of the arrival of Imogen, an American actor and monastery patron.
208 pages / paper
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Darcie Friesen Hossack
This vibrant collection of short fictions explores how families work, how they are torn apart, and, in spite of differences and struggles, brought back together. Darcie Friesen Hossack’s stories in Mennonites Don’t Dance offer an honest, detailed look into the experiences of children—both young and adult — and their parents and grandparents, exploring generational ties, sins, penance and redemption.
Taking place primarily on the Canadian prairies, the families in these stories are confronted by the conflict between tradition and change — one story sees a daughter-in-law’s urban ideals push and pull against a mother’s simple, rural ways, in another, a daughter raised in the Mennonite tradition tries to break free from her upbringing to escape to the city in search of a better life. Children learn the rules of farm life, and parents learn that their decisions, in spite of all good intentions, can carry dire consequences.
Hossack’s talent, honed through education and experience, is showcased in this polished collection, and is reflected in the relatable, realistic characters and situations she creates. The voices in the stories speak about how we measure ourselves in the absence of family, and how the most interesting families are always flawed in some way.
272 pages /trade paper
Available in the US
World rights available
Through a protracted series of vignettes, Devin Krukoff transforms Flyways into an interconnected, psychologically intense novel. Exploring the concept of "six degrees of separation", the work dramatizes people’s unseen connections to others while they encounter their own problems awaiting an impending snowstorm.
Each vignette opens with a sometimes poetic, sometimes scientific description of a specific bird carefully chosen to help establish details of the characters’ situations, providing a “bird’s eye view” of the human world.
With scenarios ranging from teenage pregnancy and skydiving psychotherapy, to S&M lust, Catholicism, and goose hunting, Flyways delves into the intricacies and implications of the Human Web, and proves that, whether we know it or not, we are all linked, and the results of our actions reach far beyond our limited perception, often impact upon one another's lives.
192 pages/trade paper
A man wakes up in a hospital with one word in his head: Sapporo. He dimly recalls this as the place where he was raised, and it becomes his name and identity. Like an immigrant without language or memory he relies on his young son as guide and interpreter, but soon drifts away into what some might see as madness.
In Sapporo’s floating world, he is also Prospero, summoning the ancestors and channeling the lost dreams that gave way to the modern industrial era.
His son, meanwhile, has escaped to the city’s underworld. His laconic account of the anarchic, callous, tender tribe of street kids is beyond the scope of any realist fiction, yet compelling as a documentary and fiercely poetic.
Parallel to these worlds, and destined to reconnect them, is a young woman’s journey through what is indeed the Third World – as surreal in its poverty and shifting realities as anything in Sapporo’s visions or his son’s predations.
The Beautiful Children is a triumph of language and structure; it is also a haunting, and haunted, elegy upon innocence.
“Not only does Kenyon forge imaginative narrative paths, but also he has a compelling gift for language on a sentence level . . . Anyone who respects attempts to make fiction will be rewarded by reading Kenyon’s work.” — Candace Fertile, Malahat Review
320 pages / paper
The Path to Ardroe is an exploration of friendship and its limits, life changes, and the challenges and aspirations of writers. Peter Chisholm, a writer wrestling with his craft, finds himself at forty-two without direction, and so it seems an eerie coincidence to him that unplanned events have conspired to place him in Lochinver, Scotland, developing his next novel, seeking out his former lover, and trying to find a solution to his restlessness and self-imposed fakery. But he has no idea of the fearful ghosts he will conjure. In various states of introspection Peter’s friends are also coming to terms with their own life-changing moments. For emerging writer Melissa Picard, on a six-month trip to Strasbourg, France, it will be her struggle with the past criticisms of her writing. Through a budding friendship with a celebrated writer and a transformative affair with an artist, she begins to understand that her challenges are not unique and that to write with a simple purity, the way Derain painted, she must finally listen to her own voice.
Another friend, Rick Connelly, at a creative crossroads of self and meaning is struggling with the control of his writing voice and intently floundering in his need to show what his father meant to him. He seeks the solitude of nature to reshape his instincts about himself and the life path he has chosen.
Finally there is Tania, who lost her mother too young and whose immigrant roots shape her in ways she is only beginning to understand. Faced with her own immanent death from pancreatic cancer, she is stripping her life bare of all pretense, while taking stock of the people and events who have made her who she really is. But it will be Peter Chisholm at the novel’s end, who in a profound epiphany, will discover the fulcrum that balances private compromises with the artistic quandaries of the literary life, and it will not be the revelation he assumed.
YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
312 pages/trade paper
Available in the US
World Rights Available
Philip Skyler learned early in his life that his face would get him into trouble and there was nothing he could do about it. Born with an extreme facial deformity, he became the object of attention. Though medical scientists named his condition Van der Woude syndrome, his classmates, especially the bullies, just called him “Monkeyface”. Monkeyface Chronicles is his sweet story of revenge.
Philip’s aphorism-toting grandfather used to say, “Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect,” and Philip Skyler is about to embark on a life journey of payback that has everything to do with cause and effect. Philip’s journey ultimately takes him through the most unusual family circumstances, where no one was really who they seemed to be, whether it was his reclusive scientist father, or his Citizen Kane-like grandfather.
While riding his father’s motorcycle to Toronto to escape the dregs of Faireville, Philip has a life-changing experience that transforms him from the dupe he was as a kid into a conquering hero in his twenties. His unforgettable ride brings him to triumph over adversity and redeems him from the world of losers into which he was cast.
296 pages / paper
Chemist Dr. Joan Parker’s ability to identify scents rivals any other person on the planet. She can distinguish cane sugar from beet sugar, burning pine from spruce, and a man on the make from a man on the take. Combining scents and flavours for the food industry is her occupation and her passion.
Joan is at first confused when she receives a reunion invitation to Madden High, the school from which she never graduated. After the death of her father, the family had moved away. Her estranged husband, Mort, convinces her to attend. In short order she becomes the prime suspect in the murder of Roger Rimmer, her high school classmate and a man with whom she has had more than a passing association.
When the only person who can explain why she was invited to the reunion is found dead, Joan turns her olfactory skills to the investigation.
Her ability to understand the effects of all of the senses on human emotion and behaviour leads Joan “Nosey” Parker to the killer in A Nose for Death, and a new reputation as a serious crime-solver.
Lucia’s Masks follows a group of six strangers who meet by chance while each one is fleeing the barbaric and thought-controlling totalitarian regime of The City. As they journey to the North, where they hope they can be free of the ever-present Eye and establish a free society, their individual stories are interwoven dexterously by author Wendy MacIntyre.
The principal voice belongs to Lucia. A sculptress and lover of art, Lucia is forced to clean office buildings for the regime and to hide her beloved potter’s wheel from sight. When she finds her most precious possession destroyed, the final straw has been broken and Lucia flees The City. She takes with her a ball of potter’s clay and a copy of the death mask of John Keats; both constant reminders in a desolate, art-starved world of the inherent power humankind possesses to create great beauty.
Lucia’s companions on the road to freedom include: the Outpacer, a former extreme hedonist and philanderer who now hides his identity behind a monk’s cowl; Bird Girl, a young woman constantly hunting for books as all but a few have been destroyed by the regime; Harry, an 88 year-old survivor of a society that detests the elderly; and Candace, a dominant individual whose repeated attempts to assume control creates one of the primary sources of tension in the novel.
In addition to battling forces of the regime, the group must confront their own minds which have become so contaminated by the world they long to escape that their own psyches threaten to become their most insurmountable obstacles. Then, one day, with the bickering and frailties increasing, they encounter an old box with six Greek tragedy masks inside. These masks, possessors of uncanny powers, are destined to be the key to their fortunes.
144 pages / paper
In an inviting and challenging series of fictions, Sean Johnston’s We Don’t Listen To Them will leave readers puzzling while they smile at the acrobatics of his words and techniques. Some of Johnston’s stories border on “flash fiction” where incidents rather than an actual narrative drive the story. In the opening piece “How Blue” a boy is caught in the vortex of his father who drinks, his mother who condones, and a church representative who reforms. There is no plot, just Ronnie eating his purple ice cream and thinking his way through the maze.
Several stories, particularly “Whose Origins Escaped Him” and “We Don’t Celebrate That”, feature metafiction that explores writing about writing. In the former, elaborate footnotes delineate the characters and their actions, explaining why the story is unfolding the way it is and why the writer has chosen to do this. In the later story “We Don’t Celebrate That”, the narrator, a writer, explains how rules can be absurdly imposed on writers in a futile attempt to govern the writing process.
At various junctures in the collection Johnston employs devices that adjust his writing to be focused with the lens of metafiction. Shifts in narrative, jumps in time, intrusions into the narrative tension are all common here. But so too is pathos, as seen in the family dilemma of a recovering alcoholic in the story “We All Considered This”. And we do find compassion in the son-in-law who holds sympathy and kindness for his father-in-law afflicted with Alzheimer’s in “You Didn’t Have to Tell Him”, and share the weighted sadness of the husband dressing his dead wife for the funeral in “He Hasn’t Been to the Bank in Weeks”.
While the world will turn upside down in Johnston’s stories, and the logic and reality will be violated, and a bank teller will hand a patron his bank robber note, it is fiction that also ebbs and flows with human struggle, that is recognizable and relatable and, despite the challenges and uncertainties placed in the reader’s path, there is always a way to see more clearly than we think we do.
256 pages / paper
Raising Orion tells the tale of an eccentric, timeless woman, Molly, a second-hand bookshop owner, and her childhood as the daughter of the last lighthouse keeper of Devil’s Island at the mouth of the Halifax Harbour. At its core, Raising Orion is a novel of discovery, and a chronicle of intense individualism where to believe you can set the stars in the sky will make it so.
Molly is an enigmatic person, powerful over her own destiny. She is at the centre of an eclectic, unlikely group of people — customers of her bookstore that have become her friends — searching for meaning in their own lives through the books they find in her store. Their test begins when Molly is on the verge of being criminally charged for interfering with authorities in rescuing a young cancer patient. Her dedicated book-customer friends must help save her, which, given Molly’s eccentricities, philosophical outlooks, and strong independence, isn’t an easy task.
174 pages/trade paper
The Wolsenburg Clock chronicles the development of a complex machine, and the risks and devotion that went into its construction throughout the Medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Modern periods of history.
In a small Austrian city near the Italian border, a Canadian academic wants desperately to save a 600-year-old artifact while Second World War bombs terrorize the area. The artifact, a fourteenth century astronomical clock, has been constructed and restored by a series of gifted individuals dedicated to producing the finest timepiece of their age. From its creation in the newly consecrated cathedral in Wolsenburg, to its near-demise in a unruly fire, to its final incarnation as the most impressive clock ever built, the academic uncovers the secrets and infatuations of the clock’s remarkable engineers. This magical device — that kept time, charted celestial motion, and entertained parishioners with a show of automated figures — was not built without personal costs.
Creating an engaging fiction about an extraordinary contraption and its brilliant mechanics, Jay Ruzesky also sketches the battle between the Church and the scientists of the time who both desired to be at the forefront of social conscience, as time became understood and measured in new ways in Western Europe.
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Reading Group Guide
256 pages/trade paper
The remnants of the Revolution in Cuban life
“All of Cuba is a museum now. We live off our old Revolution,” laments Gertrudis, one in a cast of characters teetering on the verge of political change while held in the grip of the past. Cuba is the place where the grandchildren of peasants become consultant surgeons, but also the place where necessity as the mother of invention is put into extreme practise. In Havana, the buildings like the peoples’ dreams, are constantly being restored. But so too in the rural districts, in towns like Baracoa, you will find boisterous people who idolised the Fidel past and continue to mourn his passing while those like Godofredo, born in January 1959 as a victorious Fidel marched into Havana, limps along the streets of Baracoa where he encounters tourists and townspeople while maintaining his anonymity as the peanut vendor. In Amanda Hale’s stories, Cuba comes alive with a gentle humour and through the richly detailed portraits of the families of Baracoa as they struggle with the political changes that are reshaping Cuba.
Meet Daniela who flies from the roof into the arms of her unfaithful husband; Sonia who marvels at the new world of her cell-phone crazy teenagers; Tito, a world away in Miami, who rants about Obama’s handshake with Raúl Castro; and witness a corpse that travels the length of Cuba and back in a nightmare of bureaucracy, all while Ángela huddles for the night on her bench in Parque Central.
200 pages/trade paper
Lori Hahnel’s stories fracture stereotypes of the sanctity of marriage, the values of good people, and the expected happy ending. Provocative, talkative, sardonic and glib, Hahnel’s characters strike friction between the sentimental values of bygone Hollywood flicks and the misgivings of lower class life in western Canada. In their attempts to stretch their skins over frames of idealism, they turn to bygone Hollywood films and popular icons. These are the stories of the everyday and commonplace, where superstars become leaping comparisons for personalities and appearances, and working in retail or having a motel romance is as good as it gets.
“These are intimate voices in Lori Hahnel’s stories. They draw us in with a sense of privacy and privilege. Yearning, wistful, and wise-cracking, they beg understanding, from the world and for themselves. Nothing Sacred satisfies like a late night visit with a close friend and a bottle of good wine.” — Betty Jane Hegerat, author of Running Toward Home
“Lori Hahnel’s stories unravel seductive lines of pretzel logic, revealing bright new planets of mischief and music and mystery. This collection is a sly balancing act of yearning and humour, night cool and power pop, regret and miscreant wit.” — Mark Anthony Jarman, author of My White Planet
“Nothing Sacred is a wonderful read, full of idiosyncratic people faced with tough choices. In these riveting stories, Lori Hahnel mixes economy with generosity. She writes sparely, yet at the same time, brings in an abundance of delicious, sometimes disturbing detail.” — Rona Altrows, author of A Run On Hose
269 pages/trade paper
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This is a story of family, of death, and of the art of living. It is also the story of the ties that bind a mother to a daughter and the dynamics that govern their love. Shaped as a memoir, shared by Sarah Flett and her daughter Rhegan, the narrative begins with the death of Sarah's husband and builds in complexity with the untimely and sudden death of Rhegan.
Are life and death at their core intertwined? As Rhegan speaks from beyond the grave, her life is revealed in unexpected ways to her mother. And as Rhegan reconstructs her past and her memories of the last six months of her life, their impact and energy become one with her mother's own remembering. This unheralded reconnection forms the nexus of the novel. It becomes their shared memoir. Through it the reader is invited into the intricacies of grieving and the irreducible nature of mother-daughter love.
Sorbie's steady hand meshes the dual narrative perspectives using land and water imagery. Within this narrative frame, the balance that grieving and celebrating, and holding on and letting go require is carefully constructed. Rhegan's and Sarah's lives become meaningful because we share in their heartbreak and their joy. Their lives intertwine and together become the memoir of a good death.
"When the dead speak we must listen. Anne Sorbie’s dead and eloquent narrator is full of wild humour, pain, rebellion, compassion, wisdom. And she tells a wickedly good story. How can we know heaven from hell?" — Robert Kroetsch
226 pages / paper
In this series of linked fictions, unified by place and a cast of overlapping characters, Karina travels the length of El Caimán, the alligator which is Cuba, sweeping from Havana to the reptilian eye of Baracoa, where she meets Onaldo, an Afro-Cuban writer who becomes her lover. Their affair inadvertently reveals more than she could ever have imagined of the mysteries of Cuba as she learns on the streets, between the sheets, and in the kitchens of Baracoa the real story behind the smiles and the music.
Pedro Iván tumbles from his balcony in a moment of disbelief; Mirian Zelda guides the souls of the dead until the mysterious disappearance of Marek Svoboda; Yolanda waits for her posting to Venezuela with a mixture of longing and dread; Mario, a gay man, serves a seven year sentence for dancing with his foreign lover; Linancia falls into the necessity of life as a jinetera; Lorenzo grins as he remembers his life behind the wall in Leipzig. As the veils fall one by one Karina falls deeply in love with the true and hidden life of El Caimán.
276 pages/trade paper
Spanning three continents and the ten years leading up to the close of the nineteenth century, The Serpent’s Veil follows the personal journeys’ of Constance Stubbington and Ank Maguire who grapple with what haunts them: the impact of colonialism, the death of family members, and the intuitive gifts that shape them.
Constance, a bold woman who severs her father’s rigid ideas with a sharp tongue, is thrown from a horse and wakes in Guy’s Hospital in London, England. The hospital staff is tight-lipped about her father’s whereabouts and the medical implications of her accident. It is here that she meets Ank Maguire and the two discover that they share a connection with the spiritual world, an intuition that is both a gift and a curse.
Through a series of flashbacks, dreams, and up-to-the minute storytelling we travel from the bogs of Ireland, to the streets of Victoria, BC through the Raj lands of India, and to the grimy world of London’s Southwark district. The Serpent’s Veil is a spellbinding tale of action and mystery where people are born and die, mystical revelations dominate and consciousness is transformed, but above all, spirit lives.
Ben Robe is a retired political science professor who has returned to his reserve at Moccasin Lake to live out his life in relative peace and solitude. But the complications of a sudden and intense US annexation of Canada change his plans. Cued into a Canadian resistance movement by his former student and lover, Monica, Ben soon learns that the layers of political and military activity go far beyond his careful social conscience in this dystopian world.
Radical young women like Monica, Betsy Chance, and Joan Lightning post one face of the resistance, while farmers like Abe Friesen, and Mennonite Mary Wiens post another. Paralleled with characters like these are the reserve’s citizens who remain sheltered from the immediate troubles down south, but must accept that they cannot remain passive forever.
The Cast Stone’s themes are not emphatic; rather they emerge slowly from within the narratives as Ben encounters the players in the Canadian resistance and must balance his call to civil action with the call to defend Canada amid the discovery of a son he never knew he had, his friendship with his neighbours, and the community elders with their long-standing knowledge of Treaties, history, and racial oppression conflict. The novel accents Ben’s struggles with his own desire for independence, love, and forgiveness, but at its core it remains a telling and passionate portrait of First Nations community life, the value and safety of family, and the need for friendship. It achieves an understanding of what an individual’s responsibilities are when civil liberty, order and stability are jeopardized by an occupying power, but shows that solitary acts of defiance that champion family trust and the individual’s capacity to love are their own agents of resistance.
208 pages/trade paper
Charlie Muskrat, out of moose meat for the winter and committed to getting some, finds himself in Prince Albert with a 30/30 Winchester under the seat of his truck, Thunder, half a tank of gas, half a thermos of coffee, lots of Cheezies and a desire to drive south. Accompanied during the trip by phantom hitchhikers from history and myth — the Trickster, Wesakicak, Greek gods, writers, philosophers and politicians — Charlie motors along to the backdrop of Johnny Cash gospel songs and his own foggy memories of his purpose. Through Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Trenton, Sudbury, Ottawa and Toronto and all along the way are those moments of laughter that Johnson does so well — the US border guards who turn Charlie away on gun issues, the Indian Affairs people with their bags of money, the bar conversations on literature in Toronto.
Charlie Muskrat is socially insightful, politically incorrect, funny, and dangerous in his own naivety, and his road trip unfolds as an unforgettable journey in Canadian culture.
328 pages/trade paper
My Sweet Curiosity tells the story of Natalya, a young medical student, too smart for her own good, who twists an already complicated genetic background rooted in the Romanov family into an impossible fantasy of reproductive technology which ultimately reveals its own strange truth. Talya falls in love with Dai Ling, a cello student of extraordinary talent, and daughter of Jia Song Xiang, doctor of traditional Chinese medicine.
Set in modern day Toronto, the story ventures into Renaissance Europe, looking over the shoulder of Andreas Vesalius as he opens the body and maps it accurately for the first time; to Beijing where Dai Ling’s parents meet and emigrate before the Tianenmen Square massacre; to Palestine, following Vesalius on his pilgrimage; to the deathbed of Talya’s mother in a Geneva cancer clinic.
My Sweet Curiosity explores the border between fact and fiction, the relation between medical science and music, and the enduring mysteries of the human body.
Few writers have Harriet Richards’ understanding of childhood, and fewer still can evoke the never-lost child at the heart of our adult experience. Like her previous, critically-acclaimed books, this new collection is deft, comic, and poignant, but there is malice and tragedy at work in these stories — their gaiety and cool observation counterbalance the troubled lives they explore.
In the brilliantly imagined title story two young girls become guardian angels to an emaciated drifter with a very dark secret. Their innocence is an armour against the danger that simmers, below adult knowledge, around a northern lake. Innocence, both tough and vulnerable, is at play in many of these stories: Ava, in “A Great Wrong” carries the guilt of a childhood betrayal and revenge; Olivia’s role as confidante, in “Bagatelle”, channels the absurdities and fragility of clumsy, hopeful lives. “In the Direction of the Three Sisters” is a sad, ironic protest at life’s unfairness.
Trust is the most perilous adventure in Richards’ stories, but every one of her characters takes that risk. Their candour in the face of what follows is the book’s enduring delight.
Against a backdrop of traditional Cree mythology, Johnson's novel creates a tangled murder chronicle and harrowing tale of four Cree brothers, bound to each other through family and tradition, separated from each other by their chosen life paths. As one brother kills, another reinforces the principle of a circle of life, as one capitulates to weakness, another conquers his demons. Driving the action is a manhunt for the killer of conservation officers; but at the heart of the story there is reparation through cultural wisdom and the restoration of traditional beliefs.
Authentic and well-paced, Back Track crosscuts through the cultural ruts, economic conventions, and stereotypes of Cree families living in northern Saskatchewan.
156 pages/Mass Market
Set on the East Coast, and focusing on sixty-nine year old Jonas, this novel reflects the title character's energy, rage and humour as he looks upon his world, past and present, and is filled with memorable characters, adventures, and a pervading rugged gentleness.
This crically-acclaimed novel is an excellent choice for Canadian Studies and courses that investigate themes of maturity and old age.
Broughton, Katheryn. Canadian Materials (Novemer 1989): 275.
“Children's books fun and informative.” Halifax Sunday Daily News . November 7, 1993. 51.
Dorsey, Candas Jane. “Sci-fi nominations don't fail to amaze.” Edmonton Journal . February 10, 1991. C7.
Doucet, Clive. “Nova Scotian soul.” Globe and Mail. August 12, 1989. C8.
Finnie, John. “East coast eloquence.” Matrix . no. 32 (Fall 1990).
James-French, Davy. “The Rhythms of Nature.” Books in Canada (April 1990): 40.
McFadyen, Isobelle. Freelance (June 1990): 33.
McRae, Siobhan. Dalhouse Review 70.1 (July 1991): 137.
Nowlan, Michael O. Canadian Book Review Annual (December 1990): 162.
“Quick readings.” Ottawa Citizen . October 1989.
Skelton, Robin. “An arrogant old man and the sea.” Quill & Quire (August 1989).
Stewart, Beverly. “More life, universe and everything.” Th Whig-Standard Magazine . October 7, 1989. 20.
Woods, Thomas. “Lyric Atlantic fiction with wisdom, humour.” Vancouver Sun . December 30, 1989. H4.
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302 pages / trade paper
The Streets of Winter is a fast-paced, intricately crafted novel of life in the city. The characters find in Montreal the anonymity they crave, bartering their identities for the chance to reinvent themselves: Marcel, a young entrepreneur torn between duty and desire, and his wife Maryse, who is blinded to life by her search for art; André, an intellectual retreating from political engagement into a quest for sensual pleasure; Adriana, whose family cannot understand her need to flee them; Teddy, spoiled, angry and idealistic; João, a solitary immigrant pursued by a secret shame which holds him apart from Vitória, who needs him to escape a culture that has trapped her; and Rollie, a homeless teenager who founds a personal empire in the basement of a dilapidated apartment building.
Scrupulously plotted, rich in cultural detail and alive with Montreal’s many voices and accents, The Streets of Winter is an absorbing novel about life in modern urban Canada.
“[Henighan’s] knowledge and depth of feeling for the region and the people are demonstrated on every page.”
— Ottawa Citizen
Brett, Melanie. “More Than Local.” Times Literary Supplement. 11 June 2004.
Clement, Carla Elm. “Reviews.” SubTerrain # 40. Fall 2004.
Czajkowski, Derek. “Real Fiction. Writing the Real Canada.” Echo (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.). 10-16 June 2004. Reprinted in Viewmag (Hamilton, Ont.). 1-7 July 2004.
Golfman, Noreen. “Letters in Canada 2004.” University of Toronto Quarterly. Vol. 75 No. 1 (Winter 2006).
Manners, Steven. “Fiction Reviews.” Quill & Quire. June 2004.
McGillis, Ian. “Portrait of a Fractured Metropolis.” The Gazette (Montreal). 27 March 2004.
Solie, Karen. “The Many Solitudes of Montreal.” The Globe and Mail. 12 June 2004.
White, Erinn. “Characters in Professor’s Novel Might Be Familiar to Readers.” Guelph Mercury. 3 July 2004.
Wigston, Nancy. “Fresh Starts and Dead Ends.” Books in Canada. September 2004.
Harriet Richards' almost uncanny gift for inhabiting the minds and personalities of widely different characters is as evident in this collection as in her award-winning first novel, The Lavender Child.
The men and women in these stories, and perhaps most of all the children, make their own sense of a world where "There are forces at play so simple, natural, and accidental that nobody can figure them out and see them coming." It is a world, too, in which "there's lots more sorrow flying around people's heads than there is joy." That sorrow may be heartbreaking, occasionally it is horrific; but the reader is constantly reminded, with the quiet, clear-eyed and sometimes mischievous irony of Harriet Richards' voice, that in this world and — in the least likely places — we may entertain angels unawares.
162 pages/trade paper
Mourre’s short stories are marked with the wry awareness of authentic prairie people — their bluntness, honesty and dishevelled truths. There is in each of them a universality that is both mythical and ordinary, delivered in a straight-ahead dramatic telling. Mourre’s writing weaves its prairie spells as it did in her first collection Landlocked.
Set against extended metaphors of seeding, harvesting, seasonal migration, and the implacable forces of nature, Helen Mourre’s fiction quietly takes its place in the front row of western Canadian realism.
"Only a very few writers capture their settings so precisely." — Saskatoon StarPhoenix
240 pages / paper
There are always invisible connections between people in a small community. There are always loyalties and betrayals. In Walking Through Shadows a clutch of these citizens are singled out for attention. What we discover is both disturbing and yet morbidly fascinating. We meet the apparently mute Butterfly Girl who can only find her voice and beauty in the bed of the town’s seedy old drunk. We meet posers like The White Prince, the town’s revered administrator whose dark sexual fantasies leave him vulnerable to a beautiful young man who loathes him. We meet Spider Girl whose lonely teen life leads her to the dangers of internet chat rooms where Don Wand, the reticent high school teacher, stalks her between his trips to the garbage dump where he collects animal teeth as treasures.
Throughout the town the sway of the the Everlasting Church of the Evangelical holds the town’s morality in check while its members slink off into their own little corners of deviance. No one is really safe from the prying eyes, no one will escape scrutiny. Not the incredibly fit Walking Woman who allows her fear to overwhelm her fitness, or the lawyer who must post his nude shadow-dancing routines on YouTube. And not the Invisible Woman, who longs for any contact in her bottomed-out family life, but can only find a connection to herself through watching internet porn.
168 pages / paper
Seán Virgo knows the power of short fiction. He knows that the act of story-telling is hardwired into human consciousness and that the well-told story can appear in various shapes and sizes. The full force of Virgo’s writing energy in Dibidalen is directed by this knowledge. We see this clearly in the exquisite simplicity in the collection’s opening pieces — “Before Ago” and “Eggs in a Field” — where he uses verse fable and folktale interchangeably forging the stories’ links to a preliterate oral culture. Other stories employ the power of allegory as witnessed in “Shark Mother” and “The Scapegoat”. Here Virgo employs traditional transcendentalism to allow nature to open a deeper understanding of human affairs. How does a boy transform into a shark? Why was the woodsman abandoned in the deserted city? Virgo’s commitment to the form’s mercurial possibilities continues in “The Doorway” and “The Castaway” where the reader must grapple with how to personalize archetypal symbols in order to understand a woman’s fate, or assign meanings to the actions of a doubting priest to realize his destiny. Again in “Rendezvous” and “Gramayre” we discover a blended mix of fantasy and magical realism where fusions of the everyday, the illusory, the mythical, and the morbid blur traditional distinctions between what happened and what we think happened. Finally, in Virgo’s most extrapolated stories, “The Likeness” and “Dibidalen”, we are led on with the fractures and abstractions of the narratives that redirect each story’s unexpected conclusion. The result is a fascinating dance between reader and text that is as rewarding as it is challenging, reminding us of what Anaïs Nin meant when she said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
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Rose Okanese, a single mother with two kids, has been pushed into a corner by Rez citizens to claim some self-respect, and decides that the fastest way to do that is to run the reserve’s annual marathon. Though Rose hasn’t run in twenty years, smokes, and initially has little motivation, she announces her intention to run the race. One quality Rose doesn’t lack is spontaneity which sometimes clashes with her iron will and, though she has initial regrets about opening her mouth, her life begins to dictate that she must follow through. But as fate will have it, one rather huge unforeseen outcome of her decision is that she will have to do battle with an old inadvertently conjured demon that feeds off the strength of women and can have them do her bidding. In no time the Rez is in an uproar.
Rose discovers, that the old demon has been unintentionally called forth by her teen daughter, Sarah, which complicates Rose’s life just a little more. The spirit woman creates a reign of fear and havoc by appearing to people on the reserve and freaking them out, all of which leads to incidents of extreme humour and plot-twisting bemusement, liberally sprinkled with some jittery acts of valour. With a cast of unusual and unfamiliar characters, Dumont interweaves a tale of motherly love, friendship, lustful longing, wîhtikow lore, and Rez humour, and keeps the hoopla going until the race is done.
Will Rose send the demon back to where it came from before the spirit claims her teen daughter? Will she get back together with her philandering, rock musician husband before her girls grow up? More importantly, will she get this all done before her big, face-saving race with Dahlia Ingram, a woman whom God has designed for one purpose: to run long distances at high speeds with effortless grace?
279 pages/trade paper
Alternating between controlled pathos and wicked wit, Alix Hawley’s stories refuse predictability, such as in “Romance”, when a young man, employed for the summer by a wealthy family, finds that he and his first-time lover have different sexual motivations, and in “They Call Her Lovely Rita”, in which a man goes in search of a wife he is sure he absentmindedly misplaced somewhere. Hawley also challenges the conjectures of beauty, revealing that a pristine surface does not secure a happy ending. In “Things Happen”, an aspiring playwright is disrupted by her sister’s continually revised visions of their youth. In “Chemical Wedding”, a gorgeous woman maneuvers the murky waters of a dinner party with caustic dissection.
Dark and sharp, tightly written, this collection will surprise even readers familiar with the crusty undersides of middle-class lives, and the bizarre obsessions that harbour there.
271 pages/trade paper
Bonnie Dunlop’s new fiction collection, is an examination of the infirmity of marriages, brotherhood, friendships, parent-child relations hindered by negligence and altered by death, and where presumption is crushed by revelation — an eccentric old cowboy looks to avoid industrial pollution, a newly widowed woman attempts to untangle the secrets of her conventional marriage, a successful yet guilt-ridden man returns to his hometown for his brother’s funeral, a motherless teenage girl reconstructs her life, and a young woman struggles with the final term of her first pregnancy. All reach a precise moment when choice dictates to their unwilling spirits and when transformation begins its painful journey.
It is with such controlled transcendence that Dunlop’s characters live and that the assured writing in Carnival Glass situates award-winning author Bonnie Dunlop as a contending voice for Canadian women’s fiction.
280 pages/trade paper
When the anniversary of a suicide reunites five former friends who haven’t seen each other for ten years, each is forced to confront secrets from the past — secrets that lock their present lives in limbo. Through the perspectives of Siobhan, Evan and Lance, layers of the past peel away to expose connections to the central trauma of their shared lives.
Never Going Back is set in a small town in the BC interior, where potheads, loggers, environmentalists, conspiracy theorists, and aging hippies provide a vibrant backdrop to the dark themes explored in the narrative.
This story is about memory, loss and redemption, and moving beyond nostalgia and into the future with perspective and understanding. It focuses on the role that many of us play in a tragedy, watching helplessly from the sidelines, believing we are not involved when, in fact, we are.
“Banyard has written an engaging novel, original in concept and convincing in its portrait of the people of a unique and intriguing place.” — Jack Hodgins
228 pages / trade paper
Sweeping from Nazi Germany in 1939 to the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, Stephen Henighan’s A Grave in the Air is a masterful sequence of stories. In these tales, dominated by Central and Eastern European themes, readers are transported across borders and into the lives of characters who have something serious at stake, people enmeshed in acts of destruction, and people redeemed through honour and grace. These narratives bear Henighan’s cosmopolitan stamp, but they do not take place in a sanitized global village. There are no stereotypes on which to hang a plot, no filtered sense of the human condition. There are stories of betrayal, luminous studies of introspection and character, and ironic stories of historical displacement.
Whether moving readers to reflection or providing engaging entertainment, Henighan’s prose is sharp and clean. Once again, he is as instructive in his understanding of peoples and cultures as he is instinctive in taking us inside the worlds that shape them.
210 pages/trade paper
Emily Givner’s stories were about to break on the Canadian literary landscape when she met her untimely death. The stories in A Heart In Port are themselves a kind of literary metamorphosis in which Givner’s fragile life transcends her early death. In a way they are prophetic. The fictional worlds that Givner was intent on evoking are subtle, yet lucid, her characters often wrought with inherent contradictions, her narrators keen-eyed and pithy. In the title story of the collection, “A Heart In Port”, a seemingly light hearted send up of heartbreak, a Canadian woman waits in vain for the return of her European lover, amid the comedic shards of those close to her. Irony is apparent in “In-Sook” when a visiting music professor adored by his Korean students finds himself in conversation with the glass eye of one. When the glass eye starts speaking to Professor Andresj, the voice leads him to certain infidelity with the one student who is capable of the encounter. This mode of the surreal also enlightens the Kafkaesque “The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Cockroach”, a story which (quite apart from its quiet forewarning of Emily Givner’s own death) is a juggling act of improbability, breakdown, sly rhetoric, fairytale and literary allusion, all sustained by the perceptions of a young girl. These stories are never quite what they present themselves as being and the consummate beauty of the writing in A Heart In Port is that nothing is but what is not.
Rona Altrows’ short stories go to the core of what it is to be human — to cherish a departed mate beyond reason, to love a child to distraction, to keep the faith with a friend no matter what, to laugh in the face of self-doubt. This collection delivers a humorous yet poignant series of tales told from the perspectives of women.
“Rona Altrows delivers keenly-observed tales with a serious kick. She draws her characters and their travails in beautifully controlled, precise strokes that render them arresting, haunting and immediate. This is fiction at its best, revealing fresh insights into a world we think we know. This is the real deal.”
— Ian Samuels
“[Rona Altrows'] straight-talking narrators join a lineage of working-class female protagonists that stretches back at least to Margaret Lawrences' Stacey in The Fire Dwellers." — subTerriain
304 pages/trade paper
Matthew Manera’s novel tells the story of Gretchen Williamson, a young woman searching for her independence in the Ontario townships near Port Credit in the 1850s. With effective research and engaging story telling, Manera’s novel designs the catalysts that change Gretchen’s life — her allurement to an Ojibwa sage, her enchantment with an Irish seer, her attraction to a young stone hooker, and ultimately her love of books and the emerging technology around them.
256 pages/trade paper
This collection of ten stories by one of Canada's foremost fiction writers is designed to be a bedside book for people living with death.
In his challenging, affirmative introduction Seán Virgo suggests: “We prepare best for death, surely by loving life.” He refuses to accept the taboos and terrors which Western societies have erected around death: “Dying people are vitally concerned with life, if they're allowed. They are not lepers, or saints, or objects. And if they need stories about Death, too, it must be because the folklore of Death has withered, gone down in the twentieth-century with so many other dialects. Even humour, mankind's dance with taboo, has failed in this area for most of us. And with that dialect has been lost the sense of relationship with the dead that I've envied in older cultures.”
These stories express the full range of that dialect, from heartbreak to raunchy comedy, with more than a few speculations about what lies across the border of "the undiscovered country". Each story is prefaced with an intimate personal account of how it came to be written, and what it now means to the author.
In Book Two of The Sun On the Mountains trilogy, Alexander James, a Quaker pursued by his violent past in the American Revolution, begins a new life as a fur trader in the forests of northern Canada. Travelling west with his Nahathaway wife and explorer David Thompson to the prairie of the Blackfoot Confederacy, Alexander cannot resist being drawn into the thrilling horse raids and buffalo hunts, and then by the mysteries of the Piikani medicine ceremonies.
Trafford’s writing is Quakerly: spare and modest, but never lacking in confident flow, illuminating that place and time as Alexander pushes deeper into the heart of the west to find the Light inside himself.” — Marina Endicott
“ . . . takes readers into the borderlands of history and fiction, memory and possibility.” — Elizabeth Jameson, Professor of History, University of Calgary
“The most compelling (characters) are the women, who are made of sturdy stuff — strong, insightful, fierce and sometimes frightening.” — Debora Steel, Editor in Chief, Windspeaker
“ . . . a refreshing perspective on such Woodlands Cree concepts as the many-faceted wihtiko and the pre-Judaeo-Christian concept of the pawakan. Trafford has achieved what few novelists have managed.” — David Westfall, editor and compiler of Castel’s English Cree Dictionary and Memoirs of the Elders
“More clues cleverly concealed here than in the most ingenious Agatha Christie mystery.” — Pam Asheton
147 pages/trade paper
Candid and truthful stories about women, young and old, grappling with generational wariness, creative recklessness, and illusive purpose celebrate all that is beautiful, wild and distinctive in contemporary women. The title, All In Together Girls,is inspired by a jump rope rhyme, and the stories are a meeting place for girls as surely as the chant would have been on the playground. These stories relate the relentless search for identity, and the late night drive-through culture of bored teens whose “sleepover” alibis have left them with no place else to go. Hallmarked by entrances into, and thought-provoking points of exit from, moments of addiction, betrayal, misjudgement, and first love, they are defining portraits of girls and women during the storm and stress of self-discovery.
"Sutherland's stories are clearly focused, straightforward, and eminently readable. It's obvious that she cares deeply for her characters, but does not pander to them, forcing them to earn what they know and suffer when they make a mistake." — Bill Robertson, Saskatoon StarPhoenix (Oct 2007)
184 pages/trade paper
Angie Abdou’s short story debut is a sassy collection about likeable women running wild. In an irreverent vivisection of cultural myths of gender such as “women are born nurturers” or “men are inherently more aggressive”, Abdou reveals the silent contracts that lie at the underbelly of polished marriages, platonic friendships, barroom flirtations and not-so-meaningless sex.
Abdou’s characters have an easy honesty, a dirty-kneed grace that reminds us of girls who climbed trees and pulled the wings off butterflies. Now grown up, they offer biting and insouciant revelations into sexual stereotypes, fear of intimacy, and anger management. Abdou’s stories brim with the emotional, moral and social conundrum of living GAP commercial feminism on a thrift store budget, and provide a deliciously self-effacing joyride through the girl slums of Boystown.
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368 pages/trade paper
Leaving her Montreal family and friends, Ariadne Hatzidakis returns to the land of her forebears — and a trap prepared for her by the old Greek gods. The lover they present her with is Death, in the guise of Yannis Vissinos, a musician whose only fidelity is to his "white bride," heroin.
The stages of Hell that we follow Ariadne through — the nightlife of Athens, the seasonal depravities of the love island, Nysas — are colourful, sexy, obsessive, and detailed with mordant wit. The odds are against Ariadne, but the gods are beginning to wish that they'd hedged their bets . . .
Stylish and elegant, Ariadne's Dream renders a lurid Greek landscape inhabited by striking and dangerous characters, entwined within the intensity of a nascent consciousness and a deeply-rooted living mythos.
64 pages/trade paper
This is a gritty tale detailing the hardships faced by labourers (once known as “packsack miners”) in Northern Saskatchewan mining camps.
Billy Tinker offers a rare combination of realism and magic that draws out many of the contradictions and tests faced by Native Canadians and the working class. Billy’s anger and the loneliness of his itinerant lifestyle are transformed by a sweat lodge ceremony, and the “little people” through whom he renews his connections to the land and his culture.
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Blind Man’s Drum is a collection of stories — at times irreverent and comical, at times serious — all set in Biggar, Saskatchewan during the early 1950s.
Biggar is as much a character as the blind patriarch, Will Coutts, whose story is told through the uncanny perception of his grandson, Robert. From age six to eight, Robert watches his grandfather push his wheelbarrow through the streets of Biggar, picking up scraps and depositing them in his backyard; he watches his grandfather strip naked and perform his ritual exercises on a neighbour’s farm; he watches various relatives visit and try to make sense of their sorry lives. He articulates a broad, sweeping, irreverent prairie landscape filled with vigour, youth and humour.
282 pages/trade paper
The stories collected in Boundary Country — poet Tom Wayman’s first book of fiction — slide effortlessly across time and place. Some offer an insider’s guide to the people who live in British Columbia’s distinctive Kootenay mountain region. Others take as their starting point the family sagas of European immigrants to Toronto during the 1930s or the lives of contemporary working folk in Vancouver. Another turns on an incident during the American Civil War. Yet all the tales are set in the borderlands of human experience — the precise moments at which history becomes memory, desire is transformed into belief, and some locale or condition alters and we sense in the change a boundary.
"Descriptive prose that puts in mind the rhythms and precision of Cormac McCarthy ... Wayman gives us nature in the eyes of a man who knows it like his own skin."
— Jim Bartley, Globe & Mail (July 2007)
City of Rains is an atmospheric page-turner, a wholly original perspective on Indian and Western history. It details the weariness and elation that accompany a man’s journey to accomplish greatness within himself, while reaching into the life experiences of others who are extraordinary in their small lives.
Dass creates a multi-layered quest through a narrator who boldly accepts and challenges his Indian heritage and is rewarded with truth and love. He learns that no man’s knowledge exeeds his experience.
With controlled ease, Nirmal Dass breaks free from the clichés of ‘compassionate realism’ and ‘historical narrative sweep’ — City of Rains is lush, quiet, artistic and liberating.
194 pages/trade paper
The wit and sardonic humour which distinguished Sara O’Leary’s first book, Wish You Were Here are very much in evidence in this new collection of short fiction. Comfort Me With Apples has a wider range, though, and deeper resonances. Ten short stories combine with a novella, “Big As Life”, to evoke and explore life after the “nuclear family”. The characters in these stories display a kind of muddled bravery as they reflect without judgement on the failures of their parents’ generation, and face the task of creating rules from sctatch: for themselves, their friends, their lovers and their children. Self-righteousness has no place in Sara O’Leary’s world. The tensions between her characters’ humour and the heartbreaks which underpin it, charge every story with fierce, compressed energy. Yet it is moments of tenderness, wry and understated, which linger and haunt the reader.
Devin Krukoff’s debut novel offers a bizarrely entertaining premise: the purpose of life is to avoid work in all its manifestations. Acknowledging the psychological architecture of his life, Richard Parks reconstructs the anatomy of this singular philosophy from his earliest recognitions. Whether drawing his slacker’s inspiration from his original muse — a grade school boy with leukemia — exploiting his father’s death for charity and pity, or devising the strategies that would parlay illness and injury into personal gains, Richard’s twisted reality attracts our morbid curiosity like a roadside accident, often generating wicked laughter.
The self-destructive exploits of Richard Parks, “demigod in the Church of the Useless”, leave a scattered trail of disturbingly brilliant images that shape his world of avoidance, disease, and reclusive plotting. Compensation is a refreshing affront to our politically correct sensibilities.
Also by Devon Krukoff:
426 pages/trade paper
There was a man who called himself Coyote. He blew up bridges to clearcut logging sites. He liberated zoos, and torched shopping malls in the night. Then he died, twenty years ago, in a botched factory sabotage. Or did he?
A terrifying and troubled Brian doesn't believe it — he's come to Artemis Island to find a ‘retired’ Coyote, and kill him. It will be one of several murders.
RCMP Inspector, Janwar Singh, is poised to become the Chief of Homicide — if he can find his way through the maze of evidence.
In this dazzling “ethical thriller” novelist and poet, Brian Brett and a wildly unreliable narrator employ every trick in the storyteller’s arsenal, dancing us from slapstick to horror, from Godel’s Proof to oyster hunting, from high comedy to lyric portraits of one of the legendary Gulf Islands, while engaging in a wicked argument with the reader and the world we are losing.
128 pages/trade paper
Filling the Belly smashes the cliché of bourgeois attitudes and morals attributed to today’s young women. What emerges from Rosa’s haunting sexual memories, perplexing encounters with alternate reality, and the desire to return to the innocence of childhood, is a rare and unique character.
short fiction anthology
320 pages / trade paper
Geoff Hancock, Editor
A collection that features 22 short fictions from some of Canada's finest authors, including Douglas Glover, Sharon Butala, Marlene Nourbese Philip, Seán Virgo, and Dianne Warren.
“This collection celebrates the short story in its incredible variety . . . The edition aptly describes the stories as a self-portrait, a cross-section of the Canadian imagination.”
— Canadian Materials.
Broughton, Katheryn. Canadian Materials (September 1991): 247.
Boettcher, Shelley. Vox No. 93 (November 1991).
Clemence, Verne. “Perceptual frontiers expand.” Saskatoon Star-Phoenix . March 16, 1991.
Eisenzimmer, Mark. Freelance (November 1991): 23.
McEnteer, James. “Canadian anthology holds rewards, surprises.” Calgary Herald . August 10, 1991. B11.
Montreal Gazette . May 11, 1991.
Noxon, Christopher. Books in Canada (May 1991): 55.
Redford, R. British Columbia Teacher-Librarians' Association Reviews (December 1991).
275 pages/trade paper
Mel Dagg’s newest collection of stories reinforces his stature as a writer of empathy and historical perspective. His characters — fishermen, farmers, First Nations people, drifters — battle the forces of history for their dignity and survival. Dagg invests economic and cultural realities with a distilled social realism.
These stories detail the Canadian landscape with the markers of nature and travel, while examining the ways in which individuals must cope with economic, social and environmental forces beyond their control. Irony and ambiguity often mark their fates; their lives often fractured by the unpredictable debris of their pasts.
Praise for Mel Dagg's fiction:
“Dagg demonstrates extraordinary poise...” — Eileen Manion, Montreal Gazette
“... a marvel of precision and personal vision.” — Frank Moher, Alberta Report
“... reverberates in the mind long after the book is closed.” — Joan Clark, Newest Review
“ . . . he is among the first to give a history book the power to involve us now and move us deeply . . . ”
— John Moore, Vancouver Sun
Charles Noble's counter-novel is a minefield and motherlode of jest, memory and speculation. If Stephen Daedalus had been put to school with the Lutherans instead of the Jesuits, he might have devised this technique to portray his hometown, its inhabitants and his own evolution.
Noble's exploration of the literary and topographical culture of Banff, past and present, yields a narrative filled with wit, style and playful exuberance.
Peopled with a cast of characters taken from real life and transformed by Noble's capacious imagination, Hearth Wild mingles personal and social history with a unique, compelling fictive style.
Joe Welsh irreverently and poignantly recreates the forties, fifties and sixties in and around Lebret, Saskatchewan. His ear for voice and his deprecating homespun portraits paradoxically intensify his loyalty to his people — the Métis. Enriched throughout with a relentless stream-of-consciousness, the writer merges vignette, poem, and dramatic monologue into a form that is unique in its authentic language and local colour.
248 pages / trade paper
From internationally recognized Canadian author W.P. Kinsella (Dance Me Outside, The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, The Fencepost Chronicles) comes a new collection of baseball stories that is sure to delight all lovers of engaging storytelling and fans of the sport he chronicles in the classics Shoeless Joe and The Thrill of the Grass. Kinsella weaves his characters into the thrill of the game, be it in Japan, Central America, Canada or the U.S., with a variety of comic, tragic, and mystical results. This collection captures the dazzling wit, compelling insight, and obsession with baseball that have made Kinsella more popular than a ballpark frank.
Kinsella has published 21 books of fiction, two books each of non-fiction and poetry, and three of his works, including Shoeless Joe which became Field of Dreams, have been made into major motion picture films. He has also won several prestigious awards, including the Order of Canada, the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship, and the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.
"Thoughtful, charmed stories about the everyday magic of desire." — The Globe & Mail
64 pages / trade paper
Whatever it has taken to shape the prairie and its rhythm has also shaped and captured its people. Helen Mourre’s stories reveal these people in this place with subtle grace and dignity. The present is not merely an echo of the past, it is amplified by it. Yet there is no brashness here — the prairie will not tolerate it. There is only a wry awareness — authentic and honest.
A Jesus Christ look alike has trouble with his girlfriend . . . a bodybuilder does sit ups from the window of a speeding car . . . a burn victim and his freakishly beautiful love interest creatively loot homes while a forest fire approaches . . . a female cult member tries to convince a young man to let doctors harvest his recently-deceased wife’s organs . . .
In a second to none engagement of the reader, James Marshall’s stories bristle with fictional restlessness. This debut collection is a true literary “find” and Marshall’s an exciting new voice.
“James Marshall’s wit is acidic, salvaged by a deep, although shaken, humanism. His stories are charmed with the glow of small-time Canadian losers and dreamers living in a broken, plugged-in world. This is Heinrich Böll for our time, Alice Munro dressed in jeans and leather, pumped up on testosterone and fear, Raymond Carver taken north to drown in the middle of a forest fire, each alcoholic bubble bursting into flame, and, always, the wounded, broken, and oddly heroic Canada of a thousand ironies we all live in but haven’t yet had in a book, and, thankfully, miraculously have in this book now.”
— Harold Rhenish
“...John Lent has written a book of tender short stories which carries the kind of insight that encourages the reader to read on. His use of detail including the familiarity of Western Canadian landmarks creates an introspective that draws out aspects of Canadian culture which are often difficult to define.”
— Vernon Daily News.
“...his powerful expression of the hypnotic rhythm of the ordinary...” — Michael Estok.
Broughton, Katheryn. Canadian Materials 3.5 (November 1, 1996).
Compton, Valerie. “Edmonton 1960 evoked here.” Edmonton Journal . March 9, 1997.
Hagarty, Britt. “Lyricism, comprehension and the elements of style.” Vancouver Sun . March 29, 1997.
Harrison, Dallas. “Delicate connections.”
Keller, Betty. “Western writers well-represented in meagre crop of fall fiction.” Coast Independent . November 4, 1996.
“Lent releases short stories.” Vernon Daily News . October 1996.
van Luven, Lynne. “Figured out.” NeWest Review (February/March 1997): 28-9.
Martin, Cam. “In Monet's Garden with John Lent.” Night and Day (June 20 - July 3, 1997). 13-4.
Milestone Review (Fall/Winter 1997): 22.
Bean E. Fallwell’s story in Mostly Happy begins with an inventory of items, shiny bits of beauty that she has collected and tucked into a red Samsonite Saturn suitcase. This suitcase, a dominant metaphor in the novel, becomes Bean’s touchstone that keeps her from spiralling into the dark worlds of her beautiful, screwed up mother and all the stray men she brings home; her sad, exhausted father; and her magnetic stepfather as he transforms from family saviour into drunken dragon. Without remorse or bitterness Bean moves forward, seeking her friendships where she can, casting spells to protect her younger sister, and seeking solace from whatever small sanctuaries her transient life offers.
128 pages / trade paper
At a time when North American writers prefer to probe the depths of individual angst and uncertainty, Henighan has unabashedly chosen to tell stories that tackle sociopolitical issues.
“They are refreshingly political, especially when they reflect the ideological contradictions of North American do-gooders in Nicaragua.”
– Montreal Gazette.
Addison, Catherine. “Southern Dreaming.” Canadian Literature . No. 141 (Summer 1994): 146-9.
Heighton, Steve. “Hybrid vigor: a survey of six first collections of stories.” Quarry . 42.3 (January 1994): 85-96.
Kulak, Lorne. “Thistledown Fiction.” NeWest Review (June/July 1993): 32-3.
Patrick, Susan. Canadian Book Review Annual (1993): 189
Robertson, Bill. “Patience rewarded for reader of Montreal poet's short stories.” Saskatoon Star-Phoenix . May 8, 1993. D5.
Summers, Merna. “Others in our lives.” Books in Canada (March 1993): 44-5.
Ternar, Yeshim. “Latin America explored in readable stories.” Montreal Gazette . November 21, 1992.
168 pages/trade paper
Shelley A. Leedahl
The thirteen stories in Orchestra of the Lost Steps are imbued with insight, and secured by Leedahl’s composed voice. These are traditional stories that burst with stunning emotional moments; stories that avoid ornament and excessive description or dialogue in order to allow readers a real connection to her characters’ lives.
Set widely across Canadian landscapes with travel into Mexico and Venezuela, her characters reveal glimpses of love, marriage, disillusionment, acts of healing and destruction played out on the personal battlegrounds of everyday life.
Shelley Leedahl is to the prairies what Lisa Moore is to Atlantic Canada.
“These stories are told from the point of view of an interesting range of voices. The stories themselves are full of the tensions and resolutions of lives often lived in the extreme . . . immensely readable and engaging.”
— Austin Clarke and Helen Humphreys (Judges, John V Hicks Manuscript Competition.)
“vigorous, economical, and precise prose, immediacy, fearlessness — qualities that combine to produce an unexpected and unusual sense of hyper-reality in Leedahl’s collection Orchestra of the Lost Steps. I found these stories gripping.” — Sharon Butala
470 pages/trade paper
Nolan Taylor is a thirteen-year veteran of the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team. Her position as “Big Girl” on the team belies her fragility when her decision to retire and undergo a long overdue hip replacement throws her into a post-retirement identity crisis. Spurred on by pain and a numbing domesticity with long-time love, Quinn McLeod, she retreats into her memory, reliving her rookie year and emerging sexuality with her much older mentor, Darren Steward. As Nolan struggles to maintain her tenuous connections to the people around her in the midst of physical anguish, we are reminded that, despite our bodies’ limitations, we have physical needs that we are driven to fulfill, and the adrenaline that pushes professional athletes can be harnessed to allow what may seem impossible.
436 pages/Mass Market
Scott Gregory Miller
Silence Invites the Dead opens in the storm of the Rwandan genocide that drives a Canadian journalist into a funk of regret and renouncement. Seven years later, Myles Sterling, still haunted by this past experience, accepts an invitation to join former Rwandan colleague Colonel John McTaggart in Candle Lake, Saskatchewan, where life is peaceful and the fishing is good. To his horror, Sterling arrives to find police dragging his friend’s corpse from the icy lake waters. This murder pulls Myles Sterling down the trail of a suspect casino development proposal, drugs, and violence. The further he looks, the more trouble he finds.
Scott Miller’s hard-boiled and principled protagonist, Myles Sterling, is a complex lead character who is blazing a new trail for mystery readers through Canadian crime drama. Miller’s suspenseful prose teases the imagination in a story where everyone becomes a suspect — until they wind up dead. The characters are as diverse as they are interesting: from an eccentric albino artist, to the Cree policeman who patrols the wild north. Layering the dimensions of northern politics and ethical dilemmas, Miller sets the stage for greed, power, and revenge. This is a skilful debut to a new “Detective”series.
Looking deep into the many facets of hockey and the eclectic array of people it attracts, Calvin Daniels presents the perfect collection of short fiction for anyone who loves storytelling and Canada’s national pastime. These fictions range from the youthful desires that hockey generates, through to the difficult realities and bitter disillusionments dedication to the game can bring.
“With inventive strings, lyrical descriptions and sophisticated imagery, Brett has created a myriad of complex worlds to perplex and stimulate the reader.” — Vancouver Sun.
Batchelor, Rhonda. “Grown-up fiction.” Victoria Times-Colonist, Monday Magazine . January 23-29, 1992.
Brett, Brian. British Columbia Teacher-Librarians' Association Reviews (1991).
Cruesot, Janine. Regina Leader-Post . October 5, 1991.
van Herk, Aritha. “Fiction.” Letters in Canada 1991 - University of Toronto Quarterly (Fall 92).
Homel, David. “'Making strange' serves B.C. writer's stories well.” Montreal Gazette . December 7, 1991.
Redl, Carol. “Stories hint of new slant in prairie fiction.” Edmonton Journal . September 15, 1991. D9.
Riskin, Mary Walters. “Energy is the key element of collection.”
Wiebe, Armin. “Odd Occurrences in an Odd World.” Prairie Fire 12.4: 97-100.
Turner, Lillian M. Canadian Materials (November 1991): 359.
Leach, Richard. “Short fiction melange.” Victoria Times-Colonist . February 9, 1992.
Aulin, Virginia. “Two inventive explorations of the dark side.” Vancouver Sun . September 26, 1991
320 pages/trade paper
Shalom Camenietzki’s short story collection details the fractal nature of the self as seen through the flaws and assets of the characters that stoically inhabit his pages. Each tale examines the rough edges of misguided obsession: an unrequited love affair with the nanny, the perils of a competitive look-a-like, the numbing indignity of going the wrong way on the corporate ladder. Fixated, let down, disappointed, enraged, and confounded by the shackles of their own consciences, Camenietzki’s characters unburden secrets and force the reader to bear witness to their “dark nights of the soul.” This is the place where the boundaries blur between religious fervour and lewd advance, money and mental illness, accident and destiny.
253 pages/trade paper
The fact that Bonnie Dunlop’s first short story collection possesses such power should not astonish readers who have heard her stories on CBC or read them in Canadian magazines and journals. The stories in The Beauty Box are traditional in the way they offer familiar settings, events, and characters, or the way Dunlop’s quiet voice directs our attention; however, they evolve beyond tradition in the controlled, purposeful way that Dunlop’s details are measured. Her appreciation for minutiae whether it be the meticulous attention to dress expressed by a gay bachelor, or the ritual motions of snakes in a well house create indelible moments, and lead the reader into Dunlop’s character’s fortunes. This is the debut of a distinctive and powerful new voice in Canadian short fiction.
“If these characters — with all their quirks, obsessions and secrets — were gathered together for a dinner party, I’d definitly want to be in that room. These entertaining stories deserve a wide audience . . . ” — Shelley A. Leedahl
252 pages/trade paper
Rosa Pryznyk’s harrowing escape from the Great War to America left her knowing that she was ordained for an extraordinary life. She didn’t, though, see the aching beauty of it, nor did she see the wretchedness or hardship that would continually dog her fate. But Sam Gentles saw all of Rosa’s life completely because he invented her for his novel. And Herb Thedal, the film director of Sam’s script, also saw Rosa precisely and with purpose. But can they shape their own chaotic lives with such resolution and comparable acts of faith? Though ambitious in its structure, and unconventional in its plot, Michael Kenyon’s novel is rewarding, resourceful story telling.
Teacher Resource Guide
A stunningly original work of speculative fiction,The Fungus Garden follows the plight of a man who becomes transformed into a termite. Impeccably researched, this story brings the reader effortlessly into a fascinating world of conflict and desire, ultimately becoming an investigation into what it means to be human.
Boulanger, Annie. “Burnaby teacher inspires poet Brian Brett's works.” Burnaby Now . March 18, 1989. 15.
Dorsey, Candas Jane. “Canadian, U.S. SF approaches differ.” Edmonton Journal . February 10, 1990.
Dunn, James. “Life among the termites a wonderful allegory.” Vancouver Sun . December 3, 1988.
Gasparini, Leonard. “Shades of Kafka plus a plausible plot.” Toronto Star Saturday Magazine . May 13, 1989. M3.
Hill, Douglas. “No redeeming social value.” Books in Canada (January/February 1989): 35.
Kathenor, Sansoucy. Statement - Ottawa Science Fiction Society(April 1989).
Lillard, Charles. “Art audience of one.” Victoria Times-Colonist . October 24, 1993. M5.
Lillard, Charles. “Novel of ideas a success built with imagination.” Victoria Times-Colonist . February 24, 1991. B5.
Reveyrand, M.L. BC Teacher-Librarians Association (June 1989).
Roberston, Bill. “Riches' short stories filled with symbols.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix . August 12, 1989.
Wallace, Bronwen. “Lives of termites and teens.” Kingston Whig-Standard Magazine . April 1, 1989. 23.
Wilson, Pat. Spintrian (June 1989): 21.
Wolfe, P. Choice (July 1989)
*Teacher Resource Guide
Set in contemporary Turkey, The Infidel weighs the elements of truth that flow out of Turkish consciousness in the wake of its historical massacres. In a culture where civic events, history and theology, are as often suppressed as invented, Piccard’s novel creates a path to truth for those with “ears to hear and eyes to see.” Told through a series of tape recordings and commentary, the eloquent narrative of Jesus the Infidel becomes the eyewitness account of the formative events that occurred in Turkish Kurdistan in the first quarter of the twentieth century. What is revealed is as much enigma as it is story for the journalist, Tarik, who records and researches Jesus the Infidel’s account. In counterpoint, Tarik is forced to grapple with his ignorance of his country’s past as well as his personal history of privilege.
Authentic and persuasive, The Infidel is an uncompromising novel of the focussed turning point of events following the revelation of truth. At a time when the world is alerted to the Kurdish peoples’ desire for separatism, Piccard’s novel sets the backdrop for their motivation.
183 pages / trade paper
The Places Where Names Vanish explores the frightening, encoded, and potentially explosive realities of Quebec and Montreal as seen by Ecuadorean expatriates. Marta longs for escape from her impoverished village, where she is pulled between traditionalism, spiritualism, Catholicism, and a dirty, brutal reality. She gives herself to a soldier stationed nearby who dreams of North America and a career in music. They leave and Marta learns the refugee's signposts: Escape, Exile, Endurance. The Places Where Names Vanish is a wonderfully evocative, subtle and heartfelt novel, which concentrates on one brave human spirit, but raises more questions than any sociological expose.
“Book Briefs,” Ottawa Citizen, November 8, 1998
Besner, Neil. “Letters in Canada 1998: English Fiction,” University of Toronto Quarterly, (Fall 1999-Winter 2000)
Fagan, Cary. “Olé for the ‘sin of self-love,’” Montreal Gazette, June 6, 1998
Keller, Betty. “New books examine dark side of the Canadian dream,” Coast Independent, September 7, 1998
Peters, Joanne.“The Places Where Names Vanish,” Canadian Materials, Vol. V No. 4, October 16, 1998
Rengger, Patrick, “Humane novel is missing its heart,” The Globe and Mail, June 27, 1998
536 pages / trade paper
Dispelling the languor often associated with the long historical novel David Richards’ epic novel reestablishes the role of the writer-craftsman in this genre.
Replete with historical accuracy, The Plough’s Share is as much about the complex struggles for self-worth as it is about taming the forces that shaped Canada in the last century.
Set alternatively in England, South Africa, and Canada, the novel translates the world of nineteenth-century England. A young man’s quest to regain his name and win a seductive young woman unfolds as Richards turns loose the hardship, blood, and terror of the Boer War, where men struggle to survive. The reprieve from such madness leads to Canada — the place of peace and plenty, where exploiting the dreamers and those who would reinvent themselves is turned into big business. Caught up in the fever that drew the Barr colonists to the challenge of settling the Canadian West, Richards’ characters are shaped by misdirected enthusiasm, implacable natural forces, and the hardened realism of ravaged dreams. The result is an exhilarating adventure, both tense and riveting.
The Reddening Path is the story of Paméla who, adopted as an infant by Hannah & Fern, a Toronto lesbian couple, travels to Guatamala to search for her birth mother. Her quest uncovers a tangle of political and romantic intrigue as Paméla discovers her Mayan heritage and learns about the complexities of life in Guatemala. Resonating throughout is an account of Malintzín, the Mayan slave who became Cortes’ mistress. These details of the Spanish conquest weave throughout the narrative, colouring the lives of everyone she encounters in her birthland. Paméla’s journey casts light on the struggle between conqueror and conquered within the Guatemalan people and the spiritual and emotional complexities facing those of mixed blood, a reality which challenges her expectations for an easy resolution to her question of identity.
The Reddening Path is cleverly structured, with a style that fluctuates between dreamlike poetic imagery and a traditional quest-for-identity narrative...Hale's novel is an intriguing look at post-colonial biculturalism set against a moving backdrop of familial love and personal enlightenment.— Laurel Smith, Quill & Quire (June 2007)
A powerful and well-written novel.
— George Szanto
If you wish to know the tragic history of Guatemala and of Latin America from the time of the conquistadores, read this compelling novel.
— Rosemary Sullivan
The Secret of the Northern Lights continues the chronicle which has delighted thousands and outraged a select few since Silas Ermineskin first appropriated the English language in 1977 with Dance Me Outside. Silas shares the inside information learned as part of his apprenticeship to Mad Etta, medicine woman on the Ermineskin reserve. When he heads out on the road with “Brother” Frank Fencepost, the Trickster incarnate, the reader joins Silas on a slapstick First Nations tour through the follies of our culture. Humour, as always, is the leveler in these twelve new Hobbema stories. While nothing is taken too seriously, serious, even tragic, things do happen and sacred things are accomplished.
Clemence, Verne. “Fiction, pure and simple.” Western People . May 21, 1998. 14.
Clemence, Verne. “Serious issues probed by Kinsella's Indians.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix . March 28, 1998.
Kenney, Trevor. “In a league of his own.” Lethbridge Herald . April 2, 1998. B1.
Osborne, Catherine. Quill & Quire Quotables (April 9, 1998).
Rankin, Bill. “Kinsella tackles risky subjects gracefully”. Edmonton Journal . June 14, 1998
Fertile, Candace. “Kinsella at bat: he swings, he misses”. Vancouver Sun. May 23, 1998
The Story of Blue Eye opens at a full gallop over the western prairie controlled by the powerful Plains Indian horse culture of the early 1800s. Without stopping a moment of drama, Trafford constructs the foundation of a western Canadian epic that layers Indian and European mythology with a perfect blend of history and adventure, all told through his central character, Blue Eye James, whose time-honoured codes of hard work, honour, fairness, and trust lay the foundation for an empire.
112 pages / trade paper
A provocative reconstruction of the Frog Lake Massacre of 1885 that draws on published accounts of survivors Theresa Gowanlock and William Cameron. A must read for anyone interested in the convolutions of Canadian history.
Canadian Content (Fall 1994): 14. Clemence, Verne. “Female voices heard in account of Frog Lake confrontation.” Saskatoon Star-Phoenix . April 3, 1993.
Conte, Christy. Canadian Book Review Annual (1993): 185.
Hildebrandt, Walter. “Native tales show depth of frustration.” Calgary Herald . June 26, 1993. C12.
Kennedy, Michael P. J. “Common participants offer unique view of historic events.” Saskatoon Star-Phoenix . June 19, 1993. D6.
Kulak, Lorne. “Thistledown Fiction.” NeWest Review (June/July 1993): 32-3.
Moore, John. “Scenes from a massacre.” Vancouver Sun Saturday Review . May 29, 1993.
Ritz, Earla. Dandelion 20.1: 76-7.
Schmidt, Lisa. Prairie Fire 14.2 (Summer 1993): 105-7.
When you meet Bill Stenson’s sharply rendered characters, you will see those people whom you know and maybe even catch a glimpse of yourself in the process. What you won’t expect are the highly unpredictable situations that he creates for them, and the diagonal humour Stenson employs to herald his approach to fiction. Life does look different from up in a tree, and the man who lives in the root cellar in his long johns has something to tell you. Maybe you will discover what it is like to be an out-of-control pacifist or determine the psychological value of a good pair of shoes. In Translating Women, Stenson performs on the high wire between short story and tale, manipulating narratives while deftly abstracting them.
“Bill Stenson’s stories fly easily as kites in a blue sky in the best wind. However high they soar — often high indeed — they are as down-to-earth as honey and jam. A fine and fascinating collection.”
— Leon Rooke
“Like Twain and Kinsella, Bill Stenson’s work has a glint in its eye. Make room on your shelf for his stories, and make his characters feel welcome, for they are people you know.”
— Bill Gaston
“The people in Bill Stenson’s stories may dance the cha-cha and work the green chain, but what they do best is break your heart. Stenson paints men and women as they are: honest and foolish and brimful of hope, the kind of people who know that “when there’s no good answer to a question, the wisest thing to do is say nothing at all.” I know these people. I’ve met them. I like them.”
— Terence Young
224 pages/trade paper
What happens in the small prairie town of Tuckahoe? An irresponsible drifter fakes a unique illness to break an engagement . . . a preacher stops a feud by performing an impromptu wedding . . . a minister’s wife rescues a young man from the threat of blindness . . . a woman scandalizes a town by naming her children after different fathers . . . a schoolteacher finds love on a woodpile . . . a wanted man starts a new life in a piano box . . . and a hen-pecked husband repairs his marriage by getting drunk and losing his money. Neil McKinnon’s debut collection kicks up some dust, skews small town hokum, and offers a wrap on the knuckles for the individuals of the classic prairie town of Tuckahoe. Thoughout the desperation and adversity rides an undercurrent of sly humour.
221 pages/trade paper
When all the animals are gone, and the world become a desert, where shall hope be found? After the extinctions, a post-human Métis woman reaches out in hope and encounters a strange and unexpected future.
Billie Featherstone is one of few people to survive “the great extinction” thanks to a genetic mutation carried largely in the Metis population. Her skeleton is charged with Restart — a video game-like element for reanimating. She routinely patrols the biological war-plagued borders of her people’s territory where extinctions abound, deserts spread, and post-humans struggle. Water is a solidly researched novel inspired by the mathematical extrapolation of the length of time a technological civilization can exist. From such thinking, Taylor creates a world of the future based on society’s current environmental indifference.
296 pages/trade paper
Brenda Hasiuk’s debut novel details eight weeks in the lives of four teens in a hardcore mining town in northern Canada. Ally and Toby, life-long locals, Rina, a Sarajevo refugee, and Adam, the returning urban native warrior get lost in each others’ individual and collective mythologies as they find love, friendship, violence and tragedy in one long, last summer. Unflinchingly honest, and disturbingly poignant, this story captures the displacement of “northerners”, the struggle for identity, and the restlessness of teens in isolated communities. In a place that makes them feel lonely, they try never to be alone; and in lives confounded by rituals and restraints, their search for meaning is illusive.
176 pages/trade paper
“John Lent's suite of stories and poems is a disarming and pleasing work that resists categorization.” – Malahat Review.
Leblanc, John. “Male Expression.” Canadian Literature (November 1992): 179-181.
Clemence, Verne. “New writers reap rewards for Thistledown.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix. December 15, 1990.
Kelly, Elinor. Canadian Materials (March 1991): 128.
Kenyon, Michael. Malahat Review (April 1991): 108-9.
Moyles, R.G. Canadian Book Review Annual (1990): 196.
St. Jacques, Elizabeth. Freelance (December/January 1991-2): 38.
Gom, Leona. “Thistledown titles worthwhile fiction.” Edmonton Journal . June 16, 1991.
155 pages/trade paper
“This collection comes highly recommended. It is a sparkling, vigorous debut and bodes well for Ms. Berkeley's future in fiction.” — Irish Times.
“The Swimmer in the Deep Blue Dream is a collection of stories from a young writer with enormous talent.”
— Sunday Press.
Keane, Madeleine. “Punching-in data of life.” Sunday Independent . December 1, 1991. S1.
McKay, Susan. “Writing comes naturally!” Sunday Press . November 1991.
Morrissy, Mary. “A sparkling debut.” Irish Times . December 28, 1991.
O'Donnell, Mary. “When she's good she's brilliant.” Sunday Business Post . December 1, 1991.
Robertson, Bill. “Three studies of the dark side of human relations.” Saskatoon Star-Phoenix .
“Weak links tarnish promising collection.” Sunday Press . December 1, 1991.
64 pages/cloth trade
This special limited edition was published in handsomely designed cloth with dust jacket artwork by Kath Kornelson Rutherford. Each copy is numbered and signed by the author.
248 pages / trade paper
World Rights Available
Available in the US
Man Facing West presents a collection of fiction and nonfiction, sewn together with traces of autobiography. This collection is part of Don Gayton’s ongoing life journal, recounting moments of his boyhood in the United States and the Peace Corps, and detailing his opinions regarding the draft and the Vietnam War. Guiding these accounts are the forces of science and geology that have shaped Gayton’s career in Canada.
As his stories of scheming university students, prodding 19th century scientists, and geologists time-tunneling into the prehistoric past of the prairies appear, we are always aware of Gayton’s ability to transform science into magic.
“Toil and Peaceful Life” is the axiom that lies at the heart of Doukhobor spiritual, personal, and community values. These values have always been, and continue to be, integral to the people who belong to this historically rich and vibrant community. However, as the history of the Doukhobor people demonstrates, putting this into practice was more difficult than envisioned and, paradoxically, has generated a great deal of conflict within the various spheres of the community itself — most certainly it has created conflicts with those from outside their self-contained community. It is at this juncture of conflict in the decades of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that the name Doukhobor was to etch itself into the Canadian consciousness. Stenson sets his novel’s action against the backdrop of the Kootenay Region in and around Nelson, BC.
To say Svoboda is a “Doukhobor” novel is misleading, for it is much more than that. While Doukhobor culture plays a central role in creating conflict, from the first few pages right to the end, it is also a novel of coming of age, a novel of accepting fate, and a great entertaining story. The story of Vasili, who walks in the shadow of the past and in the light of the future, marks this novel as a distinctive cultural read in a territory where few writers have gone before.
Unit Lessons Plan for Svoboda
261 pages / paper
Alex was in harmony with the water. He taught himself to swim, and liked working the sea off Prince Edward Island as his fisherman father did, but he always yearned for something more. His brother Reggie despised it all — the water that brought death, the seasickness — and he longed for escape. Mercy Coles lived on the same island as Alex and Reggie, but lived in Charlottetown’s society and yearned for experience, wanting away.
All three would get their wish, but coincidence would shape those wishes in profound ways. Alex would find himself on a circus trapeze fated to meet the Niagara Falls tightrope artist, Farini. Reggie would join the farmers’ protests against the rent collectors, and battle the demons of guilt in the supposed death of his brother. Mercy would find herself landlocked on John A Macdonald’s mainland, a part of his campaign to promote Confederation. Repelled by his looks (he was considered by some to be “the ugliest man in Canada), but attracted by his charm and wit, she is unable to resist what he can offer her.
Anne McDonald weaves a series of spells that pull this beautifully written novel through a tightly woven script. Rich in tone and textured for a very rewarding reading experience, To the Edge of the Sea combines great storytelling with polished literary control.
200 pages / paper
In Nobody Cries At Bingo, the narrator, Dawn, invites the reader to witness first hand Dumont family life on the Okanese First Nation. Beyond the sterotypes and clichés of Rez dogs, drinking, and bingos, the story of a girl who loved to read begins to unfold. It is her hopes, dreams, and indomitable humour that lay bear the beauty and love within her family. It is her unerring eye that reveals the great bond of family expressed in the actions and affections of her sisters, aunties, uncles, brothers, cousins, nieces, nephews, and ultimately her ancestors.
It’s all here — life on the Rez in rich technicolour — as Dawn emerges from home life, through school life, and into the promise of a great future. Nobody Cries At Bingo embraces cultural differences and does it with the great traditional medicine of laughter.
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“The Reddening Path is cleverly structured, with a style that fluctuates between dreamlike poetic imagery and a traditional quest-for-identity narrative . . . Hale’s novel is an intriguing look at post-colonial biculturalism set against a moving backdrop of familial love and personal enlightenment.” — Quill & Quire
Read by the author
216 pages / paper
Donald Ward’s stories in The Weeping Chair are confidently layered with unexpected situations and characters whose faith in themselves provides the strength to confront whatever weird or challenging experience befalls them. While Ward’s style is steeped in the traditional storytelling structures of Flannery O’Connor and P.G. Wodehouse, his highly imaginative settings and eccentric character profiles push the stories’ energies into contemporary spheres of literary entertainment. His thematic pursuits usually deal with the human willingness to carry on in the face of an often hostile and baffling universe, where nothing is as it first appears and that is clearly evident in this collection.
The Weeping Chair employs ideas that are both impossible and unexpected to serve as platforms for the edgy humour always lurking in the human condition and beyond: a race of superior chickens investigate their earthly origins, a badger shares his fears with a monk, a nasty grandmother’s false teeth take on symbolic power, and a female dwarf from the 17th century pursues an octogenarian at Starbucks — all serve as prime examples. With Ward’s stories you can always expect the unexpected and be assured that his intentions are not frivolous.
160 pages / paper
The stories in Sandy Bonny’s collection The Sometimes Lake will transport readers from the Arctic Circle to Alberta’s badlands, and from the waters of the Georgia Straight to the deep lasting space of the prairies. The characters that readers meet in these places will be oddly familiar or perhaps familiarly odd. There are children who live in the magical territory between their imagination and their parents’ realities; road builders from China and Australia who know the ghostly secrets at road’s end; men who shape their lives with the predictability of beehives; others who are confused by cultural shift or troubled by the security of cults; women who try to grieve for their unborn children, and others who play at suicide.
At the vortex of the surprising plots churns Bonny’s keen interest in science and its unexpected effect on human action and emotion. Her curiosity and scrutinizing intelligence as well as her ever playful wit guide the reader through close encounters with physical and psychological landscapes and then reveal the uncommon denominators in them that make people unique.
64 pages / paper
Emily is on a bus, nauseous, and reflecting on her past life — on jobs she has worked, relationships she has had, and what has shaped her as a woman. Years of making the wrong choices, especially with men, and memories of children she couldn’t keep, have left her confidence shaken. In flight, without much money and not even a suitcase, Emily becomes a tragic figure but somehow through her independence and determination rises above this stereotype. As the bus rolls west from Toronto across the prairies Emily’s hard-edged impulse for survival and her instinctual savvy lead her to an unexpected self-awareness.
Though these stories take place in different times and places, with different characters’ points of view, the character of Violet Quesnel is the unifying thread. Violet’s life is complicated by her bi-polar disorder: she is aware of her outside world but has limited self-awareness. From her family and friends a portrait of Violet emerges of a young woman who has faced down the denial, anger, and depression of her bi-polarity and, despite her struggles, she has bargained for her place in the world as a sister, daughter and mother.
264 pages/trade paper
Lent continues to explore the spatial viewpoints of the unique, often funny, dysfunctional Connelly family, to whom readers were first introduced in his previous experimental fiction, Monet’s Garden. Then, as now, we get to hear and see Neil, Rick and Jane dissect their own thinking, second-guess their destinies, and generally revel in and reinvent their relationships with each other as they confront their addictions, dreams, and failures. Throughout the ride, Lent’s humour and Lent himself transcends the page to join us through the read. While sharing such intimacy, he engages us in another dialogue, one that has a lot to do with fiction’s relationship to reality, one that rearranges our fixed perception of the writer’s place in the written work.
“I can think of no Canadian writer who so thoroughly positions us in front of the mirror that might offer us at once both reality and the imagined...” — Robert Kroetsch
“I think what I most love in Lent’s writing is the way it lifts ordinary speech toward lyric without sacrificing its ordinariness.” — Don McKay
312 pages / paper
In the heady times of the 1920s Hollywood, a teenager's crush on the legendary screen idol, comedian Harold Lloyd, changes her life forever. The Glass Character is a story of obsessive love and ruthless ambition set in the heady days of the Jazz Age in the 1920s. It was a time when people went to the movies almost every day, living vicariously through their heroes: Valentino, Garbo, Fairbanks and Pickford. But comedians were the biggest draw, and broad slapstick the order of the day with one very significant exception. Standing beside Keaton and Chaplin in popularity and prowess was a slight, diffident man named Harold Lloyd — the silent era's most influential comedian.
For sixteen year-old Jane he was a living god and though Lloyd had as many female followers as Gilbert or Barrymore, Jane knew no one could adore him more than she did, and no one would be willing to sacrifice more to be part of his life. There is in her story a naïveté in the voice and a wide-eyed innocence in the events, but as guileless as Jane may seem, her unaffected vision reveals much about the politics of the major studios, the power plays of the directors and producers, and the prima donna and egotistical Hollywood stars who ruled the movies. Her story also reveals much about the human heart and our desire to love against all the impossible odds.
"Margaret Gunning writes with uncanny grace and unflinching clarity . . . " — Montreal Gazette
Powerful women and wild women, victims, seducers and nurturers all find their way into one collection of hard-edged prairie fiction.
P. J. Worrell understands girls who dream of being wives and mothers in safe cozy homes, then find out that trying hard to secure that life does not necessarily make it happen. In Proudflesh, readers will not find heartwarming sentimentality, but mature literary prose with surprising twists and indeterminate endings and women of intense substance and spirit. Her work is imbued with the feminism that early literary pioneers like Margaret Laurence and Alice Munro introduced in their fiction and although the individual stories ride off different horizons, collectively their ideas stress that when faced with a choice between self-fulfillment and goodness, many will sacrifice goodness in order to have their needs met.
Through her social work lens, Worrell knows what it is like to be dependent, mentally ill, or at the end of one's life. She does not shy away from the moist curlicues around men's nipples, Auschwitz, tumours, aloneness, post-menopausal bellies, cat piss, or suicide. She writes close to the bone. Her characters may not be heroically dashing or intrepid, but they stare death in the face without flinching and this is what makes Proudflesh such an important first book.
". . . gripping, dark, and sexual." — Lorna Crozier
"Feisty, gritty, funny, harrowing, these stories shine with a bright and honest light. Worrell examines the eccentricities, frailties and courage of an impressive range of characters to show us a few things we might have forgotten about ourselves. A debut to celebrate" — Connie Gault
After You’ve Gone is the story of two generations of musicians, a jazz grandmother and a punk granddaughter, who each struggle with balancing life, love, and art in their respective eras. The novel opens in 2007 with Elsa Taggart and her ex-husband watching their son’s convocation from Seattle University. The events that bring about this everyday moment are unveiled in a series of spirited flashbacks that move convincingly between Elsa and her grandmother. Lita and Elsa’s lives are revealed in a procession of parallel events.
In 1935 Regina, Lita, a young woman of gypsy ancestry, develops a passion for playing the guitar. Encouraged and wide-eyed she joins a Regina jazz combo and begins a life that she couldn’t imagine and didn’t expect. From the first moment that she falls in love with the group’s lead singer, to the dark moment of his death, Lita’s fate is sealed.
In paralleled abandon, Elsa in 1983 has become the lead singer/songwriter and guitarist of Speed Queen, a Regina punk band. Her boyfriend Mark Taggart is also in a punk band. In love with the music scene, with each other, and their new baby, they decide their musical prospects would be better in Seattle than in Regina, a move that will prove to bring about significant changes.
Though fifty years exist between Lita and Elsa, their circumstances reflect and conform to the lives they have chosen. The daunting risks of the musician’s life coupled with the pursuit of intimate relationships lead to the heartache and grief that comes with such adventure. The pain of rejection and betrayal has to be managed, just as the responsibility of commitments must be maintained.
“After You’ve Gone vibrates with authenticity: two eras, two young women caught up in the giddy thrall of love and music and feckless men.” — Lee Kvern, author of The Matter of Sylvie and Seven Ways to Sunday
390 pages / paper
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Motherwild is an unvarnished journey, a celebration and depiction of struggles to survive on a sometimes violent, sometimes loving, always alive, Montreal working-class street. Set over the course of a year beginning in December 1959, Joey Cantell is trying to figure out his relationship with his mother. Joey’s personal confusion with her has continued to grow from infancy to adolescence. The rest of the family occasionally present their own challenges, but it was Joey’s “Ma” who exasperated him with her quick wit, strong will, and her drinking.
Then there was Celine Lesage, a girl living downstairs in the apartment block who reminded him of his mother as Celine too was a puzzle that drove him mad but attracted him like no one else.
Most of Joey’s relationships flow from his connection to Celine and his mother, and most of his experience comes from studying their ways. But a pervasive melancholy overrides certain days as Joey struggles with thoughts of what his mother might do to herself or what he might do to her. He even contemplates using the gun he found on slippery Dion Street during a winter bank robbery to silence this mother confusion. Tension builds. Can Joey trust himself not to carry out his violent plan? What can he do to intervene and break the craziness his mother feels? Will his fantasies of Celine ever become reality? What will then become of him? Then an incredible event occurs that will change him for the rest of his life.
Motherwild is a tense drama about the growth to maturity and a teen son’s desperate relationship with his mother, but it is also the story of a working-class family and the social conditions of working-class life in the 1960s.
SHORT FICTION ANTHOLOGY
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288 pages/trade paper
When our own darkness is mirrored in multi-faceted characters, do we look away in disgust or find the humanity within them? In his debut short fiction collection, John Mavin has slyly exposed themes hidden deep below the surface with breathtaking potency, eloquence, and wit.
Rage follows a loosely interwoven group of people from the fictional town of Dolsens, Ontario. Archaeologists, mountain climbers, priests, musicians, psychics, soldiers, and teens all confront the rage and sorrow of lives based on lies and abuse. Throughout the collection, these people struggle to gain their independence, their dignity, and in some cases, to take revenge. When such content becomes overpowering, Mavin’s lyrical and controlled writing keeps us so enmeshed that we cannot look away.
"The range of Mavin's world scopes far and wide as lives flash and swell on the page with brutality and a dark compassion." — Maureen Medved, author of The Tracey Fragments
"The sensory—particularly tactile—quality of Mavin’s prose pulls in the reader bodily: the feel of pebbles passing through fingers, boots filling with frigid Ontario-winter water, and what it means to be inside red saddle shoes. Mavin’s experimentation is adult play, populated with sounds of German and Spanish and cicadas, and visuals of fogging glass and a crow with eyes of black marbles. While the stories take place in the fictional Ontario town of Dolsens, the voices and situations create and illuminate the breadth that can be found within one place, whether it be young women in an abandoned graffitied building, or musicians aging, or a man of the cloth. The reader is left with the sense that one cannot judge quickly, and it’s best to remain open. Rage is a collection of turns, and will take the reader into disparate corners…which is exactly what short fiction should do."
— Alison Acheson
"Mavin’s stories yank us into the sound bytes of the day-to-day digital narrative we collectively skim. Deftly turning them inside out, he lingers there—draws us into their pathos, their aching beauty." — Betsy Warland, Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas
Jasmina Odor’s rich, sensual writing invites us to step into the shoes of Croatian immigrants living in Canada, and the Croatian soldiers and families who remain behind. Each passionate story in this collection varies in perspective, and yet all share undertones of the trauma of life during wartime.
Through the stories in You Can’t Stay Here, we are transported to the warm Adriatic Sea, rented rooms, wartime frontlines, and Canadian suburbia. We fall in love with those conflicted by their broken families, as well as immigrants, travellers, and refugees as they embark on their difficult searches for place and finding a home. In this debut collection, we are left feeling overwhelming care for our fellow neighbours and countrymen.
300 pages/trade paper
A. E. Chandler
You are invited underneath the great greenwood tree to hear how a young man became a hero, and a hero became a legend. When Robin takes a shortcut through Sherwood Forest, the path he chooses leads not to Nottingham’s archery contest, but to a life on the run from the law. Unable now to become a knight, and joined by his childhood friends, Robin Hood leads the most infamous outlaw band ever to evade the king and his sheriff.
Blending true history with new stories, popular inaccuracies, and some almost forgotten medieval legends, The Scarlet Forest brings a new life to the greenwood, which here feels as fresh as it does traditional. With an academic background in medieval English studies, A. E. Chandler captivates with this unique and nuanced reinterpretation of Robin Hood’s struggles and adventures. The forest is waiting.
“I especially liked the valuable historical context, and interwoven historical events. It is also great to see such a strong female character.” — Dr. Gwilym Dodd, medieval historian at the University of Nottingham
“In this retelling of the tale of Robin Hood, Amy Chandler subtly weaves together the recognizable aspects of the legend with real historical detail regarding such themes as social inequality, anticlericalism, and the nature of law and criminal justice in the Middle Ages.” – Dr. Mark Konnert, University of Calgary’s Head of the Department of History
For interview questions or book club and bonus materials go to the author's website
171 pages/trade paper
Stories of women trying to get their footings, preserve their sanity, and survive in circumstances they never thought they would find themselves in.
The women in The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind have nothing in common except that they all find themselves trying to find their footings, preserve their sanity, and just generally survive in circumstances they never thought they would encounter. They don’t always do it gracefully. Occasionally alcohol or firearms are involved. Just like in real life.
These women go toe-to-toe with chronic liars, dead grandfathers, beleaguered sons, mysterious voices, unfaithful husbands, midnight callers, spiteful sisters, and hallucinated clowns. Husbands go crazy or wayward or missing. Life hits walls and somersaults and does breathless, tactless things. And always it must be dealt with even when the means to do so seem to be entirely absent.
Filled with burnt-at-the-edges dialogue, contemporary humour, and compelling pacing, the stories in The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind are inventive, energetic and thoroughly original.
80 pages / paper
Anna Marie Sewell
A peace-seeking Indigenous warrior reflects on being a woman.
At a time of cultural change for Indigenous people that feels relentlessly tidal and epochal, For the Changing Moon: Poems and Songs records the ebb and flow of what it is to live here and now in Canada, as a woman, an Indigenous woman, a culturally mixed woman, a daughter, a mother, a peace-seeker, and a warrior.
The book includes work visually designed for the page, and work composed to be chanted, sung, and spoken amongst ourselves. We are asked to experience it as a record of the shifting times, and understand how the mood of the world can strike change in an individual, sometimes, like a rogue wave; and other times, slowly and methodically like a lunar tidal pull.
If you can do this Can you, Can you do this?
If we can do this, Can we? Can we do this?
Anna Marie Sewell’s poems court performance as they incorporate the energy of slam and employ the beat structures of chant. They encourage us to enter their spells and incantations always built with an ear for sound and with an eye for images of dream and wonder. Her invite and challenge is clear: “Come lovers of language, seekers of change, moon-mad prophets, come. Read and share these poems and songs, and answer them back with your own.”
From this specific place, Canada, during a moment of global sea change, these poems and songs reach for the moon-mad natural soul in all of us, that part of all of us that lives to follow the Great Song.
308 pages / paper
Do you know that prickly feeling when a relationship is under duress or takes a walk?
James Trettwer’s inter-linked collection of stories, Thorn-Field, dissects small-town life and probes into complications of those who live there. The fictional town of Liverwood’s main employer is the potash mine that seems to arc over the town and everything people do. With a novel-like persistence to detail, Trettwer’s stories observe how the townspeople thread their way through the thorn-fields of their relationships, which are complicated by their addictions and obsessions and by the numbing constancy of their lives. In the background the mine looms large, its four-rotor boring machines rumble deep under the earth, while six kilometers away, Livewood town life embraces their rhythm.
In assembling Trettwer’s links between stories, we witness elimination of the romanticism often associated with small-town simplicity, and see the exposure of the unhappiness, corruption, and the exploitation that drive the town’s human affairs. The stories disclose the fears of those whom the mine has orphaned, like Lourdes whose life forward was always fraught with uncertainty that had to be met with bravado; the stories describe all the hard-drinking and the uncertain young men like Dillon, Darryl, and Blake, or the young women driven by lust that leads to unwanted pregnancies. In Thorn-Field small-town life is anything but idyllic. Rather it becomes a collage of human foibles and peoples’ dangerous vulnerabilities.
Scattered throughout the stories are the addicts, enablers, those obsessed with better lives and those who are resigned to small town life under the big smokestacks. Thorn-Field is a collection of linked short stories that examines how small town despair can cripple the spirit but also how community faith and trust can heal it.
“The characters in these linked stories don’t like the universe they’re in. With dramatic flair and gutsy dialogue, James Trettwer exposes their subterranean reality and their daily struggles against disappointment, pain, addiction and loneliness, and towards hope. Thorn-Field is a thoughtful, compassionate, accomplished debut.” — Connie Gault
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