An Interview with Douglas Glover, author of THE EROTICS OF RESTRAINT

Douglas Glover’s smart, heartfelt writing manual The Erotics of Restraint—his follow-up to Attack of the Copula Spiders—is coming August 13!

 

But if you’re like us, that’s a long time to wait for Glover. So to tide you over, he’s answered some of our questions here.

 

A Biblioasis Interview with Douglas Glover, author of The Erotics of Restraint

For those who are coming to your work for the first time, can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I grew up on a tobacco farm in southern Ontario. Loyalist ancestors. My great-grandfather tried to be a poet and committed suicide—I blame the Loyalists. Studied philosophy at York University and the University of Edinburgh. Taught philosophy briefly, then worked in newspapers across the country for a few years. Ended up in the U.S. for the usual catastrophic domestic reasons, one of those non-decision decisions, but then stayed to bring up my sons, which was a solid good thing.

Early on I was just finding my legs and wrote pretty straightforward novels and sometimes riskier stories. But by the time I wrote The Life and Times of Captain N, I had hit my stride—large themes about the founding of nations and contact with indigenous peoples, intense formal patterning and elaboration, and mixed form. Almost everything I write is comic or at least heavily ironic. In the back of my mind, the ideal of the Menippean satire lurks. Once in my hometown of Waterford, a man I did not know came up to me on the street and said, “You’re the guy who writes those dirty books.”

For those who know you from Attack of the Copula Spiders, can you talk about the relationship between this book and that earlier one?

I’ve written four nonfiction books—Notes Home from a Prodigal Son, The Enamoured Knight, Attack of the Copula Spiders, and now The Erotics of Restraint. They all evolve out of a very early essay “The Novel as a Poem,” which is in Notes Home, where I announced a theoretical approach and a program, which is essentially formalist (or McLuhanite) and what some would call experimental. Form over matter, medium over message in the sense that the way something is written is primary to the meaning it projects. In that essay, I value sign over signified, patterning over verisimilitude (which is really just another pattern), artful elaboration over communication. The program then is to keep reading for form and technique and, of course, writing about it.

Popular literary commentary concentrates on theme and plot, scanting formal considerations. I used to have a radio interview show in Albany in the 90s and every writer I talked to would suddenly come alive when I started asking about structure and devices. “I’ll bet you had fun doing this little thing.” “How did you invent that device and the way it inflects the text?” Writers get bored endlessly explaining their themes, but they love to talk about the joyful inventions of their solitary tussle with language, the things they know how to do intricately and well. Every essay I write is an exploration of and a homage to what writers really do, what they love. I only look at work that I think is formally incandescent. Other than that my taste is eclectic—in this book, from Jane Austen to Witold Gombrowicz.

For many readers, the word “erotics” will be a surprising one to find in the title of a technical book about writing. Can you talk about the various ways you use that term in the book? What’s erotic about syntax and narrative form?

I could write a very long essay about this. It goes to the heart of the matter. First, it’s a direct nod to Attack of the Copula Spiders. Copula and copulate have the same root, from the Latin copulare, to join, link, couple. In grammar the copula is a linking verb, to be for example. So there is a sexual flag in that earlier title, too. Both are ironic references in the sense that irony juxtaposes two meanings simultaneously, in this case the sexual and the literary. The literary meaning of the sexual reference has something to do with the linking aspect of language and with the rhythmic structure of art (sex is rhythmic, right?). Metaphor, for example. I think it was Charles Olson who called the image “a bright, wingèd sexual being.” I am also thinking of Francois Lyotard’s remarkable book Libidinal Economy. Libidinal as in libido, erotic, rhythmic, fleshly.

Second, it’s the title of an essay in the book, an essay on Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park, a novel that is about restraint, true morality in conflict with surging hormones and the seedy pragmatism of Regency England. The title of the essay is a joke and a double pun on the words erotic and restraint. Erotics is a substitution for the word aesthetics. A title like “The Aesthetics of Restraint” would have made complete sense for a book and an essay about form. But where would be the fun in that? Also it’s comical the way the heroine’s love interest is finally aroused by her tortured self-restraint, a little Austenian bondage humour. But in literary terms, form is a restraint; and language is constrained by the forms of grammar. So there is always a paradoxical oscillation between erotic rhythms and the pressure of form; the two antithetical vectors are at the heart of art.

You are a writer of fiction and a teacher of creative writing. How does your nonfiction writing practice dovetail with those two other practices?

A good deal of my time is spent reading and analyzing books in order to teach myself how to do what I do better. If you’re candid about what you learn in order to make yourself a writer and how you learn it, that can make you a good teacher. Some of the essays I have written started as lectures. Even my book on Cervantes, The Enamoured Knight, began as a lecture that got away from me (when I hit the 40-page mark, I realized I was doing something else).

In terms of The Erotics of Restraint, I would draw special attention to the very long essay “Anatomy of the Short Story,” which grew directly out of my teaching. I’ve used the three stories I analyze in that essay over and over with creative writing students to teach them the rudiments. “Anatomy” is a huge expansion of the essay on short story structure in Attack of the Copula Spiders. Also an advance. I’ve invented new terms, memes and homologies, and become much clearer in my own mind on how character thought and thematic passages work in story structure. In this regard, the pressure of trying to make myself a better teacher has made me a better thinker about the nature of literary art. These activities are reciprocally generative.

Also I began life as a philosopher. My first academic job was teaching philosophy. It comes naturally to me to think about language, stories, and art at a meta-level and writing essays about them.

What are you reading right now?

Elfriede Jelinek’s novel Greed and Annie Ernaux’s memoir A Man’s Place. Lately, I gravitate toward Austrian writers—Peter Handke, Thomas Bernhard, and now Jelinek—because like me they are so uncomfortable in their own skins. This puts pressure on their language, which has delightful effects. Bernhard seemed to hate everyone but was funny about it. Jelinek just drips venom. It’s so refreshing. Ernaux’s memoir about her father is brilliantly terse and elegantly poignant (her internal commentary about the writing is a lesson to us all). I like short books.

DEATH AND THE SEASIDE Is Alison Moore’s Undeniable Best

Dear Friends,

When I started this year at Biblioasis, I read as many of our books as I could get my hands on, and Death and the Seaside by Alison Moore has been my favourite one so far (and there are ARCs available now!). It’s thought-provoking, enchanting, and creepy (but not so creepy that a complete wuss like me couldn’t handle it). I found myself listening for noises in the house when I read it at night, and I couldn’t stop thinking about getting back to it when I was at work.

It’s about Bonnie, an aspiring writer in her late twenties, who finally moves out of her parents’ place and into her own apartment. Her landlady starts to take an interest in both her and her writing—and let’s just say some boundaries are crossed. Soon they’re heading out of town on holiday together to a town similar to one in a story Bonnie is writing, and things get intense.

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‘Where do you think the anxiety in your writing stems from?’ asked Sylvia. ‘This obsession with the fragility of limbs?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Bonnie, who had never seen her writing that way. ‘I don’t feel particularly anxious.’

‘Well, here and now, you are in a safe and predictable environment. But were you to be removed from such a safe and predictable environment, you might expect anxiety levels to rise.’

Bonnie looked anxiously at Sylvia. ‘Removed?’ she said. 

 

 

Death and the Seaside | Alison Moore | $19.95 CAD
Oct 8, 2019 | Trade Paper | 9781771962759 | 192 pp
Published by Biblioasis | www.biblioasis.com

 

 

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It’s also easily a big office favourite. Theo loves how Sylvia struggles to distinguish between fiction and life, between literary criticsim and descriptions of reality and how the book critiques that problem. She also loved the book’s description of post-BA drift—that moment when you’re done school and still not quite sure what you should do next.

Meghan said the book was one of the best explorations of anxiety, inertia, and the lack of personal agency that she’d ever seen. While her feelings of unease grew throughout the book, so too did her desire to see Bonnie take charge of her own story. Meghan said that Moore gives us one of the cleanest and most satisfying endings she’s read in a long time.

Casey called it unsettling and intimate. She noted how easily Sylvia takes control of Bonnie and how helpless you feel for her. You can feel whatever little sense of independence and self-regard Bonnie has being meticulously swept away by her landlady—you know that there is something malevolent about Sylvia, but you can’t look away. Casey called the ending “a friggin’ ending for the record books.” She said it was completely unexpected, with an emotional crash of a falling building. Though Casey loves all of Alison Moore’s books, she thinks this is her at her undeniable best.

 

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The book already saw raves in the UK:

“As with earlier masters of the genre such as Daphne du Maurier, Moore creates a psychological thriller dripping with foreboding . . . Another triumph from Moore, her clear and unambiguous writing style as well as her ability to build tension will appeal to both adolescents and adults.”
—Jacqueline Snider, Library Journal

“Book of the day. Dense, complex, thought-provoking, it manages to be at once a fairytale and a philosophical treatise, high-octane thriller and literary interrogation. Like the dreams that haunt Bonnie’s night-times, it holds its secrets close, and repays careful rereading. The end of the novel, abrupt and death-haunted, feels as neat and tight as a key in a lock, and sheds light on the mysteries that have gone before.”
—Sarah Crown, The Guardian

“She is both gifted stylist and talented creator of a new English grotesque.”
—Isabel Berwick, Financial Times

I hope you’ll check out this beautiful and haunting novel! E-mail Casey for an ARC at cplett@biblioasis.com!

Best,
Chloe

Celebrate Canada Day with a stiff dram of Northern Prohibition lore.

 

Released last fall, Patrick Brode’s Dying For A Drink: How a Prohibition Preacher Got Away with Murder continues to guzzle a big pint of attention—an interview with Pat will air on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paiken tonight (June 26, 2019), in conjunction with a rave review in the latest issue of Canada’s History: “A brisk read that aptly describes Canada’s temperance movement and the move towards prohibition…quite enjoyable.” Dying For A Drink was also shortlisted for the 2019 Arthur Elise Crime Book Awards for Best Non-Fiction Book.

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“What makes the murder of the saloonkeeper Babe Trumble by a Methodist clergyman so compelling was the way in which it so captured the opposing forces of the Prohibition era.

“All major Toronto newspapers sent reporters to Windsor to cover the early rum running events. Their coverage was inevitably sensational with accounts of running gun battles, and bloody confrontations between police and bootleggers along the shore of the Detroit River. It made for exciting copy, and the Toronto public loved it. Part of it was vicarious thrills. The Windsor area was often referred to as the ‘Essex Frontier’ as if it was the Wild West.

“There was almost a romantic ‘Robin Hood’ feel to the period. Ordinary people were rising up to resist a law that had little popular support. It is one of the few instances where so many people in a Canadian city openly broke the law. For that reason, the ‘Rumrunner era’ continues to resonate.”

—Patrick Brode

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                                                    ISBN 978-1-77196-268-1 (paper) | $19.95 CAD | 160 pages 
                                                    Published by Biblioasis | www.biblioasis.com
                                                    Distributed in Canada by Ampersand/UTP

 

Known to history as “The Fighting Parson,” Reverend J.O.L. Spracklin broke into a notorious Windsor roadhouse one chilly November night in 1920 and shot and killed barkeep Beverly “Babe” Trumble. He never served a day of time, easily being acquitted in his trial for self-defense. A provincial liquor license inspector already known for his brash tactics, Spracklin’s unabashed carnage solidified across North America the Detroit-Windsor borderlands’ reputation as the new Wild West—where whisky flowed freely, warrants were forged on the spot, and ministers toted guns to keep the peace.

To the rest of Ontario, a dry province, Spracklin was the saviour they had been waiting for, the answer to the lawlessness of the Border Cities—that is, until he shot a man at point blank range. In this exploration of the period, decorated Ontario historian Patrick Brode unpacks this infamous piece of Prohibition lore and asks: Why did Babe Trumble die? What led a hotheaded reverend to take the law into his own hands, kill a man, and get away with it? Full of fire-and-brimstone preachers, crooked politicians, wily rum runners, grandstanding lawyers, and innocents caught in the cross-fire, Dying for a Drink is a fascinating read that will engross anyone curious about deeper stories behind this fabled time.

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PRAISE FOR DYING FOR A DRINK

“Nicely researched…Fast-paced…This slim, lively volume illuminates Ontario’s pre–Jazz Age cultural and legal history and that of prohibition in an informative fashion.”
Publishers Weekly

“Brode brings to his account a wealth of local knowledge about Windsor and its Prohibition-era past…well researched and peppered with fascinating characters.”
Literary Review of Canada

“A fascinating book, thoroughly researched and tightly written.”
Windsor Life

 

 

About Patrick Brode

Patrick Brode was born in Windsor, Ontario. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1977 and has practiced law ever since. He has written four works on the history of law in Canada including Sir John Beverley Robinson: Bone and Sinew of the Compact, a finalist for the City of Toronto Book Award, and The Odyssey of John Anderson, a finalist for the Trillium Award.

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Patrick Warner’s MY CAMINO Arrives Next Month!

Announcing the July 9 publication of Patrick Warner’s My Camino

 

Three plucky misfits cycle the Camino de Santiago—backwards.
Reeling from the Night of Nights, an unexpected blockbuster art show, Floss, a transgender New York gallery owner, invites subversive installation artist Budsy and their best friend the Apostle John to cycle the Camino de Santiago. When Floss tells her friends about her shocking experience at the hands of the King of the New York art scene, the journey becomes an anti-pilgrimage—from spiritual discovery to revenge fantasy. Moving from New York to Spain to Dublin, My Camino is a book about misfits, identity, art and spirituality narrated by the audacious Apostle John whose telling sometimes rhymes, is often hilarious and is always a blistering account of the contemporary art world.

 

If you can’t wait until July 9 to hear more about this crazy book, then read on for a Biblioasis interview with Patrick Warner:

 

For those who are unfamiliar with your work, can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

That’s a hard one. Who can say with any confidence what their writing is about? I’ve published five collections of poetry. My poems tend to be image based with one foot in the traditional world of meter and rhyme. I will write a poem about whatever engages me—so I’ve written poems about shellfish, dancehall fights, leaves, turf, fishing, insurance, hotel rooms, etc. . . . My novels are also image based—breakthrough insight: I have a visual imagination. I write about what to me is blackly funny: grief, revenge, etc. I do this not because I’m Irish. In terms of style (and maybe I picked this up from poetry) but less is always more. I care a lot about sentence rhythm. I get bored easily, so I like to pack as much into a scene as possible, and I like my language to carry weight without appearing to do so. I want my stories to resonate with current themes, but not to be about those themes. So, in terms of characters, they may identify or be identified in particular ways but really my stories explore who the characters are over and above how others see them or label them. I guess what I’m saying is that I am interested more in what is broadly human than in what is socially-constructed. Between the way people portray themselves and who they actually are. The gap between those two states is where I find comedy.

You’ve said that the germ of this novel came when you were visiting a New York art gallery opening in 2016. Can you tell me more about that?

I’m not sure I said that. I think I may have said that around that time I was writing a long poem, one piece of which was set in a gallery. The poem died, but the man in the white suit and the gallery scene survived to become the core of My Camino.

The novel moves from New York to Spain to Dublin—tell us a bit about your relationship with those places. (And if such a relationship doesn’t exist, tell us about that too!)

I have visited New York and once lived for a year on Staten Island where I worked for the branch libraries of the New York Public Library. I grew up in Ireland (though not in Dublin), moving to Newfoundland when I was 17. Until the recent death of my parents I visited Ireland regularly. Since their deaths I haven’t been back, though I probably will go again soon. I’ve never been to Spain, but during the long cold Canadian winters I keep myself sane with thoughts of moving there and becoming close personal friends with Penélope Cruz and her sister, Monica.

You’re a poet and a novelist. Tell me about the commonalities and differences of working in such different forms.

They are not so far apart as people think. In fact, the longer I work in both forms the fewer differences I see. Compression is the main one, I suppose. Also, the availability of fixed forms—though one could broadly see the middle-brow novel as a fixed form at this stage.

Budsy is obviously a play on Banksy, and the novel’s a send-up of the art world. Tell us a little more about the satire of My Camino.

For art world read literary world. I know almost nothing about the art scene except what I have read and seen on the telly.

What are you reading right now?

The Lesser Blessed by Richard van Camp; Tom Dawe’s New and Selected Poems.

Happy Father’s Day from Biblioasis!

Happy Father’s Day from all of us at Biblioasis! We hope you have a wonderful day with your father-figures. If you’re still looking for a gift, why not check out a Biblioasis title?

 

Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson by Mark Bourrie

Murderer. Salesman. Pirate. Adventurer. Cannibal.
Perfect for Dad on Father’s Day

Whose dad wouldn’t enjoy what Ken McGoogan of The Globe and Mail called “A dark adventure story that sweeps the reader through a world filled with surprises”? In The Winnipeg Free Press, Michael Dudley called Bush Runner “Highly entertaining reading…fascinating…an engaging achievement.” The book has also been reviewed by Washington TimesCanadian Geographic, and ARTSFILE, and with his recent appearance on national television via Global News and on radio via CBC’s Ideas, the buzz about Bush Runner has never been louder.

Many people know Pierre-Esprit Radisson as the co-founder of the Hudson’s Bay Company, but few know of his adventurous life: a guest among First Nations communities, French fur traders, and royal courts; witness to London’s Great Plague and Great Fire; and unwitting agent of the Jesuits corporate espionage, Radisson double-crossed the English, French, Dutch, and his adoptive Mohawk family alike, found himself marooned by pirates in Spain, and lived through shipwreck on the reefs of Venezuela.

Dad wont be able to put down this swashbuckling page-turner!

 

Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters by Mark Kingwell
Fail Better… is a ballpark ramble of memoir, lore and nostalgia. Its north star is baseball’s time-out-of-timelessness, its leisurely Zen gaps between actions.” New York Times      
Provisionally Yours by Antanas Sileika
“Sileika humorously portrays the bureaucratic bungling and missteps among those competing for power…“We are the trash men,” Landa observes, “and no one wants trash but no one respects the people who take it out.” Readers curious about the small Baltic country and a key period in its history will be rewarded.” —Publishers Weekly
Original Prin by Randy Boyagoda
“Boyagoda writes with real panache and drive. An unputdownable book.”—Salman Rushdie
“An original animal…Clever, often ingenious…[raising] fascinating questions about fanaticism and the state of the modern world.” —The New York Times Book Review

 

They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada by Cecil Foster
“Foster had the courage to examine the realities of race in this country long before it was commonplace to do so…Canadian multiculturalism rests on the shoulders of the sleeping car porters.”—Globe and Mail

 

 

Randy Boyagoda’s ORIGINAL PRIN and Adam Foulds’s DREAM SEQUENCE both in THE NEW YORK TIMES!

We’re thrilled that not one but two of our summer novels have gotten some New York Times love!

On May 30, Tom Barbash wrote that Original Prin is “an original animal…Clever, often ingenious . . . [raising] fascinating questions about fanaticism and the state of the modern world. Prin evolves in surprising ways, and tensions spike. For readers feeling confounded at the end, fear not. It’s the first in a planned trilogy.”

The very next day, Julie Klam wrote, “Dream Sequence succeeds as a narrative thanks to Foulds’s prose. He doesn’t waste a single word, is frequently very funny, insightful and surprising. And he does a marvelous job of making us wonder who loves Henry the most, Kristin or Henry—and which of these possibilities is the most alarming consequence of celebrity.”

These NYT plaudits follow streams of praise from other sources.

Other Praise for Original Prin:

Original Prin is many things at once: a richly funny campus novel, a painfully humorous portrait of a modern family, an examination of a whole spectrum of religious faith from shaky to fanatical, and finally, in a climax of pitch-black comedy, a thriller too. Boyagoda writes with real panache and drive. An unputdownable book.”

Salman Rushdie

“University corruption, infidelity, Catholic theology, Middle Eastern politics: not many writers could convincingly keep so many balls in the air, and that Boyagoda does so in a truly funny novel is impressive enough. But perhaps even more striking is the depth of sensitivity and understanding that Boyagoda brings to the emotive issues of faith, immigration, and violence. By examining the messy intersections between religious fundamentalism, global capitalism, and liberal values through the gentle comic form of the campus novel, Boyagoda does more than offer clever satire—he humanizes these vast impersonal forces even as he imbues them with a moral complexity that frustrates easy political judgment.”

The Walrus

“That Boyagoda can take on faith, global capitalism, religious terrorism, upper-middle-class preciousness and self-delusion—all the while implicating Canada in traditionally “American” problems—attests to his talent. It also manages to be a taut and funny novel throughout…This is the first volume of a planned trilogy. If I could hazard my own divination of signs, I would bet Boyagoda could take [Prin] anywhere.”

America: The Jesuit Review of Faith & Culture

“One of the best satirical writers today…immediately funny.”

Micah Mattix, The American Conservative

“Boyagoda sets up a tightly paced novel in Original Prin that succeeds on a number of fronts. It’s a hilarious romp of a campus novel, poking fun at the market-driven ethos of the modern Canadian academy. It’s a touching look at the complicated sacrifices demanded of familial love. At heart, it’s a richly humorous novel that explores the struggle for spiritual believers in a fiercely secular world…capturing the rambunctious multi-faith, multicultural zeitgeist of the city, particularly in corners where cultures and faith overlap…Boyagoda has crafted a novel that’s fresh and utterly original.”

Toronto Star

“Timely…supremely funny…Original Prin deals with much that is purely human, centering on Prin’s desire to do the right thing and the very relateable hang-ups and weaknesses that constantly thwart him. Boyagoda’s novels are a reminder of what Catholic literature should be like.”

The Catholic Register

“A winning combination of academic satire and sociopolitical commentary that leaves readers facing grim reality and acknowledging the irrationality of it all. Globally aware and witty, this is the opening title in a projected trilogy and a tale that offers a fascinating new perspective on journeys of faith and contemporary intellectual pursuits.”

Booklist

“[Original Prin] skewers the corporatized university and modern world politics alike in this delicious satire…A lively complement to Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim, Malcolm Bradbury’s The History Man, Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, and other academic sendups.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Princely Umbiligoda appears to have it all—a great job as the leading expert on the marine imagery in Canadian literature; a loving family consisting of a wife and four Disney-obsessed daughters; and a strong spiritual connection to his Catholic faith. But underneath there’s trouble. Trouble at home, trouble at work, trouble in the newspapers, and trouble with his prostate, troubles that lead to troubling doubts about God. And the disturbing reappearance of an old girlfriend. And a career change to…suicide bomber? Did I mention this is a comedy? Well, it is, a great comedy with a brisk pace and a delightfully hapless protagonist the likes of whom I’ve never met before. Original Prin left me eager to read many more of his exploits. Secondary Prin? Tertiary Prin? Bring ’em on.”

James Crossley, Madison Books

“Boyagoda tempers the subject matter with deftly cunning and witty prose, pinning classical literary references alongside the mundane beauty of office supplies. If it’s possible to create a sympathetic character in a potential suicide bomber, Boyagoda has done it: Prin is a complex yet relatable man searching for, above all, a reason to live.” —Morgan McComb, Raven Book Store

Original Prin is one of those books that defy classification. It’s very real, yet surreal. It’s funny – actually laugh-out-loud so – but sad.” —Desi News

“A very entertaining read…Prin’s antics are alarming and funny, but the story’s themes of faith and self-deception resonate long after the last sentence.” —CBC Books

Original Prin finds Boyagoda working explicitly in the tradition of comic Catholic writers such as Evelyn Waugh…It is fabulously rare, in our secular age, to find a novel that focuses so insistently and unironically on a character whose religion is not an ancillary aspect of his persona but absolutely central.” —Quill & Quire

“Boyagoda gets it right.” —Hamilton Review of Books

 

Other Praise for Dream Sequence:

“Everyone loves a good page-turner full of aspirational scene-setting, but few literary novelists dare to try it . . . [Dream Sequence] is a sexy, celeby drama . . . just like The Great Gatsby, this novel billows around you like a queasy dream, its grand scenery and awful characters combining to take us out of the real world and into another, oddly shimmering version of it.”

The Times (London)

“Adam Foulds is one of the best fiction writers working today. Dream Sequence possesses all the hallmarks of his previous books–emotional acuity, beautiful prose–and also a seductive plot and an ingenious structure. It’s a great novel. I read it practically in one sitting.”

—David Bezmozgis, author of the Giller-shortlisted The Free World

Dream Sequence notices everything . . . Description is intimate and visceral, scratching at the glossy surface of the lives of the characters and underpinning the ‘vacuum’ they move through, together but apart . . . This is a novel of screens, of echoes and constant counterpoint, driven by changes in light as much as its reflective plot where matters of ‘acting’ are paramount … [a] shimmering novel.” 

Times Literary Supplement (TLS)

“What makes this pair so interesting isn’t the asymmetry of their relationship, but that deep down, they’re so similar . . . Both of these people channel their dissatisfaction with the present by living in a rich fantasy land of the future they imagine for themselves – to borrow the novel’s title, a dream sequence – albeit in different ways . . . Proverbial are the dangers of living in the past, but we rarely speak about the perils of living too much for what we imagine to come. Dream Sequence reminds readers to be present and to value what you have now.”

The Globe and Mail

“[An] entertainingly skewering new novel about ambition and obsession.”

Toronto Star

“[A] livewire exploration of sex and power.” 

Metro News

“An outstanding and unyielding exploration of celebrity, fame, and all its attendant obsessions…Foulds’s novel is fun, smart, and tense, part psychological drama about media-driven obsession and part razor-sharp social critique.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[Dream Sequence] is an exquisitely concocted, riveting account of artistic ambition and unrequited love verging on obsession . . . Foulds is proving himself to be a versatile writer of intelligence and charm.”

The Spectator

“Precise and compressed language . . . while Henry’s precarious mix of insecurity and massive self-regard is sometimes played, effectively, for comedy, Foulds is also taking a serious look at contemporary identity and the alienating consequences of fame . . . terrifically good writing.”

Winnipeg Free Press

“The dream Adam Foulds weaves in this scintillating novel is gradually revealed, with grace and subtlety, to be an especially timely form of waking nightmare—but a nightmare so precise, and often beautiful, that one comes to prefer it, in some ways, to dull reality. Read this book.”

—John Wray, author of Godsend 

“Adam Foulds’s fourth novel, Dream Sequence, is an exquisitely concocted, riveting account of artistic ambition and unrequited love verging on obsession . . . One finishes the book wishing the dream were longer.”

—Philip Womack, The Spectator

Beautifully written . . . A novel about loneliness and obsession in contemporary life, set in hotels and airports, sterile apartment blocks, gyms and yoga classes.”

—Alice O’Keefe, New Statesman

“Entrancing language . . . Lyricism abounds throughout this deftly handled ­cautionary tale—one which warns that meeting our heroes can be dangerous and dreams can be frighteningly real.”

Abu Dhabi National

“There’s deep psychology on every page . . . it’s the details of the writing itself—the precision of the word selection combined with the precision of the observation—that make for such enjoyable reading . . . Add to this keenness of perception a poetical ear for euphony and cadence and you have the quiddity of Foulds’s gift.”

The Guardian

“[I]ncisively well-written and alluringly readable . . . Adam Foulds—whose previous work includes The Quickening Maze, about the poet John Clare’s incarceration in an Epping Forest asylum in the 1840s, and In the Wolf’s Mouth, set in North Africa and Sicily during the Second World War—is acutely sensitive to shifting environments, conveying them brilliantly with few words. This prose is truly poetic . . . Yet this novel also moves like a thriller, as these different vacancies, Henry and Kristin, collide in their desires. A terrific book about the realities and delusions of fame distorting the way we live now: not to be missed.”

The Evening Standard

“[Foulds] has turned his keen attention to the present day, and the result is a book whose “thriller” label comes less from plot and more from the deepening unsettlement as Foulds turns the lights up on the derangements, both mundane and catastrophic, that drive both Henry and Kristin. As always with Foulds, though, the real star here is the writing, a delight at the smallest levels…An incisive and disquieting look at the consequences of fame.”

Kirkus

“Foulds once again brings his psychological acuity to bear on characters bound within claustrophobic lives that they long to escape…[a] lucid, richly detailed and tense novel.” 

Financial Times

Biblioasis publicist Casey Plett has won the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction!

 

This arrives on the heels of Casey’s big win at the Amazon First Novel Awards. We couldn’t be more thrilled! Congratulations to Casey and to her publisher, Arsenal Pulp Press.

Our Spring Fiction Launch Was a Great Success!

 

Dan kicked off the proceedings with a welcome to the crowd and to writers Elise Levine, Antanas Sileika, and Adam Foulds.

 

Adam Foulds introduced us to Henry Banks, one of the protagonists in his deftly-observed Dream Sequencea novel about celebrity obsession, self-obsession, and the pathology of destiny.

 

 

Elise Levine read from “Alice in the Field,” the final story in her lyrical, character-drive collection This Wicked Tongue.

 

Antanas Sileika’s cold-war spy thriller Provisionally Yours took us to a swanky party.

 

. . . And since no party, swanky or otherwise, is complete without cake . . .

 

 

Biblioasis publicist Casey Plett has won the Amazon Canada first novel prize!

 

Most days she’s here working her magic to get attention for other people’s books, but today we’re overjoyed to announce that Casey’s own book, Little Fish (Arsenal Pulp Press), has won Amazon Canada’s first novel award! We’re absolutely thrilled for you, Casey!!

Read all about it here and here.

“It had a greenish, demonish face on the cover. Readers, help!”: An Interview with Randy Boyagoda

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Hardy Boys book I lost when I was a boy, before I finished it! It had a greenish, demonish face on the cover. I’ve looked and looked and never found it. Readers, help!”

In today’s Shelf Awareness Pro,
Randy Boyagoda does a “Reading With . . . ” interview about

A hilarious and heartfelt satire about a Sri Lankan Catholic immigrant family—and faith, fanaticism, and pickleball.

Coverage forthcoming in THE NEW YORK TIMES and LIT HUB

Praised by Salman Rushdie
the Toronto Star
and the Catholic Register

Original Prin is many things at once: a richly funny campus novel, a painfully humorous portrait of a modern family, an examination of a whole spectrum of religious faith from shaky to fanatical, and finally, in a climax of pitch-black comedy, a thriller too. Boyagoda writes with real panache and drive. An unputdownable book.”
—Salman Rushdie

“University corruption, infidelity, Catholic theology, Middle Eastern politics: not many writers could convincingly keep so many balls in the air, and that Boyagoda does so in a truly funny novel is impressive enough. But perhaps even more striking is the depth of sensitivity and understanding that Boyagoda brings to the emotive issues of faith, immigration, and violence. By examining the messy intersections between religious fundamentalism, global capitalism, and liberal values through the gentle comic form of the campus novel, Boyagoda does more than offer clever satire—he humanizes these vast impersonal forces even as he imbues them with a moral complexity that frustrates easy political judgment.”
—The Walrus

 

Original Prin
(May 14, 2019)

“Boyagoda sets up a tightly paced novel in Original Prin that succeeds on a number of fronts. It’s a hilarious romp of a campus novel, poking fun at the market-driven ethos of the modern Canadian academy. It’s a touching look at the complicated sacrifices demanded of familial love. At heart, it’s a richly humorous novel that explores the struggle for spiritual believers in a fiercely secular world . . . capturing the rambunctious multi-faith, multicultural zeitgeist of the city, particularly in corners where cultures and faith overlap . . . Boyagoda has crafted a novel that’s fresh and utterly original.”
—Toronto Star

“One of the best satirical writers today . . . immediately funny.”
—Micah Mattix, The American Conservative

“Timely . . . supremely funny . . . Original Prin deals with much that is purely human, centering on Prin’s desire to do the right thing and the very relatable hang-ups and weaknesses that constantly thwart him. Boyagoda’s novels are a reminder of what Catholic literature should be like.”
—The Catholic Register

“A winning combination of academic satire and sociopolitical commentary that leaves readers facing grim reality and acknowledging the irrationality of it all. Globally aware and witty, this is the opening title in a projected trilogy and a tale that offers a fascinating new perspective on journeys of faith and contemporary intellectual pursuits.”
—Booklist

“[Original Prin] skewers the corporatized university and modern world politics alike in this delicious satire . . . A lively complement to Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim, Malcolm Bradbury’s The History Man, Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, and other academic sendups.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Princely Umbiligoda appears to have it all—a great job as the leading expert on the marine imagery in Canadian literature; a loving family consisting of a wife and four Disney-obsessed daughters; and a strong spiritual connection to his Catholic faith. But underneath there’s trouble. Trouble at home, trouble at work, trouble in the newspapers, and trouble with his prostate, troubles that lead to troubling doubts about God. And the disturbing reappearance of an old girlfriend. And a career change to . . . suicide bomber? Did I mention this is a comedy? Well, it is, a great comedy with a brisk pace and a delightfully hapless protagonist the likes of whom I’ve never met before. Original Prin left me eager to read many more of his exploits. Secondary Prin? Tertiary Prin? Bring ’em on.”
—James Crossley, Madison Books

“Boyagoda tempers the subject matter with deftly cunning and witty prose, pinning classical literary references alongside the mundane beauty of office supplies. If it’s possible to create a sympathetic character in a potential suicide bomber, Boyagoda has done it: Prin is a complex yet relatable man searching for, above all, a reason to live.”
—Morgan McComb, Raven Book Store

Original Prin is one of those books that defy classification. It’s very real, yet surreal. It’s funny—actually laugh-out-loud so—but sad.”
—Desi News

“A very entertaining read . . . Prin’s antics are alarming and funny, but the story’s themes of faith and self-deception resonate long after the last sentence.”
—CBC Books

Original Prin finds Boyagoda working explicitly in the tradition of comic Catholic writers such as Evelyn Waugh . . . It is fabulously rare, in our secular age, to find a novel that focuses so insistently and unironically on a character whose religion is not an ancillary aspect of his persona but absolutely central.”
—Quill & Quire

“Boyagoda gets it right.”
—Hamilton Review of Books