IN THE MEDIA: Events & Press!

Spring 401 Tour

Our Spring 401 Tour kicked off last night and we’re readying the Bibliomanse as Paige Cooper, Amanda Jernigan, Rachel Lebowitz, and Richard Sanger make their way west, spreading brilliance and shiny new books all across the land.

You can catch this super squad tonight in Hamilton (Epic Books, 7 pm), Thursday in Toronto (Monarch Tavern, 7:30), and here in Windsor on Friday (Biblioasis, 7:30 pm). Which means your humble Biblioblogger only has two days to clean off her desk.

Excellent Press

While I weep into this stack of mailing lists, please enjoy this round-up of the week’s excellent press!



IN THE MEDIA: Biblioasis Round-Up

It’s (Re)Lit

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, longer days means long shortlists from CBC’s ReLit Awards. And even though it’s snowing in Windsor right now, we’re basking in the glow of our six nominees. They are—drumroll please—

The Adjustment League by Mike Barnes, a novel that Maclean’s calls “Masterful …  suspenseful, exquisitely written and—at times—corrosively funny.”

Alice Peterson’s Worldly Goods, a collection of short stories that earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Quill & Quire.

Museum at the End of the World, John Metcalf’s most recent short story collection, which Publishers Weekly calls “Sharp and funny.”

Bad Things Happen, Kris Bertin’s debut short story collection lauded by Library Journal as “smart and nuanced, pulsing with humanity.”

Swinging Through Dixie, a collection of short fiction by Leon Rooke, a writer The Globe & Mail says “is simply not like any other writer out there. He’s a national treasure.”

Sharon McCartney’s Metanoia, a book of poems both Publishers Weekly and Quill & Quire selected for starred reviews.

Congratulations, Bibliobeloveds, and good luck! We’re typing with our fingers crossed! It’s very difficult but you are worth it!


 Where’s Bob? is in the house! Can’t wait for you to get lost in this new novel from Ann Ireland. Available May 1!

IN THE MEDIA: Pheby & Coluccio & Carrión & Ondjaki

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April is the Kirkus month

In a terrific April 3 review, Kirkus calls Alexander Pheby’s Playthings “A highly detailed, emotional plunge into the mind of a disturbed man…. An intense, immersive reading experience that provides real insight into those afflicted with severe mental illness.” Playthings is a visceral, darkly comic portrait of severe mental illness based on the true story of nineteenth-century German judge and patient of Freud, Daniel Paul Schreber. While deftly exploring the ideas of madness and sanity, of reality and delusion, Pheby reflects Schreber’s disordered mind in vertiginous prose, and compassionately reveals the humanity and tragedy of his psychosis. Available in Canada April 24 (US: June 19).

Air time

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Our pal Pino Coluccio ushered in National Poetry Month with Michael Enright on CBC’s Sunday Edition. Of Class Clown, Pino’s recent book of poems, Enright said: “I kept going back to it over and over and over again.” Be like Michael Enright: read these poems. Then read them again, and again, and maybe then again.

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Meanwhile, in Lousiana, Susan Larson of New Orleans Public Radio raved about Bookshops: A Reader’s History by Jorge Carrión, calling it “a brilliant, charming chronicle of bookstores around the world… [Carrión’s] expertise shows.”

Ask us anything

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Veronica Scott Esposito  interviews Steven Henighan, translator of Ondjaki’s forthcoming Transparent City, on her blog Conversational Reading. Says Esposito: “Stephen is among the most dedicated, discerning, and best-informed translators of Lusophone fiction that I know of (or just one of the best translators, period), so when he says that Ondjaki is among the best writers Africa has to offer, I take notice.”  Transparent City is coming your way in May.



IN THE MEDIA: Brode, Huebert, Cooper

Look, Ma, we’re in the legislative assembly!

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At last Thursday’s meeting of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, MPP Percy Hatfield (Windsor—Tecumseh) secured a 90-second Member’s  Statement to honour three authors with Windsor connections who were shortlisted for the 2017 Speaker’s Book Award. Among them, our very own Patrick Brode, whose Border Cities Powerhouse: The Rise of Windsor: 1900-1945 made the list of nine titles. Other Windsor-affiliated nominees were Dr. Cheryl Collier, professor of political science at the University of Windsor, for The Politics of Ontario, and Shawn Micallef, who was born and raised in Windsor, for Frontier City: Toronto on the Verge of Greatness.

The award is given annually to a book by an Ontario author that reflects the province’s diverse culture and history.

“I was overjoyed this year when three writers from Windsor were honoured,” Hatfield said in his address to the assembly. “[Brode] has written extensively about our history in his latest book . . . published by Biblioasis, a local firm I mentioned several times in this house, especially around the Giller Prize.”

Border Cities Powerhouse is Brode’s second book of local history, following The River and the Land: A History of Windsor to 1900. His work has been called “Fascinating” by the Windsor Star, and Biz X Magazine calls his books “thoroughly researched and superbly written.”

Brode’s next book is Why Babe Trumble Died: Enforcing Temperance on the Detroit River Border, 1920. In it, Brode tells the story of Trumble’s death at the hands of Reverend J.O.L. Spracklin, “The Fighting Parson.Why Babe Trumble Died will be published by Biblioasis in November 2018, and I move we each put it on our To-Read list right now. Seconded? Don’t make me get out my gavel . . .

Peninsula Sinking … under the weight of all these nominations

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 We’re over the moon for David Huebert, whose Peninsula Sinking has been shortlisted for not one, but two Atlantic Book Awards: the Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction and the Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award. Congrats, David, and good luck! We knew you when!

Another day, another glowing review of Paige Cooper’s Zolitude

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In a beautifully written review of Zolitude, Helen Chau Bradley says all the things we’ve been trying to say about this stunning debut collection, but she uses people words whereas we tend to wave our arms around and make oddly-pitched squeaks of adoration. To wit: “Zolitude is Cooper’s first short story collection, but it reads like the work of a far more seasoned writer. . . With each opening paragraph, she pitches us into a new atmosphere, full of gorgeous detail and emotional rawness, a world that feels too real to be a fantasy, or perhaps just fantastic enough to be real.” To which your humble Biblioblogger would like to add: [verbal equivalent of multiple cat-eyes-emoji].

IN THE MEDIA: Ray Robertson

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“A Vintage Treat”

Ray Robertson’s 1979, a novel about a Chatham paperboy who comes back from the dead, continues reminding readers how old they are recapturing the halcyon days of youth. The Winnipeg Free Press writes, “As Robertson traces Tom’s coming of age, he explores themes of innocence lost, wisdom gained and learning to forgive … [Robertson’s] talent as a writer shows in his clear prose and ability to create unique and believable characters.”

Loan Stars Love

Loan Stars has named 1979 a March Top Pick. Andrea Yarrow of the Ottawa Public Library calls the novel “One to watch for . . . [a] sweetly nostalgic coming-of-age story about Tom’s developing interest in girls, his understanding of his parent’s divorce, and his discovery of various rock bands . . . . What makes this story a true gem however, is how Tom’s narrative is interspersed with a glimpse into the very private lives of his neighbours, including the people whose papers he delivers, and those whose paths cross his for other reasons.” Congrats, Ray: you’re librarian-approved.

On the Road

Ray kicked off his Southern Ontario tour last night at Toronto’s Monarch Tavern. We’re told the apple juice was wholesome and delicious. Here at home, we’re readying the Bibliomanse for Ray’s Windsor launch, and you’re invited. We cleaned and everything! Come join us in tomorrow, March 22nd, at 7:30 PM, at Biblioasis Bookstore (1520 Wyandotte St E). Disclaimer: no pumpkins will be smashed.

Chatham friends, you can catch Ray on Friday, March 23rd, at 7 PM at The Book Brothers (25 King St E).

IN THE MEDIA: New Events + New Releases + New Reviews!

Years, Months, and Days
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Years, Months, and Days and envelopes and tape and mailing labels

Amanda Jernigan’s new book has arrived and the Bibliognomes are busy spreading the word. Years, Months, and Days is a transfiguration of Die Gemeinschaftliche Liedersammlung—a collection of Protestant hymns originally compiled by a Pennsylvanian-born Swiss-German Mennonite—into heart-breaking lyric poems that bridge secular spirituality and holy reverence with the commonalities of life, death, love, hope, and pain. Translation: it’s beautiful and good. And perfectly sized to tuck into a pocket or a basket filled with chocolate bunnies. Amen.

Speaking of beautiful!

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The Winnipeg Free Press calls Paige Cooper’s Zolitude “beautiful and strange.” “[A] timely exploration of love and humanity…urgent and energetic,” writes Melanie Brannagan Frederiksen. With all the praise this debut collection has been garnering, what would really be strange is not getting your hands on a copy of your own. I mean, just saying.

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Ray Robertson hits the road through South Ontario to party like it’s 1979.

Well ok he’s hitting the road to promote and read from his AWESOME new novel, 1979, and if there’s any partying it will also probably involve music from iPods and other stuff so maybe none of the above is true except for the hitting-the-road-part BUT! The dates are:

Toronto — Tuesday, March 20th, 7 PM, Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton St)

Windsor — Thursday, March 22nd, 7:30 PM, Biblioasis Bookstore (1520 Wyandotte St E)

Chatham — Friday, March 23rd, 7 PM, The Book Brothers (25 King St E)

Will you be in Toronto, Windsor, or Chatham next week? We will, so COME OUT AND LET’S…well, you know. 1979 tells the story of Tom Buzby, thirteen years old and living in Chatham, Ontario. Set in the year that real newspaper headlines told of the rise of Reagan and North America’s hard turn to the right, 1979 is a novel of innocence not so much lost as smashed, and experience gained the hard way, the kind that brands memories forever and permanently changes lives.



IN THE MEDIA: Biblioasis Round-Up

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They say his face got stuck like that

Happy Pub Day to Ray Robertson, whose novel 1979 hit shelves in Canada March 6. He talks to Metro News about factory towns and adolescence, and in his hometown paper, Chatham Daily News, he remembers the urban myth his father told to scare him.

Welcome Back, Iconoclast

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We’re looking forward to May and not having to wear shoes the release of Terry GriggsThe Iconoclast’s Journal, which David Worsley of Words Worth Books says “never should have gone out of print.” Agreed! End the tyranny of laces! I mean The Iconoclast’s Journal will release us from our tired institutions in less than two months.

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No Fault In Our Stars

Paige Coopers Zolitude continues garnering praise, this time in Toronto Star.  Of this debut collection, Brett Josef Grubisic says, “across fourteen stories Cooper builds strange, genre-defying, sci-fi- and fantasy-infused realities that are distinctly her own. Truly, they’re like nothing else you’ve read lately.”

IN THE MEDIA: Biblioasis Round-Up

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Shakedown 1979

 Cool kids may never have the time, but we here at the Bibliomanse certainly do. Not that we’re not incredibly cool. Really we’re the coolest, because we’ve got the first copies of Ray Robertson’s latest novel. Set in Chatham, Ontario, 1979 is the story of thirteen-year-old Tom Buzby, whose dad is the local tattoo artist and whose mom, a born-again stripper, has run off with the church minister. But don’t worry! You can be as cool as us in just one week, because 1979 hits the shelves March 6.


Is That A Star(red review) In Your Eyes Or Are You Crying Because It’s Still February

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Saving us all from the winter doldrums is this brand-new starred review of Zolitude, Paige Cooper’s debut story collection. Library Journal calls it “[A] spikily surreal debut collection…vivid, complex…brilliant.” Congratulations, Paige! My hands feel warmer already!


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Little Book Made of Love Wins Big

Vanessa Brown and Jason Dickson were in Toronto last week to receive an Ontario Heritage Award for London: 150 Cultural Moments, a unique cultural map that anyone interested in Canadian history will enjoy. Asked by the London Free Press how she hoped readers would respond to their quirky and surprising catalogue of local lore, Brown responded, “I hope they laugh.” Where were you when I was sleeping through history class in high school.


What Did You Expect, We’re Canadian

In “The Best Canadian Stories Must Be Some Good,” Atlantic Books Today’s Chris Benjamin says of Best Canadian Stories 2017, edited by John Metcalf, “one comes to such a book with high expectations. The results are solid . . . it’s not hard to understand why any given story was selected.” That’s what we call a happy ending.

IN THE MEDIA: Zolitude by Paige Cooper

MARCH 1ST sees the release of the first new Biblioasis title of 2018:
Paige Cooper’s debut short story collection Zolitude.

Despite having not hit the shelves yet, Zolitude has already attracted rave reviews (are reviewers psychic!? HOW DO THEY DO THIS oh wait advanced copies nevermind y’all we’re cool).

Here’s what Quill & Quire, The Walrus, Kirkus Reviews, and Open Book have already had to say about the magically dangerous Zolitude.

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Quill & Quire Review: Zolitude

The Walrus: Does Writing About Boredom Have to Be Boring?

Kirkus Reviews: Zolitude

Open Book: There are Two Kinds of Characters”: Innovative Short Story Author Paige Cooper on Character

Check out Biblioasis’ interview with Paige Cooper HERE!

IN CONVERSATION with Paige Cooper

Can you tell us more about yourself and your writing?

I used to be middle-class, I used to work in the music industry, I used to be a librarian for a railroad. I learned how to lie five years ago, I learned how to be addicted to smoking a year ago, I learned that sports are interesting last month. My favourite virtue is tenderness. Writing fiction is the only way I know to gum up time’s nasty linear flow without snubbing the void. It takes forever. It’s weird that there’s no tangible, visible evidence of great emotion.

We deny or lie about our emotions. Stories exist as some kind of evidence, at least.

Who do you imagine reading your stories?

There are a lot of people who I hope won’t read my stories. If I thought about who might read what I’m writing while I write it, I wouldn’t write. This is what Zuckerberg has done to us: forced us to redact everything interesting. Self-censorship is complicity with the authority, but we love to spy on each other so it’s difficult to resist. I’ve already censored these responses so much.

I think the people who read stories are looking for a familiar feeling, and I hope they find it, but mostly I write what I wish someone else would’ve written already. Imagination was how I coped with childhood: self-insertion fantasies that were either romances or escape plans or both. The less pure thing is that my partners have often been writers and I’d write towards them or about them, with or without permission. I probably shouldn’t say that.

Some stories in Zolitude explicitly have some other-worldly or speculative components (“Thanatos”) and some don’t (“Ryan and Irene, Irene and Ryan”). They definitely all feel fantastical though. Is there a process by which you decide which stories demand realism and which don’t?

The fantastical at first was something I turned to before I knew how to write emotion directly. The older stories in the collection are repressed. There were five years where I didn’t write at all because a middle-aged man in a workshop (he was a fellow student and I admired his writing very much) told me my writing was self-indulgent and unreadable. He seemed very angry, and I’m a coward. So some bad years happened where I had a mortgage and listened to podcasts about the economy. When I started writing again I was still ashamed of my emotions. Now when I write, the fantastic appeals less as metaphor and more as an amplifier of emotion. We all fantasize. Emotions are monstrous. We try to contain them but they’re out of control. We know we’re secretly unlovable, no matter how human we try to appear.

 Your characters are often displaced in countries not their own—yet the exact locations they end up are either not named or, if they are, it’s incidental to the main plot. This feels different than most writing of someone travelling in a different land. Can you tell us more about that?

I grew up in a tourist town. People go there to look at the mountains and just the fact of their wanting to look has made my home unrecognizable—not to mention unaffordable—to me. The wolves are dead, the bears are inbred. It’s a source of bitterness. Now when I go there I’m a tourist. Actually I’m a tourist in everything I do: jobs, relationships, the cities I live in, the cities I visit. This mode is implicitly unequal and characterized by greediness. Most artists are users. Since we are human, understanding anything fully is impossible. I impose my own misperceived narratives and propagandize my own mythologies. What horrifies me most is how invested I am in camouflaging myself as I exploit places and people. The ubiquitous anodyne unplace doesn’t interest me because it has no secrets I can export. I often don’t name the places I’m writing about because I’m ashamed of how ignorant and unfair my interpretation is. My fiction isn’t experimental or long enough to contain the contradictions and multitudes of a real place and, like I said, there’s no understanding anything. I land on one or two facets that compel me and I use those. Sometimes they aren’t flattering. Once a man I loved didn’t believe me that I could recognize the faces of the mountains I grew up under. I imagine they all looked the same to him.

Your writing is so gorgeous. Please tell us about the writers that have inspired you in the past.

There’s always that period of time where you’re waiting for permission and so all you can do is read and figure out how commas work. My sentences got better when I started to read good poetry. It helped that I catalogued books as a librarian and the metadata records had the most obscenely uptight standards of punctuation. Every space and semi-colon counted. The worst thing about fiction is all the looking around and closing and opening of doors. I’m embarrassed to read fiction out loud to people. They could be listening to poetry, which is plainly more efficient. Lisa Robertson, Claudia Rankine, Ariana Reines, Mary Ruefle and Lydia Davis all prove it. My stories got more pointed when I learned to pay attention to what caught my imagination. Peter Carey and Steven Millhauser gave me permission to not be boring. Heti, Gaitskill, Cusk, Zink, and Moshfegh gave me permission to be brutal.

 What are you reading right now?

Fleur Jaeggy, Anne Boyer, Renee Gladman, Tamara Faith Berger (again). Nonfiction about American football, which is my current angle into the guts of racism and patriarchy, and which soothes me because I understand it so poorly. Bifo on the senility and impotence of late capitalism. Anything about Silicon Valley, Russia, or Vietnam.

Anything else you want to tell us about?

My sex life? Just kidding.

Paige Cooper was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains. Her stories have appeared in The Fiddlehead, West Branch, Michigan Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast Online, Canadian Notes & Queries, The New Quarterly, Minola Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and have been anthologized in The Journey Prize Stories and Best Canadian Stories. She lives in MontrealZolitude publishes March 2018.