Audiobooks Promo Special!

Audiobooks are now available from Biblioasis! To celebrate, we’re sending a free audiobook to anyone who buys a print copy of the same title. Offer ends May 31.

Check out these excerpts from our eight new audiobooks (linked below) and start listening today!

MUSIC, LATE AND SOON

A poet rediscovers the artistic passion of her youth—and pays tribute to the teacher she thought she’d lost.

DANTE’S INDIANA

Following Original Prin, a NYTBR Editor’s Choice and Globe and Mail Best Book, Dante’s Indiana is an extraordinary journey through the divine comedies and tragedies of our time.

ON DECLINE

In On Decline, Potter surveys the current problems and likely future of Western civilization (spoiler: it’s not great).

HOUSEHOLDERS

Linked short stories about families, nascent queers, and self-deluded utopians explore the moral ordinary strangeness in their characters’ overlapping lives.

THE MUSIC GAME

An ode to friendship and the ties that bind us together, Stéfanie Clermont’s award-winning The Music Game confronts the violence of the modern world and pays homage to those who work in the hope and faith that it can still be made a better place.

POGUEMAHONE

Drinking song and punk libretto, ancient as myth and wholly original, Poguemahone is the devastating telling of one family’s history—and the forces, seen and unseen, that make their fate.

THE AFFIRMATIONS

Moving among the languages of Christian conversion, Classical metamorphosis, seasonal transformation, and gender transition, Luke Hathaway tells the story of the love that rewired his being, asking each of us to experience the transfiguration that can follow upon saying yes—with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul, with all one’s mind, with all one’s strength … and with all one’s body, too.

HAIL, THE INVISIBLE WATCHMAN

Hail, The Invisible Watchman is haunted poetry—Oliver’s formal schemes are as tidy as a picket-fence and as suggestive; behind the charm of rhyme is a vibrant, dark exploration of domestic and social alienation.

WE’RE HIRING! Now accepting applications for a full-time Publicity and Marketing Assistant

Publicity and Marketing Assistant

We are seeking a full-time publicity and marketing assistant. This position entails the promotion of titles to media, bookseller and media relations, overseeing social media campaigns, and assisting marketing staff with sales materials. But we are also in the process of rethinking all aspects of our promotion and marketing strategies and will be looking for someone who can think creatively and help us discover new ways to promote our authors and their books.

We are looking, especially, for someone who reads widely and well, someone who is, ideally, familiar with the types of books we publish and can understand and place them in a wider context. We are looking for someone who can talk and write about books intelligently and with enthusiasm and enjoys proselytizing on their behalf. A person who enjoys working with authors, discussing ideas, making things, someone who likes mail and isn’t afraid of heavy lifting: the real business of books is moving boxes from one place to another, and then back again.

Though we ideally are looking for someone to join us in our Windsor office, consideration will be given if the best candidate needs to work long-distance.

Major Responsibilities:

  • read and think about our books
  • assist with national and international publicity strategies for 25+ books annually, including electronic pitches, review copy mailings, and related follow-up
  • build and manage relations with key media throughout North America
  • build and manage relations with key booksellers throughout North America
  • write and update press releases and pitches
  • secure local media coverage for author events (when such things are again possible)
  • organize author tours, launches, readings, receptions, and festival and trade show appearances (when such things are again possible)
  • travel to the occasional book fair or conference in support of our books and authors (when such things are again possible)
  • assist with the designing of promotional material such as postcards, bookmarks, posters, advertisements, and newsletters
  • oversee media updates on the press’s website
  • work in collaboration with sales representatives in both Canada and the United States so they are informed and enthusiastic about Biblioasis titles
  • interact with authors to strategize publicity opportunities and to execute promotional and publicity events
  • field author queries and help manage author relations, including travel arrangements
  • other duties as assigned

Knowledge, skills, and abilities required:

  • individuals must be extremely organized, detail-oriented, and self-motivated
  • excellent reading skills
  • excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • excellent interpersonal skills
  • must have a high degree of creativity and the ability to think strategically
  • must be willing to work occasional evenings and weekends
  • computer skills include: Word and Excel experience required. Experience with Photoshop, InDesign and Acrobat an asset

Education and experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, English, art history, or related field would be an asset
  • experience thinking about and presenting books, whether in a professional capacity (e.g. in the classroom, as a bookseller) or more informally (social media) would be an asset
  • previous publicity or marketing experience would be an asset

All this being said, what we’re looking for is the best possible person for the job. We’ll be more impressed by what you’ve read and how you write and speak, by how you think, than where you went to school. Experience would be wonderful, but if you have all of the necessary skills, or even the potential, we can train you. We want a person who wants to be here and will do what it takes to make us better. Almost no one at Biblioasis started knowing that publishing could be a career: but we’re thrilled to have discovered it and love the shape it makes in a life. We want, most of all, someone who understands that too.

Salary Expectations:

Salary will be commensurate with experience but will most likely range from mid-30’s to mid-40s.

Who We Are:

Biblioasis is an award-winning independent publishing house based in Windsor, Ontario. We publish approximately 30 titles a year, including short fiction, novels, poetry, literary criticism, memoir, belle lettres, local and regional history, and general nonfiction. We are also the publishers of the critical journal CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries and the annual Best Canadian anthologies and operate an independent bookstore in Windsor’s historic Walkerville.

To apply, email your resume and cover letter to Dan Wells at dwells@biblioasis.com by Friday, June 3. In your cover letter please tell us about three books that mean the most to you and why they matter. If you want to include something about why you want to work in publishing, and specifically why you want to work at Biblioasis, that would definitely be considered an asset.

A Biblioasis Interview with Patrick McCabe

A Biblioasis Interview with Patrick McCabe

Tell me a bit about yourself.

Well, I suppose I have been a full-time writer for twenty years now. I used to do other jobs, but they are not of any interest to either me or your public. I suppose I have written a lot about contemporary Ireland, the ancient world, and the interplay between them.

How does the ancient world—folklore, myth—influence your work?

I was brought up on the Catholic Gaelic tradition, you know, which is filled with all sorts of contemplations of alternate worlds and alternative realities and that is always really appealing to a child. In my case, it became comingled with what we call the “culture of the degraded image.” Popular culture like horror movies, comic fiction, TV, all sorts of things. The various manifestations and expressions of the inexplicable in the modern world and the ancient world became one for me. That is very true of Poguemahone. It is ancient folklore and contemporary folklore performing a progressive music dance.

There is also an element of hilarity and self-parody as well. I suppose what I like to do in fiction is to do battle with the English language. There is a sympathetic understanding between the two languages—that is to say Gaelic and the English language—in the book but also a kind of mischievous duet. It has been said that the characters speak in English but feel in Irish. Feel in Gaelic, in the Catholic Gaelic tradition, but speak in the Anglo-Saxon, more pragmatic, straight-talking tradition. There is a lot of that kind of dancing going on. Language dancing around itself, as it were.

It is evident on the page and, well, in moments where characters don’t realize they have slipped into Gaelic. Those moments are very poignant.

Well, it is a serious book and, poignant is what I was looking for. It is ultimately about the greatest horror I’ve ever experienced, which is Alzheimer’s. I haven’t experienced this personally, but I have been very close to it. If in the ancient world people said a spell had been cast either on a person, or a town, it might seem to the rational or contemporary mind to be a ludicrous superstition. But, when you are close to Alzheimer’s, it is as good an explanation as any. Because that is what it looks like.

In the age of TikTok and in the age of the information superhighway, we know everything and we know nothing more than the ancients really. A simple plague can knock everything out. If this had been a bubonic plague, none of these things would have counted for anything. They would have just been toys. It might happen yet.

Yes, it might happen yet. I mean, it is obviously a raucous book. But I found it to be quite serious throughout.

It’s meant to be deadly serious—it is the most serious book I’ve ever written. The overlay of hilarity, self-mockery, and parody is just that: an overlay. The subterranean river running through it is one of dread.

My next question is about your narrator—

I’ve been married for a long time, 40 or 50 years now. I’ve got 2.5 grandchildren, there is one coming in May. I’m sort of a traditional anarchist, as it were. Imaginatively anarchistic, socially traditional. I like order. It is very easy to be anarchic in your imagination if you are ordered in your life. If you are disordered in your life, all hell breaks loose on both fronts. I like steadiness.

When I was reading, I couldn’t help but think of Joyce, Nabokov, especially when thinking about Dan, and the role he plays as the narrator—

As a young man I was very influenced by both of those writers. I suppose who you encounter first leaves a lasting mark. I read all of Nabokov’s work, some of it I liked more than others. I mean I found Ada impenetrable. But the other ones are linguistically very exciting. It is all about language in a way for me in the end. If you get the beat and the rhythm and timbre of a language right, the novel usually emerges through the language, through the cracks between the words. I don’t start off with a story, I never have an idea of where it is going to go. I just follow the language.

This book started off as a traditional, chapter-based book. When I saw what I had, I was in despair, and felt like tearing the whole thing up. I didn’t like it, didn’t think it was original enough, and then a couple of things happened that kind of released the book. It was like an emotional pressure valve that, when released, the book came out. And it came out in an entirely different form than originally anticipated.

And that was very true with this, you know. A lot of it is set in the 70s and to the kind of rhythm of the 70s, like Dylan’s Desolation Row or the poetry of Gregory Corso and William Burroughs. It is at once an homage and a means of acknowledging the rhythms of an age which, for me, release the emotions of an age.

A prospective publisher said to me: “I don’t understand why it is written in this middle of the page kind of poetic style.” I said, “well you know, if it is good enough for Ginsberg, it is good enough for me. If it is good enough for TS Eliot, it is good enough for me. But also, didn’t you know that Irish Leprechauns speak in iambic pentameter?” And he said, “no I didn’t,” and I said, “well they do, and I’ve seen them.” At that point, he terminated the phone call.

Yes, well, I am a reader of poetry first and I think, you know, opening a 600-page book of poetry can be daunting for anyone, at first. But it immediately became viscerally clear why you chose this form.

Yes, well, I completely understand those concerns. If it is difficult to read a 600-page book of poetry, it is equally daunting to write it. I didn’t want to write it unless the story barreled along and was very clear. I am no fan of opaque epics. I love poetry but if something is keeping the reader out, rather than bringing the reader in, particularly now more than in any other age, it is already lost. Because of the proliferation of visceral imagery now, you notice at the theatre or movies, the audience will give [something] ten minutes before glazing over, unless there is something going on that is of interest to them.

So we are in a different time, concentration-wise. I was well-aware of what the challenges would be. But I think once I got the note struck, whoever is going to be interested in this, they are not going to be willfully excluded from anything I have to say.

Yeah, well it is quite stunning, and, in that way, very clear.

That is very important. Nothing maddens me more than a poem that eludes you unnecessarily when you could have been brought into everyone’s advantage, especially the author’s.

When you were thinking about Dan, as the speaker, was it important that he was unstable, unreliable?

If you think about what is happening, it is like a basilisk or a virus (to which we are all accustomed now) has gotten loose. It is the basilisk of vascular dementia, and you don’t know what way that is going to go. You don’t know if what you are being told is the truth, or if it is one time the truth, and next time not the truth. That is the way that affliction works.

It is also an allusion to general apprehensions of reality. The way, say, a Gaelic Catholic sees the world is not the way, say, an Indian Hindu sees the world. Is a tree the same thing to everyone? What is a tree anyway? Who calls it a tree?

These things only become apparent as you get older and you see them collapse. Like the foundation pillars that maybe held a person’s life both intellectually and theologically together crumbling in front of them. What was once very familiar is now terrifying, strange, maybe amusing, but it’s not the thing that was there before. So what is it? So then it’s very important that the narrator had a multistranded view. And the person that he’s representing—or is he representing?—what is her reality now?

It is as big a book as it is because the number of questions it is taking on is quite a lot for me. Normally, the focus is narrower than that. This one, you’ve got two narrators in one, in a way. You’ve got the Spanish/Portuguese element which represents the dreamlike world of the Latin which is very close, I find, to the Catholic Gaelic, one in that rationality moves in and out of itself all of the time. It is colourful. Linguistically it is impish, daring, and challenging in a way that perhaps the Anglo-Saxon Canadian/American anglophile world, shall we say, is not. Not that either is better or worse, they are just different.

You find those differences between Ireland and England. Superficially, they seem the same, until you start listening, and digging a bit, and you see curious gaps. Interesting gaps.

Those are minor explorations though. I suppose really what this story is, is one of exile and heartbreak. You’ve been exiled from yourself, that is the ultimate exile, isn’t it?

That was my next question: exile and the role it plays in your work. I know Fogarty—the last name of your main characters—translates to “exiled” in Gaelic. I’ve read quite a bit of exile literature, rarely from Ireland. A lot of German literature. I know there are many different ways to approach the subject. Exile from the self, the country, what kind of country you are talking about, what the historical conditions of exile are…

I love that tradition of European literature. There is an element there of stark, bony exile feel. But then there is the florid Latin/Gaelic, that is equally trying to lasso the notion of exile but is expressing it in an entirely different way.  But you are still left with the empty room of Kafka in the soul. Had there been anybody there at all? Did you imagine the whole story? Where did the story come from? Fogarty also means outlaw, being on the fringe, on the perimeter of society. But what is society? Is it made up of individuals? Which brings us to Camus. I’ve been interested in L’Étranger—a couple different translations of it.

One translation would open: “Mother died yesterday.” Okay, that is one. Another translation would be: “My mother died yesterday.” Straight away you have two different books, haven’t you? They are both dealing with exile. So, “Mother died yesterday” is the more European, Anglo-Saxon statement of fact. Three words. But then, when you add “my,” it personalizes it, which is the way the Irish mind would approach it. It brings it to the village.

But it doesn’t matter which way you express it, really. The exile is still the same. You are left alone. So, definitely, there is an element of The Waste Land. Who knows anyone? Who knows oneself?

These are such heavy questions. I couldn’t have written them except for in the style in which they emerged, a rainbow river that tumbles and torrents along. It had to come out for me that way, all these other things were buried deep. The form helped them to be released.

Do you think the condition of their being in exile helped you work out other themes that exile compounds? Like madness, alienation, isolation?

If you look at any of my humble offerings. There is always an element of someone being at the center of things, but they’re not. And they know they’re not. In The Butcher Boy, there is the illusion of being happy-go-lucky, but in fact the soul is desolate. You will often find, particularly if you examine Irish history, expressions that there is some terrible loss. Maybe even just in the biblical sense, as simple as banishment from the Garden of Eden. A sense of what is missing. People search for it in good work, love, God. It often eludes them.

It seems to me, having come through a God-centered world and now, in its absence, that the exile may be far deeper than we have begun to realize.

The world as it reconfigures itself and moves at such a speed, there are sometimes in the secular world when people seem to me to speak with enormous authority without any great information. Unbelievable confidence, but when you start to pick at this technological delivery, it doesn’t do a great deal. That’s not to say that I am particularly religious, but I grew up in a world where the psalms were known to very ordinary people, they could quote things, even if they weren’t particularly well-schooled or educated, they had a relationship—however oblique—with the classical world which is now laughable…

Obliterated.

Completely obliterated, annihilated, and in fact scorned. You see politicians who are attempting to impress but are so fool-hearty and ham-fisted in their delivery that it is nothing but an embarrassment. We may come out of this, I don’t know. But I think there is some time left for it to run, before something happens, and the game is up. It certainly does embarrass me. Do you know what I mean by that?

Yes. The denigration of language that was once universal for a community. Exile as a universal, philosophical, or existential condition, yeah…

Ultimately, it doesn’t make any difference if you were here or not.

Yeah, and now you might not have the language to express or even approach expressing those feelings.

Well, that is really worth exploring. Why, it is really good to have a dialogue with younger people because when you get to your mid-20s, these things might start to be of some interest. Because the thin ice that they’re fed, it only lasts through the teens. When real emotions start to come in, the language that has been attacked and obliterated could be of service to them. You can see the difference between people who have now realized that and people that haven’t.

The ones who haven’t would be really fine writers, maybe, and competent. It’s not their fault that they have been tumbled into an age where these things have been derided, particularly in America now. It wouldn’t be the first time. It just seems to have happened at a furious speed to me. But the 50s and the 70s didn’t differ in that respect, so much.

Kind of a shift but, not really. I would love to hear you talk about the role music plays in the text.

The beat of the book is set by the appearance of one particular song, which is an old Irish, Scottish folk song called “The Killiburn Brae.” A brae is a slope or a hill. It is generally sung to the beat of a hand drum. Like a lot of work songs, it is about the war between men and women. A man speaks about sending his wife down to hell. She is so infuriating that the Devil brings her back and dumps her at the doorway of her husband’s house, saying “you can look after her, because I can’t handle her.” The lyrics of this song are not that significant, but what is significant is the rhythm. It is the first song you encounter and is the musical foundation of the book.

As it moves into different areas, you could encounter the cool crooners of the 1950s, it could be Nat King Cole, or scat beats of the 60s. When it goes into the 70s, it moves into the psychedelic, transcendental phase. You have that absorbing period between 1970 and 1974 when all sorts of outlandish experimentations were taking place. In a way, the book is an homage to that as well, insofar as it is a drug-fueled opera. This sort of thing that was very common at that time. It was possible for record companies to form some of the most outlandish projects imaginable before they ran out of road, and punk came in.

But the circular librettos of the 70s certainly inform the book, as does William Burroughs and George Corso and all those … well I don’t like the word experimental, they are all part of the canon now. They might have been seen as experimental against Tennyson but not now. Just look at Bob Dylan, the most experimental of them all has won a Nobel Prize and is regarded along with Shakespeare. Quite rightfully so, I think.

Dylan told someone that in 1972 that he was a sea-faring mariner off the coast of Barbados. It was all a pack of lies, wasn’t it Bob, and it would have turned out to have actually happened to someone like Dave van Ronk. Dylan would’ve stolen the story and convinced himself that he was there. And if he convinced himself, well, maybe he was there.

It is operating on that level. I have always been interested in that multi-layered aspect of Dylan’s imagination. He rang his mother up one time, and he said to her, “I hope you don’t mind me making up all these stories.” She had read somewhere another pack of lies about when he ran away with the carnival. She said “Oh, absolutely no dear, but why are you doing it?” and he said “oh, well, I think it helps my career” and chuckles. And, you know, I like to chuckle.

It helps with the condition of exile. There isn’t that much of Dylan in the book, just a little bit. Because he is too powerful. If you admitted him in, he could take over, then it’s no book of your own, he would scoop the prize again, like he did to Dave van Ronk.

I found it very operatic, in the way that The Wall and Quadrophenia, are.

Those albums, at their best, well, I love their absolute audacity. They really shouldn’t have the nerve to do those things. I thought that with the original 1500-page manuscript of this book, it was quite tame. Little strokes trying to burst, little veins. Then, when I got them all together, it came out in a torrent. But it was a controlled torrent. The original manuscript was solid and not as imaginative. But it provided the foundation. Like what I was saying: you live a relatively straight life so you can let your imagination go where it wants. If you are living a too dangerous life, and your imagination is going where it wants, you may well end up in trouble. And there is plenty of evidence, with the history of writers, to suggest that. It just doesn’t really work. It can be really dangerous. Anyway.

Well, you have addressed this already, in so many ways, but one of my questions is about the departure from prose. Especially as it pertains to dementia and expressing fractured consciousness. Maybe there is more you want to say on that.

I have approached it before, in other books, but I’ve never quite gone full throttle ‘til the end. It has been part of chapters here or there. I suppose, I’ve never been this close to fractured consciousness. At various times in my life, I’ve been semi-fractured myself in my perception or I have been associated with people, specifically in those countercultural days, who willfully courted distorted perception. Jim Morrison would be a great hero of ours. All these people who made it very attractive, especially to the young.

But when you are older, my age, and you are close to fractured consciousness to the extent that it terrifies you and terrifies you. You can only do it justice by writing a book like this, which addresses it head on. It is not funny. It is not a cultural fad. It is a nightmare.

Well, those are all my larger, thematic questions. My final question is what you are reading now?

I’m reading a book called Dead Fashion Girl by Fred Vermorel. It is set in the demi-monde of London’s Soho, late 1950s. I don’t know why I am reading it. There is a nexus of writing of people like Eoin McNamee and David Peace and a number of other English writers, that seem to circle the same world, a blue-lit, tremulous world of secrets and illicit comingling of the upper and lower classes in Britain. But it also affects Northern Ireland. There is a strange, fetishistic nocturnal world there. Post-war Britain, just before the 60s break, that is very, very interesting. I don’t know why, but it is. I don’t know if these writers communicate. There is something going on there.

 

Order your copy of Poguemahone here!

 

Celebrate Mother’s Day with Biblioasis!

Mother’s Day is fast approaching! We have some great gift ideas for your mom or any mother figures in your life.

For the mom who keeps up with the bestsellers: A Ghost in the Throat

“A powerful, bewitching blend of memoir and literary investigation … Ní Ghríofa is deeply attuned to the gaps, silences and mysteries in women’s lives, and the book reveals, perhaps above all else, how we absorb what we love—a child, a lover, a poem—and how it changes us from the inside out.”—Nina Maclaughlin, New York Times

For the mom who wants a challenge: Ducks, Newburyport

“Lucy Ellmann has written a genre-defying novel, a torrent on modern life, as well as a hymn to loss and grief. Her creativity and sheer obduracy make demands on the reader. But Ellmann’s daring is exhilarating—as are the wit, humanity and survival of her unforgettable narrator.”—2019 Booker Prize Jury Citation

For the mom who attends open mic night: Hail, the Invisible Watchman

“Alexandra Oliver, Canada’s sublime formal poet, grabs centuries-old traditions by the throat and gives them a huge contemporary shaking in Hail, the Invisible Watchman. Terrifyingly clever, dazzlingly skilled, and chillingly accurate in her social observations, she plunges from lyric to narrative and back again in this, her third volume, where a housewife has ‘a waist like a keyhole’ and a ‘good mood’ has a ‘scent’ … With Hail, the Invisible Watchman Oliver again alters the landscape of Canadian poetry.” —Molly Peacock, author of The Analyst

For the mom who loves historical fiction: The Barrøy Chronicles

“A profound interrogation of freedom and fate, as well as a fascinating portrait of a vanished time, written in prose as clear and washed clean as the world after a storm.”The Guardian

For the mom who is everyone’s best friend: The Last Goldfish

“Lahey is a writer of extraordinary gifts, evoking the world of two raucous schoolgirls growing up in the 1980s in astonishing, at times laugh-out-loud funny, detail … Lou couldn’t have asked for a more stalwart, loyal friend than Anita Lahey; we couldn’t ask for a more acutely observant and empathetic writer.”—Moira Farr, author of After Daniel: A Suicide Survivor’s Tale

For the mom who wants to be surprised: Biblioasis Mystery Box

Each box is unique and carefully curated. Tell us some of your favourite books or genres in the notes box, so we can pick books specially for you, or leave it blank for a complete surprise!

Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at Biblioasis!

Spotlight On: THE YEAR OF NO SUMMER by RACHEL LEBOWITZ

With a new month comes another addition to the Biblioasis Spotlight series! For May, we’re weaving through time and place, and history and memory in Rachel Lebowitz’s haunting collection of essays, The Year of No Summer.

THE YEAR OF NO SUMMER

“Darkly fascinating…Lebowitz highlights the parables, fables and myths we humans created in order to weave meaning into our lives and to which we return for comfort.” —Atlantic Books Today

On April 10th, 1815, Indonesia’s Mount Tambora erupted. The resulting build-up of ash in the stratosphere altered weather patterns and led, in 1816, to a year without summer. Instead, there were June snowstorms, food shortages, epidemics, inventions, and the proliferation of new cults and religious revivals.

Hauntingly meaningful in today’s climate crisis, Lebowitz’s lyric essay charts the events and effects of that apocalyptic year. Weaving together history, mythology, and memoir, The Year of No Summer ruminates on weather, war, and our search for God and meaning in times of disaster.

Rachel Lebowitz is the author of Hannus (Pedlar Press, 2006), which was shortlisted for the 2007 Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize (BC Book Prize) and the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. She is also the author of Cottonopolis (Pedlar Press, 2013) and the co-author, with Zachariah Wells, of the children’s picture book Anything But Hank! (Biblioasis, 2008, illustrated by Eric Orchard). She lives in Halifax, where she coordinates adult tutoring programs at her neighbourhood library.

Get your copy of The Year of No Summer here!

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

What does it mean to be human?

Photo Credit: Nancy McCarthy

“What are you writing these days?” In Fall 2019, I took a leave of absence from one of my day jobs, so I could have time to figure out where I needed to go. I was taking a “writing leave,” I told people, but that of course was a mistake, because the expectation from all of us was that I would write, and then not doing so felt like a failure. We need to give permission for writing to encompass walking and thinking and reading and sitting with a mug of tea, watching the crows. As Rebecca Solnit puts it, “Remember, writing is not typing.”

I walked, I thought, I noticed birds and the sound of the wind. I thought about how noticing is an honouring. And I read. I read and read and put sticky notes in books and then typed them up into my ever-growing notes file, and then, five months later, just when I thought maybe I’m ready to write, the pandemic hit, and I homeschooled my kid and read escapist fiction instead because my brain stopped being able to process anything. Then my leave ended and I went back to working almost full-time in a pandemic, which meant moving from online to in-person to online to in-person, and that’s how it’s been for two years. I have written bits and pieces in that time, but nothing that coheres.

Lately, however, I’ve been obsessively thinking about this book-to-be which is always a good sign. So what am I working on these days? Like many artists, I am trying to make sense of the world. With this climate emergency, I asked myself, “How did we get here?” I asked a question that started with The Year of No Summer: “What does it mean to be human?” I wasn’t done with this question and I wasn’t done with fairytales, either. So, from these has come a grappling. I am using the ancient Greek idea of the elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and linking each with specific fairytales (some of our oldest stories). I am writing—or thinking out—essays that use as a jumping off point a fairytale to then delve deeper into humans and our relationship with the natural world, moving from the Neolithic Revolution to 19th Century mariners. Lately, I have read about the California and Klondike gold rushes, the history of spinning, and the Middle Ages. I am a frail thing, watching the crows in the trees, and the tide coming in.

CHEMICAL VALLEY, EYES OF THE RIGEL, THE AFFIRMATIONS, HAIL THE INVISIBLE WATCHMAN: Media Hits

IN THE NEWS!

CHEMICAL VALLEY

Chemical Valley cover

Chemical Valley by David Huebert (October 19, 2021), has been featured by CBC Books as part of ‘11 Canadian books to read for Earth Day 2022’! The list was posted online on April 22, 2022. Check out the full list here.

Chemical Valley was also reviewed by Peter Szuban in PRISM International! The review was posted online on April 21, 2022. Read the full review here.

Szuban writes,

“The characters in David Huebert’s new short story collection Chemical Valley live in a world that has been molded and shaped by neoliberalism and the oil industry—where the vulnerability of their bodies is constantly being subjected to a vague calculus that includes economic precarity, shifting personal relationships, and a natural environment lurching towards catastrophe. It’s a situation that could easily elicit nihilism, doom, and mourning—a kind of eco-grief—and yet, the various stories in this collection strive and yearn towards a sublime toxicity that finds beauty amidst the debris, and accordingly, in the lives of its inhabitants.”

Get your copy of Chemical Valley here!

EYES OF THE RIGEL

The third novel in Roy Jacobsen‘s The Barrøy Chronicles, Eyes of the Rigel (April 5, 2022), has been excerpted in Lit Hub! The excerpt was posted online on April 21, 2022. You can read the full excerpt here.

Get your copy of Eyes of the Rigel here!

THE AFFIRMATIONS

The Affirmations by Luke Hathaway (April 5, 2022) was excerpted in Lit Hub. The excerpt was published online on April 22, 2022.

You can view the poem, “As the Hart Panteth After the Water Brooks,” here.

Get your copy of The Affirmations here!

HAIL, THE INVISIBLE WATCHMAN

Hail, the Invisible Watchman by Alexandra Oliver (April 5, 2022), was reviewed in The Miramichi Reader. The review was published online on April 25, 2022. Check out the full review here.

Alison Manley writes:

Hail, the Invisible Watchman by Alexandra Oliver is a true triumph, with tight, well-constructed poems creating multiple worlds and stories. Oliver’s use of formal structure and metre is flawless, rich and enveloping. […] Oliver flits between contemporary settings to more distant ones, from the mundane every day to pop culture and all strange manners in between. […] The range of this collection is spectacular. The twists that Oliver places in her verses are sly and magical, the way she uses language and metre to craft such strong imagery in a handful of lines is truly masterful.”

Get your copy of Hail, the Invisible Watchman here!

POGUEMAHONE: Rave Reviews and Interviews!

IN THE NEWS!

POGUEMAHONE

Poguemahone by Patrick McCabe (May 3, 2022) was reviewed in The Irish Examiner on April 24, 2022. Check out the full review here.

Reviewer Josephine Fenton writes:

“This is a great enormous book by a great Irish author and should be welcomed by everyone in this great country and the world beyond. You might think, on first sight, that Poguemahone was following in the wake of Finnegan in its attempt to be enormously long, very dense and quite inaccessible. But it is not, at all. You can slip into it like a blunt knife through butter.”

Poguemahone was excerpted in RTE – Raidió Teilifís Éireann, published online on April 25, 2022. You can read the excerpt here.

Patrick McCabe was interviewed about Poguemahone in The Guardian. The interview was published online on April 24, 2022. You can read the complete article here.

Tim Adams writes:

“In the pantheon of storied Irish writers—Joyce in Dublin, Yeats on the west coast—McCabe has a special place as the conjuror of the small-town middle. […] The occasion for our lunch is McCabe’s new book, Poguemahone, an extraordinary 600-page free verse novel, already hailed in the Observer as “this century’s Ulysses” […] Once you get tuned to McCabe’s brilliant playful wavelength, after a couple or three pages, you find yourself at home in Aunty Nano’s famous late-night club […] and spending too much time at the ‘premier crash pad in all of north London’, paradiso or inferno, depending on your politics.”

Patrick McCabe was also interviewed in The Independent, published online on April 24, 2022. You can read the full interview here.

Emily Hourican writes:

“The book—a hefty 600 pages—is written in verse form. And, for those of you put off by the very idea, don’t be. It is by turns energetic, hilarious, tragic and terrifying, and easy to follow once you fall into the beat of it—’the beat of a bodhran, which is the beat of Irish history,’ says McCabe.”

 

Order your copy of Poguemahone here!

 

CHEMICAL VALLEY a finalist for the Atlantic Book Awards!

Chemical Valley coverChemical Valley by David Huebert (October 19, 2021), has been named a finalist for both the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and the Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction, presented by the Atlantic Book Awards! The shortlist was announced on April 22, 2022 at the Frye Festival. The Thomas Raddall Award is one of Canada’s largest literary awards and comes with a $25,000 prize and the Alistair MacLeod Prize comes with a $1,000 prize.

Winners will be announced at the Atlantic Book Awards Gala on Thursday, June 9, 2022 at Paul O’Regan Hall in Halifax Central Library.

You can see the full list of finalists here.

Get your copy of Chemical Valley here!

ABOUT CHEMICAL VALLEY

A Siskiyou Prize Semi-Finalist • Miramichi Reader Best Fiction Title of 2021

Out there by the dock the ocean and the air are just layers of shadow and darkness. But the creature’s flesh hums through the dark—a seep of violet in the weeping night.

From refinery operators to long term care nurses, dishwashers to preppers to hockey enforcers, Chemical Valley’s compassionate and carefully wrought stories cultivate rich emotional worlds in and through the dankness of our bio-chemical animacy. Full-hearted, laced throughout with bruised optimism and sincere appreciation of the profound beauty of our wilted, wheezing world, Chemical Valley doesn’t shy away from urgent modern questions—the distribution of toxicity, environmental racism, the place of technoculture in this ecological spasm—but grounds these anxieties in the vivid and often humorous intricacies of its characters’ lives. Swamp-wrought and heartfelt, these stories run wild with vital energy, tilt and teeter into crazed and delirious loves.

ABOUT DAVID HUEBERT

David Huebert – cr. Nicola Davison

David Huebert’s writing has won the CBC Short Story Prize, The Walrus Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for the 2020 Journey Prize. David’s fiction debut, Peninsula Sinking, won a Dartmouth Book Award, was shortlisted for the Alistair MacLeod Short Fiction Prize, and was runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. David’s work has been published in magazines such as The WalrusMaisonneuveenRoute, and Canadian Notes & Queries, and anthologized in Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Stories. David teaches literature and creative writing at The University of New Brunswick.

POGUEMAHONE: Reviews in the New York Times and more!

POGUEMAHONE

Poguemahone by Patrick McCabe (May 3, 2022) was reviewed by John Williams in the New York Times! The review was published online on April 20, 2022. You can read the full review here.

Williams writes:

Poguemahone is like a high dive: The toughest part of reading it might be convincing your feet to leave the board. Once you’ve done that, gravity does the rest.”

An excerpt of Poguemahone‘s New York Times review was included in LitHub‘s list of ‘5 Book Reviews You Need to Read This Week’! The list was posted on April 21, 2022 and can be read here.

Poguemahone‘s New York Times review was also featured in Library Journal‘s round-up posted on April 22, 2022. Check out the article here.

 

Poguemahone  was reviewed by Paul Perry in The Independent (Ireland). The review, ‘Patrick McCabe’s Novel Poguemahone is a Triumphant Bum-rush of Ribald Verse,’ was published online on April 11, 2022. Check out the full article here.

Perry writes:

Poguemahone is a shape-shifting epic of the Irish in England, steeped in music and folklore, crammed with characters, both real and imagined, on a scale McCabe has never attempted before. Indeed, among his 14 novels and two Booker Prize nominations, this stands out as risky, experimental work by an artist reluctant to rest on his laurels. Modernist and eager to push the boundaries of his own art and the art form of the novel, here is a novelist and novel to celebrate in all their ribald, audacious, outrageous, and compelling brilliance.”

 

Poguemahone was reviewed and featured as the “Book of the Day” in The Guardian. The review was published online April 22, 2022. You can read the full review here.

Ian Duhig writes:

“A major Irish writer of the postwar generation, Patrick McCabe is best known for his early novels The Butcher Boy (1992) and Breakfast on Pluto (1998), both shortlisted for the Booker prize […] His career since has shown a willingness to experiment in a wide range of forms and styles, climaxing in this verse novel, Poguemahone […] Though it won’t appeal to all fans of his earliest work, McCabe may be right when he claims that Poguemahone is his best book: it is startlingly original, moving, funny, frightening and beautiful.”

And it’s less than a month away from the North American launch of Poguemahone! Join author Patrick McCabe as he delves into his rollicking new book. This virtual launch will take place on Sunday, May 15 at 3PM ET. The event is organized by Books in Common NW and will be hosted by James Crossley.

Register for the event here!

Get your copy of Poguemahone from Biblioasis here!

 

MURDER ON THE INSIDE a finalist for The Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence!

Catherine Fogarty’s Murder on the Inside: The True Story of the Deadly Riot at Kingston Penitentiary (April 13, 2021) has been named a finalist for The Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book, presented by the Crime Writers of Canada! The award is sponsored by Simpson & Wellenreiter LLP, and comes with a $300 prize. Winners will be announced on May 26th, 2022.

You can see the full list of finalists here.

Get your copy of Murder on the Inside here!

Murder on the Inside coverABOUT MURDER ON THE INSIDE

Shortlisted for The Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book

“You have taken our civil rights—we want our human rights.”

On April 14, 1971, a handful of prisoners attacked the guards at Kingston Penitentiary and seized control, making headlines around the world. For four intense days, the prisoners held the guards hostage while their leaders negotiated with a citizens’ committee of journalists and lawyers, drawing attention to the dehumanizing realities of their incarceration, including overcrowding, harsh punishment and extreme isolation. But when another group of convicts turned their pent-up rage towards some of the weakest prisoners, tensions inside the old stone walls erupted, with tragic consequences. As heavily armed soldiers prepared to regain control of the prison through a full military assault, the inmates were finally forced to surrender.

Murder on the Inside tells the harrowing story of a prison in crisis against the backdrop of a pivotal moment in the history of human rights. Occurring just months before the uprising at Attica Prison, the Kingston riot has remained largely undocumented, and few have known the details—yet the tense drama chronicled here is more relevant today than ever. A gripping account of the standoff and the efforts for justice and reform it inspired, Murder on the Inside is essential reading for our times.

ABOUT CATHERINE FOGARTY

Photo Credit: Margot Daley

Catherine Fogarty is a storyteller. She is the founder and president of Big Coat Media, with offices in Toronto, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and North Carolina. An accomplished television producer, writer and director, Catherine has produced award-winning lifestyle, reality and documentary series for both Canadian and American networks.

Catherine is the executive producer of the Gemini nominated series Love It or List It. In addition to that franchise, Catherine has produced several other lifestyle and documentary series including Animal Magnetism (W Network), My Parents’ House (HGTV), and Paranormal Home Inspectors (Investigative Discovery Canada). Catherine also produced and directed I Don’t Have Time for This, an intimate documentary about young women with breast cancer.

Originally trained as a social worker, Catherine studied deviance and criminology. She worked with numerous at-risk populations including street youth, people with AIDS, abused women, and social services.

Catherine holds an M.A. in Social Work, an MBA in Human Resource Management, and an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from the University of Kings College. She was recently awarded the Marina Nemet Award in Creative Writing through the University of Toronto.