Difference: Gander and Gerard

by Tyler Vitt - Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015 at 11:50am

"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking."
-- Haruki Murakami


Forrest Gander’s latest novel, The Trace, is a haunting look at loss and loneliness and a meditation on the intersection (and collision) of different worlds. Dale and Hoa, a couple recovering from a traumatic incident involving their son, decide to travel into Mexico to investigate the three possible fates Ambrose Bierce might have faced when he disappeared in 1913 while covering the Mexican Revolution. The trip is an excuse to escape from the despair that dwells with them at home and an attempt to bridge the distance that has arisen between them. Their journey is threatened by a break down in the middle of the desert and the presence of a ruthless group of drug smuggling narcos. A spare, elegantly written novel interspersed with Gander’s award-winning poetry, the humanity in The Trace is raw and real.

Forrest Gander was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his 2011 poetry collection Core Samples for the World. Trained in both English literature and geology and born in the Mojave Desert, his sense of both the landscape of the desert and the interior landscapes of his characters is masterful.

In the word of Publishers Weekly: “As in his previous works, Gander shows he is keenly aware of the loneliness that imbues human suffering and sets grief alight using beautiful, tense, haunting prose.”

This piece written by our very own bookseller John Toews.


A binary star is a system containing two stars that orbit their common center of mass. Binary stars are gravitationally bound.

An unnamed narrator and her long-distance boyfriend embark on an aimless road trip across America in Sarah Gerard’s debut novel Binary Star. Both vow to leave their vices behind, her eating disorder and penchant for pills and his alcoholism, but those promises cannot be kept. In Portland they happen upon a book on vegananarchism and in it find their cause. She fixates on the stars, both celestial and celebrity, and as such astronomy provides the baseline allegory in this short novel; the couple as binary stars, the anorexic as a shrinking white dwarf burning unreplenished fuel. Binary Star is a portrait of lovers who cannot live together or apart.

This is a work that defies the boundaries between poetry and prose, between fiction and non- (the novel began life as a memoir). In a lyrical style that is both hypnotic and arresting, Gerard crafts a haunting story of consumption beyond control.

This novel burns bright. A truly stunning debut.

This piece written by our very own bookseller Devon Arthur.

This article originally appeared on page 10 of the January/February 2015 edition of our news magazine, The Bookseller. You can pick up a free copy of the magazine in our bookstores, or read it online here.

Categories: Staff Pick, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Something Different

Louis Riel Day & Family Day

by Tyler Vitt - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015 at 3:02pm

Coming up on Monday, February 16th, is Louis Riel Day in Manitoba and Family Day in Saskatchewan. In observation of these holidays, please note the following:

In Winnipeg, our bookstore will be open from noon until 5 pm. Prairie Ink will be open the same hours with counter-service only.

Our Saskatoon store and restaurant will be closed all day.

Categories: Store News, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Holidays

February's Author of the Month: MO YAN

by Tyler Vitt - Saturday, Jan 31, 2015 at 12:33pm

Winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, Mo Yan’s writings cover a wide span, from short stories to novels and essays. He has been a member of the Communist Party since 1979. He had a career in the army and is today the deputy chairman of the party-aligned China Writer’s Association. His readers have long been puzzled by the disconnect between his unequivocal criticism of the state in his work and the conformity of his public persona.

His new novel, Frog, alludes to this contraction but does nothing to resolve it. It opens with a playwright nicknamed Tadpole who plans to write about his aunt. In her youth, Gugu — the beautiful daughter of a famous doctor and staunch Communist — is revered for her skill as a midwife. But when her lover defects, Gugu’s own loyalty to the Party is questioned. She decides to prove her allegiance by strictly enforcing the one-child policy, keeping tabs on the number of children in the village, and performing abortions on women as many as eight months pregnant.

In sharply personal prose, Mo Yan depicts a world of desperate families, illegal surrogates, forced abortions, and the guilt of those who must enforce the policy. At once illuminating and devastating, it shines a light into the heart of communist China.

Categories: Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Author of the Month

Canada Reads 2015 finalists

by Tyler Vitt - Tuesday, Jan 20, 2015 at 3:03pm

The 2015 Canada Reads finalists have been announced, and are:

The debates, hosted by Wab Kinew, take place March 16-19th on CBC Radio.

Categories: Awards, Saskatoon, Winnipeg

2015 RBC Taylor Prize shortlist

by Tyler Vitt - Friday, Jan 16, 2015 at 11:52am

The finalists for the RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction have been announced:

The winner of this year's prize will be announced on Monday, March 2nd.

Categories: Awards, Saskatoon, Winnipeg
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