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Our October Author of the Month: MARY BEARD

Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 at 1:39pm


Mary Beard is the author of the best-selling The Fires of Vesuvius and the National Book Critics Circle Award–nominated Confronting the Classics and SPQR. A popular blogger and television personality, Beard is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. She lives in England.

In her international bestseller SPQR, Mary Beard told the thousand-year story of ancient Rome, from its slightly shabby Iron Age origins to its reign as the undisputed hegemon of the Mediterranean. Now, drawing on more than thirty years of teaching and writing about Roman history, Beard turns to the emperors who ruled the Roman Empire, beginning with Julius Caesar (assassinated 44 BCE) and taking us through the nearly three centuries—and some thirty emperors—that separate him from the boy-king Alexander Severus (assassinated 235 CE).

Yet Emperor of Rome is not your typical chronological account of Roman rulers, one emperor after another: the mad Caligula, the monster Nero, the philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Instead, Beard asks different, often larger and more probing questions: What power did emperors actually have? Was the Roman palace really so bloodstained? What kind of jokes did Augustus tell? And for that matter, what really happened, for example, between the emperor Hadrian and his beloved Antinous? Effortlessly combining the epic with the quotidian, Beard tracks the emperor down at home, at the races, on his travels, even on his way to heaven. A sweeping account of the social and political world of the Roman emperors by “the world’s most famous classicist” (Guardian).

Categories: Site News, Authors, Store News, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, New Releases, Author of the Month, History

Our September Author of the Month: KATHERENA VERMETTE

Tuesday, Sep 05, 2023 at 9:16am


KATHERENA VERMETTE (she/her) is a Red River Métis (Michif) writer from Treaty 1 territory, the heart of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Vermette received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry for her first book, North End Love Songs. Her first novel, The Break, won several awards including the Amazon First Novel Award, and was a bestseller in Canada. Her second novel, The Strangers, won the Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her work in children’s literature includes the graphic novel series A Girl Called Echo. Her new book is The Circle, a poignant and unwavering epic told from a constellation of Métis voices that consider the fallout when the person who connects them all goes missing.

The day that Cedar Sage Stranger has been both dreading and longing for has finally come: her sister Phoenix is getting out of prison. The effect of Phoenix’s release cascades through the community. M, the young girl whom she assaulted, is triggered by the news. Her mother, Paulina, is worried and her cousin is angry—all feel the threat of Phoenix’s release. When Phoenix is seen lingering outside the school to catch a glimpse of her son, Sparrow, the police get a call to file a report—but the next thing they know, she has disappeared.

Fierce, heartbreaking, and profound, The Circle is the third and final companion novel to her bestsellers The Break and The Strangers. Told from various perspectives, with an unforgettable voice for each chapter, the novel is masterfully structured as a Restorative Justice Circle where all gather—both the victimized and the accused—to take account of a crime that has altered the course of their lives. It considers what it means to be abandoned by the very systems that claim to offer support, how it feels to gain a sense of belonging, and the unanticipated cost of protecting those you love most.

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

Our August Author of the Month: EMMA DONOGHUE

Monday, Jul 31, 2023 at 2:02pm


Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is a novelist, screenwriter and playwright. She spent eight years in Cambridge doing a PhD in eighteenth-century literature before moving to London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their two children. Room sold more than two million copies and won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Canada and the Caribbean), as well as being shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes. Donoghue scripted the Canadian-Irish film adaptation, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The Wonder was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Donoghue co-wrote the 2022 screen adaptation for Netflix. The Pull of the Stars was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Her new book is Learned by Heart, a heartbreakingly gorgeous novel based on the true story of two girls who fall secretly, deeply and dangerously in love at boarding school in nineteenth century York.

Drawing on years of investigation and Anne Lister’s five-million-word secret journal, Learned by Heart is the long-buried love story of Eliza Raine, an orphan heiress banished from India to England at age six, and Anne Lister, a brilliant, troublesome tomboy, who meet at the Manor School for Young Ladies in York in 1805 when they are both fourteen.

Emotionally intense, psychologically compelling and deeply researched, Learned by Heart is an extraordinary work of fiction by one of the world’s greatest storytellers. Full of passion and heartbreak, the tangled lives of Anne Lister and Eliza Raine form a love story for the ages.

Categories: Authors, Store News, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Event News, Author of the Month

Our July Author of the Month: PATRICK DEWITT

Friday, Jun 30, 2023 at 4:06pm


Patrick deWitt is the author of the novels French Exit (a national bestseller), The Sisters Brothers (a New York Times bestseller short-listed for the Booker Prize), and the critically acclaimed Undermajordomo Minor and Ablutions. Born in British Columbia, he now resides in Portland, Oregon.

From this bestselling and award-winning author comes The Librarianist, the story of Bob Comet, a man who has lived his life through and for literature, unaware that his own experience is a poignant and affecting narrative in itself.

Bob Comet is a retired librarian passing his solitary days surrounded by books and small comforts in a mint-colored house in Portland, Oregon. One morning on his daily walk he encounters a confused elderly woman lost in a market and returns her to the senior center that is her home. Hoping to fill the void he’s known since retiring, he begins volunteering at the center. Here, as a community of strange peers gathers around Bob, and following a happenstance brush with a painful complication from his past, the events of his life and the details of his character are revealed.

With his inimitable verve, skewed humour, and compassion for the outcast, Patrick deWitt has written a wide-ranging and ambitious document of the introvert’s condition. The Librarianist celebrates the extraordinary in the so-called ordinary life, and depicts beautifully the turbulence that sometimes exists beneath a surface of serenity.

Categories: Authors, Store News, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Event News, New Releases

Cormac McCarthy 1933-2023

Wednesday, Jun 14, 2023 at 6:12pm

We were devastated to hear about the passing of one of the greatest American writers to ever do it, Cormac McCarthy. A novelist and stylist who pushed the English language to its limits and reworked and exploded the myth of the American West. The list of writers he inspired is limitless. We'll be talking about his oeuvre until the end of time. RIP to an absolute legend.

"The candleflame and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door. He took off his hat and came slowly forward. The floorboards creaked under his boots. In his black suit he stood in the dark glass where the lilies leaned so palely from their waisted cutglass vase. Along the cold hallway behind him hung the portraits of forebears only dimly known to him all framed in glass and dimly lit above the narrow wainscotting. He looked down at the guttered candlestub. He pressed his thumbprint in the warm wax pooled on the oak veneer. Lastly he looked at the face so caved and drawn among the folds of funeral cloth, the yellowed moustache, the eyelids paper thin. That was not sleeping. That was not sleeping." - All the Pretty Horses

Where to Start with McCarthy?

There are really three good points of entry into his work. What most people consider his masterpiece, Blood Meridianis a brutal, mythic tale of violence in the American West in the 19th century. This novel traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving. Blood Meridian crystallizes a lot of McCarthy's style: the poetic, almost mythic feel, the long sentences, the apocalyptic descriptions of landscape. Though, the novel is extremely violent and isn't as accessible as the other books we'll recommend.

Another good starting point is All the Pretty Horses, an elegaic quasi-romance about a cowboy, John Grady Cole, and the rancher's daughter he meets in Mexico. This novel, the first in a loose trilogy called "The Border Trilogy" is beautifully, sensitively written, as evidenced by the quote from above. It's also a gripping recontextualization of what it means to be a cowboy. Here, McCarthy's prose gets more accessible, ever slightly more spare as he worries less about apocalyptic imagery and more about the feeling of ranching.

Finally, No Country for Old Men is a terrific entry point into his work. A lean, mean crime thriller about a man who stumbles across a drug deal gone bad and the bag of money left behind. Thinking he's finally made it and escape from poverty, he goes on the run, only to be pursued by what is easily one of the most chilling villains ever written. This is accessible, possibly to a fault, judging by some critics. No Country for Old Men is short and sweet, but still carries the philosophy, the beautiful richness of thought which characterizes all of his work.

Any of these would be perfect to start with. McCarthy's books are life-changing and we will miss him dearly.

Categories: Staff Pick, Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Publishing News, Literature, Author Focus
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