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Our August Author of the Month: ZOE WHITTALL

Friday, Jul 30, 2021 at 12:07pm

Zoe Whittall’s first novel, Bottle Rocket Hearts, was named a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year and one of the top ten essential Canadian novels of the decade by CBC’s Canada Reads. Holding Still For As Long As Possible, Whittall’s second novel, has been optioned for film, and was shortlisted for the 2010 ReLit Award, as well as winning a Lambda Literary Award. Her third novel, The Best Kind of People was shortlisted for The Scotiabank Giller Prize, and a best book of the year by Walrus Magazine, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Life, and The National Post and is currently being adapted for limited series by director Sarah Polley. Her poetry books include The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life, The Emily Valentine Poems, and Precordial Thump. Whittall has worked as a TV writer on the Emmy-Award winning comedy show Schitt’s Creek, and The Baroness Von Sketch Show, for which she won a 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Writing, Variety or Sketch Comedy, and was nominated again in 2019. She was born on a sheep farm in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and has called Toronto home since 1997.

It’s taboo to regret motherhood. But what would happen if you did? Shifting perspectives and time periods, Whittall’s new novel The Spectacular is a multi-generational story exploring sexuality, gender and the weight of reproductive freedoms. By turns sharp and provocative, she captures three generations of very different women who struggle to build an authentic life in the absence of traditional familial and marital structures. Definitions of family, romance, gender and love will radically change as they seek out lives that are nothing less than spectacular.

Zoe Whittall IndieBookFest Virtual Event. Tuesday, September 14, 2021. 6 PM CT (SASK) / 7 PM CDT (MB).

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

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The Spectacular

- by Zoe Whittall

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It's taboo to regret motherhood. But what would happen if you did? Shifting perspectives and time periods, The Spectacular is a multi-generational story exploring sexuality, gender and the weight of reproductive freedoms, from the author of The Best Kind of People.  It's 1997 and Missy's band has finally hit the big time as they tour across America. At twenty-two years old, Missy gets on stage every night and plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. Missy is the only girl in the band and she's determined to party just as hard as everyone else, loving and leaving someone in every town. But then a forgotten party favour strands her at the border.  Forty-something Carola is just surfacing from a sex scandal at the yoga centre where she has been living, when she sees her daughter, Missy, for the first time in ten years--on the cover of a music magazine.  Ruth is eighty-three and planning her return to the Turkish seaside village where she spent her childhood. But when her granddaughter Missy winds up crashing at her house, she decides it's time that the strong and stubborn women in her family find a way to understand each other again.  In her new book, by turns sharp and provocative, Zoe Whittall captures three generations of very different women who struggle to build an authentic life in the absence of traditional familial and marital structures. Definitions of family, romance, gender and love will radically change as they seek out lives that are nothing less than spectacular. 

Bottle Rocket Hearts

- by Zoe Whittall

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Welcome to Montreal in the months before the 1995 referendum. Riot Grrl gets bought out and mass marketed as the Spice Girls, and gays are gaining some legitimacy, but the queers are rioting against assimilation, cocktail AIDS drugs are starting to work, and the city walls on either side of the Main are spray-painted with the words YES or NO. It's been five years since the OKA crisis and the sex garage riots; revolution seems possible, when you're 18, like Eve. Eve is pining to get out of her parents' house in Dorval and find a girl who wants to kiss her back. She meets Della -- mysterious, defiantly non-monogamous, an avid separatist and ten years older. Initially taken in by a mutual other-worldly sense of rapture, they hole up in Della apartment, trying to navigate spaces of jealousy. On the night of the 1995 referendum, politics and romance come to a head and Eve's naiveté begins to fade. From naive teenager to hot shot rough girl, Eve decides her own fate.

Holding Still for as Long as Possible

- by Zoe Whittall

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A dazzling portrait of twenty-somethings who grew up on text-messaging and the war on terror.

In this robust, elegantly plotted, and ultimately life-affirming novel, Zoe Whittall presents a dazzling portrait of the Millennial Generation -- the twenty-five-year olds who grew up on anti-anxiety meds, text-messaging each other truncated emotional reactions, unsure of what's public and what's private.

Holding Still explores an unusual love triangle involving Billy, a former teen idol, now an anxiety-ridden agoraphobic; Josh, a shy transgendered paramedic who travels the city patching up damaged bodies; and Amy, a fashionable filmmaker coping with her first broken heart. With this extraordinary novel, Whittall gives us startlingly real portraits of three unforgettable characters, and proves herself to be one of our most talented writers.

The Best Kind of People

- by Zoe Whittall

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A finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a national bestseller, Zoe Whittall's The Best Kind of People is a stunning tour de force about the unravelling of an all-American family.

George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father's defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men's rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?

With exquisite emotional precision, award-winning author Zoe Whittall explores issues of loyalty, truth, and the meaning of happiness through the lens of an all-American family on the brink of collapse.

The Emily Valentine Poems

- by Zoe Whittall

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The Emily Valentine Poems is an innovative book that challenges the impossible notions of femininity that permeate our culture. The texts within include self-portraits, prose poems, fake fan letters, and confessional lyric snapshots. These are pharmaceutically enhanced tributes to the hangovers of twenty-something love and to the pop icons from an unconventional 1980s childhood. With The Emily Valentine Poems, Zoe Whittall provides us with the perfect soundtrack for the culturally literate rebel in all of us. "Zoe Whittall's poems are snake bite cures masquerading as candy."--RM Vaughan "Whittall's big sense of humour is the under-coat on all these poems but it doesn't take much reminding that the serious side of Zoe Whittall is stone cold."--Michael Dennis