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ReadUp this Summer

This summer, why not spend some time getting to know an indie publisher or two? Check out our list of hand-selected books from Canadian indie publishers below and discover something new.

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- by Sina Queyras

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From LAMBDA Literary Award winner Sina Queyras, Rooms offers a peek into the defining spaces a young queer writer moved through as they found their way from a life of chaos to a life of the mind Thirty years ago, a professor threw a chair at Sina Queyras after they'd turned in an essay on Virginia Woolf. Queyras returns to that contentious first encounter with Virginia Woolf to recover the body and thinking of that time. Using Woolf's A Room of One's Own as a touchstone, this book is both an homage to and provocation of the idea of a room of one's own at the centre of our idea of a literary life. How central is the room? And what happens once we get one? Do we inhabit our rooms? Or do the rooms contain us? Blending memoir, prose, tweets, poetry, and criticism, Rooms offers a peek into the defining spaces a young queer writer moved through as they found their way from a life of chaos to a life of the mind, and from a very private life of the mind to a public life of the page, and from a life of the page into a life in the Academy, the Internet, and on social media. "With Virginia Woolf alongside them, Queyras journeys through rooms literal and figurative, complicating and deepening our understanding of what it means to create space for oneself as a writer. Their hard-won language challenges us to resist any glib associations of Woolf's famous 'room' with an easy freedom. Inspiring and moving, Queyras's memoir testifies to Woolf's continuing generative power."--Mark Hussey, editor of Virginia Woolf's Between the Acts (2011) and author of Clive Bell and the Making of Modernism (2021) "In this beautiful, perceptive book, Sina Queyras moves deftly between the words and wake of Virginia Woolf and their own formation as writer, lover, teacher, friend, and person. Rooms is expert in its depiction of personal and literary histories, and firmly aware of its moment of composition. Reading these pages, I was enticed by Queyras's curiosity and openness, thrilled by the sharp edges of their anger. Tight prose, electric thinking, self-discovery - it's all here, all abuzz. Rooms is alive." - Heather Christle, author of The Crying Book "It is impossible not to question the world as we thought we knew it by the end of this book. Sina Queyras painstakingly aims their extraordinary nerve and talent at Virginia Woolf's idea of a room of one's own: 'It's a mistake to consider the room without all of its entanglements.' Taking Woolf's cue, Queyras explores writing that is not world-building but something far more generous and transformative; as Woolf wrote, 'Literature is open to everybody.'" - CAConrad, author of AMANDA PARADISE: Resurrect Extinct Vibration

Fishing With Tardelli

- by Neil Besner

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A literary meditation on memory, time, love, and loss Fishing With Tardelli contemplates the relations among four parents -- mother, father, stepfather, and a Brazilian fishing companion -- and the author. Over marriages and remarriages, fathers and mothers become stepfathers and stepmothers, and brothers gain and lose stepbrothers and half-brothers, sisters and half-sisters across two continents. The various homes become part of Besner's internal geography; memory, dream, story, fable become permeable layers folded over bald facts baldly stated. Beginning with an older man's recollections of himself as a young teenager fishing with Tardelli in the bay in Rio de Janeiro, the memoir reflects on time lost and time regained. The narration ranges across the mid-'40s in Montreal, where two couples marry, divorce, and remarry in a new configuration; proceeds to Rio de Janeiro in the mid-'50s, when one of these newly formed families emigrates; and returns to Montreal in the late '60s and early '70s. After a 50-year interlude, Besner returns from Western Canada to the pandemic moment in Toronto.

The Scent of Light

- by Kristjana Gunnars

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Kazim Ali introduces five autofiction novellas by Kristjana Gunnars--available in the U.S. for the first time, in a single, handsome volume Between the late eighties and late nineties, Kristjana Gunnars published five transgeneric novels comprised of a scintillating blend of fiction, autobiography, literary theory, and philosophy. Elusive and poetic... rigorous yet passionate...these books were treasured by a devoted readership and have been lauded by critics throughout the years since. -- Kazim Ali, from the introduction From a childhood in Cold War Iceland to love affairs and deaths, these short works document a life of perpetual motion, told a discontinuous, subversive style to reflect the singular, feminist, nomadic life of the narrator. It is a life of thought, an ongoing engagement with writers from Proust to Kierkegaard to Kristeva, seeking and often finding a companionship in the writing of others. These five spellbinding narratives act as a bending bow, open to what life has to offer day by day and taking the gentler course, wherein nothing is forced and life's big questions remain beautifully unanswered. The Prowler is a reminiscence of childhood spent in Iceland, seen from a distance with the Cold War as a backdrop, just before the hyper-modernization of the mid-sixties, when the air of the past was still discernible. When an orange was a delicacy against the darkness. This is Gunnars' most lauded novella. Zero Hour is a contemplation and remembrance of the narrator's father and his death. The narrative traces the course of the father's illness and final moments, and confronts the reality and grief of absolute endings.; The Substance of Forgetting is ultimately about happiness. Set in a lush valley in central B.C., the narrator begins to awaken to possibilities of love and transcendence. The Rose Garden is set in Germany and the narrator is on an academic exchange wherein all that happens are things that are not supposed to happen. Night Train to Nykøbing is a darker exploration of life's (and love's) unknowns and the dangers inherent in choices we make. The narrator is travelling between Vancouver and Oslo in a continuous back and forth that gives rise to a sense of the liminality of life itself.


- by Patrick Mccabe

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A swirling, psychedelic, bleakly funny fugue by the Booker-shortlisted author of The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto. Una Fogarty, suffering from dementia in a seaside nursing home, would be all alone without her brother Dan, whose epic free-verse monologue tells their family story. Exile from Ireland and immigrant life in England. Their mother's trials as a call girl. Young Una's search for love in a seemingly haunted hippie squat, and the two-timing Scottish stoner poet she'll never get over. Now she sits outside in the sun as her memories unspool from Dan's mouth and his own role in the tale grows ever stranger-- and more sinister. A swirling, psychedelic, bleakly funny fugue, Patrick McCabe's epic reinvention of the verse novel combines Modernist fragmentation and Beat spontaneity with Irish folklore, then douses it in whiskey and sets it on fire. 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.


- by Jonathan Dyck

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Progress isn't always a straight line. When a non-denominational megachurch opens on the edges of a rural Mennonite community, a quiet--but longstanding battle--begins to reveal itself. For years, the traditionalists in the community have held fast to the values and beliefs they grew up with, while other community members have begun raising important questions about LGBTQ+ inclusion, Indigenous land rights, and the Mennonite legacy of pacifism. Through a series of vignettes, Shelterbelts explores the perspectives, experiences and limitations of a wide range of characters who find themselves increasingly at odds with their surroundings. A pastor and his queer daughter learn that a family has left their church because of the "LGBT issue." Young activists butt heads with a farmer over the construction of a pipeline happening on his fields. A librarian leaves suggestive notes for readers inside popular library books. By pulling these threads together, artist Jonathan Dyck has woven a rich tapestry--one that depicts a close-knit community in the midst of defining its future as it reckons with its past.


- by Anne Sorbie

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(M)othering is a universally understood phenomenon that speaks to the act of becoming something unexpected and entirely outside ourselves. And this book is a collection of writing and art about that. 56 contributors illuminate the kind of gritty, body mind soul transformations that only the mothering myth can evoke. Their work will take you to wonder and wildness, kindness, beauty, grief, love.

These writers and artists show us what it means to create, to birth something, to love it, and to suffer loss. They share their truths about being persecuted, fleeing. About trans-generational trauma. Some write of broken women, mothering their mothers and sisters, choosing not to be mothers. Having many mothers. Mothering grown children. Men who want to be mothered. They tackle identity, adoption, abortion, addiction, self-care, sacrifice, nature and nurture, making art, unravelling, invention, loneliness, anger, laughter, and joy. They are queer, Metis, indigenous, French, male, Jewish, Mennonite, descendants of the Blackfoot and the Cree, settlers and immigrants. In unison, they speak about experiences far beyond the pathologizing of the pregnant female body.

The Vanishing Signs

- by Cam Scott

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What is a novel? What is a revolution? Is there anything new under the sun? In these essays, poet and critic Cam Scott contemplates the novel in various guises — as culture and technology; as a labyrinth, series, list, and sect. Far from an academic typology, these discrete and overlapping studies are excerpted from the activity of a politically interested readership, for whom literature makes real demands of the one world that it describes. Includes writings on Dennis Cooper, Guy Hocquenghem, Dionne Brand, Gail Scott, Robert Glück, Kevin Killian, Renata Adler, Renee Gladman, Ted Rees, Lyn Hejinian, Harryette Mullen, and Jordy Rosenberg. Cam Scott is a poet, critic, and non-musician from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty One Territory. His poetry collection, ROMANS/SNOWMARE (ARP), is both a daybook of anti-capitalist ideation and a homoerotic reinvention of the prairie long poem as it resonates with a love of language and experiment. A chapbook, WRESTLERS, was published by Greying Ghost in 2017. His most recent musical projects are "Swolowes" and "Cold-catcher," which span free improvisation and field recording as well as electro-acoustic genres. As a critic, his independent research is focused on the politics of twentieth-century literary avant-gardes and their executors. He divides his time between the prairies and Brooklyn, New York.

Good Mom on Paper

- by Stacey May Fowles

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The experience of motherhood is monumental, yet rarely discussed in connection with literary or creative life. How do we navigate the twin devotions of love and art? How does motherhood disrupt the creative process? How does it enhance it? Good Mom on Paper is a collection of twenty essays that goes beyond the clichés to explore the fraught, beautiful, and complicated relationship between motherhood and creativity. These texts disclose the often-invisible challenges of a literary life with little ones: the manuscript written with a baby sleeping in a carrier, missing a book launch for a bedtime, crafting a promotional tour around child care. But they also celebrate the systems that nurture writers who are mothers; the successes; the intricate, interconnected joys of these roles. Honest and intimate, critical and hopeful, this collection offers solace and joy to creative mothers and asks how we can better support their work. Mothers have long been telling each other these vital stories in private. Good Mom on Paper makes them available to everyone who needs them. With contributions by Heather O'Neill, Lee Maracle, Jael Richardson, Carrie Snyder, Alison Pick, Meaghan Strimas, Sofia Mostaghimi, Rachel Giese, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Erin Wunker, Jónína Kirton, Jennifer Whiteford, Teresa Wong, Nikkya Hargrove, S. Lesley Buxton, Amber Riaz, Adelle Purdham, Harriet Alida Lye, and Kellee Ngan. A portion of each sale will be donated to the Mothers Matter Centre: a not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering isolated, at-risk mothers.

Chasing Baby

- by Morwenna Trevenen

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Grow up, get a job, find a partner, have a family, live the dream. This was always the plan...with some deviations along the way. Using sarcasm and vulnerability, Morwenna speaks about growing up, finding love, and then struggling when the rest of "the plan" isn't meant to be. This is the raw & real story of one couple's rollercoaster ride as they discover infertility, try various treatments, suffer an adoption reversal, and learn to make new plans and find the funny moments. A raw, sarcastic, and sometimes funny account of the struggles of growing up, dealing with infertility, fertility treatments, and the adoption process.

The Backbone of Night

- by Gmb Chomichuk

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There may be nowhere to go during the Automatic Age. The autovolts have swept the earth clean of most of its human inhabitants and Kerion fears that his son will grow up a lonely anomaly on an earth free of people. Time is running out for Kerion: the prosthetics that keep him alive are breaking down. What will happen if his son Barry must grow up alone? A group of survivors calling themselves The Last People are Kerion's last hope. They may be able to lead them to thet the Delta City, a fabled refuge for humankind, free of the technologies that are trying to kill them. But is it better to risk isolation or leave his son with a group of religious fanatics? The truth will send Kerion and Barry on the run in a fight for survival beneath the sea of stars others calledTHE BACKBONE OF NIGHT.

Malleable Forms

- by Meeka Walsh

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?Walsh?s writings are stunning examples of how to look, how to feel, how to see.? For 30 years Meeka Walsh has been the Editor of the Canadian art magazine, Border Crossings. A selection of her much-admired essays published in each issue of that magazine have been selected for this substantial book. Malleable Forms is a book of 47 essays, rich and broad in ideas and subjects as far-ranging as art, architecture, literature, family, place, dogs, spirituality, birds, rabbits, and whimsy. But it isn?t just about the subjects presented in the essays but the way in which Walsh has made connections inside the essays. ?Kim Gordon: Star Turns? examines the memoir of Sonic Youth?s Kim Gordon takes the reader on a trip that includes surprising links between Gordon and Ab Ex painter Robert Motherwell. ?Rilke: Speaking Longing? measures the poetic sensibilities of Rainer Maria Rilke, Cynthia Ozick, and Vladimir Nabokov. ?Say Bird: A Consideration of Interspecies Romance? describes the romantic tale of a courtship between a woman and a blue jay. Noted international critic and art writer, Barry Schwabsky, has written an introductory essay. The persistent engagement of memory winds through the book and resonant is EM Forster?s dictum, ?Only connect.? Walsh makes her particular kind of connections throughout.

Through Disassembled Houses of Perfect Stones

- by David Y. Williamson

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The weight of history lies on the spine of memory. That heft and delicate balance are palpable in these rich poems that echo with grief, longing, and observed beauty. From the silence and complexity of the northern wilderness to the vast prairie landscapes stretching across the province, Through Disassembled Houses of Perfect Stones explores self, ancestry, and community through poems which dwell on the page with a satisfying density of imagery. Combining careful observation with sensitive reflection, this work examines the poet's memory and experience as a father, son, husband, and descendent of European settlers married into an Indigenous family living in Northern Manitoba.

Fifty-Four Pigs

- by Philipp Schott

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"A delicious read." -- Iona Whishaw, author of the Lane Winslow mystery series For readers of The Thursday Murder Club comes a lighthearted mystery with an incredible sense of place A swine barn explodes near a lakeside town, putting veterinarian Dr. Peter Bannerman on a collision course with murder and a startling conspiracy. Peter is an odd duck, obsessed with logic and measurable facts, an obsession he puts to good use in his veterinary practice. When a murder is connected to the swine barn explosion and his friend Tom becomes the prime suspect, Peter feels compelled to put his reasoning skills, and his dog Pippin's remarkable nose, to use to help clear him. The situation darkens with a second murder and a series of break-ins, including at Peter's house and clinic, but Peter has a hard time knowing when he is out of his depth, despite warnings from his brother-in-law Kevin, an RCMP officer. Ultimately Peter finds himself out in the middle of a frozen lake during a blizzard, fighting for his life and confronting a horrifying realization he had been blind to all along.

After Realism

- by Andre Forget

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After Realism: 24 Stories for the 21st Century is the first anthology to represent the generation of millennial writers now making their mark. Diverse, sophisticated, and ambitious in scope, the short stories in this ground-breaking book are an essential starting point for anyone interested in daring alternatives to the realist tradition that dominated 20th century English-language fiction. After Realism offers twenty-five distinctive talents who are pushing against the boundaries of the "real" in aesthetically and politically charged ways--forging their styles from influences that range from myth to autofiction, sci-fi to fairy tale, documentary to surrealism. Even those who continue to work in the realist tradition are doing so critically, with an eye to renovation. The selection is accompanied by comprehensive and provocative essay by editor André Forget that explains the themes, tendencies and concerns of this group. In bearing witness to an extraordinary flowering of contemporary fiction, After Realism will supply a new standard for Canadian writing.

Contributors include: Jean-Marc Ah Sen, Carleigh Baker, Paige Cooper, David Huebert, Jessica Johns, Cody Klippenstein, Julie Mannell, Sofia Mostaghimi, Téa Mutonji, Fawn Parker, Casey Plett, Rudrapriya Rathore, Naben Ruthnum, John Elizabeth Stintzi, and Gavin Thomson.

Wonder World

- by K.r. Byggdin

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"What this town has done, it's like pickling people. Taking us when we're young and fresh and vulnerable, sticking us in a jar and filling us with all these rules they hope will preserve us from the rotting decay of worldliness. But you can't brine someone in that much guilt and shame their whole lives and expect them not to change. Shrivel into mere husks of their former selves, sour as vinegar." Twenty-seven-year-old Isaac Funk is broke, drifting, and questioning his lonely existence on the East Coast. Having left his conservative hometown of Newfield, Manitoba full of piss and vinegar, Isaac's dreams of studying music and embracing queer culture in Halifax have gradually fizzled out. When his grandfather dies and leaves him a substantial inheritance, Isaac is pulled back to the Prairies for the first time in ten years. Finding his father Abe just as enigmatic and unreachable as always and his extended family more fragmented than ever, Isaac begins to wonder if there will ever be a place for him in Newfield. Is the prodigal son home for good, or is it time to cut and run once more?

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