One of the fall titles I’m excited to get my hands on is Stan Dragland’s The Bricoleur & His Sentences (Pedlar Press, 2014). I’ve always envied Dragland’s ease with literary criticism; how he articulates the interconnectivity of reading, thinking, literature and living in the world in terms deceptively simple, deeply complex, and incredibly broad. I’ve envied his sentences, and even attempted, unsuccessfully, to replicate them. For years, one of my favourite books has been his Journeys Through Bookland and Other Passages (Brick Books, 1984), a title I’ve probably read at least half a dozen times, even taking to travelling with it on extended tours. According to Wikipedia, “bricolage (French for ‘tinkering’) is the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available, or a work created by such a process.” I can’t imagine a better description for the literary criticism of Stan Dragland, a deeply committed reader, thinker and critic. According to the press for this new title, he explores the work of writers such as Walter Benjamin, Margaret Avison, Michael Ondaatje, Phil Hall, Bobbie Louise Hawkins and Colleen Thibaudeau, and readers familiar with Dragland’s work will recognize more than a couple of names from earlier works. I look forward to it.
For my Big Fall Novel reading:
The Umbrella Mender by Christine Fischer Guy (Wolsak & Wynn, available now). With
The Umbrella Mender, Christine Fischer Guy had me at “itinerant umbrella mender who is searching for the Northwest Passage.” That the conception of this novel comes from a memoir of a relative of the author is a draw — it’s that confluence of history and fiction that now blended, become truth. The book trailer is lovely — atmospheric and inviting.
For Prep-For-Christmas fun reading:
Many Unpleasant Returns by Judith Alguire (Signature Editions, October 15, 2014). Judith Alguire has been part of our national Fictionistas tour in the past, so I’m keen for her next mystery in the Rudley series: Many Unpleasant Returns — I’ll save it for the first snowfall to kick off my Christmas reading.
For I’ve-Been-There family reading:
Jellybean Mouse by Philip Roy, illustrated by Andrea Torrey Balsara (Ronsdale Press, available September 30, 2014). Jellybean Mouse sounds awfully relatable – who among us hasn’t gone to extreme lengths when our last change is viciously swallowed by the candy machine?
How many of the looters and vandals that ran amok in Vancouver after the Canucks’ 2011 Stanley Cup Final loss had heard of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon? The 18th-century surveillance concept flourished in a 21st-century guise as citizen-voyeurs recorded the shenanigans, shamed the hooligans online, then sent the footage to the police. Do we now live in a state of total surveillance?
Bentham’s key insight was that if a prisoner or student knows they could be watched at all times, you don’t actually have to watch them — the surveillance is internalized, the omniscient eye relocated to the consciousness of the watchable, who then (barring the intervention of copious amounts of booze) self-regulate accordingly.
The Inspection House promises to explore how we created this disturbing fishbowl, what the seen and unseen implications are, and, most interestingly, how our hyper-monitored world is “rife with resistance and prime opportunities for revolution.” Find a local bookstore, pay with cash, turn off your phone, and cozy up in a quiet, isolated space to read what’s sure to be a fascinating and important book on the most insidious aspect of our technological “utopia.”
I can’t wait to read Martha Baillie’s novel The Search for Heinrich Schlögel. I actually can’t figure out what it’s about — something about Baffin Island and time travel, maybe? And an archivist? — but I fell in love with Martha Baillie’s last book, The Incident Report, and now I want to read everything else that she writes. The more I read about Heinrich Schlögel, the more intrigued I am (and the more confused I am, but in a good way). It’s being described as “a fictional biography,” “entirely original,” and “a blessing.”
I’m also really looking forward to Alex Leslie’s
The things I heard about you. First of all, that cover! I love the hot pink. I’ve been a fan of Alex’s since I read her beautiful, lyrical short story collection People Who Disappear, but I haven’t read any of her poetry yet. I’m trying to read more poetry this year.
I also want to read Marguerite Pigeon’s short story collection Some Extremely Boring Drives (NeWest Press). I admire an author who is gutsy enough to put the word “boring” in the title! I expect that this book will be anything but. I always keep an eye on what NeWest publishes — they’re publishing some really fantastic books lately.
One of the books I’m most looking forward to is Jeramy Dodd’s translation of
The Poetic Edda, that fascinating collection of Norse myth and legend preserved in medieval Icelandic poetry. I have a love of translation and a love of myth. This collection is a beguiling mix of the two. The verses are peppered with names and places many of us have become familiar with over time. It’s hard to read of dwarves named Ori and Nori and of a forest called Mirkwood and not be transported back to childhood readings of The Hobbit, but Dodd’s translation is as bold as the original stories.
Thor is here, and Odin, and Loki, (and yes, Dori, Ori, Nori, et al.) but there are other tales as well, of giant, clairvoyant slave girls who overturn princes, and of men seeking wisdom from spell-bound valkyries. There are tales of how to behave in a hall, how to treat a wanderer — and lots of battle scenes. I can’t wait to sit down with this rich and fascinating collection, filled with epic stories translated deftly into a bluntly Anglo-Saxon English.
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