It's Fall Preview Week!

September 22, 2014

Fall is a busy time of year in the publishing world. In addition to all the Starbucks runs for Pumpkin Spice-type hot beverages, it is also when most of the heavy hitters are published and it seems like literary awards are announced on a weekly, if not almost daily, basis. With over 40 publishers represented on All Lit Up that means we have a ton of new titles for you to peruse.

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Fall is a busy time of year in the publishing world. In addition to all the Starbucks runs for Pumpkin Spice-type hot beverages, it is also when most of the heavy hitters are published and it seems like literary awards are announced on a weekly, if not almost daily, basis. With over 40 publishers represented on All Lit Up that means we have a ton of new titles for you to peruse.

To help you navigate your way through all of these fantastic books we’ve dubbed this week “Fall Preview” week. Each day for the next five days we’re having different people share with you (and us!) what new All Lit Up books they are looking forward to reading (or have read already) this fall.

Since we’re all booklovers here at the Literary Press Group, we’re first up. We get a bit of a sneak peek on new titles so we’ve had a chance to view the goods and have some great options to recommend.

Don’t forget to come back the rest of the week for more fall picks from some of our publishers, author Evan Munday, reviewer Andrew Wilmot, and independent bookseller Jaime from Epic Books.

And if you feel like joining us for more launch festivities, we're celebrating All Lit Up this Wednesday, September 24th, with a cross Canada celebration. If you're in Vancouver, Toronto, or St. John's stop by one of our launch parties or celebrate online as Amanda Leduc, author of The Miracles of Ordinary Men, takes over our Twitter account for a night of trivia and prizes.

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Christen Thomas, Executive Director, picks ...

Don’t Let It End This Way Tell Them I Said Something by Paul Vermeersch
(ECW Press, available now)

 

FallPreview_ChristenPick

For me, the title of a book of poetry is everything. Don’t get me wrong, nice cover design helps too. In this case, neither disappoints. Don’t Let It End This Way Tell Them I Said Something caught my mind and eye immediately in ECW Press’ catalogue. It’s also Paul Vermeersch’s long-awaited 5th book of poems, following 2010’s The Invention of the Human Hand. These poems are extremely well crafted and are a seamlessly integrated mix of different poetic forms, such as centos and glosas, and experiment with tactics like erasure and collage. These poems surprise me with juxtapositions and word choices, and wish to be read aloud for their sounds. These poems reflect on written culture at the end of civilization, building literature from the rubble of text that came before.

ECW converted a pretty poetry ebook, which can be a challenge to produce. I’m reading an EPUB that offers great renditions of the lovely original illustrations, clean and pleasing typographic design, and care around conveying line breaks. This is a collection of poems that I want to visit and revisit, sit with, and lose myself in.

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Barb Phillips, Business Manager, picks ...

Blue Vengeance by Alison Preston (Signature Editions, available October 15, 2014)

 

FallPreview_BarbPick

A new book season is always exciting, and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at Alison Preston’s Blue Vengeance, a mystery/bildungsroman coming out in October. The story takes place in 1964, after the mysterious death of 15-year old Cookie, Danny’s older sister. Danny tries to come to terms, in his own way, with his sister’s death, while dealing also with his mother’s crippling depression. It sounds bleak, but there’s warmth and humour permeating this novel, and the descriptive passages of Danny’s summer, with his oddball friend Janine, were intensely satisfying and evocative.
 
Preston writes great mysteries, and if you enjoy this one, which I’m certain you will, you should try out her Frank Foote series, also published by Signature Editions. In fact, Preston’s Frank Foote mystery, The Girl in the Wall, was one of the very first books I read when I started here at LPG in 2011.
 
If you are more a bildungsroman fan than a mystery fan, I would say Blue Vengeance is quite reminiscent of Barry Dempster’s recent Trillium nominee, The Outside World, published by Pedlar Press. Either way, Preston’s writing is great, and I think Blue Vengeance is a terrific read.

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Tanya Snyder, Marketing Manager, picks ...

Around the World on Minimum Wage by Andrew Struthers
(New Star Books, available October 30, 2014)

 

FallPreview_TanyaPick

As an avid traveller Around the World on Minimum Wage caught my attention as soon as I first heard the title from the publisher. My keenness to read the book only increased as I heard more about it. Victoria, BC author and filmmaker Andrew Struthers (of Spiders on Drugs YouTube fame) travels to Japan, Tibet, Scotland, and Africa, sharing his observations with humour and depth. However, the book is more than a series of trips and occurrences; Struthers also explores the philosophical difference between East and West.

For those booklovers that love the design of a book just as much as the content, this title is something to watch for as well. It is structured more like a journal, with short vignettes scattered with the author’s illustrations. The book was deliberately designed by the publisher this way to reference travel journals from the Victorian era. This intrigued the history nerd in me. And brings us right back to the title of the book—in the Victorian era, it was mainly wealthy men who were able to travel the world extensively, on their “Grand Tours”. Now many more people have the opportunity to do so, not because they are independently wealthy, but because they are able to work (most likely for minimum wage) as they go.

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Tan Light, Sales Manager, picks ...

The Wintermen by Brit Griffin (Scrivener Press, no longer available)

 

FallPreview_TanPick

Things were just getting too hard in the north,
lots of people had already left.
It hadn’t taken long, started with the weather being way
out of whack for a few years, storms, flooding, tornadoes,
you name it,
everyone was getting whacked with something.
Then that long, hard winter that just wouldn’t let go.
At the time he thought it was
some lame-ass version of global warming…

No, this isn’t a recap of our recent weather - it's the state of things at the opening of The Wintermen, a new novel by Brit Griffin, and perhaps the first of a truly Canadian genre: The Northern. All the lawlessness and action of the Old West – now with 100% more snow. In pitting the shadowy forces of TALOS, a near-government organization striping the land of resources, against Johnny Slaught and his band of rugged ‘outlaws’, men determined to maintain their freedom in the Northern reaches of Ontario, Griffin has taken the Can Lit cliché of The Malevolent North and given it a swift kick in the nuts.

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Lauren Perruzza, Education & Engagement Manager, picks ...

The Search for Heinrich Schlögel by Martha Baillie (Pedlar Press, available now)

 

FallPreview_LaurenPick

In an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, author Martha Baillie likened novels to “sculptural acts of tension, motion, and balance.” Her new book, The Search for Heinrich Schlögel, published by Newfoundland’s Pedlar Press, is just that.

The narrator’s titular Search is handled in fits and starts, through an obsessively-self-maintained yet incomplete archive. Among an assortment of snippets from a children’s book on animals, translated from German; a copy of Samuel Hearne’s A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean; a handful of letters and notebook entries; and a single newspaper clipping are what the archivist – and by extension the reader – have to make sense of Schlögel’s extraordinary trip to the Canadian North.

This construction is the tension in Baillie’s “sculpture”. The reader, too, experiences the narrator’s hunger for knowledge of this lost man and his whereabouts: fragmentary glimpses into Schlögel’s own fears and doubts are redoubled by the narrator’s own; that the search is in vain, that Heinrich has already passed by.

Baillie’s book has already received much praise in the early days of its release, including a spot on Oprah’s “13 Powerful Books to Read this September” list. Concerned with time, longing, and the stories of ourselves that we leave behind us, this arresting novel is a must-read this fall.

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Julia Horel, General Manager of LitDistCo, picks ...

Tough Case by David S. Craig (Playwrights Canada Press, available November 1, 2014)

 

FallPreview_JuliaPick

Restorative justice is an alternative to the criminal justice system, a framework that involves the needs of the community, offenders and victims or survivors of crime. This framework particularly interests me when the offender is young; youth involvement with police and courts often predicts criminalization in adulthood.

Tough Case is a play exploring the experiences of a teenage boy, an elderly woman whose home was vandalized, their family members, and a social worker tasked with facilitating restorative justice in the vandalism case. Drama is a perfect medium to take in the internal and external dialogues of characters who have done wrong and been wronged as they come to terms with their involvement in the incident and grapple with how to move forward. The concept of restorative justice is likely new to many people, and this play makes clear that our collective understanding of guilt, fairness and reconciliation is not as clear-cut as we may think.

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Emily Kellogg, LPG intern extraordinaire, picks ...

Moss-Haired Girl: The Confessions of a Circus Performer by R.H. Slansky
(Anvil Press, available November 10, 2014)

 

FallPreview_EmilyPick

Originally hailing from the west coast, my first fall in Ontario seven years ago was nothing short of magical. The crisp fall air and riot of colours in the city’s parks and byways evoked false memories from my childhood — memories of books I’d read and shows I’d watched; of long-dead witches traipsing around leaf-covered streets; of supernatural adventures in historic, decaying brick houses; and the ominous calls of a ghostly woman looking for her golden arm.

Even now, as I sense the first seasonal chill in the air, I turn to the supernatural, the magical, the strange, and the macabre. Moss Haired Girl stood out among many exceptional falls books for being exactly that — mysterious and strange, a meta-fictional narrative about the discovery of compellingly unreliable family lore, and a protagonist struggling to separate fact from fiction.

The novel, which was the winning entry in the 2013 International 3-Day-Novel-Writing-Contest, follows protagonist Joshua Chapman Green. In the aftermath of his mother’s death, cleaning out her home, he discovers letters and photographs — pieces of ephemera that construct a family story of a Victorian era circus performers and a “freak show” that may be too fantastical to be real.

I have only had a chance to read an excerpt of the forthcoming novel ( find it on Geist) but I look forward to, alongside protagonist Joshua Chapman Green, piecing together the mysterious tale of a woman and her young child, and her friends and lovers: the Strong Man, the Giantess, the Bearded Lady and the Lion.

 


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