As we approach the ides of August, thoughts turn to the Fall 2015 literary season. BookThug is proud to present a stellar lineup of adventurous new books, with fiction from Jess Taylor, Josh Massey, and Jean Marc Ah-Sen, poetry from Liz Worth, Brian Dedora, Steven Ross Smith, Samuel Andreyev, and Shannon Maguire, as well as a translation by Nathanaël of work by Chantal Neveu. Read on to learn more about these forthcoming literary gems!
The titular Pauls in Jess Taylor’s debut short story collection (October 1) make up an eclectic cast, each one unique from the rest, but connected by their obliviousness of the extent of their own restlessness and desires. Paul runs through forests, drinks in student housing, flirts with girls, at times is a girl, loves men, makes friends, jumps from buildings, hurts people, gets hurt, climbs up towards the sky, waits for a sunrise, and all those human things. With a unique tone that balances humour, irony, and heavy themes, this series of interconnected stories confirms that Jess Taylor is indeed “one of the best alt-lit reads coming out of Canada.”
Pre-order Pauls by Jess Taylor here
Read the story “We Want Impossible Things” in Joyland Magazine
Praise for Pauls:
“A magical and penetrating collection of strange, mundane, traumatized and ecstatic people who are all named Paul. Its simple sentences are little atoms of wonder.” —Heather O’Neill, author of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Lullabies for Little Criminals
“These are true stories, illuminated with the wisdom of Flannery O’Connor and the wild leaping logic of Hans Christian Andersen.” —Michael Winter, author of Minister Without Portfolio and Into the Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead
“I read Jess Taylor’s debut with a kind of childlike enthusiasm. As a writer, she’s thoughtful, compassionate, imaginative and intellectually curious. Her stories tend to establish themselves slowly, like a storm moving in, and they always revolve around a strong emotional centre that pulls you in, some sort of gravity. Don’t resist.” —Guillaume Morissette, author of New Tab, finalist for the 2015 Amazon.ca First Novel Award
From Josh Massey comes an eco-dystopian satire set along the border of British Columbia and Alberta sometime in the hyper-industrialized near-future. The Plotline Bomber of Innisfree (October 7) is the story of Jeffery Inkster, ex-hipster-turned elk farmer and proprietor of a remote, thousand-acre elk ranch called Innisfree. Long ignored by the hyper-industrialists who have redrawn the entire culture of Western Canada to meet their extraction agenda, Innisfree gets pulled into the cross-hairs of the political violence that results from oil-pipeline expansion—a series of pipeline bombings in which Inkster and the entire Innisfree community of artists and eccentrics are implicated. But amid the activism and counter-terrorism, there are other, more mysterious forces at play, forces that eat into the consciousness of all those involved.
Pre-order The Plotline Bomber of Innisfree by Josh Massey here
Praise for The Plotline Bomber of Innisfree:
“Using prose poems, news blogs, documents and regular fictionalized text, Massey creates and records a bizarre world of the imagination. Or is it imaginary? Perhaps it’s our future. Through the voices of a variety of eccentric characters, Massey makes a convincing case in this short, complex, entrancing novel that is part futurist fiction and part ecological manifesto.” —Mark Frutkin, author of Fabrizio’s Return, winner of the 2006 Trillium Book Award
The secret world of Mauritian street gangs is not for the faint of heart. Fraught with peril and mischief, its inner workings are a mystery to the daughter of one of its most valued members: Serge, the Grand Menteur. A liar of exceptional calibre whose sole responsibility is to purposefully confuse police with alibis, Serge fears for the criminal future he has unwittingly introduced into his daughter’s life.
Mauritian Kreol, English, and French blend together into a heady brew of language in Grand Menteur, the debut novel by Jean Marc Ah-Sen (October 20). It is a crime thriller-meets immigrant saga that revels in a style all its own. Destined to become a “lock, stock, and kreol classic,” this bullet-studded brouhaha will take its screwdriver out of its back holster and stir your coffee for you.
Pre-order Grand Menteur by Jean Marc Ah-Sen here
Praise for Grand Menteur:
“Jean Marc Ah-Sen’s Grand Menteur is a dazzling display of diction, filled with Mauritian Kreol, Latin tags and masterful English, with wonderful narrative momentum. From the island of Mauritius to the island of England and later, homeless shelters in Toronto, it is a fascinating story of Mauritian street gangs, emigration, capers that don’t pay, and a father-daughter relationship like no other. Jean Marc Ah-Sen’s Grand Menteur is voice-driven fiction at its lyrical best.” —John Goldbach, author of The Devil and The Detective
“What a strange and extraordinary book. It reads like a magic trick no one’s ever done before or a myth of a myth—too mysterious, too original, too funny, too pure, too profound to be the work of a mortal being.” —Lee Henderson, author of The Man Game
From 2013–2014, poet, novelist, and critic Liz Worth rewrote Andy Warhol’s a, A Novel as poetry, working with each poem, one page at a time, using only words and phrases from its specified page. A pop art snapshot of 1960s Manhattan, a, A Novel is comprised entirely of unedited transcripts of recorded conversations between Andy Warhol and the American actor Robert Olivo (a.k.a. Ondine), taped in and around the Warhol Factory between 1965–1967. In No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol (September 29), Worth discovers poetic clarity amid the glamorous noise of Warhol’s transcriptions. Not unlike eavesdropping in a 24-hour diner, this poetry is full of voices competing to be heard, hoping for just a sliver of attention at the end of a long desperate night.
Pre-order No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol by Liz Worth here
Praise for No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol:
“What if you tore apart the city’s tenderloin; if you seized its ephemera and—before burning all the sweet voodoo—collected the best, and most brilliant cuts? This is Liz Worth’s stylish master-nightmare, No Work Finished Here. This is ‘the start of something true.’” —Lynn Crosbie, author of Where Did You Sleep Last Night
“Liz Worth’s collection of poems is a testament to both her artistry and daily discipline. In an age of diminished attention, her perseverance in daily poem-making by mining the same source over and over reminds us that artists can be a model of life without distraction-how to go deeper and deeper until you find yourself looking back at you.” —Heath Allen, composer Andy, A popera
Available September 16, 2015, Emanations: fluttertongue 6, is the newest chapter in Steven Ross Smith’s award-winning fluttertongue series. In it, one of Canada’s preeminent sound poets returns to verse form, bending, confusing, and disintegrating the fundamental premises of poetic and fictive creation—working language, narrative, and meaning like sculptural material.
Each poem in Emanations radiates from a specific poetic work, with sources such as bpNichol, Sylvia Legris, and Federico Garcia Lorca. In these adventurous poems about the world that flows out of us and back to ourselves, the dominant themes are nature’s precariousness, social conundrums, relationships, and poetics. Readers are invited to enter these poems the same way the poet tried to initiate them—without expectations, with a free imagination, an open ear, and a lithe tongue.
Pre-order Emanations: fluttertongue 6 by Steven Ross Smith here
Praise for Emanations: fluttertongue 6:
“Steven Ross Smith’s Emanations: fluttertongue 6 Sounds like ‘Futurism / looks like Charades.’ It’s meant to provoke second-sight and attention to echoes, to what shimmers and whispers in the sensuality of sense. Herein is, oh ‘Poet,’ ‘a pitch of try-to-understand before dark drops.’ Need a guide? Look up Roy Miki and/or Samuel Beckett. You’re on to something!”— George Elliott Clarke, Toronto’s Poet Laureate, 2002 winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry for Execution Poems
“A superb technician of rhythm, rhyme and resonance, Smith lays everything on the table for an earth under siege from high finance, rampant human pollution, and wars of the supermarkets. His lines spill and flow like winding rivers or lapping waves laced with erotically sensuous word-scents that take us to what flutters just within and without our grasp. Aroused, we devour their prayers, their scoffs, their love songs, swept along in their amazing quilted music.” —Meredith Quartermain, author of Rupert’s Land
“Steven Ross Smith’s Emanations: fluttertongue 6 both sets its own landing field and touches down, in poetry that bucks and soars. Even the hyphens dart about in this surprise-fest, this portrait of the poet as renewer and renewed.” —Gerald Hill, author of Hillsdale Book
Following her ambitious and otherworldly debut, fur(l) parachute, Shannon Maguire returns with Myrmurs: An Exploded Sestina (October 28). Maguire uses the medieval poetic form of the sestina as a starting point to explore living systems: cities and languages as self-organizing entities; the agency of ant colonies; post-human entanglements and attachments; neocolonialism and how to break free of it. The second title in Maguire’s medieval trilogy, Myrmurs is a playful and virtuosic meditation on the serious problems facing us as a species.
Pre-order Myrmurs: An Exploded Sestina by Shannon Maguire here
Praise for fur(l) parachute:
“Maguire grapples with poetic heredity in a quest to reconstruct a pastoral lyric from translation and procedure. This extended stochastic murmur-beat thrusts grammar into ecstatic contortion.” —angela rawlings, author of Wide slumber for lepidopterists
“At once knotted and knotty (and naughty), bewildering and bewitching; a visionary text that looks to the past to find our future.” —Eric Schmaltz for Lemon Hound
“In her astonishing and original fur(l) parachute, Shannon Maguire trans-slants the Old English poem ‘Wulf and Eadwacer’ to offer us our queer, extra-human being still capable of love and mourning. The best thing I’ve read in years.” —Larissa Lai, author of Automaton Biographies
From internationally-acclaimed Canadian composer Samuel Andreyev comes The Relatvistic Empire (October 14). An obsessive perfectionist, Andreyev inhabits several worlds: he writes in English while living in France; he is an internationally known composer, performer, and teacher; and he is an experimental poet who documents words, phrases, and rhetorical devices while staying true to the fundamental tools of classical poetry.
Andreyev’s medium is the vast sediment of words, the mulch of everyday speech, thoughts, and experiences. His sophomore collection is a profound and ridiculous investigation of how 21st century minds might approach the sport of thinking in an increasingly complex, disjointed, and decentred world. Musical and quirky, The Relativistic Empire is sure to garner attention as it brings some soundings to our senses.
Pre-order The Relativistic Empire by Samuel Andreyev here
Praise for The Relativistic Empire:
“The Relativistic Empire is a carnival of specific instructions. Andreyev’s declensions describe absurd reality. Humour takes the poems on all the rides, from ‘real’ to ‘false’ in all their mirrors.” —Alice Burdick, author of Holler
“The Relativistic Empire shows the exquisite in the everyday; the slips of the tongue which sharpen the pencil’s point until it bleeds. Our things—and the names we give them—slide from strange to stranger, from contained to container. Whistling the orchestration of a beautiful ‘teflon ballet,’ Andreyev makes the poem march to clockwork and despair.” —derek beaulieu, Calgary’s Poet Laureate
In the spring and summer of 1949, Jerrold Levy and Richard Negro—two teenage pranksters with the right mix of bad attitude and artistic ingenuity—composed, circulated, and performed a collection of poems on the campus of Black Mountain College, an experimental school located just outside Asheville, North Carolina.
Now, BookThug is bringing this previously unpublished work to light for the first time in Poems by Gerard Legro, edited with annotations by noted Canadian poet and scholar Alessandro Porco.
Pre-order Poems by Gerard Legro by Jerrold Levy and Richard Negro here
Praise for Poems by Gerard Legro:
“Beautiful Gerard Legro is alive. At Black Mountain College two students rebelled against their teachers, Josef Albers and Charles Olson, to create a mythic figure—part hoax, part avatar of disenchanted youth—who is entirely their own.… These poems are a vital addition to the history of the extraordinary educational experiment that was Black Mountain.”—Kaplan Harris, co-editor of The Selected Poems of Robert Creeley
“The literary history of Black Mountain College has received a useful amplification and illumination in the form of Poems by Gerard Legro…. Through his detailed and insightful introduction, and in his careful annotation of both the poems and the circumstances of their composition and (non-)dissemination, Alessandro Porco equips the contemporary reader not just to get the joke(s), but also to appreciate the significance of a fascinating project, equal parts homage and satire, that has too long languished in archival storage. A valuable recovery.”—Steve Evans, coordinator of the New Writing Series at the University of Maine
When acclaimed Canadian writer Brian Dedora travelled to Spain in 2012 to explore “Lorca’s Granada,” he experienced an unexpected transformation that set him on a path of understanding—of the life and work of Federico Garcia Lorca; of the basic elements in common between the Spanish writer’s life and his own; and of the tragic grandeur of Lorca’s death in Granada in 1936.
Lorcation (September 9), presented in a bilingual English and Spanish edition, tracks Dedora’s journey of understanding. Progressing from prose poem to informal essay, Lorcation follows the author’s reading and re-enactment of Lorca’s life and writing—especially the Spanish author’s emergent awareness of his homosexuality—culminating, for Dedora, in a new understanding of Lorca’s call to attend to the living within the enigma of death. This is a collection for lovers of Lorca, and for those eager to discover the life, loves, and losses of this enigmatic Spanish virtuoso.
Pre-order Lorcation by Brian Dedora here
Praise for Brian Dedora:
“Gutsy writing from a diving heart that knows how to surface from darkness into the liberating play of language. Stories within stories of growing up Other. Brian Dedora’s sleight-of-hand narrating offers social recognitions with all the casualness of experience as it hits, hard.” —Daphne Marlatt
“Dedora… creates a perfectly homogeneous book, ‘a continuum of traces’ into the future. A truly haunting reading experience.” —Lola Tostevin
Drawing on the Pre-Socratic materialists, Nietzsche, and Spinoza, A Spectacular Influence by Chantal Neveu (November 3) is a sensuous exercise in extreme perception, envisioning an eruption of violence—the wartime murders of fifty-one Albanians—from four distinct vantage points. It is simultaneously Neveu’s “materialist poetry manifesto” in all its paradoxical joy through tragedy.
With clear lines and sparse language, Neveu’s minimalism dissolves idealism while remaining indulgent to the living that shakes us. In this graceful, rich translation by acclaimed author and translator Nathanaël, Neveu’s poetic perspective invites us to consider that, in our inevitable connection with the world, “I am a human, and nothing human is foreign to me” (after Terence).
Pre-order A Spectacular Influence by Chantal Neveu here
Praise for Une spectaculaire influence:
“In this book, magnificent with density, the most external events are retranslated into intimate events. The writing produces effects of counterpoint that seem to layer several melodic lines tied one to the other. And it is there, in that musical space, that the body is exposed: something arises that changes it, jars it, modulates it, brings about a state or a motion that is the sign of life beating.” —Alexis Lussier, Spirale Magazine
“[Une spectaculaire influence] traverses the question of the representation and the place of the body in the midst of the fluctuating settings that surround us.” —Nicolas Tardy, Cahier Critique de Poésie
“This is poetry, radically.”—Hugues Corriveau, Le Devoir
Catalan poet Martí Sales has contributed to Time Out Barcelona and translated the works of John Fante, Kurt Vonnegut, Jim Dodge, and Harold Pinter. He is the author of Dies feliços a la presó, Ara és el moment and Principi d’incertesa. This October, BookThug is thrilled to present Huckleberry Finn, Sales’ first work of poetry to be co-translated from Catalan into English by Elisabet Ràfols and Ona Bantjes-Ràfols. Huckleberry Finn is a rich and imaginative collection about the discovery of enthusiasm. Martí Sales will be a featured presenter at the 36th edition of the International Festival of Authors (October 22–November 1, 2015), as part of IFOA’s thematic focus on Catalan literature and culture.
Save the date! Join BookThug on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at The Garrison (1197 Dundas St W., Toronto) to launch another exciting season of groundbreaking BookThug Books. Stay tuned to BookThug for more details.