I recently declared fall my favourite season. The decision was based largely on my affinity for pumpkin spice anything and my obsession with boots and leather jackets, but the season also happens to be the most exciting season for literature, with launches, prizes, fairs, and festivals happening all over the place, all the time. It also tends to be full of change, what with the weather and the leaves and the pumpkin-flavoured things and such. Fall here at BookThug is no exception, and October brings many a thrilling change to the table. Perhaps most excitingly, they’ve added a new member to the team for the season—yours truly, Nicole Brewer, embracing the thug life as an intern.
Of course, that’s not actually the most exciting thing fall is ushering in. The most exciting change is actually BookThug’s new list of titles, which were celebrated and launched into the community last week. On Tuesday, October 1, we kicked off our Fall season at Supermarket, an evening featuring seven of the season’s authors in a series of dynamic readings that ranged from Enlightenment-era botany to a timelier-than-expected nod at David Gilmour.
THE FALL BOOKS
Life Experience Coolant by Colin Fulton
Laws of Rest by David B. Goldstein
Light Light by Julie Joosten
A by André Alexis
The Counting House by Sandra Ridley
I Don’t Know How to Behave by Michael Blouin
Revelator by Ron Silliman
Deep Too by Stan Dragland
The first reader of the night was Colin Fulton, reading from his debut collection Life Experience Coolant. Fulton read from the title poem, “Life Experience Coolant (condensed),” a long poem arranged in quadrants, featuring multiple voices and offering a variety of reading experiences. The inherent variability of the poem allowed Fulton to read from it in an entirely different way than another reader might, providing the audience with an intriguing introduction to the collection. Colloquial, humorous, and provocative, Life Experience Coolant started off the evening strong.
David B. Goldstein—another of BookThug’s debut authors—read next, from his collection Laws of Rest. The book itself is a small, square affair that houses a new form: the prose sonnet. Each page holds one poem, and each poem is four perfectly rectangular quatrains of right-justified prose. That prosaic quality of the speaker- and narrative-driven poems reads, out loud, with none of the rigidity often attributed to sonnets; indeed, although he calls them sonnets, Goldstein was first to admit—with a crooked smile—that Petrarch and Shakespeare might not approve of the label. Goldstein was a captivating reader, engaging the audience with his soft, quiet, almost resigned-sounding storyteller’s voice, sharing his everyday experiences and observations with grace and profundity.
The third poet of the evening, Julie Joosten, was the last of the season’s debut authors, reading from Light Light. The collection is a stylistically diverse selection of poetry that explores nature and human thought in relation to natural sciences throughout the ages—on the page, the poems are spacious and divided, each longer poem transforming into what looks like a series of shorter, individual poems. Julie’s soft, measured tone conveyed the space of the collection perfectly, and her choices of poems was a fittingly diverse representation, both thematically and stylistically, of the book.
André Alexis was the first prose reader of the night, reading from his novella A, a charismatic and hilarious performance that led into a short intermission. Alexis called upon a member of the audience to time him for exactly five minutes, and read for exactly five fast-paced and charmingly cynical minutes. While the excerpt—the first pages of the novella—garnered many a chuckle at many a witticism, the evening’s biggest laugh came at the end of Alexis’s reading, when he interrupted himself to unveil one character’s real-life inspiration: “It was in the person of his friend, Gilbert ‘Gil’ Davidoff—who, by the way, is David Gilmour. Davidoff, a mediocre novelist who thought highly of himself, was a compulsive womanizer. Among the women—” A perfectly comedic time’s up! from the crowd ended the first segment of readers, and sent a still-laughing audience flocking to the books table for more.
After the break, Sandra Ridley took to the stage to read from The Counting House, a breathless account of the pageantry and pedantry of courtly affection gone awry. The book is a collection of four long poems, each of which is comprised of many shorter subsections. Ridley read a variety of these shorter poems, a confident and engaging performance that brought passion and urgency to each of her selections.
Michael Blouin read from the second of the season’s fiction titles, his new novel I Don’t Know How to Behave. Well, actually, he didn’t really read—he performed. Blouin came to the podium with a memorized excerpt, in which the character Bruce McDonald has a one-sided conversation with a bartender. The monologue, of a man in hopeless, unrequited love, was a rambling—although never boring or illogical—account of intense adoration amplified by self-deprecation and an acceptance of loss. Blouin was confident and natural, and featured a poignant, metafictional self-assessment to close the mesmerizing reading.
The final reader of the night was the acclaimed poet Ron Silliman, reading from Revelator. Silliman was energetic and passionate as he read, drawing out words and sounds and physically moving to match the rhythm, fully engaging the audience. Revelator is the opening poem in a major sequence entitled Universe.
Although the author wasn’t able to make the launch, BookThug also launched Deep Too, a new non-fiction title from Stan Dragland. Deep Too is a book of stories about the phenomenon of male strut and competition. Thinking with feeling, Dragland posits an expansive masculinity that rises above stereotype and traditional roles, and the either/or choices they so often involve.