Books We Love & Think You Might Too
In spare, allusive prose, Sheila Watson charts the destiny of a small, tightly knit community nestled in the BC Interior. Here, among the hills of Cariboo country, men and women are caught upon the double hook of existence, unaware that the flight from danger and the search for glory are both part of the same journey. In Watson’s compelling novel, cruelty and kindness, betrayal and faith shape a pattern of enduring significance.
Both absurd and melancholy, Honey in the Carcase, the newest collection from award-winning Josip Novakovich, moves from scenes as familiar as a dinner party to the brutal landscapes of war-torn Southeast Europe. A man tends bees amid the bombed-out husks of his village. A young girl takes revenge for the loss of a precious life. A Yugoslav drifter finds himself at dead ends in the American heartland. A marriage splinters over a suspicious scent. A cat and a dog enact ancient enmity in the midst of a warzone. An old debt is repaid. And a boy and a juvenile hawk seem to be on a similar quest for freedom and adventure, though violence lurks in the wilds just beyond the window.
Novakovich, hailed as “one of the best short-story writers of the decade” (Kirkus Reviews), approaches each story with the signature insight, wit, and compassion that have brought him distinction as winner of the American Book Award and Whiting Writer’s Award, and a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize.
From the moment of its founding, the USSR was reviled and admired, demonized and idealized. Many Jews saw the new society ushered in by the Russian Revolution as their salvation from shtetl life with its deprivations and deadly pogroms. But Soviet Russia was rife with antisemitism, and a Jewish boy growing up in Leningrad learned early, harsh, and enduring lessons. Unsparing and poignant,
Mikhail Iossel’s twenty stories of Soviet childhood and adulthood, dissidence and subsequent immigration, are filled with wit and humor even as they describe the daily absurdities of a fickle and often perilous reality.
Praised early on by Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk author Ben Fountain and The Weight of Blood author Laura McHugh, Coolest American Stories is a new annual short story anthology whose guiding philosophy is that a collection of interesting "full meal" short stories could, as one @JustCoolStories Twitter follower put it, "make America cool again."
Beowulf Sheehan is considered to be his generation's foremost literary portrait photographer, having made portraits of the literary luminaries of our time across the globe, from Roxane Gay to Masha Gessen, Patti Smith to Zadie Smith, Karl Ove Knausgaard to J.K. Rowling, and Jonathan Franzen to Toni Morrison.
In Author Sheehan presents the most insightful, intimate, and revealing portraits of these artists made in his studio, in their homes, in shopping malls and concert halls, on rooftops and in parking lots, on the beach and among trees, surrounded by flowers and in clock towers. Following an enlightening foreword by Salman Rushdie, Beowulf Sheehan shares an essay offering insights in the poignant and memorable moments he experienced while making these portraits.
Many readers still claim this haunting, atmospheric novel of Michael Ondaatje's as their first love—a novel as sensual and erotic today as ever it was. At the turn of the century, the Storyville district of New Orleans had some 2000 prostitutes, 70 professional gamblers, and 30 piano players. But it had only one man who played the cornet like Buddy Bolden—he who cut hair by day at N. Joseph's Shaving Parlor, and at night played jazz, unleashing an unforgettable wildness and passion in crowded rooms. Self-destructively in love with two women, he embodied all the dire claims that music places on its acolytes. At the age of 31, Buddy Bolden went mad. From these sparse facts, Michael Ondaatje has created a story as beautiful and chilling as a New Orleans funeral procession, where even the mourners dance.
Emotionally charged with an exceptional poetic gift, Sylvia Plath was a woman shadowed by a dark and very private pain that could only be released through death. Her suicide would harrow and haunt three people: her husband, the poet Ted Hughes, freed by her demise and then imprisoned by her myth; Assia Gutmann Wevill, Plath’s rival and Hughes’s mistress, who kills herself only six years after Plath; and Robert Anderson, a young New York writer who reveals that Plath’s poems and her suicide “forged my identity and, incidentally, ruined my life.” Their lives intersect, transiently and directly, through some of the more dramatic social upheavals of the past decades.
Crackling with wit and verbal dexterity, Little Fugue is a stunning novel of artists caught between the erotic allure of extinction and the eternal power of poetry.
A journey through the oeuvre of photographer Stephan Vanfleteren, with expansive personal reflections and stories from three decades of encounters and photography. From street photography in world cities like New York to the genocide of Ruanda, from storefront façades to the mystical landscapes of the Atlantic wall, from still lifes to intense portraits. The iconic images sit side by side with unknown treasures in this heavy tome containing no less than 505 photographs.
"Grim and raw and hilarious." —The New York Times. During the night of a storm, an Appalachian girl delivers a baby and disappears. Next morning, Raymond Toker finds the baby under a bush and takes to the mountain roads to find her a home. While Turner carries out his quest, the child's father, Truman, with "teeth as rotten as his soul," drives his battered car along the same paths.
Leon Rooke is a novelist, short story writer, editor, and critic. He has published twenty-eight books, nearly three hundred short stories, and is the recipient of the North Carolina Award for Literature.
Winner of the PEN/Malamud Award: “The genius of his stories is to render his fictional world as timeless.”―Colm Tóibín The sixteen exquisitely crafted stories in Island prove Alistair MacLeod to be a master. Quietly, precisely, he has created a body of work that is among the greatest to appear in English in the last fifty years.
A book-besotted patriarch releases his only son from the obligations of the sea. A father provokes his young son to violence when he reluctantly sells the family horse. A passionate girl who grows up on a nearly deserted island turns into an ever-wistful woman when her one true love is felled by a logging accident. A dying young man listens to his grandmother play the old Gaelic songs on her ancient violin as they both fend off the inevitable. The events that propel MacLeod's stories convince us of the importance of tradition, the beauty of the landscape, and the necessity of memory.
Foran's book is the first major biography with access to family letters and archives: the definitive, detailed, intimate portrait of Mordecai Richler, the lion of Canadian literature, and the turbulent, changing times that nurtured him. It is also an extraordinary love story that lasted half a century.
Mordecai Richler won multiple Governor General's Literary Awards, the Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, among others, as well as many awards for his children's books. He also wrote Oscar-nominated screenplays. His influence was larger than life in Canada and abroad. In Mordecai, award-winning novelist and journalist Charles Foran brings to the page the richness of Mordecai's life as young bohemian, irreverent writer, passionate and controversial Canadian, loyal friend and deeply romantic lover. He explores Mordecai's distraught childhood, and gives us the "portrait of a marriage"—the lifelong love affair with Florence, with Mordecai as beloved father of five. The portrait is alive and intimate—warts and all.
With a voice grappling with questions about faith and living, Cynthia Atkins' --Still-Life with God excavates and studies the spiritual life in a culture of hardcore consumerism and social media frenzy. These poems are not 'religious' in scope, but in fact, attempt to take God back from religion. Almost prayer-like, they become a rubric for faith with all its threats and losses, through the spiritual, mental, and physical lens at odds with a material world. A bold cautionary tale of the plight of the self to question our destiny and our place in the world. The poet addresses questions of gender, body, mental health/illness, gun violence and mental health. With a wide psychological net and narrative depth, the poet looks at coming of age, adulthood, motherhood, womanhood, selfhood--She is a feminist, a Yankee, a Jew living in Southern Appalachia. Even though there is danger at every turn, there is also a reverence for the 'exquisite human machine.' With images that grab hold, this lyrical sequence of poems addresses the modem hypertext madness of our world. Yes, there is pain and ache at every turn, but these poems are fiercely resolute that facing the demons is what allows us to derail them. This is an impactful and sublime collection, rendering a quest for selfhood, love, contemplation and the divine in a world of human flux and devastation.
In this romantic thriller where sex is used both as a weapon and a cure, Nathalie Guilbeault exposes with great lucidity, the dangers of becoming entangled with a person whose character is poisoned by narcissistic and sociopathic traits. With her marriage failing, Isabelle Duval meets a Nicaraguan man online. Silencing her own intuition, she falls into the arms of hope, weaving for herself a new reality, one that puts her life and that of her daughter's at risk. Set primarily in New England, this is the story of a woman's struggle to seek stability where none can be found. It is the story of a woman's desperate need to surrender and escape, whatever the price.
Fleeing communist Budapest by air balloon, a wrestler tries to reinvent himself in Canada. On a formal invitation from the Party's General Secretary, a Belgian bureaucrat “defects” to communist Hungary, chasing the dream of a better world. Meanwhile, a provocateur filmmaker drinks and blasts his way to a final, celluloid confrontation with fascism, while an enfant terrible philosopher works on his prophetic, posthumously panned masterpiece, Dyschrony. These are among the decadent and absurd characters who hover around the promise and failure of utopia across the pages of Ghost Geographies.
A polyphonic descendant of Kadare, Bolaño, and Sebald, Tamas Dobozy masterfully traces and thwarts the porous borders between fact, fiction, ideology, history, and humor. The stories that make up Ghost Geographies simply confirm that, in the words of the Washington Post, Tamas Dobozy's “approaches to telling stories, and his commitment not only to provoke thought but to entertain, constitute a virtuoso performance.”
Sixteen-year old Kati Kellner met nineteen-year-old Willi Salcer in April of 1944 after they had been forced into the same ghetto. They were together for one week before Willi was taken.
437,402 Jews from Hungary and the annexed portion of Czechoslovakia were transported to Auschwitz between 15 May 1944 and 10 July 1944. 400,000 were gassed upon arrival and the rest sent into slave labor. Less than five percent of those sent into labor are said to have returned. Kati Kellner was one of those people.
Approximately 15,000 men survived Mauthausen, the most notorious of the camps. Of these, it is estimated that the number of Jewish survivors was not more than 1,500. Willi Salcer was among these Jews.
After the War, Kati went looking for Willi.
She found him.
No Past Tense is taught in college courses on the Holocaust and Jewish Literature, and is on the shelves of over 500 university libraries.
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Queer Portraits 2006-2015 by JJ Levine is a large photography monograph depicting one hundred portraits of Levine’s friends and family in Montreal over the past nine years. Each studio-lit portrait is shot on medium or large format film, and taken in a different domestic setting, characterized by saturated colours and discursive backgrounds. This monograph includes four critical texts, by Erin Silver, Greg Ellermann, Johnny Forever Nawracaj, and Jackson Davidow.