what we'll be reading this fall:
editors' picks, Part One
Fall 2018 is shaping up to be another great publishing season. Here are some titles from CanLit and beyond that our editors are especially excited to read. Stay tuned for Part Two of our picks list, coming soon!
Wild and Beautiful is the Night, by John Miller
Cormorant Books, August 2018
"Paulette and Danni grew up miles apart — Paulette in Hamilton and Danni in North Toronto — but they might as well have been worlds apart. Paulette's family emigrated from Jamaica. Danni grew up Jewish in an affluent neighbourhood of Toronto. Now both women find themselves on the streets of Toronto, working in the sex trade.
Paulette is a seasoned prostitute, working to support herself and her addiction. She acts as an unlikely and reluctant mentor and friend to Danni, who is new to the street and whose addiction has set her on a similar path to Paulette. Their paths intersect again and again over the course of a difficult and troubled friendship that sees Paulette begin to pull herself together while Danni manages to survive everything that comes her way. Will her luck run out? Has Paulette learned to make her own luck?"
The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World, by Sarah Weinman
Knopf Canada, September 2018
"Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita is one of the most beloved and notorious novels of all time, selling over sixty million copies worldwide to date. Yet very few of its readers know that the subject of the novel was derived from a real-life case: the 1948 abduction of eleven-year-old Sally Horner.
Weaving together suspenseful crime narrative, cultural and social history, and literary investigation, The Real Lolita tells Sally Horner's full story for the very first time. Drawing upon extensive investigations, legal documents, old news stories, public records, and interviews with remaining relatives, Sarah Weinman establishes with authority how much Nabokov knew of the Sally Horner case and the efforts he took to disguise that knowledge during the process of writing and publishing Lolita. As she walks us through Sally's story, Weinman takes us on an intimate and panoramic tour of mid-century America, from Sally's home in Camden, New Jersey, to her place of rescue in California, and back to the East Coast again.
The story of Sally Horner echoes the stories of countless girls and women who never had the chance to speak for themselves. By diving deeper in the publication history of Lolita and restoring Sally to her rightful place in the lore of the novel's creation, The Real Lolita casts a new light on the dark inspiration for a modern classic."
Nobody Cares: Essays, by Anne T. Donahue
ECW Press, September 2018
"From the author of the popular newsletter That’s What She Said, Nobody Cares is a frank, funny personal essay collection about work, failure, feminism, and the messy business of being alive in your twenties and thirties.
As she shares her hard-won insights from screwing up, growing up, and trying to find her own path, Anne T. Donahue’s debut book offers all the honesty, laughs, and reassurance of a late-night phone call with your best friend. Whether she’s giving a signature pep talk, railing against summer, or describing her own mental health struggles, Anne reminds us that failure is normal, saying no to things is liberating, and that we’re all a bunch of beautiful disasters — and she wouldn’t have it any other way."
We Sold Our Souls, by Grady Hendrix
Quirk Books, September 2018
"Grady Hendrix, horror writer and author of Paperbacks from Hell and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, is back with his most electrifying novel yet. In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success—but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in obscurity.
Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western—she’s tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when a shocking act of violence turns her life upside down, and she begins to suspect that Terry sabotaged more than just the band.
Kris hits the road, hoping to reunite with the rest of her bandmates and confront the man who ruined her life. It’s a journey that will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a celebrity rehab center to a music festival from hell. A furious power ballad about never giving up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, We Sold Our Souls is an epic journey into the heart of a conspiracy-crazed, pill-popping, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul…where only a lone girl with a guitar can save us all."
The Blue Clerk: Ars Poetica in 59 Versos, by Dionne Brand
McClelland & Stewart, September 2018
"On a lonely wharf a clerk in an ink blue coat inspects bales and bales of paper that hold a poet's accumulated left-hand pages--the unwritten, the withheld, the unexpressed, the withdrawn, the restrained. In The Blue Clerk award-winning poet Dionne Brand stages a conversation and an argument between the poet and the Blue Clerk, who is the keeper of the poet's pages. In their dialogues--which take shape as a series of haunting prose poems--the poet and the clerk invoke a host of writers, philosophers, and artists, from Jacob Lawrence, Lola Keipja, and Walter Benjamin to John Coltrane, Josephine Turalba, and Jorge Luis Borges. Through these essay poems, Brand explores memory, language, culture, and time, offering beautiful and jarring juxtapositions ("The Wire is the latest version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"), and endlessly haunting language ("On a road like this you don't know where you are. Whether you have arrived or whether you are still on your way. Whether you are still at the beginning or at the end. You are in the middle all the time. What would be the sign?").
An essential observer and one of the most accomplished poets writing today, Dionne Brand's latest engages intimately with the act and difficulty of writing, the relationship between the author and the world, and the relationship between the author and art. Profound, moving, and wise in equal parts, The Blue Clerk is a work of staggering intellect and imagination, and a truly sublime piece of writing from one of Canada's most renowned, honoured, and bestselling poets."
Original Prin, by Randy Boyagoda
Biblioasis, September 2018
"Eight months before he became a suicide bomber, Prin went to the zoo with his family.
Following a cancer diagnosis, forty-year old Prin vows to become a better man and a better Catholic. He’s going to spend more time with his kids and better time with his wife, care for his recently divorced and aging parents, and also expand his cutting-edge research into the symbolism of the seahorse in Canadian literature.
But when his historic college in downtown Toronto faces a shutdown and he meets with the condominium developers ready to take it over—including a foul-mouthed young Chinese entrepreneur and Wende, his sexy ex-girlfriend from graduate school—Prin hears the voice of God. Bewildered and divinely inspired, he goes to the Middle East, hoping to save both his college and his soul. Wende is coming, too.
The first book in a planned trilogy, Original Prin is an entertaining and essential novel about family life, faith, temptation, and fanaticism. It’s a timely story about timeless truths, told with wise insight and great humour, confirming Randy Boyagoda’s place as one of Canada’s funniest and most provocative writers."
Split Tooth, by Tanya Tagaq
Viking, September 2018
"Fact can be as strange as fiction. It can also be as dark, as violent, as rapturous. In the end, there may be no difference between them.
A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy, and friendship, and parents' love. She knows boredom, and listlessness, and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol, and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her, and the immense power that dwarfs all of us.
When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this.
Veering back and forth between the grittiest features of a small arctic town, the electrifying proximity of the world of animals, and ravishing world of myth, Tanya Tagaq explores a world where the distinctions between good and evil, animal and human, victim and transgressor, real and imagined lose their meaning, but the guiding power of love remains.
Haunting, brooding, exhilarating, and tender all at once, Tagaq moves effortlessly between fiction and memoir, myth and reality, poetry and prose, and conjures a world and a heroine readers will never forget."
Obits, by Tess Liem
Coach House Books, October 2018
"Can poems mourn the unmourned?Obits is a collection of prose poems in which a speaker attempts and fails to write obituaries for women and others whose memorials are missing, or who are represented only as statistics. To honour by elegy: she considers victims of mass deaths, fictional characters like Laura Palmer, her aunt (a woman who she knows less about than any of the people she researches,), and her own Indonesian heritage."
The Death Scene Artist, by Andrew Wilmot
Wolsak and Wynn, October 2018
"M_____ is dying of cancer. Only thirty-two, an extra with a meagre list of credits to their name and afraid of being forgotten, M_____ starts recounting the strange, fantastic and ultimately tragic path of their love affair with the world’s greatest living "redshirt" – a man who has died or appeared dead in nearly eight hundred film and television roles.
In a compelling narrative of blog entries interspersed with film script excerpts, The Death Scene Artist immerses readers in a three-act surrealist exploration of the obsessive fault-finding of body dysmorphia and the dangerous desires of a man who has lived several hundred half-minute lives without having ever experienced his own."
Your Duck is My Duck: Stories, by Deborah Eisenberg
Harper Collins Canada, September 2018
"At times raucously hilarious, at times charming and delightful, at times as solemn and mysterious as a pond at midnight, Deborah Eisenberg’s stories gently compel us to confront the most disturbing truths about ourselves—from our intimate lives as lovers, parents, and children, to our equally troubling roles as citizens on a violent, terrifying planet.
Each of the six stories in Your Duck is My Duck, her first collection since 2006, has the heft and complexity of a novel. With her own inexorable but utterly unpredictable logic and her almost uncanny ability to conjure the strange states of mind and emotion that constitute our daily consciousness, Eisenberg pulls us as if by gossamer threads through her characters—a tormented woman whose face determines her destiny; a group of film actors shocked to read a book about their past; a privileged young man who unexpectedly falls into a love affair with a human rights worker caught up in an all-consuming quest that he doesn't understand.
In Eisenberg’s world, the forces of money, sex, and power cannot be escaped, and the force of history, whether confronted or denied, cannot be evaded. No one writes better about time, tragedy and grief, and the indifferent but beautiful universe around us."