From Our Editors
Welcome to the first issue of the new Hamilton Review of Books. As you’ll read in Our Story, the HRB was founded this year in Hamilton, Ontario as part of our great city’s ever-expanding and thriving arts and literary scene.
Having received the warmest welcome from the Hamilton community, we join the likes of Hamilton Arts and Letters and The Paper Street Journal – two exceptional Hamilton-based publications – in the aim to showcase the considerable talent of Hamilton writers, critics, and artists. Our review also focuses on writers and writing outside of Hamilton and across Canada, and you will find in our reviews, essays, interviews, and columns a broad range of voices, backgrounds, and perspectives.
We’re so fortunate to have Gary Barwin as our featured artist this fall. Gary, a Giller Prize and Governor General's shortlist nominee this year for his powerful novel, Yiddish for Pirates, is a remarkably accomplished and multi-talented writer, poet, composer, and artist. We’re sure you’ll agree that his images are playful, inventive, and thought provoking.
Writer and critic, Christine Fischer Guy brings us a fascinating interview with first-time novelist and Writers’ Trust Fiction Award nominee Katherena Vermette. In a thoughtful exchange focused on Vermette’s experience writing The Break, they discuss making the transition from poetry to fiction, the importance of trust, and the role of storytelling in breaking the cycle of violence.
We offer a number of critical reviews of recent and forthcoming fiction and nonfiction titles from large and small presses, from writers in Hamilton and beyond, written not only by our savvy editors, but also by some outstanding contributors. Journey Prize-winning writer and former National Post books columnist Naben Ruthnum reviews John Metcalf’s new short story collection, The Museum at the End of the World, and insightfully examines the iconic editor’s creation of a fascinating if flawed protagonist. Quill & Quire’s reviews editor, Steven W. Beattie, takes on the much-anticipated After James by Michael Helm, shortlisted for the Writers' Trust Fiction Award, and tells us why it’s important to balance the elements of a recipe for mixing literary genres. Hamilton poet Autumn Getty touches learnedly on truth, fragmentation, and the madness of reality in her review of Anne Carson’s Float. Finally, Geoff Pevere, who gave us the story of Hamilton’s famous punk band Teenage Head in Gods of the Hammer, reviews with a discriminating eye fellow music lover Andrew Baulcomb’s Evenings and Weekends: Five Years in Hamilton Music, 2006-2011.
Launching our column ShopTalk, MacKenzie Hamon, marketing manager at Coteau Books, provides some perspective on her work in publishing and the current state of CanLit. Throughout the fall we will bring you more columns, including our Chapbooks and Kids’ Corner columns, as well as a column dedicated to capsule reviews of genre fiction. Be sure to subscribe to the HRB for news and updates regarding these and other developments.
The fall is perhaps the liveliest season in the book world with festivals, book launches, and literary prizes to enjoy. We are excited to be a small but mighty part of it all as we work to open up more spaces for great writing. We hope you enjoy our first issue and look forward to more to come in the spring.