New Star Blogs

Trouble at the Mill

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New Star South

Rolf Maurer’s home after the lat­est (Oct. 2014) firebombing.

At 4 AM in the morn­ing of Fri­day, Octo­ber 10, some­one threw a Molo­tov cock­tail onto the front porch of New Star pub­lisher Rolf Maurer’s home while he slept inside. The sound of the bot­tle hit­ting the door woke him; he climbed out his bed­room win­dow onto a roof above the back deck, from which he was able to descend by a lad­der quickly pro­vided by neigh­bours. He was unscathed, despite the fact that the house quickly filled with thick acrid smoke cre­ated by the excel­er­ant, which likely con­tained diesel fuel.

For­tu­nately, Mr. Maurer’s front porch is lit­er­ally vis­i­ble from Fire­hall No. 19, one block away across Jones Park; fire­fight­ers put out the fire before it reached the house’s frame, lim­it­ing the dam­age to smoke and super­fi­cial charring.

This inci­dent was the fifth attack on New Star or Mr. Mau­rer since late win­ter 2012. On March 7, 2012, a fire­bomb was thrown into New Star’s office through a win­dow. Two nights later, a house in Mr. Maurer’s neigh­bour­hood super­fi­cially resem­bling his was sim­i­larly attacked by an arson­ist who hurled a Molo­tov cock­tail through the pic­ture win­dow. No-one was hurt.

In the early morn­ing hours of April 22, 2013, another fire­bomb attack on Mr. Maurer’s res­i­dence while he was home set his rear deck ablaze; that fire was put out by fire­fight­ers before it could spread to the house. And a cou­ple of hours before dawn on Labour Day, Sep­tem­ber 1 just past, New Star’s offices were hit by an arson attack iden­ti­cal to the March 2012 attack.

All evi­dence points to the five attacks not only linked to each other, but to an ongo­ing busi­ness dis­pute between New Star Books and a cer­tain party. How­ever, the police have not been able to make any arrests, let alone lay charges.

Arson presents spe­cial dif­fi­cul­ties for inves­ti­ga­tors. Because the fire usu­ally destroys any evi­dence that might link to an indi­vid­ual, the arson­ist pretty much has to be caught red-handed. And even if that hap­pens, any link between the per­son actu­ally set­ting the fire, and the party on whose behalf he is act­ing, must also be estab­lished. Any­one tak­ing on such an assign­ment is not a casual crim­i­nal, and already knows the rule to dummy up, and what the con­se­quences might be if they don’t. Arson crimes are usu­ally solved because a cit­i­zen steps up and brings some­thing hid­den to light.

Ques­tions might also be asked about the indi­vid­u­als tasked with throw­ing the fire­bombs. Molo­tov cock­tails are the weapon-of-choice dur­ing a gang turf war being fought in South Van­cou­ver. Are the arson­ists being told that their tar­get is a civil­ian and not another gang mem­ber; or are their bosses pre­tend­ing they’re just sol­diers in this gang war? Crim­i­nals claim to have a “code” of their own; who­ever is behind the New Star attacks is vio­lat­ing their own code, by using their gang con­nec­tions to set­tle a per­sonal score that has noth­ing to do with “the Game”.

Come see us at WORD Vancouver 2014 :: Sunday, September 28

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Leigh Schipfel photo.

On a Sun­day in early fall, Vancouver’s book­worms and book lovers take over the streets around their sacred site, the Van­cou­ver Pub­lic Library. It is hap­pen­ing again; this year the cho­sen day is Sep­tem­ber 28, and New Star Books will be there.

Join us, and dozens of our peers, from major to micro, at WORD Van­cou­ver 2014, this year’s iter­a­tion of the fes­ti­val for­merly known as Word on the Street. There’ll be read­ings and inter­views, begin­ning Wednes­day, Sep­tem­ber 23 and reach­ing a crescendo on Sun­day after­noon, lots of books you don’t get to see every day in book­shops, and of course, some great prices on those books.

Sunday’s fes­tiv­i­ties include Poetry on the Bus, in which a slate of brave poets reads on a Translink bus parked in front of the Library on Homer St. At 3:15, after Billeh Nick­er­son and before Jen Cur­rin, you can hear Donato Mancini read from his forth­com­ing Loi­ter­sack.

WORD gets going at 11 a.m. and rolls up at 5 o’clock. Admis­sion is free, nat­u­rally. We’re a lit­tle ner­vous about the weather and will come pre­pared, but orga­niz­ers over at WORD Van­cou­ver are con­fi­dent that we’re due for a pleas­ant day.

 

Summer of Truelove: West Coast Dates

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Graeme Tru­eloveGraeme Truelove, author of the highly lauded Svend Robin­son: A Life in Pol­i­tics, will be vis­it­ing the West Coast this sum­mer. He has gra­ciously agreed to take time away from vis­it­ing his fam­ily to visit with you, dear reader. Mr. Tru­elove will be speak­ing about the exhaus­tive research and writ­ing process that pro­duced Svend Robin­son: A Life in Pol­i­tics, answer­ing ques­tions, sign­ing books, and, if you’re so inclined, explain­ing how you can obtain a free ebook if you buy a print edi­tion. You have 4 oppor­tu­ni­ties to meet him:

  • August 6Book Ware­house (632 W Broad­way) – Book sign­ing, noon to 2:00 PM
  • August 6Spar­ta­cus Books (3378 Find­lay St, at Com­mer­cial and 18th) – Book sign­ing, 3:30 PM until 5:30 PM
  • August 7Burn­aby Pub­lic Library, Bob Prit­tie Metro­town (6100 Will­ing­don Ave.) 7:00PM until 8:30 PM – Talk, Q+A, and sign­ing, 7:00PM until 8:30 PM

New books out this month from George Stanley, Louis Cabri

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North of California St. - 3DNew poetry books are out this month from George Stan­ley and Louis Cabri.

Stanley’s North of Cal­i­for­nia St. com­prises 51 poems orig­i­nally pub­lished in the 1980s and 1990s in Open­ing Day, Tem­porar­ily, Gen­tle North­ern Sum­mer, and At Andy’s, now all out of print. Three-time Governor-General’s Award final­ist Sharon The­sen has writ­ten an intro­duc­tion for North of Cal­i­for­nia St. Stay ‘tooned for an announce­ment about a Van­cou­ver launch at the West­ern Front in September.

George Stanley’s most recent book is After Desire, released in Spring 2013. His pre­vi­ous book, Van­cou­ver: A Poem, was a final­ist for the Dorothy Livesay Award.

Posh Lust-3D NewCoverPosh Lust is Mon­treal native Louis Cabri’s third book, fol­low­ing in the wide wake of Poet­ry­world (2013) and The Mood Embosser (2002). Cabri, who teaches lit­er­a­ture at the Uni­ver­sity of Wind­sor, employs con­tem­po­rary poetry prac­tices to engage with the cyn­i­cism, excess, taste and feel of con­tem­po­rary life under heed­less cap­i­tal­ism. Launch details are being final­ized as this blog post goes to press.

 

What are you doing this summer? Some upcoming events

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East-Bay-Poetry-SummitDonato Mancini — July 4, Berke­ley, California

The bril­liant poet, visual artist, and author of Buf­fet World, Æthel, Lig­a­tures, and the forth­com­ing Loi­ter­sack is read­ing as part of the East Bay Poetry Sum­mit. Details here. Bring your copy of Buf­fet World to the BBQ after Mr. Mancini’s event and reap the envy.

Graeme Tru­elove — July 31 to August 7, Vancouver/Burnaby

Mr. Tru­elove is the author of the highly lauded Svend Robin­son: A Life in Pol­i­tics, an engag­ing and enjoy­able speaker, and a more-than-able signer-of-books. He’ll be engag­ing in the lat­ter two activ­i­ties at the fol­low­ing places & times:

  • July 31 — Van­cou­ver Cen­tral Library (350 W Geor­gia St) – Talk, Q+A, and sign­ing, 7:00PM until 8:30 PM
  • August 6 — Book Ware­house (632 W Broad­way) – Book sign­ing, noon to 2:00 PM
  • August 6 — Spar­ta­cus Books (3378 Find­lay St, at Com­mer­cial and 18th) – Book sign­ing, 3:30 PM until 5:30 PM
  • August 7  — Burn­aby Pub­lic Library, Bob Prit­tie Metro­town (6100 Will­ing­don Ave.) 7:00PM until 8:30 PM – Talk, Q+A, and sign­ing, 7:00PM until 8:30 PM

People’s Co-op Bookstore launches fundraising drive

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Binky, the Co-op's traffic-stopping doorstop. Made for us by Slightly Bent Bob Ellenton.

Binky, the Co-op’s traffic-stopping doorstop. Made for us by Slightly Bent Bob Ellenton.

As friends, asso­ciates, and the occa­sional reader of my blog series here know, I’ve become deeply involved in the affairs of the People’s Co-op Book­store on Com­mer­cial Drive in Vancouver.

Today, the store is at a cross­roads. Hav­ing oper­ated for two years with­out a nickel in its pocket, the People’s Co-op des­per­ately needs some cash, and has launched a drive to raise about $30,000, to pay off some old debt, bring some new books into the store, and spruce the place up a bit.

About a third of that is needed to pay off some debts to sup­pli­ers — some­thing that’s pre­vent­ing the Co-op from get­ting books in from a few key sup­pli­ers. This is money the store needs RIGHT AWAY, before the end of June.

Another third or so is needed to bring more titles into the store. While the Co-op’s addi­tion of used books has given it a much deeper inven­tory, the short­age of cheese in the cup­board makes it very, very hard to bring in the new titles that are a bookshop’s bread and but­ter. The book­store needs that inven­tory to sur­vive: it has to sell a cer­tain num­ber of books to pay rent and salaries, and it can’t sell what it can’t buy.

The Co-op also needs to put a lit­tle money into ren­o­va­tions, fix­tures, and a com­puter / web­site upgrade.

Since Co-op mem­bers rejected a plan to shut­ter the shop in March 2010, huge changes have been intro­duced. The reforms — includ­ing embrac­ing the “Powell’s model”, adding used books to the inven­tory — have reduced the store’s oper­at­ing deficit from about $40k a year, to around $10k — less than $1,000 a month. That’s good, but the num­ber has to be zero. And the only way to accom­plish that goal is to increase the num­ber of books we are sell­ing: not by much, maybe a few thou­sand bucks’ worth per month. But we can’t do that unless we can buy the books in the first place.

The store’s staff, vol­un­teers, and board mem­bers have reached the lim­its of what they can accom­plish with­out the ben­e­fit of a bud­get to work with. The time has come to give the People’s Co-op Book­store and its work­ers the oper­at­ing cap­i­tal they need to work with.

How can you help?

1. By join­ing the Co-op. It costs $25 to become a share­holder in the Co-op, and that gets you a 10 per­cent dis­count for one year. If you’re already a Co-op mem­ber, by renew­ing your membership.

2. By mak­ing a dona­tion of any size to the Co-op. A $250 dona­tion earns you a 10 per­cent life­time dis­count at the Co-op — and gets us sub­stan­tially closer to our fundrais­ing goals.

3. By mak­ing the People’s Co-op Book­store (1391 Com­mer­cial Drive, three blocks north of 1st Avenue) one of the reg­u­lar stops on your shop­ping / fla­neur­ing expe­di­tions. If you haven’t vis­ited the Co-op in a while, you’ll be amazed by the trans­for­ma­tion wrought over the last few years.

4. By donat­ing your time & skills to the Co-op. Through­out its 69-year his­tory the People’s Co-op has relied on vol­un­teers to help out at events, to sort used book dona­tions, and to help out in the store & even work occa­sional store shifts. That prob­a­bly won’t ever change.

5. By donat­ing your used books. Dona­tions have allowed the store to build up its stock — store inven­tory is prob­a­bly deeper than it has been at any time in its his­tory — and used book sales are now pay­ing around half the rent.

6. By shar­ing this appeal with your friends.

(In late March, a Mys­tery Donor stepped for­ward and pledged to match every $2 donated with $1 of their own — so your $25 = $37.50, $100 = $150, $250 = $325, &c.)

From time to time through­out its his­tory, the People’s Co-op Book­store has had to turn to its mem­bers and sup­port­ers to see it through crises. It’s been a cou­ple of decades since the last appeal. This is one of those times. It’s been pretty clear to me, from my vol­un­teer­ing around & in the book­store, that there is an enor­mous reser­voir of sup­port for the Co-op. I hope we can turn some of that sup­port into dona­tions that are now needed to keep the our book­store open.

Since last fall’s Co-op AGM, a fundrais­ing com­mit­tee led by Brian Camp­bell has qui­etly raised more than $8k towards our goal. That’s a great start, but we’ve got a ways to go still. I hope you’ll be able to give some­thing to keep Vancouver’s — and surely one of Canada’s? — old­est book­store going strong.

UPDATE: As of June 1, the Co-op has raised about one-third of the goal — the part it needed before June 30 to keep the doors open over sum­mer, the slow­est period of the year — and is hir­ing a new man­ager. But the dona­tions and mem­ber­ships are slow­ing down, and the store still needs that next $10k to put some new books on the shelves for the fall. The People’s Co-op isn’t entirely out of the woods yet. Please drop in at the Co-op and join, renew, donate, browse, and maybe take your new dis­count for a spin.

New Star’s Fall 2014 catalogue now available

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nsb-2014-2-fall-catalogue-3DlNew Star’s Fall 2014 cat­a­logue fea­tures a forth­com­ing mem­oir by Andrew Struthers inspired by Victorian-era trav­el­ogues; new poetry col­lec­tions from Donato Mancini, George Stan­ley, and Louis Cabri; and, from Thomp­son Rivers Uni­ver­sity, a col­lec­tion of essays, pho­tos, and poems inves­ti­gat­ing cul­ture in small cities. The cat­a­logue can be viewed and down­loaded here (link opens a PDF).

Around the World on Min­i­mum Wage is the lat­est book from Andrew Struthers, the Victoria-based writer and film­maker respon­si­ble for The Last Voy­age of the Loch Ryan (New Star, 2004) and many short films (includ­ing the faux-NFB doc­u­men­tary “Spi­ders on Drugs”). Around the World on Min­i­mum Wage fea­tures dozens of illus­tra­tions by the author, and bor­rows the lan­guage and lay­out of 19th cen­tury trav­el­ogues to tell a hilar­i­ous and excit­ing story that touches down in Scot­land, Uganda, Tofino, and Tibet.

Loi­ter­sack is the lat­est from Donato Mancini, poet, visual artist, and author of, among oth­ers, You Must Work Harder to Write Poetry of Excel­lence (Book­Thug, 2013) and Buf­fet World (New Star Books, 2010). Loi­ter­sack is a unique work con­tain­ing poetry, poet­ics, the­ory, the­ory the­atre, and, like all Mancini’s work, bril­liant wit and sin­gu­lar inventiveness.

North of Cal­i­for­nia St. is a col­lec­tion of poems span­ning the years 1975 to 1999 from Shel­ley Memo­r­ial Award-winning poet George Stan­ley. The 51 poems within were orig­i­nally pub­lished in four books, all now out of print. North of Cal­i­for­nia St. is intro­duced by Sharon The­sen.

Posh Lust is a col­lec­tion of 68 new poems from Louis Cabri, “anti-geographer,” Uni­ver­sity of Wind­sor pro­fes­sor, Mon­treal native, and the author of Poet­ry­world and The Mood Embosser. Posh Lust’s many trea­sures include a con­tem­po­rary answer to “The Owl and the Pussy­cat,” a hid­den rework­ing of the Nixon tapes’ antic­i­pated visit by Allen Gins­berg, and a toastmaster’s neolib­eral code of ethics.

Whose Cul­ture Is It, Any­way? Com­mu­nity Engage­ment in Small Cities is edited by W.F. Garrett-Petts, James Hoff­man, and Ginny Rat­soy of Thomp­son Rivers Uni­ver­sity. Con­tin­u­ing the project that began with The Small Cities Book, Whose Cul­ture Is It, Any­way? exam­ines the cul­tural dynam­ics in small cities through the work of numer­ous aca­d­e­mics, poets, and writers.

The cat­a­logue also includes our com­plete back­list and order­ing infor­ma­tion. Since 2011 we’ve saved over 1.113 trees by issu­ing cat­a­logues in digital-only for­mat — pre­view and down­load it here, and print only the pages you need.

 

 

Win a copy of Seize the Time in #SeizeTheContest

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Seize the Time cover

We’re back on the Twit­ter and we’re giv­ing away books — two copies of Seize the Time: Van­cou­ver Pho­tographed, 1967–1974 by “Vancouver’s great lost hip­pie pho­tog­ra­pher,Vlad Keremid­schi­eff.

The inspi­ra­tion: Last sum­mer, while research­ing Seize the Time at the UBC archives, we scoured sev­eral years of Geor­gia Straights from “back in the day,” which were replete with sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, and “Pho­tos by Vlad.” We have a stash of pic­tures of Vlad’s work in those orig­i­nal Straight issues from 40+ years ago, and we’re eager to share.

TO ENTER: Find us on Twit­ter (@newstarbooks) and watch for the #SeizeThe­Con­test posts, which will trickle out over the next two weeks. Each photo posted will include a memory-testing ques­tion of increas­ing potency. Retweet with your answer (or answer using the hash­tag #SeizeThe­Con­test) and you’re in.

TO WIN: Two ways: You can A) get the answer right. We’ll keep track of the first 3 peo­ple to tweet each cor­rect answer — who­ever has the most tal­lies scores a book; or B) get the answer wrong. Every­one who haz­ards a guess will be entered in a ran­dom draw from an actual hat (hat TBD).

Good luck!

UPDATE, 4/22/14: Con­grats to our win­ners, @tomhawthorn and @LoriHahnel, and thanks to every­one who entered or retweeted!

 

Alex Macdonald

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Dorothy and Alex Macdonald at home, 1993.

Dorothy and Alex Mac­don­ald at home, 1993. Photo by Gary Fiegehen.

Not enough recog­ni­tion has been given to the impact that Alex Mac­don­ald, who died on March 5 at age 95, has had on the way we live in British Colum­bia today. It was Mac­don­ald, Attorney-General in the Dave Barrett-led NDP provin­cial gov­ern­ment from 1972 to 1975, who led the long-overdue lib­er­al­iza­tion of the province’s anti­quated liquor and enter­tain­ment laws, and broke the grip that the B.C. Hotel­mans’ Asso­ci­a­tion held over the dis­pen­sa­tion of alco­holic bev­er­ages in BC. If “no-fun-city” Van­cou­ver is dying (a slow death) today, surely the heavy lift­ing that Alex Mac­don­ald did dur­ing those 39 remark­able months has a lot to do with that.

As a child of priv­i­lege (his father was also a provin­cial Attorney-General, in a pre-WWII Lib­eral gov­ern­ment) who embraced social­ism as a young man, Mac­don­ald, through­out his long polit­i­cal career, which con­tin­ued for sev­eral decades after he retired as the sit­ting Vancouver-East MLA in 1986, never lost sight of two big things. One was his sense of social jus­tice, and his anger when­ever it was denied. The other was that life was short, that there was no pie await­ing us in the sky, and that social­ism was about the good things in life — love, friends, com­pan­ion­ship; food, drink, laugh­ter, plea­sure — as much as it is about the vote, the 8-hour day, and social­ized med­i­cine. Until the end of his long & rich life, Mac­don­ald was curi­ous about the world around him and the peo­ple he encoun­tered — an inter­est that he never had to fake.

Not for Alex Mac­don­ald was the easy cyn­i­cism that comes all too read­ily to career politi­cians of all stripes. Most politi­cians would be con­tent, in their mem­oirs, to jus­tify them­selves, to enhance their rep­u­ta­tion, to try to get in the last word. Not Alex. He would not be per­suaded to write a mem­oir — our loss; it would have been a fas­ci­nat­ing and (prob­a­bly one rea­son Alex did not go there) unflat­ter­ing peek into the work­ings of gov­ern­ment. Instead, he chose to write books that were unabashed pam­phlets, enter­tain­ing on the sur­face, but pow­ered by a deep sense of anger at unre­solved social injustices.

Alex pub­lished two books with New Star, “My Dear Legs .. .” in 1985, which went through a cou­ple of print­ings in short order, and Alex in Won­der­land, in 1993. Rain­coast Books pub­lished a third book, Out­rage: Canada’s Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Sys­tem on Trial in 1999. Later, Alex turned to actual pam­phle­teer­ing, pro­duc­ing two saddle-stitched pub­li­ca­tions that he handed out at national and provin­cial NDP con­ven­tions, which he con­tin­ued to attend reli­giously, as it were, as long as his health allowed. The sec­ond, Why I am Still a Social­ist, went through two edi­tions and three print­ings; Alex must have given away thou­sands of copies himself.

It was easy to see that the energy of pol­i­tics is what fueled the pri­vate Alex — he needed that fix, and even when noth­ing actu­ally got fixed, he never lost faith in the peo­ple, and their abil­ity (and right) to even­tu­ally get it right, even if it meant get­ting some things wrong along the way. Alex was a strong leader, as any­body who ever worked with him can attest; but he was never a mere com­mis­sar, never saw it as his job to set peo­ple right in their think­ing. Respect, logic, humour: that was how you reached peo­ple, how you changed minds and, even­tu­ally, the world. A nice glass of wine in a pleas­ant set­ting: that was part of that, and so as polit­i­cal as any­thing else he accom­plished as A-G — and I don’t mean to slight the more high-profile and sub­stan­tial reforms that he was part of in that government.

Let us raise a glass to the mem­ory of Alex Mac­don­ald, who will be missed. And in doing so, let us recall that Alex him­self has made it con­sid­er­ably eas­ier to raise that glass here in BC.

 

Rolf Knight’s Voyage, Graeme Truelove’s Svend Robinson bio make BC Book Prize shortlist

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9781554200689-voyage-3DTwo New Star titles are final­ists for a BC Book Prize this year — in the same cat­e­gory, the Rod­er­ick Haig-Brown Regional Prize.

Rolf Knight, author of at least eight other books, is short­listed for his mem­oir, Voy­age Through the Past Cen­tury. It describes his early years in East Van­cou­ver, and his sub­se­quent life as scholar, labourer, and writer in East Ger­many, Africa, South Amer­ica, sub­ur­ban Toronto, and back home in Burn­aby, BC.

Here’s an ear­lier blog entry about Voy­age Through the Past Cen­tury.

Graeme Tru­elove, from Delta, BC, now liv­ing in Ottawa, is short­listed for his first book, Svend Robin­son: A Life in Pol­i­tics, a biog­ra­phy of the long-time NDP MP for Burnaby.

9781554200689-voyage-3DHere’s an ear­lier blog entry about Svend Robin­son: A Life in Pol­i­tics.

For a com­plete list of short-listed titles, look here. Win­ners will be announced at the annual BC Book Prizes Din­ner on May 3 in Van­cou­ver. Tix go on sale March 13. Check the BC Book Prizes web­site for more details.