New Star Blogs

Spring ’17: George Bowering, Andrew Struthers, Jean Barman, Judith Plant, David Bromige


new star books spring 2017 catalogueWe’re super excited to announce our Spring 2017 list (catalogue cover illustrations by Andrew Struthers [big head] and Greg Curnoe [little head], which features five exceptional talents writing on an eclectic array of topics, and represents a 25% increase over 2016’s entire output (in a strictly quantitative sense) here at New Star World HQ, where we are intimidated by the forthcoming workload but mostly buoyed by the wit and beauty and insight of the words whose authors have lent us the privilege of publishing their work. In ascending order of wait times:

A Short Sad Book by George Bowering (introduction by Erín Moure

Forty years ago, George Bowering saw a country still struggling to find itself in its books, and decided to write A Short Sad Book about it. Did he know he was writing if not The Great Canadian Novel something like it? Poet/translator Erín Moure provides an introduction for this new edition, peeling back just enough layers of Bowering’s short but incredibly rich novel to show even more layers underneath. Bowering’s own Afterword provides additional context. A teachable moment in Canadian literature if ever there was one.

The Sacred Herb / The Devil’s Weed by Andrew Struthers (previously announced)

This hilarious and insightful double-sided paperback by “Canada’s Hunter S. Thompson” was originally scheduled for last April, when there were ~25 times as many pot as book stores in Vancouver, but then something happened, or didn’t happen, and now it’s set for April 20, 2017, when there will be only 5x as many pot stores. (Time for someone to retire the “Mayor Moonbeam” sobriquet.)

Maria Mahoi of the Islands by Jean Barman (revised 2nd edition)

Since its original publication in 2004, Maria Mahoi of the Islands has become a classic in its field, and an important document on the history of Indigenous Hawaiians known as Kanakas, who had an early presence across the Pacific Northwest and are now part of the broader Hawaiian diaspora across North America. Drawing on information that has come to light since the book’s first publication—and sometimes as a result of it—Governor General’s Award-winner Jean Barman has updated and expanded her account, and written a new Foreword talking about the life that the book has taken on.

Culture Gap and Beyond: Real Life in a New World by Judith Plant

In the early 1980s Judith Plant and her new partner, Chris, were ready for a change. Inspired by the charismatic Fred Brown, their communications professor at Simon Fraser University, they joined a commune in a remote valley near the Yalakom River, deep in BC’s Coast Mountains. An absorbing account of a lifestyle emblematic of a time, Culture Gap and Beyond also shows, from her own older perspective, a young mother’s struggles to reconcile her social ideals of personal and environmental responsibility, and loving and caring for those closest to her.

If wants to be the same as is: Essential Poems of David Bromige, by David Bromige; Jack Krick, Bob Perelman, Ron Silliman, eds. (introduction by George Bowering)

Drawn from 22 books of poetry published by David Bromige in his lifetime, if wants to be the same as is chronicles the career of one of contemporary poetry’s most distinctive writers, whose  life’s work is, In the words of Bob Perelman, “beautiful, deeply amusing, continually surprising.”

News You Can Use (To Get Angry): Marc Edge in Conversation


The News We Deserve coverSince Marc Edge‘s last book, Greatly Exaggerated, and indeed during the whole of his 15-year career in academia, the corporate consolidation and American financial raiding of Canada’s media companies has continued unchecked. Journalists are being laid off by the thousands while the Postmedia CEO gets millions in bonuses.

But there is cause for hope: MP Hedy Fry is the latest to convene a parliamentary committee to examine the issue, in part prompted by Edge’s exhortations, as he details in the introduction (PDF) to his new book, The News We Deserve: The Transformation of Canada’s Media Landscape. Let’s hope the Fry report doesn’t go the way of the Davey, Kent, Lincoln, etc. committees….

To help you get and/or stay as informed and angry about what Paul Godfrey and his ilk are doing to a critical Canadian institution, may we recommend two Marc Edge podcasts and two books:

1. Stream or download Edge’s engaging conversation with Joseph Planta at

2. Stream or download Edge’s discussion with Ian Gill and Robert Hackett at The News We Deserve book launch from Soundcloud

3. Grab a *free* PDF of Greatly Exaggerated

4. And of course, buy The News We Deserve, read it, and scream “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” from the (browser) window.

Literary butt-sniffing: A Series of Dogs makes the rounds


John Armstrong reads at the luanch of A Series of DogsJohn Armstrong‘s new memoir A Series of Dogs has been romping around town making friends, chasing squirrels, and pissing on upright objects like some kind of domesticated urban mammal, maybe a cat or something.

On November 30, Armstrong hopped on a bus from Chilliwack to Vancouver and hammered out an entertaining email interview with Allan MacInnis, then sat down at a dog cafe for a thoughtful and hilarious interview with Lisa Christiansen for CBC Radio One’s On the Coast, before finally heading down to Lanalou’s and, before a rousing performance by The Judys, reading from A Series of Dogs to a by-turns mirthful and lachrymose crowd — though considering it was the end of Vancouver’s traditional fall monsoon season, perhaps it was just raining on their faces.

The emotional rollercoaster of the book is summed up beautifully by Heidi Greco in her Vancouver Sun review:

As with any love story, there’s a fair amount of heartbreak. But don’t think for a minute that there aren’t plenty of good times. After all, this is John Armstrong, a writer who’s pretty much guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

Greco goes on to note Armstrong’s evident literary bona fides, and concludes that A Series of Dogs is “a memorable compendium of philosophy, social commentary, slobbery kisses and love” — i.e., the perfect gift. Ask for A Series of Dogs at bookstores everywhere, or buy it online here.



New poetry from rob mclennan available NOW


A perimeter coverNew Star Books is pleased as punch to announce the  official publication today of A perimeter, the new book from Ottawa poet and one-man cultural industry rob mclennan.

Three long poems composed between 2013 and 2016—“A Rose Concordance”; “Alta Vista Poem”; and “A perimeter”—form the spine of this book, slim though substantial in its craft and observations. Reflecting a wide reading practice and chops honed over the course of more than two dozen books, A perimeter is rob mclennan’s strongest and most compelling work yet.

mclennan’s way too busy to celebrate right away—so stay ‘tooned for the Ottawa launch announcement. This Saturday, November 19, rob and his above/ground press will be representing at Toronto’s annual Meet the Presses INDIE LITERARY MARKET, 11:30 am to 4:30pm at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto. Then, precisely one Saturday later, on November 26, it’ll be rob and above/ground at the semi-annual Ottawa Small Press Fair, noon to 5 pm, in room 203 of the Jack Purcell Community Centre, Elgin Street at 320 Jack Purcell Lane, Ottawa. For details, try here.

“Both events are free to the public!,” says Our Author. “But you should totally bring a handful of cash …” Along with the usual above/ground goods & services, rob will be packing copies of A perimeter.

Bad News, Bad Newspapers? Marc Edge, Ian Gill, and Robert Hackett talk media on Nov. 29th


news-launch-headerShrinking budgets and corporate consolidation have led to newspapers in Canada being owned by fewer companies and employing fewer reporters. How does this affect journalists’ ability to hold the powerful accountable, and what are the implications for Canadian society and the health of our democracy? How do we ensure that journalism thrives?

To mark the release of his new book The News We Deserve: The Transformation of Canada’s Media Landscape (available November 24th),  Marc Edge will be joined by Ian Gill and Robert Hackett to discuss these issues and many more. (facebook event page here)

Bad News, Bad Newspapers: Just a Coincidence?

Marc Edge & Ian Gill on the state of journalism in Canada
Moderated by Robert Hackett

Tuesday, November 29th, 7PM
The People’s Co-op Bookstore, 1391 Commercial Drive, Vancouver


Marc Edge is a former reporter with a PhD in communications who has taught at journalism and communications schools around the world and authored numerous articles and four books on the topic, most recently The News We Deserve: The Transformation of Canada’s Media Landscape.

Ian Gill is a former editor and reporter for the Vancouver Sun and documentary reporter for CBC-TV; currently is a columnist for The Tyee and president of Discourse Media; and is author of four books, most recently No News is Bad News: Canada’s Media Collapse—And What Comes Next (Greystone, 2016).

Dr. Robert A. Hackett has taught at SFU for over thirty years, is a former co-director of NewsWatch Canada, is on the editorial board of Journalism Studies and six other communications journals, and has written numerous articles and books, including Remaking Media: The Struggle to Democratize Public Communication (Routledge, 2006; with W. Carroll) and the forthcoming Journalism and Climate Crisis: Public Engagement, Media Alternatives (Routledge, 2017; with S. Forde, S. Gunster and K. Foxwell-Norton).

John Armstrong book launch with The Judys: Nov. 30


john_armstrong_2009John Armstrong‘s hilarious and touching new book A Series of Dogs is officially off-leash one week from today. Come help us celebrate (and forget the trumpster fire down south) with a reading by Armstrong and a set by Vancouver indie supergroup The Judy’s.

A Series of Dogs book launch w/ The Judys
8pm, Wednesday, Nov. 30
Lanalou’s Rock & Roll Eatery (all ages welcome)
362 Powell St., Vancouver
Free admission / books (and booze and food) for sale


You can read a short/sweet excerpt from A Series of Dogs here, and hear some Judys tunes over here, and notify the surveillance apparatus of your intentions to attend here.

An Intimate Evening with Julie Emerson


Julie Emerson is reading at Pulp Fiction Books on Main St. next week as part of Read Local BC.

Emerson is the author of Twenty Seven Stings, an illustrated (by Roxanna Bikadoroff) collection of  “carefully crafted, lapidary” poems about women in wars throughout history, which Tom Sandborn in the Vancouver Sun says you should “read … even if you seldom read poetry.”

The event is being billed as An Intimate Evening with Vancouver Poets. Emerson will be sharing the “stage” with Evelyn Lau, Fred Wah, and Elee Kraljii Gardiner. This will fill up very quickly — it’s far too much poetic excellent for one room — so arrive early to guarantee admission.

An Intimate Evening with Vancouver Poets
Evelyn Lau
Fred Wah
Elee Kraljii Gardiner
Julie Emerson

Pulp Fiction Books, 2422 Main St (at 8th Ave), Vancouver
Tuesday, November 1st. Doors 7pm, reading 7:30
Admission (and boxed wine…?): FREE

Hannah Calder’s OK Tour Redux


Calder-Hannah-hrHannah Calder will be reading from her “daringly innovative” novel Piranesi’s Figures at two events in the Okanagan next month.

The first event is part of Read Local 2016 and features Calder’s fellow Okanagan novelists Ashley Little and Adam Lewis Schroeder:

Read Local 2016 Presents: An Evening with Okanagan Authors
Wednesday, November 2nd, 7pm
Mosaic Books, 411 Bernard Ave, Kelowna, BC

And the following week Calder heads north to Salmon Arm to read with fellow Okanagan poet Kerry Gilbert, who’s celebrating the release of her poetry collection Tight Wire:

Hannah Calder and Kerry Gilbert Reading & Book Signing
Thursday, November 10th, 7pm
Aboriginal Gathering Place / Okanagan College
2552-10th Avenue NE, Salmon Arm, BC

Piranesi’s Figures is a hallucinatory and convention-defying revelation of the adulterous (and otherwise illicit) relationships of several couples in mid-century England and 18th-century and modern-day Rome. “Not, in short, a paper back for the beach or the airport,” says Tom Sandborn in the Vancouver Sun, “but a work of serious literary ambition and substantial achievement.

George Stanley in Berkeley

George Stanley, After Desire, Mark Mushet

Photo by Mark Mushet

George Stanley will be reading at the University of California, Berkeley on Thursday, September 29, as part of the Holloway Reading Series. The reading is at Hearst Field Annex room D37. Admission is $00.00; the reading gets underway at 7:30 p.m.

Other poets featured in this year’s series include Gary Snyder, Tonya Foster, and Mary Szybist, as well as UC-Berkeley faculty members C.S. Giscombe, Robert Hass, Lyn Hejinian, Geoffrey O’Brian, and John Shoptaw.

Stanley is the other of Vancouver: A Poem, After Desire, and, most recently, North of California St., which George Fetherling described as a “rich selection” of work, often “kaleidoscopic and discontinuous” and containing “great beauty.”

You can watch two videos of Stanley reading (aloud), and download our podcast episode featuring him in conversation with George Bowering, here.

Struthers’s pot tome postponed, excerpted


Devil V1Andrew Struthers’s new book of marijuana stories and insights, The Sacred Herb / The Devil’s Weed, is postponed indefinitely. We look forward to announcing a firm publication date for this hilarious and (still) timely book, but it won’t be in 2016.

To allay the rumours spread by Andrew’s Truthers that he buried the manuscript to increase its potency but then couldn’t find it, we are highly pleased to share this second excerpt (see here for part 1) from the fiendish side of the forthcoming book:



by Andrew Struthers

I moved into the forest to live intentionally, to create a space that I could call home. That seems fatuous right now, because the next thing to go when you’re tripping Buckyballs is space itself. By the light of reason all things appear separate and discreet, which gives rise to the illusion of cause and effect; but down here in the roaring dark everything is connected to everything else. For example, in 1974 an explosion in the price of shrimp sends Jamie, a fisherman from Vancouver, on an unexpected journey to Nova Scotia, where he buys a shrimp dragger, planning to motor home through the Panama Canal, but when he reaches Jamaica he makes a stop.

At the bar in Kingston town he meets a Chinese businessman who’s also interested in shrimp. He offers Jamie a tidy sum for the dragger he just bought. Ka-ching! Jamie takes the man out on the water to show him how well the vessel works, but the net wraps around a submerged rock and grinds the gears to shrapnel, at which point the businessman bails, so Jamie ties up at the quay and waits for engine parts to ship down from Miami.

Next morning three dock rats beg him for a bread bag from the galley, twist up half an ounce of ganja in it, set it ablaze and pass it to Jamie, who draws on that crumpled foot-long ’till the cherry cracks and spits like a newly-set campfire. The torch is tended by a crew of teenage boys whose sole possession is a bubble pipe made from a coconut with a clay chillum stuck in one hole and a yard of surgical tubing in the other.

Next day on the beach each tween tosses sacrament into the bowl from stashes wrapped in paper like rolls of pennies, then they light the chillum with one of the wrappers and take three puffs apiece, exhaling every wisp to purge the “old smoke”, a rite which to a Rastasfarian is serious as Lent, and for reasons as opaque. The last lungful they hold in, in, in … then out it comes, till the air turns blue and all Jamie can see is a hand coming out of the mist, like the Lady of the Lake clutching a pipestem instead of a sword.

Now Jamie’s crew is lost on land, the bonfire of their sanity burns all day, all week, all month, and still the engine parts do not arrive. A born Celt, Jamie knows a faerie ring when he sees one and dances around in it for a month, so he wangles his way onto a bomber, flies to Miami, buys the engine parts and flies back the same day, and then a month in debt to the Time Lords — he and his crew at last escape that faraway beach.

This is the problem with the stones of summer: the story is so good you never want it to end, although clearly you can overdo peace, love and misunderstanding, a hard truth Steve discovers when he moves from Sooke to Saltspring, just fifty miles as the crow flies, yet worlds apart. Sooke is a logging town on the south tip of Vancouver Island where pot is so scarce  Steve doesn’t toke until he’s ten, when some older kids with a joint of shaggy leaf smoke him up behind the video arcade on Sea Otter Road and he plays Missile Command and Donkey Kong until dark.

Two years later his dad moves the family to Saltspring, a hippie wunderland where his new best friend Corey pops out from behind a bush at the school bus stop every morning brandishing a joint, and by the time they reach the school in Ganges they’re basted, along with all the other kids, who carry bags of weed from their parents’ grow-ops, which pepper the woods for miles around. One afternoon he’s called into the office while he has an ounce of bud stashed in his crotch, and nothing happens because The Authorities just don’t care, and truth be told, pot is the least of Steve’s problems — his parents are rabid Pentecostals, so inside the house dad lays down the law like Moses, while outside it’s sex and drugs as far as the third eye can see.

The girl next door is called Sasha and her parents are nudists, so all day a dozen naked hippies bounce on the trampoline by the pool while Steve spies on them with binoculars from a tree near the fence. He’s never once seen the dad wear pants, not even the time Sasha forgets her lunch and he runs naked along the verge behind the van with his boner bouncing, shaking the little brown bag and shouting Honey! You forgot this! Honey! for a good quarter-mile, and one Sunday when his father is driving the family to church Steve spots an aged hippie woman shitting on her own vegetable garden.

That sort of thing can knock a young man back, and soon Steve’s thirst for boundaries and underpants drives him off Saltspring and into the city of Victoria, which to his bumpkin eyes burns like the last line of a Blake poem. Summer’s here and the time is right for smoking in the streets. A rooftop toke while the sun descends over a great city like New York or Charn, and you can see clear to the End of Time, and the hotter the better, unless you’re in  Montreal, where the swelter holds you down and fondles you like a drunk priest.

Which is not to say that all priests are pedophiles; Kevin’s priest at St Bruno’s is a real cool cat, he lends out the church key to the local kids, and all night long they blast CHOM-FM through the organ speakers into the street. It’s 1974, so CHOM spins “Satisfaction,” “Purple Haze,” anything except “Stairway To Heaven,” which stoner kids request so often the DJs impose a quota, gleefully announcing around dusk, That’s it! No more ‘Stairway’ ’till tomorrow!

Apart from “Stairway,” anything goes, so one night when his parents go out Kevin cycles to St. Bruno’s to join the fun, then can’t ride home again because he’s too high to pedal, and as he winds on down the road the bike keeps falling sideways into hedgerows, so he pushes it all the way and arrives just as his parents pull up, then his worried dad follows him into the house asking, What’s up? and Kevin thinks for a moment then hurls onto his dad’s shoes, which are at least twelve feet away. The human body is capable of amazing things, something I learned from surfing all day and only coming ashore to eat and sleep, because as soon as I’m out there time washes away and I’m left in an eternal Now, despite the constant threat of being sledgehammered into the sea floor, a terror you have to embrace, which is probably why I’m not worried this hot tub trip will take a wrong turn despite having gobbled enough THC to kill Tusko the elephant. I’ve dropped acid till the walls turned into playing cards, but I’ve never been as blitzed as I am right now — images are tumbling from my cortex like clowns from a tiny car — but I’m safe in the knowledge that no amount of THC can kill you — unlike panic, which will do the job in a trice.