New Star Blogs

UPDATED: Positively 4th Avenue: Andrew Struthers at Banyen Books and Salt Spring Island


Victorian writer and filmmaker Andrew Struthers (The Sacred Herb/The Devil’s Weed, Around The World On Minimum Wage, &c., &c.) is back in Vancouver for a reading and greeting at Banyen Books in fabled Kitsilano on Thursday, November 23. There will be two showings of Dr. Struthers’s strange and disturbing presentation, at 6:30 and 8 p.m. You will find it well worth the price of admission, which is nil.

Here’s Banyen’s own page about this event.

Mr. Struthers takes advantage of a lay-over on Salt Spring Island on his return journey, with a lecture at Leaf Compassion, #105-109 McPhillips Avenue right in the heart of vibrant downtown Salt Spring.  Seven-ish?  Maybe later, d00d.  If you do show up a little early, there’s Salt Spring Books right across the street, and they do have copies.

The Sacred Herb/The Devil’s Weed is an unfairly balanced look at all the whole marijuana hoo-ha. The author’s previous book, Around the World On Minimum Wage, an inner travelogue about his youthtime voyages to parts unknowable, will surely also be available for perusal.

Connection established: The Receiver by Sharon Thesen launches


We’re proud as punch to announce The Receiver, the first book from eminent BC poet Sharon Thesen in six years.

More formally various than Thesen’s previous books, The Receiver includes the short lyrics documenting the poet’s witnessing that readers of her work will recognize, as well as various kinds of found poems, translations, prose poems, alongside some brief essays or memoirs.

The Receiver will be launched at the Caetani Centre in Vernon on Thursday, November 2. Here’s the Caetani Centre’s event page for Sharon’s launch.

The Vancouver launch for The Receiver will be exactly two weeks later, on Thursday, November 16, at the People’s Co-op Bookstore on Commercial Drive, in conjunction with the Vancouver launch for Erin Moure’s new book Sitting Shiva on Minto Avenue, by Toots.

Thesen fans will have a choice of covers: the book (designed by Robin Mitchell Cranfield, whose last cover for New Star Books was The Weather by Lisa Robertson) comes in four colour schemes: peach, mauve, dark green, and light green.

Absolutely Free: Spring ’18 Catalogue


This coming Mother’s Day will see the release of a long-simmering project here at New Star World HQ, one that’s hopped from burner to burner over the past 15 years and is now seasoned to perfection: The Big Note: A Guide to the Recordings of Frank Zappa, by Charles Ulrich, will be available on May 13th. Based on hundreds of interviews, letters, and e-mail correspondences with scores of musicians, singers, engineers, artists, copyists, and others who worked with Zappa, The Big Note provides the liner notes that every album in the protean and prolific composer’s oeuvre cries out for. Featuring 100 albums recorded over 35 years and the 80+ players on them, with each one of 1,772 tracks described in detail, backed up by 1,424 citations, it is the indispensible resource for any FZ fan or scholar.

We are also delighted to announce a project that’s been in the works even longer, under the guise of several decades of friendship and poetic explorations: Some End / West Broadway by George Bowering / George Stanley is a two-sided double-covered “tumble book” (our second in a year!) featuring a short book of poems by each of the esteemed authors and long-time friends. Some End / West Broadway will be out on February 14. Learn about it in the Georges’ own words here.

And finally, the first day of summer is always an occasion to celebrate, but especially in 2018 when it coincides with if wants to be the same as is: Essential Poems of David Bromige (previously announced for Spring ’17). This large volume drawn from 22 books published during Bromige’s lifetime presents a life’s work that is, In the words of Bob Perelman, “beautiful, deeply amusing, continually surprising.”

Andrew Struthers: Up-Island in Smoke


Andrew Struthers is, according to the Vancouver Sun, “one of that select band of writers whose minds are bent enough to be interesting but not so bent as to be unintelligible” — i.e., he barely sticks out of the luscious green surf-battered wilds of Vancouver Island’s west coast. Struthers will be heading to his former home next week to read from his new double-sided book The Sacred Herb / The Devil’s Weed, which BC Bookworld called “a raucously British Columbian masterpiece.”


Tuesday, September 26
Jamie’s Rainforest Inn
6pm / 7pm / 8pm
Free admission, books & refreshments available for purchase
facebook event page


Wednesday, September 27
Blackberry Cove Marketplace
Free admission
facebook event page


Thursday, September 28
Words on Fire (open mic night)
Char’s Landing, 4815 Argyle St.
Thursday, Sep. 28, 7pm
Admission by donation
Event page

Bowering back on his feats again


Popular favourite George Bowering will be back in London, Ontario, one of his favourite cities, for a reading at London Public Library, on Wednesday, September 20.

Bowering’s reading is part of the Poetry London literary festivities, taking place over the course of September in Canada’s product testing capital.  London, of course, is where Bowering’s twin Greg Curnoe lived & worked.

Bowering’s most recent books are The World, I Guess;  the re-issue of A Short Sad Book, feat. an introduction by Erin Moure, who has her own book coming out soon from New Star; and something called The Hockey Scribbler.

Not much on the internets yet about this event; you might want to check the London Public Library site, and/or the one belonging to Poetry London.




All Possible Worlds: The Missing Chapter



In 1995, New Star Books published All Possible Worlds by Justine Brown, Number 5 in our Transmontanus series.  Ms Brown’s account of half a dozen emblematic BC utopias, or intentional communities, was originally going to have a chapter on a mysterious commune in the remote Yalakom Valley, north of Lillooet, centred around a brilliant and charismatic SFU professor manque, Fred Brown.

But no matter how pervasive, and intriguing, the stories surrounding this commune were, they proved impossible to track down.  Was this mysterious Yalakom enclave even still going?  Nobody seemed to be able to say anything for sure.  So the chapter never happened, and All Possible Worlds was published without that story.

A generation later, in the present age, I encountered a video on the internet of my modest, and now retiring, colleague Judith Plant, publisher at New Society Publishers, accepting an award (I forget which) recognizing some of her contributions.  Judith gave a little talk that was particularly rich for that sort of thing, and I watched, fascinated.

There was lots of interesting Canadian publishing history, a genre I can’t resist.  But more than that, it was the story of Judith’s life path (so far).  And in the middle of her story, there it suddenly appeared:  the lost chapter from All Possible Worlds.

In the video, Judy was talking about the early years of her life with Kip, a.k.a. Christopher Plant, her partner in publishing, parenting, and life, until Parkinson’s ended that part in 2013.  She told the story of their meeting, on the commons at Simon Fraser University; of the course they took together from the brilliant professor Fred Brown, and of their adventure, following Fred away from the city and into his remote Shangri-la in the Coast Mountains.  That’s Judith and Kip, on the far right of the group shot above.

Culture Gap: Towards a New World in the Yalakom Valley, Judith’s account of her family’s Yalakom Valley adventure, publishes today, May 25.  Watch this space for information about launches in Gabriola Island, Victoria, and Vancouver, as these firm up.  Culture Gap is available from finer booksellers everywhere, including the People’s Co-op Bookstore and our own website.


The story of Salt Spring’s Hawai’ian matriarch back on shelves


We’re pleased to announce a new edition of Maria Mahoi of the Islands, Jean Barman‘s 2002 instant-classic concerning the mystery-shrouded life of one of our province’s important clan mothers.

Born in the mid-1850s to a Hawai’ian father and a First Nations mother, Maria Mahoi died in 1936 on Russell Island near Salt Spring, having raised thirteen children and leaving behind scores of descendants, including a future provincial cabinet minister.

“Jean Barman is a good storyteller  .. . When she addresses issues of race and racialization, her insight into the experience is surprisingly accurate for a monoracial woman. Barman does not theorize the racist assumptions undermining the denigration of nonwhite stories but rather participates in a counter-hegemonic project seeking to add new narratives of the racially hybrid nation.”  — Michelle La Flamme, BC Studies

Updated and with some new photos, Maria Mahoi of the Islands is on sale from Tanner’s Books, UBC Central and all the finer brick and mortar bookstores in British Columbia, and certainly from the People’s Co-op Bookstore on Commercial Drive, to say nothing of the real Amazon.


Green wave approaching Lower Mainland


Victoria writer and filmmakar Andrew Struthers will be in Vancouver on Friday, June 2, waving copies of his new book The Sacred Herb / The Devil’s Weed at its Vancouver launch, at the People’s Co-op Bookstore.

This balanced look at deadly marijuana, based on the author’s own extensive personal experience of listening to tons of stories about pot and reading a bunch of books on the subject, was released on April 20, and to acclaim, too.

“[A]n entertaining read with more serious substance to it than you might predict,” quoth the Vancouver Sun, while Victoria’s Focus magazine believes that The Sacred Herb/The Devil’s Weed is “no stoner puff piece or simplistic “marijuana good/marijuana bad” debate. In fact, the book’s flip-side structure highlights the incomplete understanding that comes from such cut-and-dried dualistic thinking.”

Both reviewers imply, without actually stating, that the book is quite humorous as well.

At the launch, Andrew Struthers will be demonstrating his amazing powers of memory by reading a passage from The Sacred Herb / The Devil’s Weed exactly as it was written!  Please join us around 8 pm Friday, June 2, at the People’s Number One Bookstore, 1391 Commercial Drive.

Meanwhile, copies can be purchased from Munro’s, Black Afg Bond, Spartacus Books, UBC Central, UVic Bookstore, the People’s Co-op Bookstorethe real Amazon, and maybe when the category buyer returns from their smoke break and gets around to placing the order, possibly even Chapters.

Remember your Mothers on Mother’s Day


It’s not a stat holiday, but it’s surely one you should never forget. So do remember to spend some time with your Mom this Sunday, May 14.

You’re not going to want to forget Mother’s Day 2018, either. For that date, May 13, is the publication date for a very special project about some other Mothers that’s been way more than ten years in the making.

It is, quite simply, the Mother of All Books About its subject, which also explains why it’s taken so long.

Keep an eye on this site or sign up below for all the newest and most reliable rumour and innuendo about Mother’s Day ’18 as these trend. Meanwhile, here, absolutely free, is a taste, a hint, a mere further clue, of what we’re talking about.


Rolf Knight is this year’s George Woodcock Prize winner


Long-time Burnaby resident Rolf Knight, author of more than eight books about working-class and First Nations BC history, is this year’s winner of the George Woodcock Prize.

The prize will be formally presented at a ceremony at the Vancouver Public Library on June 29. Knight’s contribution to regional history was previously recognized in 1992 by the Canadian Historical Association.

Knight’s most recent books are Voyage Through the Past Century (2013) and Along the No. 20 Line (1980; reissued 2011). Indians at Work (1977; reissued 1996) and A Very Ordinary Life (1974) continue to be among his best known books.

Since 1996, the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award annually honours an outstanding literary career in British Columbia. Previous winners include David Suzuki, Alice Munro, Phyllis Webb, Jane Rule, Jack Hodgins, bill bissett, and Jean Barman.

Read more about the award, and Knight’s response, at BC BookLook.