New Star Blogs

Available May 28 :: New books from Sharon Kirsch, Louis Cabri

|

We’re pleased to announce two titles whose pub­li­ca­tion date was pushed back from late April by the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic (see our ear­li­er sto­ry here).  The Small­est Objec­tive by Sharon Kirsch, and Hun­gry Sling­shots by Louis Cabri, orig­i­nal­ly sched­uled for April 23 pub­li­ca­tion, will now be avail­able on May 28, and are avail­able for pre-order now.

The Small­est Objec­tive is Toron­to writer Sharon Kirsch’s fam­i­ly mem­oir that brings mid-20th cen­tu­ry Mon­tre­al back to life.  As she helps her moth­er move into a care home from the fam­i­ly home of fifty years, Sharon Kirsch unpacks the house, and her family’s sto­ries as they reveal their traces in the household’s accu­mu­lat­ed objects.

Sharon Kirsch reads a short excerpt from The Small­est Objec­tive here, and is the guest blog­ger / inter­vie­wee on The Book of Life, “a pod­cast about Jew­ish peo­ple and the books we read”.

New dates and details about Toron­to and Mon­tre­al launch­es for The Small­est Objec­tive will be sort­ed short­ly.  Watch this space for announce­ment of details.  The Small­est Objec­tive is avail­able from Para­graph Books, Librairie Clio, Librairie Bertrand, Librairie Mod­erne, and Librairie Car­ca­jou in Mon­tre­al, UofT Book­store, A Dif­fer­ent Drum­mer, and The Book Store at West­ern in Ontario, The Owl’s Nest in Cal­gary, and Vol­ume One Book­store (Dun­can) as well as The Paper Hound and the People’s Co-op Book­store (Van­cou­ver) in British Colum­bia, as well as oth­er book­sellers; check with your local inde­pen­dent.

We’ve pre­vi­ous­ly writ­ten about The Small­est Objec­tive here.  That sto­ry focussed on the e-book edi­tion (which wasn’t delayed by the print­ing plant clo­sure) and includ­ed a list, with links, of oth­er books on New Star’s groan­ing shelf of e-books.

Also arriv­ing from our print­er is Hun­gry Sling­shots, the fourth book of poet­ry by Louis Cabri of Wind­sor, Ontario.  “Burnt orange ablaze across the cringe-wor­thy present, white fog floods the inte­ri­ors of let­ters .. . Vouch for your­self! What is to be done? Low­er the flags of con­ve­nience. Under its own cov­er, HUNGRY SLINGSHOTS em-Bards with an ear­ful of bird­song — ka-ha; ka-ha kuh-uk!; kuh-uk! — while a shout­ing econ­o­mist lev­i­tates the Earth into an equa­tion. Squelch­ing the sanc­ti­mo­nious no-nos of poet­ry, HUNGRY SLINGSHOTS says: go on, amass, roil in, per­turb any ‘sham, I mean, shame’ sense of pro­por­tion — flop around in a crowd of inno­cents caught in a net worth of words trans­lat­ing his­to­ry. Snark, bleat!”

”[S]mart, some­times sil­ly, and always bit­ing, Cabri’s poems are poet­ic prod­ucts par excel­lence.”  — Jonathan Ball, Win­nipeg Free Press

Hun­gry Sling­shots can be acquired at these and oth­er inde­pen­dent book­stores: TYPE Books and the UofT Book­store in TO, the New Octo­pus Book­store in Ottawa, Para­graph Books in Mon­tre­al, UVic Book­store in Vic­to­ria, and the People’s Co-op Book­store and the Paper Hound in Van­cou­ver.

Effects of Eastern plant slowdown felt across Continent.

|

The sud­den inter­rup­tion of activ­i­ties at a print­ing plant in Que­bec with two New Star titles on press in late March has had reper­cus­sions in Mon­tre­al, Van­cou­ver, and even Toron­to.

Press­es were inked for The Small­est Objec­tive, by Sharon Kirsch, and Hun­gry Sling­shots, by Louis Cabri, and books were sched­uled for deliv­ery in time for their announced pub­li­ca­tion date of April 23, when our print­er announced the sud­den hia­tus. There has been no imme­di­ate date set for work to resume at the plant, and the pub­li­ca­tion date for both titles has been post­poned indef­i­nite­ly. The world’s bib­lio­data­bas­es are being told July 30, sim­ply because they won’t take “don’t know” for an answer. That date could change.

The Toron­to launch for The Small­est Objec­tive at Queen Books, in author Sharon Kirsch’s home­town of Toron­to, orig­i­nal­ly pre­dict­ed for May 6, has also been post­poned indef­i­nite­ly, as has a launch in Mon­tre­al, where the events described in The Small­est Objec­tive take place.

In Wind­sor, poet-schol­ar Louis Cabri, while obvi­ous­ly dis­ap­point­ed at not being able to hit the road in sup­port of his lat­est, Hun­gry Sling­shots, told inter­view­ers that he intends to walk on the road instead, and around his emp­ty neigh­bour­hood, winc­ing if the wood­peck­ers hit met­al, while read­ing Some mag­a­zine, when he’s not read­ing A Flea the Size of Paris, or spend­ing time improv­ing his inter­net eti­quette.

While mate­r­i­al con­di­tions pre­vent us from pub­lish­ing the print edi­tions at this time, there are no such bar­ri­ers to releas­ing The Small­est Objec­tive in its e-book for­mat on sched­ule. If you are one of the grow­ing mul­ti­tude who have embraced the elec­tron­ic book, well, you can get your vir­tu­al hands on it, here (Kin­dle) and here (Kobo).

We might take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to men­tion, in pass­ing as it were, that we’re quite proud of our mod­est but grow­ing lit­tle shelf of e-books. They make an attrac­tive dis­play. You might wan­na take a quick look inside (because you can!) some of these intrigu­ing titles:

 

Anar­chy Explained to My Father, by Fran­cis Dupuis-Deri & Thomas Deri

Kin­dle ::  Kobo

 

The Briss, by Michael Trege­bov

Kin­dle :: Kobo

 

The Shi­va, by Michael Trege­bov

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Shot Rock, by Michael Trege­bov

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Burn­ing Water, by George Bow­er­ing

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Caprice, by George Bow­er­ing

Kin­dle ::  Kobo

 

Shoot! by George Bow­er­ing

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Writ­ing and Read­ing, by George Bow­er­ing

Kin­dle ::  Kobo

 

Cul­ture Gap: Towards a New Life in the Yalakom Val­ley, by Judith Plant

Kin­dle ::  Kobo

 

Dance Moves of the Near Future, by Tim Con­ley

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Great­ly Exag­ger­at­ed: The Myth of the Death of News­pa­pers, by Marc Edge

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Mac-Pap: Mem­oirs of a Cana­di­an in the Span­ish Civ­il War, by Ronald Liv­ersedge

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

More House, by Han­nah Calder

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Piranesi’s Fig­ures, by Han­nah Calder

Kin­dle ::  Kobo

 

A Series of Dogs, by John Arm­strong

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Wages, by John Arm­strong

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Sit­ting Shi­va on Minto Avenue, by Toots, by Erín Moure

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Sovi­et Prince­ton: Slim Evans and the 1932–33 Min­ers’ Strike, by Jon Bartlett & Rika Rueb­saat

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Svend Robin­son: A Life in Pol­i­tics, by Graeme Tru­elove

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Sweet Eng­land, by Steve Wein­er

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

The Woman in the Trees, by Ger­ry William

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

Whose Cul­ture is It, Any­way? Com­mu­ni­ty Engage­ment in Small Cities, by W.F. Gar­rett-Petts, James Hoff­man, and Gin­ny Rat­soy (eds.)

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

 

The Small­est Objec­tive, by Sharon Kirsch

Kin­dle  ::  Kobo

Another gonfalon for Bowering

|

George Bow­er­ing is gonna have to move to a place with an even big­ger mantle­piece. One of the biggest sto­ries of March — how could any­one have missed this — was Bowering’s selec­tion as this year’s recip­i­ent of the George Wood­cock Life­time Achieve­ment Award for an out­stand­ing lit­er­ary career in British Colum­bia.

Imag­ine, if you will, a din­ner and awards cer­e­mo­ny, where George receives the impres­sive-look­ing tro­phy.  Imag­ine him mak­ing a gag of how heavy this tro­phy is.  Imag­ine this all tak­ing place at the Van­cou­ver Pub­lic Library one ear­ly sum­mer evening in 2020, say June 25.

Pre­vi­ous win­ners of the award, named after George Wood­cock, one of the few writ­ers in this province whose list of pub­li­ca­tions rivals George’s 100+ books, include Alice Munro, Phyl­lis Webb, Daphne Mar­latt, bill bis­sett, Rolf Knight, and Jean­nette Arm­strong.   The Woodock Award is spon­sored by Yosef Wosk, The Writ­ers Trust of Cana­da, Van­cou­ver Pub­lic Library, and Pacif­ic Book­World News Soci­ety.

In 2002, Bow­er­ing was appoint­ed the first ever Cana­di­an Par­lia­men­tary Poet Lau­re­ate. That same year, he was made an Offi­cer of the Order of Cana­da. He was award­ed the Order of British Colum­bia in 2004.  His nov­el Burn­ing Water won the 1980 Governor-General’s Award for Fic­tion.

New Star Books is the pub­lish­er of approx­i­mate­ly 8.2 per­cent of Bowering’s books, includ­ing re-issues of his tril­o­gy of BC his­tor­i­cal nov­els, and more recent­ly, Writ­ing and Read­ing, and half of the poet­ry col­lec­tion Some End / West Broad­way.

Hei­di Gre­co’s review of Writ­ing and Read­ing appears at the end of this sto­ry on BC Book­look’s site announc­ing the award. “.. . it’s not sim­ply a book about writ­ing. He offers what could be called instruc­tion on what read­ing means — remind­ing us that it’s more than deci­pher­ing let­ters on a page, that it requires a cer­tain involve­ment from us as par­tic­i­pants in the thought process­es there­in con­tained. .. . He ram­bles now and then (but then, who of us doesn’t), yet over­all grants us some remark­able insights into what poet­ry is (and isn’t). In an essay about one of his own poems, he man­ages to come up sur­prised over mak­ing a new dis­cov­ery in it. And it’s exact­ly this sort of wide-eyed fresh­ness that makes it easy to keep com­ing back to this book,” Gre­co writes.

We’ve pre­vi­ous­ly told you about Nicholas Bradley’s review-essay about Writ­ing and Read­ing and Tak­ing Mea­sures, along­side Bowering’s 2015 short sto­ry col­lec­tion 10 Women, in a recent issue of the Orms­by Review.

You can catch up with Tom Sand­born’s review of Writ­ing and Read­ing in the Van­cou­ver Sun, reprint­ed in numer­ous sis­ter news­pa­pers in the ven­er­a­ble Southam news­pa­per chain, right about here. “These essays deserve atten­tion from any­one who cares about how lit­er­a­ture is made and works,” quoth the maven.

Spring 2020 :: New books from Sharon Kirsch and Louis Cabri

|

New Star’s Winter/Spring 2020 cat­a­logue has been released into the world, and with it, announce­ments of the two new titles we’re work­ing on for Spring 2020 release.

 

The Smallest Objective, by Sharon Kirsch

 

When her moth­er leaves her home of fifty years to move into a care facil­i­ty, it is the author’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to sort out the accu­mu­la­tion of fam­i­ly memen­tos. Most imme­di­ate­ly press­ing is the solu­tion to an old fam­i­ly mys­tery: what is her father sup­posed to have con­cealed beneath her par­ents’ bed­room floor?

It is the more mun­dane objects that Kirsch unearths — an old micro­scope, a bun­dle of post­cards, an enve­lope of yel­low­ing news­pa­per clip­pings — that open win­dows onto her family’s past, but also, more gen­er­al­ly, onto mid-cen­tu­ry Mon­tre­al, and that city’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. In The Small­est Objec­tive, Sharon Kirsch tells the sto­ry of her grand­fa­ther Simon Kirsch, an ide­al­is­tic young botanist at McGill who turns lat­er in life to prop­er­ty devel­op­ment; of Jock­ey Flem­ing, the uncle manque who hid his ori­gins to play a role as one of Montreal’s great colour­ful char­ac­ters when it was still unri­valled as the largest city in Cana­da; of Kirsch’s aunt, whose ear­ly death dur­ing Expo year tore a jagged hole into the author’s mother’s life.

The Small­est Objec­tive is a sto­ry about the death of a par­ent, and of the author’s account of this pas­sage in life; but it is also a sto­ry about mid-cen­tu­ry Mon­tre­al, and how the sub­tle anti-semi­tism of a cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions ago has shaped a family’s his­to­ry.

Sharon Kirsch is the author of What Species of Crea­tures. She lives in Toron­to. The Small­est Objec­tive is avail­able April 24.

 

Hungry Sling Shots, by Louis Cabri

 

A new col­lec­tion of poems, or maybe they are per­for­mance scripts, from one of Canada’s most orig­i­nal and inno­v­a­tive poets, the Ottawa-raised, Wind­sor-res­i­dent Louis Cabri.

Cabri’s for­mal moves cre­ate par­al­lels between the lit­er­a­ture of a deca­dent French aris­toc­ra­cy and our own enter­tain­ments, and estab­lish­es a frame­work for a cri­tique of the cyn­i­cism and moral vacu­ity of a cul­tur­al dis­course that is shaped by, and behold­en to, con­tem­po­rary cap­i­tal­ism and the social rela­tions it engen­ders.

Cabri, who teach­es lit­er­a­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wind­sor, is the author of Posh Lust. Hun­gry Sling Shots will be pub­lished on April 24.

At least a hundred :: George Bowering at the People’s Co-op Bookstore :: Friday, February 21

|

George Bow­er­ing, whose pub­lished out­put sur­pas­seth one hun­dred vol­umes by most counts, cel­e­brates the pub­li­ca­tion of his lat­est, Writ­ing and Read­ing, on Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 21, at the People’s Co-op Book­store on Com­mer­cial Dri­ve in the heart of East Van­cou­ver.

Writ­ing and Read­ing presents essays writ­ten over the last decade or so on a range of sub­jects — crit­i­cal engage­ment with oth­er Cana­di­an writ­ers; the “Van­cou­ver poets” Guil­laume Apol­li­naire, Blaise Cen­drars, Jack Spicer, et al.; film; dra­ma; music; him­self — with a com­mon theme, the impor­tance of read­ing, espe­cial­ly as part of any writ­ing prac­tice.

In an unusu­al devel­op­ment in the world of small pub­lish­ing, at least two reviews of Writ­ing and Read­ing have appeared even before the book’s launch par­ty. (That reflects in part our deci­sion to wait a decent inter­val after the release, also in late fall 2019, of Bowering’s Tak­ing Mea­sures: Select­ed Long Poems.)

Nicholas Bradley’s review-essay on Writ­ing and Read­ing and Tak­ing Mea­sures, along­side Bowering’s 2015 short sto­ry col­lec­tion 10 Women, appeared this week on the Orms­by Review, the BC Book­world spin-off that is pro­vid­ing space for more crit­i­cal writ­ing about BC lit­er­a­ture.

” .. . an impor­tant addi­tion to his body of late work,” writes Bradley, who teach­es con­tem­po­rary lit­er­a­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vic­to­ria. “What­ev­er his idio­syn­crasies, Bow­er­ing is nev­er dull, and it is reward­ing to have his fur­ther thoughts on Judith Fitzger­ald, Robert Kroetsch, Alice Munro, and Joe Rosen­blatt, on the books he read in 1967, and on the land­scape of Oliv­er, B.C.”

”Com­pi­la­tions such as Writ­ing and Read­ing, and such valu­able edi­tions as Tak­ing Mea­sures, make it pos­si­ble to begin in earnest the task of com­ing to terms with George Bow­er­ing.”

The Van­cou­ver Sun, mean­while, com­mis­sioned anoth­er inde­fati­ga­ble, Tom Sand­born, to write their review of Writ­ing and Read­ing. You can read Sandborn’s review here, as well as in any num­ber of Can­west news­pa­pers that have reprint­ed his arti­cle.

”The book fea­tures affec­tion­ate anec­dotes about oth­er writ­ers and casu­al­ly deliv­ered but inci­sive thoughts about Cana­di­an writ­ing in the 20th cen­tu­ry,” Sand­born writes. “It also includes acute crit­i­cal obser­va­tions that reflect a life­time of engage­ment with lit­er­a­ture. These are essays char­ac­ter­ized by a relaxed, con­ver­sa­tion­al style, even when deal­ing with mat­ters of intel­lec­tu­al heft. Bowering’s nar­ra­tive tone is ami­able and charm­ing, even when deliv­er­ing his crit­i­cisms of oth­er writ­ers and aca­d­e­m­ic fads.”

”These essays deserve atten­tion from any­one who cares about how lit­er­a­ture is made and works.”

Both writ­ers also had some crit­i­cisms to offer. Don’t be mis­led by our mild­ly mis­lead­ing use of select­ed quo­ta­tions; read the whole reviews your­self.

George’s launch gets under­way at 7:30 pm, Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 21.  Admis­sion is free.  Writ­ing and Read­ing may be pur­chased from these guys, New Star’s own web­site, the fore­men­tioned People’s Co-op Book­store, as well as fin­er Cana­di­an book­stores every­where.

We’re moving! Our sales and distribution, that is.

|

Effec­tive Jan­u­ary 1, UTP Dis­tri­b­u­tion will han­dle Cana­di­an trade orders for all New Star titles.  Book­sellers, whole­salers, and oth­ers in the trade can place orders with

UTP Dis­tri­b­u­tion
5201 Duf­ferin St.
Toron­to, ON    M3H 5T8
utpbooks@utpress.utoronto.ca
tel. 416–667-7791
fax 1–800-565‑9523

Also on Jan­u­ary 1, Amper­sand Inc. takes over as New Star’s Cana­di­an trade sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

BC / Alber­ta / Saskatchewan / Man­i­to­ba / Yukon / Nunavut / NWT
Ali Hewitt 604–448-7166 alih@ampersandinc.ca
Dani Farmer 604–448-7168 danif@ampersandinc.ca
Jes­si­ca Price 604–448-7170 jessicap@ampersandinc.ca
Pavan Ranu 604–448-7165 pavanr@ampersandinc.ca
2440 Viking Way, Rich­mond, BC V6V 1N2
Gen­er­al phone 604–448-7111 :: Toll-free 1–800-561‑8583
Fax 604–448-7118 :: Toll-free fax 1–888-323‑7118

Que­bec
Jen­ny Enriques 416–703-0666 Ext. 126
jennye@ampersandinc.ca
Toll-free 1–866-736‑5620 :: Fax 416–703-4756

Atlantic Provinces
Kris Hykel 416–703-0666 Ext. 127 krish@ampersandinc.ca
Toll-free 1–866-736‑5620 :: Fax 416–703-4745

Ontario
Saf­fron Beck­with Ext. 124 saffronb@ampersandinc.ca
Mor­gen Young Ext. 128 morgeny@ampersandinc.ca
Lau­reen Cusack Ext. 120 laureenc@ampersandinc.ca
Vanes­sa De Gre­go­ria Ext. 122 vanessad@ampersandinc.ca
Evette Sin­tichakis Ext. 121 evettes@ampersandinc.ca
Jen­ny Enriquez Ext. 126 jennye@ampersandinc.ca
Kris Hykel Ext. 127 krish@ampersandinc.ca
Suite 213 – 321 Car­law Ave., Toron­to, ON M4M 2S1
Tel. 416–703-0666 :: Toll-free 1–866-736‑5620
Fax 416–703-4745 :: Toll-free 1–866-849‑3819

Brunswick Books will con­tin­ue to accept returns of New Star titles until March 31, 2020.  UTP Dis­tri­b­u­tion will accept returns for books sup­plied by Brunswick until Decem­ber 31, 2020, as long as they are with­in one year of pur­chase.

This infor­ma­tion can also be found in our Win­ter / Spring 2020 cat­a­logue, down­load­able from this link; as well as on our web­site, here.

Reading, writing, and Bowering

|

George Bow­er­ing recent­ly sat down with our own Frank Davis to shoot the breeze about his new book, Writ­ing and Read­ing, released Novem­ber 28.

FD: New Star Books has pub­lished what must be your ump­ty-sev­enth, at least, book, Writ­ing and Read­ing.  (We should men­tion that Mark Mushet took the cov­er pho­to.)  What are you up in this one?

George Bow­er­ing: I guess I tried to widen the def­i­n­i­tion of what con­sti­tutes a book of lit­er­ary essays. There is a tiny piece about a writer whose name is almost as long as the essay about her. There is an account­ing of the 100 books I read dur­ing 1967. One hun­dred for the cen­te­nary — get it? There is an expla­na­tion of Apollinaire’s role in Van­cou­ver poet­ry. Send in your ideas.

FD: Most read­ers would think of you, first and sec­ond, as a poet and a writer of fic­tion; or as a pop­u­lar his­to­ri­an. One of your ear­ly books, Al Pur­dy (Copp Clark, 1970), is actu­al­ly a crit­i­cal appraisal of a writer who was quite unlike you, on the page at least, but who became a life-long friend; Al and his wife Eurithe remained pret­ty good com­pan­ions to you and Jean Baird for many, many years. Much more recent­ly there was Words, Words, Words (2010), also pub­lished by New Star Books; and you’ve done a few in between those.

GB: Eleven books of crit­i­cal essays. I couldn’t help myself. bpNi­chol said my sto­ries are like essays ans my essays are like sto­ries. A few are both.

FD: Do you feel there are parts you can reach with one form, be it poet­ry, fic­tion, or crit­i­cal non-fic­tion, that the oth­er forms just don’t get to?

GB: I have often won­dered about that myself. It is arbi­trary in some cas­es. Take a look at my essay on Mar­garet Atwood’s Sur­fac­ing. It’s about that thing that Roland Barthes called the desire for the author. An audi­ence of Eng­lish profs in Aus­tralia loved it––and me.

FD: What can read­ers expect from your new book?

GB: The wis­dom of old age.

FD: At your age most writ­ers have hung up the cleats a long time ago. But you’re still going strong. You’re pret­ty much the Satchel Paige of Cana­di­an lit­er­a­ture. To what do you attribute your long career? Any immi­nent plans to retire, á là Philip Roth?

GB: I keep find­ing note books in which I have jot­ted notes about pos­si­ble books.

FD: I’ve just fin­ished read­ing Rebec­ca Wigod’s excel­lent biog­ra­phy of you, He Speaks Vol­umes. I learned a lot about you from her book. Among oth­er things, that you’re a slip­pery dog. But also, that you tend to have a few projects on the go at any one time. What’s in the pipeline, or, to use a less offen­sive expres­sion, chute, right now?

GB: There’s that series of respons­es to 100 poems. I have done just over half. There’s my rewrit­ing of Gertrude Stein’s Ten­der But­tons. I have almost fin­ished a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries, some of which take place in [sur­prise!] my home town dur­ing child­hood and youth. I have a sequence of poems about a girl named Trish, who keeps hear­ing peo­ple rime her name.

FD: Any­thing else you’d like to add for our read­ers?

GB: What do you think? Should I try to rewrite all the books I havent pub­lished?

While we were out

|

View­ers at home can be excused for think­ing that New Star Books had gone to ground in some way over the sum­mer, as our live­ly and infor­ma­tive news site went all-qui­et-like.  As explained in The Yel­low Tri­an­gle, it was only our web host that was e-mail­ing it in.  In the real-world back­ground, the Autonomous Work­ers at New Star Books were work­ing as hard as ants.  Most impor­tant­ly, we were get­ting a cou­ple of books to press, both of which were released in Sep­tem­ber.

Roger Farr’s I Am a City Still But Soon I Shan’t Be (the title repur­pos­es a line of Bertolt Brecht’s) is a sin­gle long poem, in nine can­tos, The poem takes the read­er on a vir­tu­al tour of the mod­ern city, rep­re­sent­ed here by Van­cou­ver, New York, Berlin, and Nanaimo.  Informed by anarchism’s insights into the human sub­ject under con­tem­po­rary con­di­tions,  Farr’s poem, with its echoes of Eliot and Dante, con­fronts the bruise marks left by cap­i­tal­ism and its tech­no­log­i­cal trustees.

Roger Farr’s sole appear­ance in sup­port of his new book was at the offi­cial launch, which took place on Octo­ber 16 at the feisty People’s Co-op Book­store.  Since then, he’s been chan­nel­ing his inner B. Tra­ven, hun­ker­ing down in his Gabri­o­la Island com­pound, refus­ing all inter­views, so that he can focus on his next book, a revis­it­ing of the work of 15th cen­tu­ry bad-boy French poet François Vil­lonI Am a City Still But Soon I Shan’t Be is avail­able from Spar­ta­cus Books, READ Books, Capi­lano Uni­ver­si­ty Book­store, the People’s Co-op Book­store, and oth­er book­shops.

Also released in Sep­tem­ber was Shot Rock, the third nov­el by Win­nipeg-born-and-raised, now Barcelona-res­i­dent Michael Trege­bov.  A sto­ry that describes an aspect of the city’s vibrant Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty cir­ca ear­ly 1970s, Shot Rock tells the sto­ry of a group of old friends, inspired by the Trostky­ist tac­tics — and pas­sion — of the son of one of their mem­bers, who try to stop the rede­vel­op­ment of their beloved Queen Vic­to­ria, the only Jew­ish curl­ing club in the city, into a Domin­ion gro­cery store.  Although we know (because, his­to­ry) how it ends, Tregebov’s affec­tion­ate por­trait of the world he grew up in takes the read­er on a hilar­i­ous trip in the time machine.

Trege­bov appeared in Thin Air, the Win­nipeg Inter­na­tion­al Writ­ers’ Fes­ti­val, and his nov­el was dis­cussed in Tues­day Book Club on The Next Chap­ter, with host She­lagh Rogers.  You can lis­ten to that hereBernie Bel­lan reviewed Shot Rock for the Jew­ish Post and News, and here’s Gor­don Arnold’s review for the Win­nipeg Free Press.  Ear­li­er, Michael Fraiman inter­viewed Michael Trege­bov for the Cana­di­an Jew­ish News.

Shot Rock, the mol­e­cule-for­mat edi­tion, may be obtained from Librairie Para­graphe, TYPE Books, A Dif­fer­ent Drum­mer, Words Worth Books, McNal­ly-Robin­son Book­sellers, the People’s Co-op Book­store, and oth­er book­shops.  Mean­while, it’s been elec­tri­fied, and that ver­sion can be found here.

 

The Yellow Triangle

|

www.NewStarBooks.com, Novem­ber 19, 2019. Pho­to: Eric E. John­son / Kono­mark

In the top left of your com­put­er screen, in the bar dis­play­ing the URL, you might notice a lit­tle yel­low tri­an­gle with an excla­ma­tion mark inside of it.

It appeared there one day in the spring; we first noticed it when a num­ber of you con­tact­ed us about encoun­ter­ing a secu­ri­ty warn­ing when you clicked on one of the links to our site in the New Star newslet­ter.  The yel­low tri­an­gle sig­nals a secu­ri­ty issue with our site, and (frankly) it’s a big, bright warn­ing sign dis­cour­ag­ing users to vis­it the page.

This sound­ed like a job for our IT guy, so we put in the call.  We had been hav­ing oth­er prob­lems with the host­ing com­pa­ny, so this felt like an oppor­tune time to make the move away from that out­fit, and have our site (phys­i­cal­ly) host­ed clos­er to home, with a local host, instead of Los Ange­les, or Belize, or the Chan­nel Islands, wher­ev­er the host­ing com­pa­ny is stash­ing our data.

It was easy-peasy, way back in 2016 CE, to migrate the New Star site from the host­ing site oper­at­ed by a tiny Vic­to­ria co. that was get­ting out of the busi­ness, to the new, bleed­ing-edge, state-of-the-art, everything’s-up-to-date-in-Virtual-City com­pa­ny picked for us as the new site host.  We can­not recall even a moment’s dif­fi­cul­ty or anx­i­ety in mov­ing our site in 2016.

Remem­ber the 1990s, and “Where do you want to go today?”  Well, those days are gone.  Three years lat­er, this indus­try has evolved to a state where, appar­ent­ly, it has become actu­al­ly impos­si­ble to migrate the site to a dif­fer­ent host.  Two dif­fer­ent, seem­ing­ly knowl­edge­able IT dudes have now told us this, and advised us that the best approach would be to just leave things as they are, and build an entire­ly new web­site from scratch on a new host.  The host­ing com­pa­ny we’re using now is the only web host in the world that can han­dle our site.

That doesn’t make any sense.  Except, appar­ent­ly, here in the new age, it does.

Maybe the most frus­trat­ing and dis­cour­ag­ing aspect of our futile efforts to get our web­site back is that nobody seems to have a clear under­stand­ing them­selves of what the problem/s is/are.  Nobody seems to under­stand why the site secu­ri­ty warn­ing start­ed pop­ping up, and they don’t have an answer for what do to about it.  (We thought we did: Please, get us off the awful host­ing site! but that, it turns out, isn’t an option any­more.)  Nobody has been able to explain what’s so dif­fi­cult about mov­ing this site this year, when it wasn’t dif­fi­cult at all in 2016.  “Start all over again from scratch,” is the best and only advice we are get­ting.  It’s like your auto mechan­ic advis­ing you to buy a new car because the mis­fire you’re expe­ri­enc­ing is just too gnarly for them to get into.

So we might be stuck with that yel­low tri­an­gle until we can either put togeth­er the cap­i­tal to build a brand new site from scratch, or until we can find some­one capa­ble to diag­nose, and repair, what­ev­er is pre­vent­ing us — and you — from get­ting the full use out of www.NewStarBooks.com the way it was orig­i­nal­ly designed and built.

In the mean­time, we’re going to resume post­ing sto­ries on our blog, and do our best to ignore the the secu­ri­ty cer­tifi­cate warn­ings and the oth­er prob­lems dog­ging the site — the shop­ping cart that has room for only one book, for instance.  We hon­est­ly believe you will not be injured in any way by click­ing on our web­site links.  And maybe, in 2020 or 2021, we’ll be able to find a solu­tion to these appar­ent­ly insur­mount­able tech­ni­cal issues.

Watch this dep­re­cat­ed space for sto­ries, about the inter­est­ing books we’ve released this year, like this one, and this one, and this one; and ones we’re work­ing on for next year, like this one, and this one; as well as oth­er news and views about the press’s work.

Some questions for the Canada Council

|

On June 3, Cana­da Coun­cil Direc­tor Simon Brault, and Direc­tor Gen­er­al Car­o­line Warren were in Van­cou­ver for a Town Hall Meet­ing to give a pre­sen­ta­tion on the Cana­da Coun­cil’s pro­grams and cur­rent pri­or­i­ties. This was fol­lowed by a ques­tion-and-answer peri­od where mem­bers of the audi­ence could ask ques­tions of Mr. Brault and Ms War­ren. It seemed that half the mem­bers of the audi­ence that almost filled the York The­atre on Com­mer­cial Dri­ve had some­thing to get off their chests, and the hour went by before New Star pub­lish­er Rolf Mau­r­er had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to speak. Mr. Mau­r­er offered to use New Star’s own site to pose his ques­tions, which fol­low.

 

1

Thank you, Mr. Brault, and Ms War­ren, for your pre­sen­ta­tion, and for giv­ing us this oppor­tu­ni­ty to ask ques­tions and raise our own con­cerns. I wish to raise two issues, and I promise to be suc­cinct.

I have been the pub­lish­er of New Star Books since 1990, and pre­vi­ous to that had worked at the press since 1981 in every capac­i­ty, encom­pass­ing man­age­ment, edi­to­r­i­al acqui­si­tion, pro­duc­tion, sales, mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion, and pack­ing orders for ship­ping. I men­tion this because although I have no imme­di­ate plans to retire, I do face the fact that over the next few years I must pre­pare the press for new own­er­ship — the sec­ond suc­ces­sion that I will have been part of at New Star Books.

For that rea­son I read with a cer­tain amount of alarm the news that the Cana­da Coun­cil has recent­ly sab­o­taged the pro­posed sale of the Ontario lit­er­ary press The Porcupine’s Quill to new own­ers. Aes­thet­i­cal­ly, I could not be far­ther from Tim and Elke Inkster, the cur­rent pro­pri­etors of the press; and polit­i­cal­ly, I could not be far­ther from the ide­o­log­i­cal posi­tions held by the prospec­tive new own­er, Ken Whyte. I am non­plussed, how­ev­er, to find myself in their cor­ner on this one.

Sab­o­taged” is a strong word to use; I strug­gled to find the right one. But “blocked” or “pre­vent­ed” would be wrong, because they imply a cer­tain right, or pro­pri­ety, to the action. I resist any claim by the Cana­da Coun­cil that they have any right to inter­fere in the inter­nal work­ings, includ­ing suc­ces­sion, of any orga­ni­za­tion that ben­e­fits from their sup­port.

The Cana­da Council’s role is to sup­port the ongo­ing work of Canada’s pub­lish­ing hous­es. It has a role in assess­ing the qual­i­ty of the work car­ried out by the press, and to sup­port that work, at lev­els that vary wide­ly accord­ing to its judge­ment, and the judge­ment of the juries it assem­bles. It is not, how­ev­er, itself a pub­lish­ing orga­ni­za­tion. It is an arts agency, tasked with the respon­si­bil­i­ty for pro­vid­ing finan­cial sup­port for an indus­try that in the absence of pro­grams such as Writ­ing & Pub­lish­ing, would not be able to exist in this coun­try, for struc­tur­al rea­sons. Arguably, it lacks the exper­tise to make such pub­lish­ing deci­sions as who can best car­ry on the work of any giv­en press, and its prin­ci­pals. Sim­ply put: your offi­cers do not work close enough to the knives to be able to make such deci­sions.

It is sim­ply not with­in the Cana­da Council’s ambit to deter­mine who gets to pub­lish in this coun­try. It amounts to unwar­rant­ed inter­fer­ence in the inter­nal deci­sions of a pub­lish­ing house. I am dis­mayed to con­sid­er that the val­ue of my life’s work will at the end of the day be judged by an offi­cer at the Cana­da Coun­cil on the basis of cri­te­ria that I have had no voice in deter­min­ing, and which are in any case obscure, or even con­sis­tent­ly applied. I urge you to revis­it this issue, and to recon­sid­er your pol­i­cy around com­pa­ny suc­ces­sion.

 

2

The sec­ond top­ic I wish to raise is one that has pre­vi­ous­ly been high­light­ed by the More Cana­da Report, which was issued late last year.

This report draws atten­tion to the pre­cip­i­tous decline this cen­tu­ry in Cana­di­an par­tic­i­pa­tion in Canada’s own book mar­ket­place. Using data pro­vid­ed by the Depart­ment of Cana­di­an Her­itage, the More Cana­da Report states that the pro­por­tion of Cana­di­an-authored books sold in Cana­da has declined from 27 per­cent in the ear­ly 2000s (itself almost cer­tain­ly rep­re­sent­ing a decline from a decade ear­li­er), to about half that today: 14 per­cent. Of that 14 per­cent, it is esti­mat­ed that only 4 per­cent rep­re­sents books pub­lished by Cana­di­an firms, i.e., those pub­lish­ing hous­es sus­tained by Cana­da Council’s sup­port.

Four per­cent. Can you even speak of a “domes­tic indus­try”?

While each one of us pub­lish­ers have been anec­do­tal­ly aware of this sharp decline in access to our own mar­ket­place, the More Cana­da Report is the first time we have seen any acknowl­edg­ment that this decline is not a prob­lem spe­cif­ic to our indi­vid­ual com­pa­nies, but a broad­er phe­nom­e­non. The Cana­da Coun­cil, how­ev­er, has been able to watch this cat­a­stro­phe unfold, in real time, over the past fif­teen to twen­ty years. This rais­es some ques­tions, which I am now putting to you:

How does the Cana­da Coun­cil under­stand this decline in mar­ket share for Cana­di­an pub­lish­ers?

What, in your view, are the caus­es of this decline, and how should these be addressed?

What are the impli­ca­tions, for the Cana­da Council’s own work and for the coun­try itself?

How is the Cana­da Coun­cil itself propos­ing to respond to this sit­u­a­tion?

Why has it been silent through­out this event?

I thank you for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring my con­cerns for­ward, and wish you well in your own work at the Cana­da Coun­cil for the Arts.