Kevin Brennan – update on a new collection of essays

Kevin Brennan has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations a number of times, as well as being an All-Star Author and on the list of
Reading Recommendations Revisited.

I don’t make any bones about it – Kevin Brennan is one of my very favourite authors writing today! So it’s always a pleasure to promote any new books he happens to publish, like this one right here …

In No Particular Order: A Memoir
by Kevin Brennan

It’s true that life is linear, but the living of it is all over the map. In this memoir-in-vignettes, novelist Kevin Brennan (Parts Unknown, Yesterday Road) examines his life the way memories occur in the wild: in no particular order. Whether it’s recalling high school humiliations, ups and downs in love and romance, or unique interactions with the human race at home and abroad, Brennan both entertains and moves the reader with moments of unexpected poignancy and full-tilt humor. In No Particular Order is a deconstructed memoir, like no other because it looks at life as it really is — a kaleidoscope of individual moments.

For more information about Kevin and his publications, as well as more about this new eBook, check out his blog, What the Hell.

Purchase a copy from:
Amazon

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Mike Robbins – update on a timely essay

Mike Robbins has visited Reading Recommendations a couple of times previously, here and here. He’s back now to tell us about a very timely essay he has just published. (Mike also answered my recent call for book reviewers, for which I am extremely grateful!)

Such Little Accident: British Democracy and its Enemies
by Mike Robbins
Published by Third Rail
Genre: Non-Fiction Essay

“When the people shall have nothing more to eat,” said Rousseau, “they will eat the rich.” But the rich are rather good at getting the poor to eat each other instead. In this provocative novella-length essay, Mike Robbins looks at how the British electoral system, social media, bullying by business, and a growing gap between rich and poor have led to deep fissures in British society. These have been exploited by those with an agenda of their own. As a result, democracy is now fragile. To repair it, we must look hard at the way information cycles through our society, and how our opinions are formed.

Cover picture: J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16th October, 1834 (Detail)
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Where to purchase copies:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
(also available on the other Amazons)
Google Play
Barnes & Noble
Scribd
Kobo

Bill Engleson – update on a new collection of essays

Bill Engleson was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in Jan. 2014. He’s back now to tell us about a collection of essays he’s recently published.

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Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul
by Bill Engleson
Published by Silver Bow Publishing
Genre: Non-fiction, essays

Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul is a series of rollicking tales from a “newbie” retiring to a small rural island.

Villified almost from day one as “the gentry”, Bill Engleson fights back, taking a good-natured swipe at everyone and everything he encounters as he plods along, learning the ins and outs of rural living, sometimes the hard way.

Most of the chapters were originally published in the local monthly journal, The Flagstone, to mixed reviews.

After a period of “soul” searching, the author decided not to bother modifying the original pithy content, regardless of who gets offended or confused.

“They got what’s coming to them,” he retorted.

smt: I wrote a review of this book that was published in the Island Tides newspaper of Denman Island, and I posted it to reading recommendations reviewed, as well.

Where to purchase copies:
Silver Bow Publishing

Aritha van Herk Recommends George Melnyk

Front_cover_FirstPersonPlural-Melnyk

Third Person Plural
by George Melnyk
with a Foreword by Aritha van Herk

Genre: Essays

First Person Plural by George Melnyk is a collection of essays on the subject of identity and self-image. The book begins with the author’s personal memoir as a Canadian of Ukrainian heritage who arrived in Canada from a “displaced person” camp after the war. It also studies similar questions of identity and image as they affect other persons, including the Serbian-Canadian novelist David Albahari, artists Natalka Husar and Marie Elyse St. George, and Leonard Cohen. Other essays deal with the bombing of Hiroshima as portrayed by Japanese manga comic books, and the perception and image of movie stars like Marilyn Monroe. Numerous photographs complement the essays.

P1010330 George Melnyk is a cultural historian and essayist. First Person Plural is his 26th book and it continues his essay publications that began with Radical Regionalism (1981), and then continued with Beyond Alienation (1993), New Moon at Batoche (1999) and My Mother is an Alien (2003). George is the author of the two-volume Literary History of Alberta (1998-99) and numerous books on Canadian cinema, including One Hundred Years of Canadian Cinema (2004) and Film and the City (2014). He lives in Calgary, where he teaches at the University of Calgary.

Why I recommend this book:
This collection of essays, a meditative gathering that focuses on images and their affect, connects characters as disparate as Marilyn Monroe and Leonard Cohen with George Melnyk himself. In the process, he examines how images project and protect identity, and how we come to understand ourselves through images.

The book’s epigraph, by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, declares, “Everyone has three lives: a private life, a public life and a secret life.” This interesting premise is augmented by other lives, George Melnyk’s visual life, textual life, and visionary life; and these writings throw his projections onto the shadowed screen of individuality and community.

The most interesting and effective motif in these essays is Melnyk’s conflictedness about his Ukrainian roots, his admission that he is part of a triple diaspora, and thus has been pulled in multiple directions. He says, “My escape into western Canadian identity was a conscious way of avoiding the problematic past and its ongoing iterations in contemporary Ukraine.” This “hiding/revealing” informs both the content and the approach of the essays. He confronts directly why he for a long time repressed his Ukrainian heritage and the effect his family’s displacement and migration has had on his choices and his intellectual enthusiasms. His sense of being an outsider, “of being ashamed of who one was,” delineates the profound reverberation of subtle alienations.

These essays are written with Melnyk’s straightforward style, his bluntness both unusual and disarming. They are best when he is personal, when he looks intimately at those images that compel our attention, whether they are photographs of Marilyn Munroe or of himself as an infant, sees himself as the stateless refugee, “Melnyk, Urii Roman,” on his way to Canada. That is a powerful platform from which to investigate his fascination with art and image, the play of history and fiction.

These essays are most compelling when they dare to investigate what matters to an individual and his reading of himself. In his projection of the personal, Melnyk succeeds in living that Kroetsch line of “unhiding the hidden” even while he dons another disguise. He says, “The essays hold up a mirror to different parts of me—my ethnic self, my artistic self, and my new regional self. When I combine them into a single self I become the kind of western Canadian I am today.” His yearning to imprint himself “onto a known geography” ventures into the unknown with a journey that collapses the familiar and the strange, and that engages with both known and alien geographies. He becomes the “kind of western Canadian” who embodies then our doubts and our determination, our archive and our aspiration. And what could be better than that?

Links for people to buy the book:
Frontenac House
Alpine Book Peddlers

Aritha van Herk 88 Guest reviewer’s latest title or project:
I am working on a book about Calgary, and a place-biography of Robert Kroetsch.

From The Alberta Award of Excellence site: Aritha van Herk is an acclaimed author, teacher and mentor who has made significant contributions to the canons of Alberta and Canadian literature. Her work has enriched the lives of readers across Canada and around the world, helped to shape a generation of writers and fostered a deeper understanding of what it means to be an Albertan. Aritha van Herk’s work to enrich the lives of her fellow Albertans and Canadians includes her eloquent and ardent contributions as an advocate for the arts. In 1983, she joined the University of Calgary’s Department of English where she helped to develop the school’s nationally and internationally regarded creative writing program; she played a key role in the development of Canada’s first English PhD program in Creative Writing. Aritha’s reputation as a professor and mentor is one of exacting standards tempered with the compassion, guidance and insight young writers need to develop their craft. Many of the students Aritha has worked with at the U of C have gone on to become productive and celebrated Canadian authors in their own rights and they all acknowledge her guiding hand as an important factor in their success.

Jason Lee Norman

Jason 11Jason Lee Norman

What is your latest release and what genre is it? 40 Below Volume 2. It is an anthology of poetry, prose, and non-fiction inspired by Alberta Winters

Quick description: The aim of the project was to collect words, poems, stories, and artwork about and inspired by the province of Alberta in winter. The idea is that while winter can be harsh at times, our experience with it is also something quite unique. It can also be a time of year that inspires art and people coming together. (One contributor, Lori Hahnel, has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations.)

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Book Launch in Edmonton on Nov. 8!
Meet some of the anthology’s authors, hear their stories and poems, eat a slice of cake at 40 Below‘s launch at Audreys Books.

Brief biography:
I’m a writer and publisher from Edmonton, Alberta. My first short fiction collection entitled Americas was published in 2012. I created Wufniks Press shortly after that and edited and published the first 40 Below anthology in 2013.

Links to buy Jason’s book:
40 Below Project

Jason’s promo links:
Website
Twitter
Facebook

What are you working on now?
Right now my focus is on the promotion of 40 Below Volume 2. Next year I have a couple projects that I’ll be working on as well as continuing my #yegwords project that publishes stories and poetry on coffee sleeves distributed at coffee shops across Edmonton.

Jason’s reading recommendation:
Shane Jones is my favourite author right now who is not featured in 40 Below.

Marcello Di Cintio

H-570 Marcello Di Cintio

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Song of the Caged Bird: Word as Resistance in Palestine is a nonfiction eBook published by Hazlitt Originals.

Quick description: The book is a short travelogue – essentially a long essay – that chronicles my time in Palestine as a writer-in-residence and my investigations of the role of literary culture in Palestinian society.

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Brief biography:
I am a freelance magazine writer and the author of three award-winning books of reportage. I live in Calgary.

Links to buy Marcello’s book:
PenguinRandomHouse.ca

Marcello’s promo links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Song of the Caged Bird Facebook Page

What are you working on now?
I am working on a proposal to expand Song of the Caged Bird into a full-length book.

Marcello’s reading recommendation:
Serafim and Claire by Mark Lavorato

Robert Runté – update on a new publication

Dr. Robert Runté was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in Oct. 2014, and was a contributor to another anthology also featured on Reading Recommendations in Oct.

978-0-7864-9592-4The Canadian Fantastic in Focus: New Perspectives
Allan Weiss, Editor
Literary Criticism: Canadian Speculative Fiction

Bringing together papers presented at the Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy from 2005 to 2013, this collection of essays includes Veronica Hollinger’s keynote address, “The Body on the Slab,” and Robert Runté’s Aurora Award-winning paper, “Why I Read Canadian Speculative Fiction: The Social Dimension of Reading” along with 15 other contributions on science fiction and fantasy literature, television and music by Canadian creators.

Authors discussed include Charles de Lint, Nalo Hopkinson, Tanya Huff, Esther Rochon, Peter Watts and Robert Charles Wilson. Essays on the television show Supernatural and the Scott Pilgrim comics series are also included.

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Dr. Robert Runté with the 2014 Prix Aurora Award he won for this essay in the category of Best Fan Related Work.

From Robert Runté:
I grew up in an age when speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and so on) was still considered beneath the dignity of serious scholarly attention. Indeed, one of my early deans once told me that he considered “scifi” of lower literary value than Harlequin Romance (which to his mind was the worst comparison he could draw), and that he was more embarrassed by my interest in SF than if I had written porn. So I am pretty relieved to find that the new generation of scholars has dropped such pretensions and is eagerly and capably delving into Canadian science fiction and fantasy. Drawn from the most outstanding papers of the last seven years, this collection provides a representative cross-section of both this new generation of energetic, innovative and insightful Canadian academics, and of the brilliant Canadian authors they have chosen to review.

Allan Weiss’ introductory essay provides an excellent overview of the history of scholarship on the Canadian contribution to the genre, and I like to believe that my own essay provides an overview of the themes that have dominated Canadian speculative fiction and distinguish it from the American and British versions of the genre. I have also tried to explain the social dimension of reading: why we need to create spaces where our youth can explore what it means to be Canadian, to find their own voice by creating their own interpretations of popular tropes.

I confess to being particularly proud of my essay, not just because it represents a summation of everything I’ve been arguing for the past 35 years, but because the essay won a major award even while the book was still in press. My presentation at the 2013 Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy won a 2014
Aurora Award (Canada’s answer to the American Hugo Awards). Apparently, the suggestion that Canadian authors address themes that resonate particularly well with Canadian readers hit a responsive chord with the Award’s voters.

Links for people to buy it:
McFarland Publishing (publisher’s catalog)
Amazon – eBook and Paperback

Robert Runté is Senior Editor with Five Rivers Publishing, and a freelance development editor /writing coach at SFeditor.ca.

Teresa Karlinski

IMG_0919Teresa Karlinski

What is your latest release and what genre is it? The latest release includes two non-fiction stories in the anthology, Slices of Life.

Written by 17 writers, these stories span from childhood to old-age, some humorous, others challenging.

Quick description: The Entrepreneur – a young girl learns through setting up a lemonade stand, and Bibliotherapy, examines a women’s book club.

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Brief biography:
Teresa Karlinski lives with her cat, Lady Gaga, in Ontario, Canada. She is a grandmother and a student of life. Although retired, she hasn’t enough time to read her overwhelming collection of books. Days consist of reading, writing and blogging. Her stories appear in various magazines and anthologies.

Links to buy Teresa’s book:
Amazon (available in print copy only)

Teresa’s promo links:
Blog: How the cookie crumbles

E-mail: cookiecrumbles2012 (at) gmail.com & TeresaKarlinski (at) gmail.com

What are you working on now?
Editing short stories for publication, the current one involves a lonely retiree and her cat.

Teresa’s reading recommendation:
The Fishers of Paradise by Canadian author Rachael Preston. The story is set in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1930 and deals with the consequences of choices. Riveting.

Pam Chamberlain

Chamberlain, Pam head shotPam Chamberlain

What is your latest release and what genre is it? In the Company of Animals: Stories of Extraordinary Encounters – Nonfiction (memoir), edited by Pam Chamberlain

Quick description: In In the Company of Animals, 37 writers from across Canada tell thought-provoking stories of extraordinary encounters with animals. From tributes to a beloved cat or dog to tales of a chance encounter with a moose or a bear, these stories are sure to entertain and enlighten. The writers — including Farley Mowat, Richard Wagamese, David Weale, Linda Johns, Anny Scoones, and David Adams Richards — are people who spend time in the company of animals, paying close attention to them and the lessons they can teach us.

Animal Book cover

Brief biography:
Pam Chamberlain grew up on a mixed farm in east-central Alberta and studied English at Augustana University College and the University of Alberta. She’s been teaching English literature, composition, and creative writing for twenty years. In 2010, she edited and published published Country Roads: Memoirs from Rural Canada (Nimbus Publishing), a collection of stories about life in rural Canada. She lives in Calgary.

Links to buy Pam’s book:
Nimbus Publishing
McNally Robinson
Chapters

Pam’s promo links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

What are you working on now?
A book-length memoir about growing up in a small agricultural community

Pam’s reading recommendation:
Richard Wagamese’s For Joshua and One Native Life