Ben Katchor in store tonight!

TONIGHT - Saturday April 30th, 7pm

Just a friendly reminder about the event tonight. We are really honoured to have award-winning cartoonist Ben Katchor launching his first book in over a decade at the D+Q Librairie. Montreal is the only Canadian stop on his tour! Ben Katchor is one of the best cartoonists to see live.

At 7 PM, he will present a slideshow and talk, with a signing to follow.

More info about the event here:

Hope to see you all there!

Check out the Facebook event here.

Chester Brown!

Drawn and Quarterly's much-anticipated Paying For It by Chester Brown is here!

Paying For It is an autobiographical account of the artist's adventures in paying for sex. Rejecting the idea of a romantic love, he turns towards ladies of the night. Honest, yet distant. Stark, yet funny. Paying For It is sure to engage, titillate, and add to the conversation of legalizing prostitution.

The Globe and Mail has a great profile of Brown (including a panel-by-panel analysis). As does the National Post. And the Walrus has written a thoughtful review of the book. Go Canadian press!

Dimitri Nasrallah's Niko

Niko is Montreal author Dimitri Nasrallah's first novel. It's a globe-trotting, heart-breaking story about war, immigration, and exile. This Gazette review justifiably calls it a tall tale, but it's equally true that the setting (Montreal, for much of the novel), and the specificity of the experiences make it clear that this is a work with its foundations in lived experience and careful observation. 

Niko follows Nakhle (Niko) Karam and his father Antoine on their flight from war-torn Beirut after a bomb kills Niko's pregnant mother. Desperate to escape, they find temporary refuge in Cyprus, then Turkey and Greece. Eventually the two are separated - Niko is sent to Canada to live with his Tante Yvonne and her husband Sami, because Antoine cannot afford to immigrate himself. Niko grows up in Canada with his aunt and uncle.

What I find particularly powerful about books like Niko or Dave Eggers's What is the What (another heart-breaking book about surviving war and refugeedom - about a Sudanese Lost Boy) is how they emphasize the hardships immigrants and refugees face, hardships that are all the more horrific because we recognize the contexts in which they occur. While we all know war is bad, we don't realize the extent to which people still deal with adversity when they arrive in the places that will be their new homes.

Anyway enough yammering about refugees. Know this: Niko is one of the best 2011 novels I've read, and it is an epic, sweeping story about war and family and loss that really conveys the agony of exile, and also makes that suffering comprehensible on a really intimate level. It's a debut novel by a Montreal author. Please read it.

Nourishing Books

We just received two great new books about food. Man with a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Families is an anthology edited by John Donohue of the fun and informative blog, Stay At Stove Dad and the book features writing by famous foodie dads (Mario Batali, Mark Bittman, and Stephen King among them) about their culinary family lives. The book includes over sixty favourite recipes.

Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef is a memoir by Gabrielle Hamilton of the acclaimed New York restaurant Prune (which is delicious by the way, that bone marrow!). Hamilton's memoir has been ranking high on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller list since its release in March. It's supposed to be one of the most exciting kitchen narratives since Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential (a.k.a. Cooks Gone Wild).

Doughnuts! Doughnuts! Doughnuts!

Two of my favourite things: baked goods and beautiful women. The book for me: BabyCakes Covers the Classics: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes from Donuts to Snickerdoodles by (hel-lo) Erin McKenna, founder of the acclaimed BabyCakes NYC bakery.* Erin McKenna makes delicious refined sugar-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, casein-free, egg-free, vegan, and kosher treats. To be honest, I tend to be suspicious of vegan desserts but I'll take New York Times foodie Mark Bittman at his word when he claims that, "Vegan or not, gluten-free or not, Erin McKenna's donuts are the best I've had in twenty years without exception." McKenna is wary of overly processed vegan market substitutes and relies instead on natural ingredients like agave, rice flour, apple sauce, and coconut oil. BabyCakes Cover the Classics is a follow-up to McKenna's very popular debut cookbook BabyCakes of 2009.

Yes, please.

That's McKenna in the red bow tie.

Looks even better than Cheskie's!

I prefer the sp. "doughnut" but, still, yum.

Three pour emporter svp.

*Please pardon the in-no-way-meant-to-be-misogynistic objectification of the lovely Erin McKenna. I like to think I can get away with it because I'm a woman and small in size (i.e. non-threatening) and because my tone is intended to be playful but, of course, these things do not necessarily come across in this anonymous word medium. I just think young McKenna photographs as well as her treats. And it should be noted that I held off from making any (obvious) "babycakes" puns.

Onward Towards our Noble Deaths - Now in store!

Shigeru Mizuki's marvelous Onward Towards our Noble Deaths has finally hit the store!

It's pretty much unbelievable that Mizuki's work hasn't been translated in English prior to this book... He is a living legend!

While Mizuki is famous for his surreal yôkai stories like the long running Kitarô series or the autobio-fantasy NonNonBā (to be published in 2012 by Drawn & Quarterly), Onward stands out as a horrifically and tragically real memoir ("90% fact," according to Mizuki) of his time served in the Imperial Army during World War 2.

Julia has already blogged about the first reactions to the book. I find that Dan Nadel put his finger on a big part of Onward's appeal in his Comics Journals preview:

"Onward… is particularly affecting because from page one we know that the troops will die. They were sent only to fight and die, and freed of any conventional will-they-survive narrative, Mizuki gently chronicles the daily physical lives of these men."

Marvel at the power of gekiga - the layout! the timing! the drama! the poetry!

Onward Towards our Noble Deaths is a beautiful and penetrating chef d'oeuvre that will leave you pondering on the human condition and on notions of dignity, honor, life and death. A penetrating portrait of the many faces of Death, Onward could possibly be one the most moving graphic novels you'll read.

Opération Mort, the Cornélius-published french translation of Onward, has previously won the Heritage Essential Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival.


Awesome! Sarah Gilbert (of Mile Endings) has written up a great piece on Drawn and Quarterly for the Montreal Gazette. Check out the article on their website (which also includes a very lovely picture of Rory, Julien, and Julia. Looking good, gang!).

This is a Book

Demetri Martin, of the Daily Show and Important Things with Demetri Martin, has written a book. If you have not already watched his show, you should. Because it's wonderful. But first! Read his book, This is a Book!

There are stories, and drawings, and graphs. Oh my!
Martin is a bit of an absurdist, taking the obvious to create something unexpected and screwy.

A few of my favourite drawings:

Pony with Second Ponytail.

Having to pee whilst having to sneeze=disaster.

Snowglobe with frustrated man trying to shovel driveway.

Daniel Clowes is Mr. Wonderful!

Daniel Clowes isn't Mr. Wonderful. Mr. Wonderful is Daniel Clowes's creation, a midlife romance comic he created for the New York Times which has just been collected in this gorgeous panoramic edition. Gaze in wonder at the wondrous work of Mr. Daniel Clowes (seriously though, you're wonderful)!

Commissaire Toumi and Other Stories

I'll 'fess up, maybe what it takes to get me to blog about French b.d. is adorably anthropomorphized main characters...

Anouk Ricard's Commissaire Toumi is a series of short whodunnits featuring the canine Commissaire and his feline nincompoop of a partner, Sgt. Stucky.

Have you always lamented that Richard Scarry didn't write detective novels? Well lament no longer, dear reader!  Commissaire Toumi offers a sly humour, a pug-like protagonist, and clever plot twists.
The scene of the crime

Commissaire Toumi's Hercule Poirot "J'accuse!" moment

Plus! The fun doesn't stop there! Anouk Ricard has also produced several volumes of the Anna et Froga series about the (mis)adventures of a small band of friends. Each volume collects a handful of short stories about the titular Froga (a little frog) and Anna (a young girl). Their friends include Bubu the dog, René the cat, and Christophe the worm. Whether Ricard's characters are giving us the recipe for "pâtes a la Bubu" or visiting the local mini-golf course, the stories held within these pages are charmingly sweet and funny.

Poetry Pandemonium at The Sparrow

Join Julien and I tonight, Sunday April 17th, at the Sparrow pub for a "rollicking night of rousing poetry readings" in celebration of National Poetry Month. Six poets representing three Canadian indie presses will take over the bar, launching six new poetry collections, including titles by Montrealers Asa Boxer (Skullduggery), Gabe Foreman (A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People) and Joshua Trotter (All This Could Be Yours). We will be there selling books, enjoying the words, and accepting drink offers.

Sunday April 17th, doors at 7:30 pm, readings at 8:30pm
This is at the Sparrow (5322 Saint-Laurent), NOT at the bookstore!

Good news for me and my broke friends

Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad and David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet—two of the most celebrated novels of 2010—have just been released in paperback. I am especially excited to finally be able to afford a copy of Egan's Good Squad—women I really respect keep asking me if I've read it yet.

Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers

Trash Humpers is a new book by Harmony Korine based on the photographic research for his latest directorial project of the same name. It reads like the cross between an inspiration board, a sinister lifestyle magazine and a poem. To sum it up, I'd describe it as a collection of grimy photographs of American landscapes and old perverts, printed on varying types of paper, and complemented with Josh Smith-esque paintings and one-liners that give insight into what it is exactly that the Trash Humpers like to do.

Can you tell i took these pictures in front of the recycling on purpose?

Released on lo-fi VHS, the 78-minute movie follows a gang of miscreants who roam the streets of Nashville, molesting garbage bins and causing random mayhem. It's an "ode to vandalism and the creativity of the destructive force," Korine has said. "Sometimes there's a real beauty to blowing things up, to smashing and burning. It could be almost as enlightening as the building of an object."

Fans of Harmony Korine will be happy to know that we also carry the screenplay for Mister Lonely, as well as his book The Collected Fanzines.

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities

Originally published between 1734 and 1765, Cabinet of Natural Curiosities is based on the collection of Albertus Seba, an apothecary turned obsessive collector from Amsterdam. Seba collected everything from animals to vegetables to mineral ingredients in order to produce natural remedies.

The natural curio himself, Albertus Seba!

Drawings of these varied and curious objects are beautifully illustrated in this big thick book. The shell section is especially spectacular, with the colours and shapes of each object differing so drastically from one to the other. It really makes me think about how bananas the earth is.

Enough talk. I leave you with imagery:


Record Store Day Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is International Record Store Day! Our new neighbor Phonopolis will be hosting a tUnE-YarDs listening party starting at 5pm WITH a keg of beer provided by record label 4AD. In support of our friends and in solidarity with small, arts related businesses across the nation, we will be giving 15% off all music books. Here are some choice picks:

You should really pick up a copy of this book, especially with the 10th anniversary concert sneaking up. Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life takes us through '81-'91 indie rock America, chronicling stories of bands that , at the time were pretty off the radar, but are now mostly legendary.

 Love Saves The Day is Tim Lawrence's telling of dance music beginnings. I haven't read this one but I loved Tim's biography Arthur Russell biography: Hold Onto Your Dreams.

Signed up for Electro Acoustics at Concordia this fall? I am pretty sure this is your bible or something...

And finally, Alex Ross' two music-scape-epics The Rest Is Noise and  Listen To This are on sale. Mahler and Wagner were basically the first indie rockers. Music books galore, on-sale tomorrow only!!

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