Staff picks 2013: Kira

I started working at Librairie D+Q back in May, and let me tell you, without hyperbole, that it has been the best job ever! Despite having minimal leisure time for reading this year (due to having my fingers in a few too many pies for just one person) the abundance of awesome books that are perpetually at my disposal thanks to my job have wormed their way into what little free time I've had. Here are a few of my faves from this year:

Kitaro - by Shigeru Mizuki

Narrowing down a "best of" list to just 10 books can be a challenge, but from my initial brainstorming session to the final cut, there was no doubt in my mind that Kitaro would be on the list. What is not to love about this fantastic collection of Japanese yokai (loosely translated as shape-shifting, mythical monster) stories told by one of the masters of the genre? His illustrations combine classic manga with a more realist style. From the moment I read a panel featuring the magical boy protagonist Kitaro's left eye (which is actually his's complicated!) exiting his relaxing soak in a teacup, wrapped in a tiny, eyeball-sized bath towel, I was absolutely smitten with Mizuki's supernatural world. Funny, weird and eerie: a perfect combination.

Rookie Yearbook Two - by Tavi Gevinson

Since I was delighted with Rookie Yearbook One, it came as no surprise that I also loved the sophomore edition. Though Rookie is ostensibly aimed at a teen girl audience, it is so chock-full of interesting articles from an impressive cast of contributors, that its appeal is irresistible even for a reader like myself, well-past her teen years. As a person who unabashedly loves fashion, I've long resented the tendency of so many mainstream fashion magazines and blogs to be intellectually vacuous and devoid of meaningful social commentary, if not perpetuating constructs that are outright oppressive. Thankfully, Rookie is the perfect antidote to this malaise I've so often felt. Smart and sartorial in equal measure, it's also full of fun goodies, like stickers and a tarot deck!

Francis the Little Fox - by Véronique Boisjoly

It doesn't get much cuter than this tale of a dapper fox, a scaredy-cat, and a mischief-making little girl. This charming story chronicles the adventures of young Francis, a fastidious, bow-tie-wearing fellow (even on laundry days!) whose fondness for the neighbourhood laundromat is largely due to the fact that it is a haven of peace and quiet. The only impediment to his full enjoyment of laundry day is the laundromat owner's granddaughter, the mischievous Lily Rainboots, whose predilection for pranks causes Francis (and Mouse, the shop cat) no end of grief. The story and illustrations are fabulously cute, showing that adventures can crop up even during the most quotidien of activities. I would love nothing better than to read this to my niece and nephews one day! (Also available in the original French, as Renaud le Petit Renard.)

This is How You Lose Her (Deluxe Edition) - by Junot Diaz, illustrated by Jaime Hernandez

It would've been pretty hard to go wrong with the combined forces of Junot Diaz and Jaime Hernandez, and the result of their collaboration does not disappoint. Diaz's prose style is one of a kind, and the stories in This is How You Lose Her provide an often uncomfortable amount of insight into the principal narrator Yunior's world. A serial philanderer, yet still a sympathetic character, Yunior's voice is tangible in the written word. The narrative unfolds through a series of vignettes following Yunior's experiences as a childhood immigrant to the USA from the Dominican Republic through his adult life as a professor at a Boston University, always with a focus on his dealings with girlfriends, fiancees, lovers and also his mother. Affecting, even heart-wrenching at times, yet never schlocky or overly sentimental, the stories are brought even more vividly to life with the addition of Hernandez's new illustrations for this deluxe edition.

My Dirty Dumb Eyes - by Lisa Hanawalt

Right from the get-go, with the inside cover illustration showcasing a man standing in a forest, pantless and proud, with hands on hips and his butt doubtlessly enjoying the breeze, My Dirty Dumb Eyes made me chuckle. Hanawalt's potty humour definitely struck a chord for me, as did her bizarre, colourful illustrations of animals in absurd hats, her hilarious reviews of films, and the general silliness of the whole book! Hanawalt is as smart and funny as they come, and her work simultaneously dissects pop culture as it entertains us with low-brow humour. If you're feeling a little blue and need a pick me up, open up to any page of this book, and you'll be chortling away immediately.

Selected Stories of Philip K Dick - by Philip K Dick

Being a devoted sci-fi/fantasy nerd, of course I loved this new collection of stories from sci-fi master Philip K Dick, the man responsible for some of the genres most beloved tales. I know the adage about not judging a book by its cover, but just look at how pretty this cover is for a minute! And I can assure you that the stories within its crystalline blue covers are mind-bogglingly awesome. Fast-paced, and filled with the familiar Philip K tropes (cyborgs, robots, AI doppelgängers, pre-cogs, aliens, paranoia, post-apocalyptic future, etc.) the stories delve into some of our most profound questions of personal identity, politics, and what it means to be human in an increasingly technological world. This guy is a legend for a reason: his stories are as timeless today as when they were first published, and prove that good sci-fi should never be relegated to the much-maligned realm of "genre fiction" and rather deserves a rightful place in the literary world. 

Woman Rebel - by Peter Bagge

Honestly, I didn't know much about Margaret Sanger, the woman behind Planned Parenthood, before reading Bagge's graphic novel bio of her. A quick google search of her name yielded some unsavory results, referring to her apparent affiliations with such foul groups as the KKK and the eugenics movement, which gave me grave misgivings about her, and consequently made me less inclined to read a whole book about her. I'm glad that my curiosity got the better of me though, and once again proved that you can't always trust what Dr. Google tells you, as Bagge's extensive research shows that these claims are largely unfounded, stemming mostly from anti-choice groups who aim to besmirch Sanger's (and thereby Planned Parenthood's) reputation. I learned that Sanger lead a fascinating, and extremely full life, growing up as a socialist, later befriending anarchist Emma Goldman and wholeheartedly embracing her "free love" philosophy, and above all, relentlessly crusading for women's bodily autonomy through providing access to reproductive choice to women of all backgrounds. Bagge's rubbery illustrations may seem an odd match for the biography format, but his style works really well to show Sanger's larger than life personality and incredible achievements. 

Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life - by Ulli Lust

This graphic memoir of the author's experiences as a 17-year old punk (with neither money nor ID in her pocket) hitch-hiking and panhandling her way through Italy is not for the faint of heart (trigger warning: sexual assault.) It starts off on a fairly carefree, road trip vibe, but then progressively takes a turn for the sinister as Ulli discovers that being a young woman traveler in that context has a serious dark side. Namely, she finds it impossible to escape predatory men who relentlessly try to woo, and should that fail, then just plain coerce her into sleeping with them. This all paints a fairly vile picture of gender relations in that time and place, but is also, sadly, so relatable even in today's world. Despite the bleak and more infuriating aspects of Ulli's travels, Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life is ultimately a liberating coming of age story. 

I Await the Devil's Coming - by Mary Maclane

It's easy to see how Maclane's teenage diary caused such a stir in the USA in 1902 when it was released in book form, spawning the "confessional" genre. For her time, Maclane must have been quite scandalous insofar as she claims to be in love both with the devil and an older woman. She also defines herself as a thief, a philosopher, and above all, a genius stuck in, of all places, Butte, Montana! Reading the 19-year old Maclane's diary today is an experience both sad and kind of hilarious: sad, because her her station in life is unenviable, and her options for escape seem few, but hilarious because her chief complaints are so emblematic of teenage life in general. Her feeling of being a misunderstood, isolated genius doomed to a life of drudgery amongst small town folk upon whom her superior intellect is entirely wasted is so totally typical that it's become cliché, yet she sees her suffering as singular and unique. Despite her hubris and conceit (which reach epic, Mr. Toad-like proportions) Maclane's prose style is often very poetic, and she is clearly talented. Perhaps if Maclane were a teenager today, she would just listen to a lot of Morrissey and get it out of her system, but instead, her teen angst lives on forever thanks to the publication of her diary for posterity.

The Luminaries - by Eleanor Catton
Confession: I haven't finished The Luminaries yet, as it weighs in at over 800 pages, and I just started reading it a few days ago. But it's already shaping up to be so promising that I had to put it on my top 10 list anyhow. Plus, it won the Man Booker Prize and The Governor General's Award this year, so I'm extra intrigued! Set in 1860's Victorian New Zealand in the midst of a gold-rush boomtown, and written in a style typical of the period, I'm already immersed due to the evocative prose. Astrology plays largely into the narrative structure: each character is linked to a celestial body, and their movements apparently follow the astrological charts from the year in which the plot unfolds. So far, it seems to be part ghost story, part mystery, and an homage to all-things Victorian. I love a good period piece, Catton's device of invoking the supernatural and the astrological is an interesting one, so I know what I'll be reading into the holiday season! 

Ce Soir!! 19h, Julie Maroh lance Skandalon

Julie Maroh, l'auteure de Le Bleu est une couleur chaude, lance son second roman graphique intitulé Skandalon, à la librairie CE SOIR, le vendredi 29 novembre, à 19h.  Cette soirée sera également l'occasion de découvrir la version anglaise de sa première oeuvre: Blue Is the Warmest Color. Julie Maroh présentera brièvement son processus de création et signera des copies de ses livres.

Skandalon raconte l'histoire de Tazane, jeune chanteur rock adulé du public malgré ses frasques scandaleuses. Alors que l'arrogance et le succès du musicien suscite les commentaires des médias et des sociologues, Tazane s'enfonce dans une spirale autodestructrice que son entourage peine à arrêter.

Le premier livre de Julie Maroh, Le bleu est une couleur chaude, a reçu le prix du Public au festival de la bande dessinée d'Angoulême en 2011, puis a été adapté au cinéma sous le titre La vie d'Adèle par Abdellatif Kechiche.

2013 Staff picks: Emily

So 2013 was the year I read Infinite Jest, which I mention because that is a main reason for reading Infinite Jest. And with that out of the way, let me just say that 2013 was also a very good year for providing some impeccably silly reading to shunt aside that INFINITELY hefty tome for awhile. And some serious reading too! But you may notice a li'l bias towards the giggle-inducing in the stuff I super liked this year. Of which here is a list!!

My Dirty Dumb Eyes,  Lisa Hanawalt

Don't read this one on the bus, unless you want to be that person on the bus looking at pictures of technicolour genitalia and laughing uncontrollably (although maybe someone will write you a nice missed connections so maybe actually just go for that). We were lucky enough to have Lisa do a reading at the store this summer, but even without her personal deadpan delivery, the off-the-wall and uniformly potty-mouthed comics, gags and illustrated stories in here are all pee-your-pants funny.

Brigitte, Aisha Franz

I have such a soft spot for comics about anthropomorphic animals that know they are anthropomorphic animals! Poor Brigitte not only had a rough upbringing as a stray, but she is also plagued by the fact that she can't have puppies because she's spayed, and no one else understands her pain because they are all humans. Franz' loose pencils are perfect for taking apart all of the slick Bond tropes we love so much and putting them back together in this hilarious and unexpectedly touching romp.

Saving the Season, Kevin West

So I like to think of myself as someone who would be able to pull it together in a post-apocalyptic scenario and rebuild a functional society using wilderness survival/pioneer skills (via Alas, Babylon). On that front: I've got JAM, down, at least, thanks to this totally gorgeous cookbook-slash-sort-of-memoir! Also, Kevin West is my dreamy canning-crush and he will be yours too and you will also just fantasize all day about the two of you surviving a nuclear fallout and making pickles together forever and ever.

Taipei, Tao Lin

Certainly qualifies as the "best" book of 2013—if you're into scare quotes, millennials and existential conceits that use computer interfaces as a metaphor for alienation, you probably already know this as a title to check out. Less expected: the genuine involvement and dread Lin's prose can stir up in response to the drug-fueled (or, I suppose, drug-hampered) capers of some pretty thoroughly apathetic youths. BONUS: the main character drops into D&Q, acts inappropriately!!

Rookie Yearbook 2, Tavi Gevinson

Ok so full disclosure, I got to work on this while I was an intern—but that just gave me mega insight into how much thought and care goes into production for these intensely-collaborative volumes. And also, please allow me to join the chorus of non-teens who wish this existed when I was still a teen: subjects for these super fresh articles range from essential life tips (How to make out! How to stop your toilet from overflowing!) to chats with essential celebs (Morrissey! Chris Ware!).

 The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King

I finally picked up a copy of this pseudo-history of Native Peoples in Canada and the US when the paperback came out this summer, and it is every bit as scathingly funny as you'd expect from King, probably best-known from CBC's Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour. I say pseudo-history because A) King is unapologetic in omitting footnotes or upholding his personal take on things, but also B) he situates the issues he's talking about very much in the now. 

Junket Is Nice and Now Open the Box, Dorothy Kunhardt

These reprints of Kundhart's 1967 and 1933 children's books are the weirdest ever!! The hand-written text runs on breathlessly, essentially without punctuation, setting a speedy pace as things get increasingly and delightfully strange. Whether it's a teeny-tiny dog or a huge pudding-eating ginger that kicks off the mayhem, both of these stories gave me fairly major giggles. Thanks, NYRB, for digging up these gems!

Lose No. 5 and Very Casual, Michael DeForge

This dude is probably my favourite cartoonist, which is fortunate because he is also a robot who makes comics 24 hours a day so we can all have our fill of his strange, off-putting take on the world all of the time. Very Casual collects a bunch of older material, while the new Lose has three new one-off strips that are guaranteed to freak you out and make you feel bleak but also make you laugh and feel giddy and excited about his mind-blowing ingenuity.

Palookaville 21, Seth

Seth! There is literally no other cartoonist who could draw several meditative panels about an empty corner of a parking lot and keep me totally compelled, but that is this particular cartoonist for you. He is just too good at drawing you into the very particular—and almost impossibly well-drafted—universe that he's gradually built over the course of his career. The excerpts from his personal comics diary, which he puts together using rubber stamps of stock panels, are particularly rad.

What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life, Marie Calloway

Calloway is best know as Tao Lin's writing protege and for publishing a totally incriminating, weakly-pseudonymous short story about a liaison with a well-known New York City critic—which earned her as much, or more, flack as it did admiration. Beyond the salacious parts of these stories (which, mind you, it's all salacious parts), I'm into the obstinacy of her self-assurance, and I'm pumped to see what she tries next.

TONIGHT!! Tom Howell launches The Rude Story of English

Join us on Wednesday, November 27 at 7 pm as Tom Howell presents The Rude Story of English (McClelland & Stewart/Random House), a hilarious and disobedient history of the Anglo tongue, and poet/illustrator Gabe Foreman reads/draws tenuously relevant poems, diagrams, and pictures.

A recovering lexicographer, Tom Howell wrote definitions for the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and thesaurus entries for the Canadian Oxford Thesaurus before abandoning serious work. He became the in-house word nerd on CBC Radio’s language show, And Sometimes Y, which involved rewriting Fowler’s Modern English Usage as an opera, etc. Then he took a job as poetry correspondent for CBC’s The Next Chapter. Originally from London, England, Tom currently lives and makes various noises in Toronto.

Gabe Foreman was born in Thunder Bay. His drawings and paintings have appeared on several albums by the musical group The Burning Hell. In 2011, his book of poems, A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People was published by Coach House Books. He lives in Montreal where he works at a soup kitchen.

Facebook Event

Wednesday, November 27th at 7 pm! 211 Bernard Ouest!


Staff picks 2013: Helen

2013 has been a year of prolific reading for me. I partially credit my Master's thesis with driving me away from all academic reading into the seductive, distracting arms of fiction, poetry, and comics. It took me about seventeen tries to narrow my favourites list down to ten, and I still had to resort to an honourable mentions addendum. (So you can probably look forward to a "top-ten-books-I-didn't-include-in-my-top-ten-plus-honourable-mentions-list" list later in December).

Anyway, on with it!

Speedboat, Renata Adler

Adler's dazzling Speedboat grabbed me unceremoniously with its first lines and didn't let go until I had publicly embarrassed myself countless times by launching into uncontrollable laughter at inopportune moments. I can hardly remember anything about "what happens" in it (unimportant), but I will surely not forget Adler's particular cadence, and her remarkable ability to concoct a gripping, astute portrait of a certain echelon of 1970s New York society out of what (at first) appear to be a tumult of disconnected fragments. I also recommend this review in the Believer.

Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature, lectures by Jorge Luis Borges, edited by Martin Arias and Martin Hadis (translation by Katherine Silver)

The English Canon 101 class all of us lit nerds wish we'd had. Borges as professor is an erudite, hilarious, and highly idiosyncratic lecturer. He recites countless poetic fragments from memory, energetically lauds the beauty of the Anglo-Saxon language, and makes unlikely and brilliant literary comparisons across centuries and continents. Would that I could go back in time and fervently thank the student(s) who recorded these lectures (merely for studying purposes) back in 1966. Although, I guess if I were able to time-travel, I'd simply attend Borges' classes myself!

red doc >, Anne Carson

The long-awaited follow-up (in the loosest of senses) to Autobiography of Red got under my skin and into my bones one evening and had me mumbling its lines to myself well into the next morning. I stayed awake for the towering glaciers, the toaster-sized bats, the older and sadder versions of Geryon and Herakles, the loyal goat Io, and, of course, for Carson's verse, which is both formal and playful, and endlessly surprising.

You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, Tom Gauld

I keep this in my living room so that if there's ever an awkward social moment, I can open it at random, and make everyone, without fail, burst into fits of laughter. Gauld's hilarious takes on literary history and the human condition (past, present and future) are sure to entertain even the most stubborn curmudgeon.

 "Life Zone", Simon Hanselmann

This comic is filled with selfish, embarrassing, and generally unlikable characters whose plights veer from the ridiculous to the depressing, and back again - and that is exactly why I love it so much! There's something so relatable and poignant about it; it almost brought me to tears several times. Tears of mirth, tears of existential despair - what's the difference, really? Hanselmann's excellent drawings are also more than enough reason to pick this one up.

The Book of My Lives, Aleksandar Hemon

Hemon writes with wit, anger, and searing candor about his childhood and adolescence in Sarajevo, the rumblings of war in then-Yugoslavia, his subsequent exile during the Bosnian genocide, and his slow adaptation to being a Chicagoan. The last essay, and elegy to his young daughter Isabel, is exquisite in its restraint and also the most devastating thing I've read all year.

Taipei, Tao Lin

Every so often during my reading of Taipei, I had to throw the book aside and cower in the corner with cries of "Too real! Too real!" I think that's part of why I enjoyed it so much, or at least why it lingers with me months later. The self-recognition it engendered in me was both alarming and comforting. And now whenever I fall into the internet k-hole (either literally or figuratively) for hours in my bed in the dark, contemplating my "depletion", I at least feel that I am fitting into some larger, possibly literary space in the world.

This is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, Ulli Lust (translation by Kim Thompson)

Ulli Lust’s exquisitely drawn graphic novel chronicles a year from her adolescence during which she survived street life in a string of Italian cities. It’s 1984, and she and her fellow punks struggle to resist the encroaching trappings of capitalism by attempting to live outside the system. This is no romanticized “self-discovery on the road” type of story. Ulli’s experiences are exhilarating and sometimes liberating, but just as often harrowing and traumatic. A powerful read. (We also have the French translation, Trop n'est pas assez!)

Showa: A History of Japan 1926-1939, Shigeru Mizuki (translation by Zack Davisson)

I am a huge fan of Mizuki's work and was therefore thrilled that Drawn & Quarterly published two translations of his work this year (Kitaro also makes an appearance on my list)! Showa, the more recent of the two, is single-handedly feeding my appetite for gekiga, Japanese history, and yokai trickery. Mizuki's childhood hi-jinks (familiar to readers of 2012's Nonnonba) are juxtaposed against a darker background of war and political intrigue.

Ways of Going Home, Alejandro Zambra (translation by Megan McDowell)

Zambra writes with exquisite economy of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, through the experiences of those who were children during those years. As adults, these characters grapple with their memories, trying desperately and confusedly to reconcile their own childhoods with the monumental suffering of their parents’ generation. Zambra manages to fit meditations on writing, the vast sweep of history, and intimate personal moments into this short and deceptively simple novel.

Very Honourable Mentions

White Girls, Hilton Als; Very Casual, Michael Deforge
Vil et misérable, Samuel Cantin; Kitaro, Shigeru Mizuki 

Claire of the Sea Light, Edwidge Danticat; Brief Encounters with the Enemy, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh

Worn Journal Issue #17

Toronto-based magazine Worn Journal presents Issue 17! Enjoy a glossary of hats, learn about the colour mauve's debut on the fashion scene, discover how female felons of the past used fashion in their criminal pursuits, and lots more! If you happen to be in Toronto, you should check out the Black Cat Ball Worn is putting on this Saturday to celebrate the release of issue 17. 

Fashionable knits!

A photo shoot at Honest Ed's!

This Spring: DQ will be publishing The WORN Archive, a collection of the alternative fashion mag's first 16 issues!

Pre-Holiday Sale on DQ Books!

It's the perfect time to pick up DQ classics or some of our newest titles, including Tavi's Rookie Yearbook Two, Mizuki's ShowaRage of Poseidon by Anders Nilsen, Woman Rebel by Peter Bagge, The Pippi Fixes Everything by Astrid Lindgren, and Chester Brown's Louis Riel: Tenth Anniversary Edition (featuring all the cover art from the original serialization, pencil studies and draft scripts, catalogue art, a new essay by critic Sean Rogers, and more). For one week only!

Cookbook Roundup: Gift Ideas!

For the experienced chef: Three new titles from Phaidon! Rene Redzepi: A work in progress, a three book set from the head chef of Noma restaurant in Copenhagen; D.O.M., a guide to authentic Brazilian cuisine by chef Alex Atala; and COI, the first book on the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Coi in San Francisco.

For the fusion chef: Chef Roy Choi, the innovator behind L.A.'s Kogi BBQ taco trucks, takes as on a culinary journey through his city's streets with 60 amazing recipes. For more info, check out this interview with Choi on NPR

For the healthy chef: White on Rice Couple bloggers Todd Porter and Diane Cu bring us over 100 wholesome recipes from their garden and kitchen. On the menu: roasted strawberry scones, spicy roasted cauliflower with sriracha and sesame, olive-baked beet chips, jicama chicken cashew salad, and a ton more!

For the chocoholic: The Mast Brothers, two sibling from Iowa who started a chocolate company in Brooklyn, present a most enticing cookbook. The book shows how chocolate is made at Mast Brothers, tells the story of the company, and provides more delicious recipes than you could ever hope to use, each with its own tooth-ache-inducing photo!

For the history buff: Raised in Moscow in the 1960s, Anya Von Bremzen tells us the story of three Soviet generations, as she and her mother stir up memories their U.S. kitchen by cooking their way through each decade of Soviet history, from chanakhi (Stalin's favourite stew) to blini. 

For the caffeine-o-file: On her search for the best cup of coffee, Liz Clayton travels from one continent to the next, visiting tiny cafes and home kitchens from Iceland to San Diego.

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