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Friday, 12 December 2014

Staff Picks 2014: Jason

Oh man, 2014 was such an incredible year for Montreal authors! And we were so thrilled to host a good many of their launches either in the shop at 211 Bernard Ouest or offsite at venues like the Rialto and at the Cardinal Tea room. The only "problem" with it was this: I have yet to get to all of the books! If I had, I'm certain this list would have swollen to three times its current size. If any books are conspicuous by their absence here, rest-assured, they are most certainly  in my too-read pile next to my reading chair (of course I have one, don't you?) and beside my bed.  I will get to them!

To those authors (both as-yet-unread and otherwise), let me just say:

Thank you for choosing Librairie D+Q to host your launches. Thank you for your work and for proudly calling Montreal your home. Thank you for contributing to the fine literary legacy of our city. and, to those Montreal writers who did not have a book out this year but are working on one for the next - those of you who sit  crouched, head down, hands crawling like crustaceans on your keyboards, whose books will be gracing our shelves next (and whose launches we will be hopefully hosting): look to this year's crop for your inspiration. It was one for the books.

The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (Heather O'Neill)

This year marked the return of one of Montreal's greatest writers with her second book set -again- in our fine city in the 90s. While Heather's debut (Lullabies for Little Criminals) was shockingly good and deserved of the accolades it received, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night -the story of  twin children with conflicting passions in referendum-era Montreal - seemingly had a lot more to prove than her previous. Good news, everybody: it surpasses those expectations. A classic. Oh, and good news for all my fellow O'Neill fans: she has a new collection out in 2015!

Beautiful Darkness (Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët)

One of 2014's best graphic novels was also one if it's most disturbing. Vehlmann and Kerascoët's nightmare of a tale is too weird and wild to spoil here but suffice to say it will be the best story you've read that involves a  deceased little girl and the little people that once resided inside her. Bleak -and yes- beautiful.

The Love Bunglers (Jaime Hernandez)

As a culmination of Jaime Hernandez's Maggie Chascarillo stories, The Love Bunglers works beautifully but,for those of you who may find the 30+ years of Love & Rockets too daunting to dip into, it could serve as a handy introduction as well.  Another heart-wrenching tour-de-force from a bro. Hernandez.

Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller (Chloé Griffin)

Do you know Cookie? Maybe from her work as part of John Water's Dreamland acting troupe in films like Female Trouble and Pink Flamingos? Maybe you know her as a frequent photographic subject of Nan Goldin's? Or have you read her fantastic book, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black published by Semiotext(e)? How about her work as advice columnist for the East Village Eye? Know her or not, Chloé Griffin's wonderful biography is a must-have overview of the underground and Edgewise was not only one of my favourite reads of the year, it was also one of my favourite events of 2014. I hope you were here.

The Essential Ellen Willis (ed. Nona Willis Aronowitz)

I loved her Out of the Vinyl Deeps book  from last year so I was pretty happy to see this, a new collection of 50 essays spanning 40 years and edited by her daughter. In addition to her fantastic music writing it contains some amazing essays on gender, religion and politics. Willis' refreshingly  honest and unguarded approach to writing was some of the most interesting I'd read all year.

Over Easy (Mimi Pond)

Smart, sexy, and very funny, Mimi Pond's fictionalized memoir Over Easy was so evocative of its time period (the late seventies) and filled to the brim with so many compelling and endearing characters that I can only hope this is sitting on some HBO bigwig's desk waiting to be greenlit as a television series. More Mimi, more! 

Stranger Than Life (M.K. Brown)

Nothing from National Lampoon heyday holds up half as well as M.K. Brown's hilarious comics. When I was a kid, sneaking peeks at my dad's copies, her wild and weird stuff  affected me the most. Seriously, the day this bound pile of insanity arrived at the store I just sat at my desk and read it from front to back, giggling the whole time. 

White Cube (Brecht Vandenbroucke)

Another bunch of insanity, Vandebroucke's dig at the art world is some of the weirdest, laugh-out-loud stuff I'd read all year. Since I wasn't really all that aware of his work previous to this tome, it was one of 2014's best surprises.

Sweet Affliction (Anna Leventhal)

 I read Montrealer Anna Leventhal's terrific collection of stories throughout the year. A story here a story there. One before sleep at bedtime, one over a particularly good homemade soup in autumn, another few in the back seat of my parent's SUV on our drive though Maine, and still a couple more outside my daughter's dance classes while I waited for her to finish. This is the book that was most in my hands this year and I've still a few stories to go!

Spectacular Optical Book One: Kid Power! (ed. by Kier-La Janisse & Paul Corupe) 

Kier-La Janisse's House of Psychotic Women is one of my favourite books and a regular seller here at the bookstore, one we always recommend to any discerning gender studies/horror film fan customer,  so I was pretty excited to see this one announced: the first anthology in the new Spectacular Optical book series collection! Kid Power! focuses on the strange side of kids' cult movies and TV programming and features essays and musings from expert contributors like Robert Dayton, Robin Bougie, Montreal's Rick Trembles, and Janisse herself. Looking forward to the next installment!

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