Last minute picks for 2015! Fifteen Dogs and The Door

These two books didn't make it onto my top books of 2015 list, but only because I hadn't read them yet. I wanted to slip in some praise for these titles before the new year arrives and we become occupied with 2016's releases instead.

I read both André Alexis' Fifteen Dogs and Magda Szabó's The Door (translated by Len Rix) in the waning days of this year and loved them. Though written in different decades (Szabó wrote The Door in 1987—the translation is more recent), and in different countries, I felt that they were in conversation with each other in some ways, not just because I read them side by side. Each is thoughtful and strange, full of both love and horror—especially the horror of what humans (or dogs with human consciousness!) do to each other in the grips of attachment and power, dependence and fear.

Fifteen Dogs won this year's Giller Prize, deservedly. Alexis imagines the fates of fifteen dogs who are given human consciousness due to the whims of the Greek gods Apollo and Hermes, who bet on whether or not the dogs will die happy or miserable with their newfound awareness. Needless to say, things get dark as the dogs struggle with their in-betweenness. Being suddenly neither fully dog nor fully human, how must they now live?  

The Door has been much discussed this year, because it has been made available in North America by NYRB Classics, who rarely let me down. I couldn't help thinking of Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan Novels and Days of Abandonment as I made my way through this haunting story about the difficult love between a young writer struggling against communist censorship and her elderly maid, who, it turns out, is no one's servant and has a disarming will and morality of her own. Set in postwar Budapest, The Door's narrative exists within the lingering sense of horror felt by Hungarians after the Holocaust, and its protagonists' fates seem hopelessly entwined with the history of their country.

Read them both!

Lots of laffs: We Go to the Gallery

This tongue-in-cheek little book purports to be a guide to art for children... but turns out to be something else entirely! Miriam and Ezra Elia bring us some necessary laughs and perspective on the art machine.

Using a "Dick and Jane" style of narration, We Go to the Gallery gleefully pokes fun at contemporary art and its consumption.

Boxing Day Sale!

Here's hoping you're having a wonderful festive season. What better way to enjoy the holidays than to get cozy with a new book? We're having a big boxing day sale in store: today only - buy one book at regular price, and get a second book of equal or lesser value at 40% off! If there are still some gaps in your holiday reading wishlist, now is the perfect time to fill 'em! Come say hello to us this boxing day, and get some great reads for a song.

Read the Book, See the Movie...

Have you seen the trailer for the new live action adaptation of Road Dahl's time honored children's classic The BFG? To be directed by none other than Steven Spielberg (could it be the next E.T. or Casper??), it will hit theaters in Summer 2016. Until then why not get excited by reading the book! Featuring the original illustrations by Quentin Blake, The BFG tells the story of Sophie and her unlikely friend the Big Friendly Giant. Despite his intimidating appearance BFG turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because unlike his peers refuses to eat boys and girls.

Reminder: Our Holiday Hours

We are currently open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day!

For a more spacious shopping experience we invite you to come after 7 p.m. when the store has a little less traffic!

Our Holiday Hours are:
December 24th - 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
December 25th - CLOSED
December 31st - 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
January 1st - CLOSED

New and Notable: Marguerite's Christmas

Originally published in French as Le Noël de Marguerite by Les Éditions de la Pastèque, Marguerite's Christmas came out this year with Enchanted Lion Books.

Written by India Desjardins and illustrated by Pascal Blanchet, the beautiful picture book also won the Ragazzi Prize, which is the most prestigious kid's book award.

For readers aged 6 to 10, Marguerite's Christmas tells the story of a solitary old woman, whose husband died completely senile. The luminous and retro-styled illustrations brilliantly convey a feeling of solitude, as Marguerite misses for the first time the Midnight Mass and looks forward to spending Christmas alone, watching TV.

While her world slowly disintegrates, Marguerite's loneliness still glows, as snow sometimes sparkles. When Marguerite hears faint voices coming from the outside, she first think a family of criminals is planning to rob her. But what if she is mistaken?

The bittersweet story is poignant and differs pleasantly from usual Christmas-themed picture books.

Re-cap: Our Carrie Brownstein event!

This was our last event of a stellar season. We were especially happy for Carrie Brownstein to be our last major guest, because she had to cancel her initial date with us due to a canceled flight! These things happen, but she assured us that it was a top priority to make it Montreal. And, true to her word, she made it last week—shoehorned 'tween two Sleater-Kinney performances!

Just FYI, before each event I show the author the view from the balcony and, without fail, they're always impressed. I think it's evident why:

Because of the rescheduling, our original interviewer, Jessica Hopper, couldn't make it but we were very fortunate that ex-Hairpin editor Haley Mlotek agreed to fill in. She was terrific!

Haley hopped right in on questions about the mechanics of memoir-writing and Carrie's answers were illuminating. No music while writing (too distracting) and--besides Patti Smith's classic Just Kids--her writing inspirations for Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl were Steve Martin's 2007 memoir Born Standing Up because of how ably it focused on the more off-stage aspects of the job, and Vivian Gornick's Situation and Story because of Gornick's philosophy behind writing autobiography: if we know who is writing, we know why they are writing.

Haley remarked on the prominence of honesty as a theme in the book and Carrie explained that she wanted to share her journey towards feeling embodied and and empowered, guided by community and partnership. She said writing the book wasn't painful and she wanted to give an overarching vulnerability to the book. She was interested in how conversations were mediated and she brought up how she was a bit worried about her father's reaction to her writing about his coming out in the book. Turns out he took it in stride and was more concerned that she may have been using his credit card while she was in Australia. Pretty typical dad behaviour, she felt.

Carrie also spoke of her television roles in the acclaimed programs Portlandia and Transparent. On Portlandia: it has a very traditional writer's room with a defined collaborative process, compared to Sleater-Kinney's process, which is also collaborative but less structured. Carrie relates most to her character "Cath." On Transparent: she feels very fortunate to work with the writers and creators on a show that contributes so greatly to fleshing out ideas of family outside of the binary definitions.

As this was one of the last stops on Carrie's book tour, she told us about how positive the experience has been, not least because she finds it easier to tour alone than with her band. In contrast, touring with a band is fertile and invigorating, but also difficult and insular.

There were some great questions from the audience following the conversation, more than a few of which were of the "I'm a creative, should I keep at it?" variety. To these Carrie responded that she refused to acknowledge a "plan B" in life. She suggested just diving in and devote yourself. If you need to change lanes a bunch of times, go for it! It's worth giving it a real try until something feels truly out of balance. We only have one life, after all.

Here's to hoping this isn't our last chance to host a book launch event for Carrie. I can tell you she was as friendly and gracious backstage before the event as she was on stage to the 800+ people in attendance. If you've not yet read Hunger Is A Modern Girl, I urge you to grab a copy from the shop, There are signed copies remaining, There's a reason it's popping up on all the year-end best of lists! If you don't know much about Carrie's work in indie rock powerhouse Sleater-Kinney and her television career, then you're in luck, because as Carrie put it: anyone who isn't familiar with her work and/or persona is her imagined ideal reader.

Thank you to Carrie Brownstein for making it to Montreal! Thank you to Emma Ingram from Penguin/Random House for help making it all happen and thank you to Haley Mlotek for doing such great work as interviewer. And thank you, loyal readers...see you at the shop!

New and notable: three new Last Interview titles!

We've just received three brand new Last Interview titles from Melville House: Philip K. Dick, Ernest Hemingway, and Nora Ephron! Including conversations and interviews spanning their respective careers, these books pay a wonderful tribute to some of the most beloved writers of recent history. These latest additions join the ranks of literary greats James Baldwin, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Hannah Arendt, Kurt Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace, Jacques Derrida, Lou Reed, Ray Bradbury, and Roberto Bolano who are already part of the series.

For mail-order or at Librairie D+Q: Signed Copies of Gloria Steinem's Latest!

Our event on December 1st was the only Canadian book store signing by  famed feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Couldn't make it because you don't live in Montreal? We got you covered: Ms. Steinem graciously agreed to sign enough books for us to be able to offer copies to fans not in the immediate vicinity. Don't miss out on a chance to own a limited, signed edition of MY LIFE ON THE ROAD.

Buy a copy here! or pop by the store at 211 Bernard O. We're open 10am until 9pm every single day! Get one while they last!


My Life on the Road **is not your typical memoir. Steinem has stressed that she wrote it as a road book, rather than a memoir, because the road—and road literature—has long been the domain of men. Women are not encouraged to spend years on the road—but they should be! Her accounts of learning about social activism from women in India, working as a journalist in the 1960s, founding Ms. magazine, and traveling to the 1977 National Women's Conference provide many sources for inspiration. Above all, Steinem offers a candid and warm account of her life as a traveler, listener, and catalyst for change.

“My Life on the Road, Ms. Steinem’s first book in more than twenty years, is a warmly companionable look back at nearly five decades as itinerant feminist organizer and standard-bearer. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to sit down with Ms. Steinem for a casual dinner, this disarmingly intimate book gives a pretty good idea, mixing hard-won pragmatic lessons with more inspirational insights.”—The New York Times

“In person and in her writing, Steinem exudes a rare combination of calm, humility and honesty about her weaknesses that explains all she has accomplished.”—Jezebel

“Rarely do women have the opportunity to travel as Steinem has done—living a life full of radical adventure. Everywhere she goes, she carries with her the vitality of democracy, of freedom for women and men, and her profound love of justice. Now she offers us the good fortune of journeying with her. My Life on the Road is an inspiring work, a call for action. Steinem shares her life as a global freedom fighter, inviting readers to continue the journey—and the struggle.”—bell hooks

“Countless times, I had to put Gloria Steinem’s new book down and allow an explosive truth she had just revealed to roll through me. And they all arrived—page after page—in the most personal, unexpected ways. I won’t be the same person after having read My Life on the Road.”—Jane Fonda

“Like Steinem herself, [My Life on the Road] is thoughtful and astonishingly humble. It is also filled with a sense of the momentous while offering deeply personal insights into what shaped her.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

Stocking Stuffers Galore!

If you're doing some holiday shopping in the coming days, we've got you covered on all fronts - from beautiful art books, to the best fiction, comics and kid's books, we've got highly giftable books for everyone on your list! Come pay us a visit and we'll be happy to help you find whatever you need in terms of literature. This post, however, is dedicated to a particular genre of gift: the stocking stuffer! All of the items pictured here are perfectly pint-sized. Clementines and candy canes are great, but wouldn't it be a lot more fun if Santa filled your stocking with goodies that last longer?

We've got pencils, pens, and tiny notebooks for those who like to jot ideas down....

Pencil crayons, alphabet stamps, calligraphy sets, and diaries for those who like to get crafty...

Colouring books, cases to hold treasures, tarot decks, and Milktapes to spark some creative magic...

Short Stack Editions cookbooks for those who take their wizardry to the kitchen...

Tiny books with big ideas...

Fun and colourful books for kids...

Full-colour Moomin comics for all ages...

Handy dandy Field Notes books and pencils...

Pocket-sized kuš collections...

...and so many more sweet, tiny things, like these adorable animal paper clips! Gifts large and small, we've got 'em all!

Re-cap: Our Gloria Steinem event!

Remember that time we hosted legendary feminist icon Gloria Steinem?? It's likely you do, since it was just last week and it seemed like pretty much everyone was there.

But just in case you couldn't make it (and hopefully, if you weren't you were able to watch the CBC live feed) let's just say this: it was a pretty awe-inspiring evening at one of our favoured venues, the beautiful Rialto Theatre in Mile End.

Joining Gloria on stage in conversation was the wonderful Jeanette Kelly, of CBC's Cinq à Six program.

Gloria's newest book, MY LIFE ON THE ROAD, is about her travels and formative years in India. There, she learned about feminist action and organizing from Indian women activists, who taught her how the patriarchal control of reproduction enabled the continuation of the caste system and other systems of power.

Steinem assured the young women in the audience that they shouldn't think they have to be successful in their careers by 30 or 35 since statistically they will, it is assumed, live longer than the current generation. She also let everyone know that being in her eighties is “fan-fucking-tastic!"

The Q&A that followed the discussion was as interesting as the conversation itself. Gloria was warm and humble and the questions were especially thoughtful. One highlight was when a First Nations woman from the west coast recalled someone giving her one of Steinem’s books as a young woman. She found the book invaluable in raising her daughter and so, as a gift, she sang a song to Gloria in her mother tongue. It was a poignant and beautiful conclusion to an incredible evening.

Before she left the stage, Gloria implored us to introduce ourselves to one another and make a new friend. I witnessed many doing just that on their way out!

This was the only bookstore event in Canada for Gloria and so she signed enough books for us to be able to offer them to you. Follow this link to order your copy, and we will ship it to you...

Thank you to Sheila Kay from Penguin/Random House for her invaluable help with the event and  to Jeanette Kelly for her research and terrific questions. Thanks to Frank Opolko for producing our first live feed event! And, of course a  huge thanks to Gloria Steinem for continuing to inspire and thanks to all of you, our book-loving community. Love.

Retour sur la matinée pour les enfants autour de Salomé et les hommes en noir

Le dimanche 6 décembre, Valérie Amiraux et Francis Desharnais étaient présents à la librairie pour présenter leur bande dessinée Salomé et les hommes en noir, publiée chez Bayard Canada. C'était notre dernière matinée pour les enfants avant Noël.

La rencontre a commencé par un atelier de dessin avec Francis Desharnais. Il a montré aux enfants comment dessiner les personnages du livre à partir de formes simples. 

Puis la scénariste Valérie Amiraux a présenté  le contenu du livre. Celui-ci est basé sur les véritables aventures de sa fille Salomé, lorsque leur famille s'est installée dans le quartier Outremont. Salomé a découvert l'existence des juifs de la communauté hassidique, qui sont devenus ses nouveaux voisins. Valérie Amiraux a répondu aux questions des enfants et a expliqué que la rédaction de son livre s'insère dans son travail de chercheuse, puisqu'elle est titulaire de la Chaire de recherche du Canada en étude du pluralisme religieux.

Event recap: Shary Boyle and Emily Vey Duke launch The Illuminations Project!

Last saturday we were delighted to host artists Shary Boyle and Emily Vey Duke for the launch of their new book, The Illuminations project, which collects the fruit of their ten-year drawing/writing collaboration. After meeting each other in Halifax over a decade ago, when the two of them were both 26, they immediately fell into an intense friendship and correspondence. Emily would write a text and send it to Shary, who would make a drawing based on the writing, keep it, and send a new drawing to Emily, who would then write two texts -- one to keep, and a new one for Shary to use. In this way, part of their exchange was always kept private. As the ''Note to the Reader'' puts it, ''The Illuminations Project'' developed in ways not fully knowable to either artist until its conclusion.'' Moreover, the project was never really conceived for any audience than the two artists themselves. The resulting book is thus a uniquely intimate document -- and, along with Emily's texts themselves, some of the correspondence between the two artists is reproduced in the Postscript.

While the publication stands by itself, the drawings and writing in it were also presented as an exhibition at Oakville Gallery in Ontario earlier this year. The gallery's acting assistant curator, Daniella Sanader, came all the way from Toronto to give Emily and Shary a warm introduction.

Shary Boyle reads from Emily's texts -- the two of them traded off reading while Shary's accompanying  drawings (printed onto transparencies) were displayed on a screen with the help of an overhead projector.  

This one is titled ''The Bad Mother.'' In general, the two artists' writings and drawings explore the experience of women, children, animals and the natural world -- ''entities that have historically been controlled and subjugated.'' 

Emily reading.

''Bloodie Writes an Anthem.'' Many of the entries in the book follow the character of Bloodie, a ''gutsy figure of young female survival,'' as she goes through various travails and triumphs. This is one of the more ecstatic moments -- the written vignette ends with Bloodie smiling, surprised by the creative power of her own outburst.

Thanks again to everyone who came out! This was a super-fun event, and we had a packed house.

Sketch Journaling and Comic Book Creation Workshop with Michel Hellman! - Atelier de bande dessinée et carnet de croquis avec Michel Hellman

 English description below!

On est ravi d'annoncer un autre atelier avec Michel Hellman! Ce serait un cadeau parfait pour tous les dessinateurs.

Dans cet atelier nous allons explorer le lien entre la bande dessinée et le carnet de voyage. Par le biais de différentes techniques, les participants seront invités à documenter leur vie quotidienne et à exprimer leurs pensées à travers le croquis dans ce qui deviendra leur carnet de "voyage" journalier. Par la suite, nous allons voir comment ce carnet peut être utilisé comme une base pour créer une bande dessinée.

L'atelier aura lieu les mardis soirs à 19h00, à partir du 2 février, au 23 février. Le coût est 150 $, maximum 10 participants.

We are pleased to announce another workshop with Michel Hellman! This would make a great gift for any aspiring cartoonists.

In this workshop, we will be exploring the link between documenting one's everyday life through a sketch journal and creating a comic book. Participants will be shown different techniques to create and maintain a sketch journal in order to record what they see around them and visualize their thoughts. We will then see how this journal can be used to create a comic book.

The workshop will be held on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., starting February 2nd, and running through February 23rd. Cost is $150, maximum 10 participants.

Les meilleurs livres de 2015 selon Julie

C'est déjà la troisième année que je fais cette liste de mes meilleurs livres disponibles au 211 rue Bernard. La section des livres francophones ne cesse de s'aggrandir, et comme en témoigne ma liste, nous avons maintenant, en marge des bandes dessinées et des livres pour enfants, une sélection fournie de nouveautés en littérature, poésie, essais et magazines en français! Miam.

Maman Sauvage, Geneviève Elverum, L'oie de Cravan.
Pour raconter les neufs mois pendant lesquels elle a eu bébé Agathe dans son ventre, l’auteure musicienne et dessinatrice Geneviève Castrée a repris son vrai nom. Écrit comme une chanson d’inquiétude, une chanson d’étrangeté, une chanson d’amour, ce recueil de poèmes pulvérise tous les clichés de la maternité. Merci Geneviève.

Benoît Guillaume, Paul Rey, Zéphir et Élizabeth Holleville, livres de dessins, éditions Fidèle. 

Ces carnets de dessins, risographiés par les éditions Fidèle, nous viennent d'Angoulême, en France. Leur petit format et leur qualité d'impression en font des objets chérissables. Chaque auteur invité à participer à la collection ouvre son carnet par un essai bilingue sur sa pratique. Paul Rey écrit: "Chaque dessin est une cabane qui, après l'hiver et les intempéries, est de guingois mais toujours debout."

New Construction, Two more stories, Sam Alden, Uncivilized Books.
Si le New Yorker ouvrait ses pages fiction à la bande dessinée, il leur faudrait publier Sam Alden. Dans la tradition littéraire de la nouvelle américaine, de Raymond Carver à Lorrie Moore, Sam Alden publie deux courtes histoires, humanistes, percutantes et jouissives. C’est sans parler de son dessin au crayon mine, qui oscille d’une case à l’autre entre croquis spontané et maîtrise technique.

Le journal de Jo Manix tome 2, Joëlle Guillevic, Flblb.
Joëlle Guillevic était l'une des pionnières de la bande dessinée alternative française des années 1990, aux côtés de son compagnon Nyslo, auteur de Jérôme d'Alphagraph. Elle était également une des premières femmes de l'autobiographie en bande dessinée, et son style discret a fait d'elle l'un de mes modèles artistiques les plus importants. En septembre 2001, un cancer a emporté Joëlle Guillevic. Le deuxième tome de son journal évoque sa maladie, sans la laisser cependant tout envahir. C'est le livre de 2015 qui m'a fait pleurer...

Bluetiful, Daphné B., L'écrou
Cette année, j'ai commencé à lire de la poésie, un peu grâce à ma collègue libraire Daphné B. qui a m'a mis entre les mains les éditions montréalaises L'écrou. Bluetiful est son livre à elle, et même si je ne la connaissais pas, il se retrouverait quand même ici. Daphné B. est tour à tour une sirène ou une chenille: "Le soleil dit bonjour aux rideaux ma laideur déborde du lit tu t'es fait avoir mais au moins j'écris."

Oeuvres, Édouard Levé, P.O.L.

Oeuvres est une liste de 533 descriptions d'oeuvres dont l'auteur, feu Edouard Levé, a eu l'idée, mais qu'il n'a pas réalisées. Exemple 24 : une maison dessinée par un emfant de trois ans est construite. Exemple 73: des notes manuscrites retrouvées dans les poches de personnes décédées sont présentées sous vitrine.

Panthère, Brecht Evens, Actes Sud.

Définitivement le plus profond des trois livres à l’actif de Brecht Evens un auteur flamand virtuose qui n’a pas encore 30 ans Panthère cache derrière ses couleurs de livre pour enfants une symbolique et une perversité digne des très vieux contes de fées. De quoi rejouer nos plus sombres traumatismes d’enfance...

Ping-Pong édition augmentée, Zviane, Pow Pow.

Sorte d'essai fourre-tout à propos de la création, Ping-Pong est aussi une autobiographie, dans le sens où sa lecture nous fait entrer au coeur du fonctionnement hyperactif du cerveau de son auteure. Selon moi, cette petite brique jaune est le meilleur livre de la fameuse et prolifique dessinatrice Zviane.

Revue Liberté
Le magazine Liberté m'a profondément marqué cette année. Deux articles sont responsables de mon engouement: l'entrevue avec Francine Pelletier dans le numéro du printemps (qui a pour thème le féminisme), et un essai de Marie Leclaire, dans le numéro d'automne intitulé "Nos raisons communes de déprimer", publié dans le dossier Prendre Soin. 

Twenty-five years of contemporary cartooning, comics and graphic novels, Drawn & Quarterly.

Et puis le livre incontournable de cette année, c'est l'énorme collectif qui célèbre les 25 ans de la maison d'édition montréalaise Drawn & Quarterly. Entre des photos de Julie Doucet ou de Seth très jeunes, des nouvelles pages de Joe Matt, des inédits de Jillian Tamaki, Michael Deforge et autres nouveaux talents et des entrevues avec les éditeurs ou encore Helge Dascher, la traductrice attitrée de la maison, chacun pourra être comblé par cette anthologie dont la lecture pourrait vous tenir tout 2016 — voire plus.

Si vous souhaitez encore plus d'idées de livres à lire, consultez les listes de mes collègues libraires:

Helen // Kate // Daphné // Saelan // Chantale // Kira // Alyssa

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