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Friday, 8 December 2017

Staff Picks 2017: Saelan

Every year, I complain about how grad school and parenthood keep me from reading for pleasure as much as I'd like. Well, this year my partner and I had our second child, so suffice it to say that not much has changed as far as my reading habits go, though I did manage to find time for a lot of graphic novels. As for the rest, I'll leave you guessing as to which titles I've actually read and which are patiently waiting on my desk or night table.

Jillian Tamaki - Boundless and Tove Jansson - Moomin and the Brigands

I'm going to limit myself to two books, here. Jillian Tamaki's Boundless was my favourite graphic novel of 2017 pretty much hands-down (see my mid-year round-up for a longer write-up) and Moomin and the Brigands (just re-issued!) is the very first of Tove Jansson's almost unspeakably charming Moomin comics -- an absolute treasure for readers of any age.

Sophie Goldstein - House of Women; Jaakko Pallasvuo - Mirror Stage & Easy Rider; Patrik Kyle - Everywhere Disappeared; Jesse Jacobs - Crawl Space; Sophia Foster-Dimino - Sex Fantasy

Look at this bumper crop! I remember a few years ago when Sophie Goldstein (then an intern at the D&Q office) brought in House of Women as a zine for consignment and it blew me away. Now this fabulous feminist sci-fi horror comic is available in a gorgeous hardcover from Fantagraphics! Jaakko Pallasvuo, one of my favourite artists (full stop) had two comics this year: a little one from Latvian press Mini Kuš, and a longer one from Landfill Editions (sadly, his book from 2dcloud is postponed, hopefully not indefinitely). Koyama Press also had a fantastic year, with stellar titles from Patrick Kyle, Sophia Foster-Dimino, and Jesse Jacobs.

An honourable mention goes to Manuele Fior's The Interview (not pictured), an interesting near-future sci-fi romance.

Matthias Enard - Compass; Otessa Moshfegh - Homesick for Another World; Laurent Binet - The Seventh Function of Language; Elif Batuman - The Idiot; Leanne Betasamosake Simpson - This Accident of Being Lost

I'll refrain from individually pitching you these five excellent books. Mathias Enard's Middle-Eastern fantasia, Compass, already comes decorated with the Prix Goncourt, while Moshfegh and Batuman's books will likely appear on many of my coworkers' lists, too. You can look here for my earlier praise of Leanne Simpson. As for Laurent Binet, The Seventh Function of Language is a madcap, postmodern detective novel in the vein of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. We all know that Roland Barthes died in 1980 after being struck by a laundry van -- what Binet's novel presupposes is...maybe he was murdered?

Naben Ruthnum - Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race; Daphné B. & Kathy L. - I Love Dick (a fanfic); Marcela Huerta - Tropico

It's a special pleasure to read books written by people you know, especially when the books are personal, as each of these are. This year, my friend Naben published a long essay (via Coach House's Exploded Views imprint) on the idea of the ''currybook,'' the literary subgenre of the South Asian diaspora in which food is so often a metaphor for the irretrievable homeland. My current and former coworkers Kate and Daphne published a fan-fictional take on Chris Kraus' iconic I Love Dick that examines the trope of unrequited love as a spur to creativity. And, finally, another former coworker, Marcela Huerta, wrote a poignant collection of poems mostly inspired by her late father, a Chilean political refugee.

Honourable mention, as well, to Daphné's Delete and to Julie Delporte's Moi aussi je voulais l'emporter, both of which I have to miss out on, since my French reading skills aren't really up to par.

Hito Steyerl - Duty Free Art; Michael Robbins - Equipment for Living; Chris Kraus - After Kathy Acker

Three of my favourite living cultural critics published book this year! Hito Steyerl's Duty Free Art is an anthology of her indispensable essays on contemporary art (mostly drawn from e-flux journal) and Equipment for Living  collects Michael Robbin's adroit essays on pop music and poetry. Chris Kraus' After Kathy Acker is a frank, critical biography of the late punk-postmodernist writer that avoids the usual hagiography and romanticization that tends to accrue to accounts of 1980s New York.

An honourable mention goes to Malcolm Harris's Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials (not pictured).

Raymond Roussel - Locus Solus; Leonora Carrington - Complete Stories; Robert Musil - The Man Without Qualities

You can look here for my recommendations of this year's reissued works by Raymond Roussel and Leonora Carrington. Kudos as well to Picador for finally putting a decent English edition of Robert Musil's classic modernist novel of fin-de-siecle Austria back in print. An honourable mention goes to New Direction' handsome new edition of Fernando Pessoa's Book of Disquiet (not pictured).

bell hooks - The Will to Change; Sarah Schulman - Conflict is Not Abuse

I feel like the most important book I've read this year is bell hooks' The Will to Change, which was published in 2004. Even at that date, hooks was lamenting the lack of serious efforts by men (as well as by female-identified feminist thinkers) to understand how patriarchy (aside from the obvious harm it does to women and gender-nonconforming people) also harms men and boys, and what a non-patriarchal masculinity not based on domination and repression might look like. Thirteen years later, we need that analysis more than ever, though it's tragic that we've made so little progress on this front. Conflict is Not Abuse, meanwhile, instructs us on how to avoid reinforcing toxic behaviour patterns even as we seek to confront abuse in our communities.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Staff Picks 2017: Kennedy

As an English student and a bookseller, I spend a lot of time around books. When I wasn't reading textbooks of Romantic poetry or writing essays on post-war British novels, I read the books I've compiled here - my favourites! I've also spent a lot of time leafing through picture books since the opening of our new children's store, La Petite D+Q, and I couldn't enjoy it more. It was tough to pick just a few but I've included some picture books that I loved this year.

Too Much and Not the Mood, Durga Chew-Bose
After feeling like I had spent an eternity in a reading slump, Durga Chew-Bose’s debut collection of essays completely lifted my spirits. She puts such care into every detail of her essays that reading them felt like being hugged. She has an incredible eye for details and carves them out so perfectly that I felt like I could hold each moment in my hands.

Boundless, Jillian Tamaki
Jillian Tamaki's collection of short stories is full of emotion, wit, and of course Tamaki's beautiful illustrations. Each story feels so special and delicate that I return to these stories anytime when I'm in need of some comfort reading. Wholly unique and engaging, Tamaki secures her spot as one of my favourite writers and artists.

Spaniel Rage, Vanessa Davis
I picked up this book after reading a recommendation from one of my favourite artists, Lisa Hanawalt, on the back cover, and I was not disappointed. Davis' collection of daily sketches is delightfully funny and comforting and I devoured it in one sitting before returning to my favourite pages again and again.

Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders
I finally got around to reading George Saunders’ first novel a few weeks ago and I was floored. Narrated by a group of eccentric ghosts, the novel jumps off from a historical fact: after the death of his ten year old son, Abraham Lincoln returned to the crypt several times to hold his son’s body. The book had me crying within the first few chapters and laughing mere paragraphs later. I have loved every George Saunders book that I’ve read, but I think this may be my all-time favourite.

Uncomfortably Happily, Yeon-Sik Hong
This graphic memoir follows a young couple as they move from the busy streets of Seoul to the mountainous countryside in an attempt to escape chaos and expenses of the city. They find, however, that their new pastoral life is not exactly what they had imagined. The beauty in the minute details of this book kept me hanging on in a way that I never thought possible. I could read about the couple making dinner, warming their home, gardening, and all the rest of the mundanity of daily life for a thousand more pages.

Hunger, Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay’s deeply personal memoir chronicles her relationship with her body from childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Through this she meditates on family, loneliness, and trauma in ways that feel both solely personal but intensely familiar.

Theft by Finding, David Sedaris
I usually have a David Sedaris book going at all times. I read a story or two anytime I need a pick-me-up, a palate cleanser, or just a brief moment of escape from it all. Theft By Finding, a collection of his diary entries from 1977 to 2002, is the perfect book for this. This book is a true deep-dive into Sedaris’ career, and full of his incomparable wit.

Here We Are, Oliver Jeffers
The latest from the wonderful author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers, this beautiful book provides ''notes for living on planet earth''. He tours the entire world, land, sea, and stars in all its beautiful, illustrated glory.

The Golden Leaf, Kristen Hall and Matthew Forsythe
In this picture book written by Kristen Hall and beautifully illustrated by Montreal artist Matthew Forsythe, a group of animals chase an elusive gold leaf throughout the forest. Using actual gold leafing technique, this is one of the most gorgeous picture books I’ve read in a long time. Pairs well with the Matthew Forsythe designed wrapping paper available at La Petite D+Q!

Saisons de Montréal, Raphaelle Barbanègre
Each page in this book takes you to a new corner of Montreal. Filled with colour and charm, just like the city, this book makes a perfect gift for anyone visiting Montreal, living in Montreal, or missing Montreal. It makes me eager to get out and explore as much of the city as I can.

More staff picks are on their way! Look out for favourites from:

Kate // Luke // Saelan // Chantal // Arizona // Chantale // Benjamin // Kalliopé // Anna // Sophie // Eli

Monday, 4 December 2017

Event recap: Daphné B. & Kathy L. launch I Love Dick, a fanfic w/ Marcela Huerta & Julie Delporte

This past Friday, the 1st of December, we had the pleasure of hosting the launch of I Love Dick, a fanfic!

The zine is a collaboration between Daphné B. (poet and translator, and author of Bluetiful and Delete), and Kathy L. (part-time bookseller and artist based in Montréal). Back in the summer, Daphné and Kathy exchanged letters in the style of Chris Kraus' feminist cult classic written in the 90s, addressed to the eponymous Dick. 

The letters analyze a variety of contemporary phenomena and cultural objects such as celebrity, memes, Google Translate, pop songs, and Vegas, through the lens of female desire and feminism. The text is interwoven with images: screenshots of internet image browsing and Youtube playlists. At the intersection of artist book, zine, and fanfiction, it is a funny, subversive, and thoughtful reflection on love, desire, and art.

Daphné and Kathy took turns reading their letters, accompanied by some Lynchian mood music. The two were then joined onstage by Marcela Huerta (former assistant editor of Drawn & Quarterly and author of Tropico), and Julie Delporte (prolific cartoonist, essayist, and author of Moi aussi je voulais l'emporter), who each read from new works. Marcela even wrote her own letter to Dick!

After the readings, Kathy screened a film entitled "Last Looks", which chopped'n'screwed footage from a Harlequin-produced TV show to map the various gazes of contempt, desire, and searching. 

The readers—all D+Q staffers past and present—then partook in a "great provocative discussion about unrequited love as cultural practice, unknown terrain of female desire and selfies of crying girls" (per Heather O'Neill). Later, the conversation was further fueled by the audience in a stirring Q&A. 

Thank you to everyone for packing the house, and thank you to our wonderful readers for such a memorable event!

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