canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999


The Montreal Fall Books Spectacular

compiled by Nathaniel G. Moore
with photography and files by Mary Williamson

(November 2007)

*

Montreal is a special city. It is intoxicating; knows how lovely it is but never rubs it in your face. It’s the home of the Montreal Canadiens, Corey Hart, Leonard Cohen and Heather O’Neill. It’s the place where you can find Ladies Luncheon, Mitsou and Champ’s Sports Bar -- all in the same night, if you're lucky.

TDR has compiled an impressive cross-section of new works from Montreal and Montreal-related authors, using a variety of means: e-mails, false-starts, tracking down a fraction of Montreal’s literary scene at two different bars on Saint Laurent. We have the dirt on Ian Ferrier's new CD, all you need to know on Louis Rastelli and his debut novel, plus we offer you insight into the Conundrum fall 2007 catalogue. 

Richard Suicide and Elisabeth Beliveau are ready for the visual treatment in technicolour, ink, pulp and DVD thanks to their publisher’s multi-hundred if not thousand dollar studio expansion at the D-wing of Conundrum Towers. While the much anticipated Suicide graphic novel will pull you in with its ethereal and maudlin whispers, that unsettling talent named Elisabeth Beliveau presents her compelling animations in a DVD/book combination called the great hopeful someday.

Beliveau is a daring and ambitious visual artist, whose dainty, delicate and emotional work is mesmerizing and contagious. The DVD contains animations Beliveau has been working on for the past few years while attending residencies at The Banff Centre, the NFB (Montreal), The Klondike Institute for Arts and Culture, and Struts Gallery in Sackville New Brunswick.

Said Shameless Magazine of Beliveau’s first book with Conundrum: 

Something to pet the cat about is a richly textured world. It is rendered via lush sketches and pencilled notations — lists, diary entries, queries, assertions, meditations, and laments — that complexly traverse the turbulent arc of coming into oneself in a new city.

Richard Suicide is a writer and artist of savage wit, whose comics are a testimony of life in Montreal’s East End. Much of his early work has only appeared in French in various international anthologies, including Comix 2000 (France), Stripburger (Slovenia), The Comics Journal (USA), Kękrapules (Switzerland), Ferraille (France) as well as anthologies in Japan and Macedonia. My Life as a Foot will launch at a variety of events including Expozine. Suicide, along with Line Gamache and Andy Brown are invited guests at this year’s Festival BD Cowansville: November 30, 2007, Municipal Library in Cowansville, Quebec.

And speaking of Conundrum, sophomore novelist Maya Merrick is taking us on a daring ride through bohemian 1970s Montreal in her new book The Whole Show, which will see the barkeep/bard at readings in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Maya’s brand new novel follows four characters who meet each other to form a controversial theatre troupe. Hicklin, the collector, leaves Vancouver under traumatic circumstances to find himself living a bohemian lifestyle on the streets of a Montreal caught in the midst of political upheaval. 

In the cover story, said the Montreal Hour of Merrick’s latest literary outing:

fantastical 338-page journey through an extravaganza of tantalizing topics, peopled with hermaphrodites, pariahs, chimeras, albinos, ballerinas, satanic debutantes, and of course holes - a whole range of holes. From construction pits to black holes to peep holes that peer into memory theatres, the central, titular theme runs throughout this story of four teens who, against all odds, find themselves together in an apartment in 1970s Montreal.

Merrick reads with Toronto’s Jessica Westhead at TYPE Bookstore, 883 Quest St. West in Toronto on November 13, 2007, plus in Vancouver on Thursday November 15th at Art Exchange Building, 568 Seymour. Both events are a 7pm start.

Recently, The Quebec Writers Federation (QWF) presented a three day conference (Oct 18-20) on Montreal poet A.M. Klein. A Portrait of A.M. Klein Today, was an international conference organized by the Concordia Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, co-sponsored by QWF, among others. The three day conference culminated in a poetry reading featuring Marie Frankland, David McGimpsey, Robyn Sarah, David Solway, and Carmine Starnino.

On November 21, 2007 the Annual QWF Awards Gala will go down, where fifteen finalists will be honoured, and the winners announced at the Lion d'Or, 1676 Ontario East. Novelists Liam Durcan Garcia's Heart and (Governor General’s Award short-listed author) Heather O'Neill for Lullabies for Little Criminals and short-story writer Neil Smith Bang Crunch are the finalists for this year's Quebec Writers' Federation award for fiction. Smith is also up for the best-first-book prize, along with novelist Nairne Holtz The Skin Beneath and poet Angela Carr for Ropewalk.

For the QWF's non-fiction prize, the nominees are Margaret Somerville, The Ethical Imagination; Vikki Stark, My Sister, My Self; and co-authors Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau, The Story of French. David McGimpsey, Sitcom, Erin Moure, O Cadoiro and David Solway, Reaching for Clear are the finalists in the poetry category. Nominees for translation (French to English) are Moure and Robert Majzels; Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott; and Lazer Lederhendler.

QWF told TDR how local aspiring writers can become more active in their literary pursuits. 

Of course, I'd say they should join QWF! A membership puts you in the loop right away.  Our events, programs and workshops give you the opportunity to meet other writers, to develop your craft, and to know what's going on throughout the community.  For example, on November 10th we're offering a half-day workshop called GETTING THE MONEY (AND THE TIME!): AN INFORMATION SESSION FOR EMERGING WRITERS.  We have writing program officers coming from CALQ and CC to talk about getting grants and residencies, and two writers talking about how to get fellowships, writing assignments in newspapers, and more.

For a comprehensive database of Montreal writers please click here

Toronto publisher The Mercury Press have some Montreal writers with books out this fall. Including The Humbugs Diet by Robert Majzels and The Prison Tangram by Claire Huot, while Montrealer David McGimpsey's latest collection of poetry (his fourth) is called Sitcom, was just published by Toronto’s Coach House Books

Said Eye of Sitcom:

[It] draws on the metaphoric powers of sitcom and television stars to construct something, and it is a fascinating something, as tragic as it is funny ... Thanks to McGimpsey's infomercial-strong pitch, he's proven that one may experience sublimity by repeating the mantra 'Aloha, Garret, Five-O' as much, if not better, than one can by studying W.H. Auden.

And ECW Press has a guaranteed winner in the controversial and always topical Conrad Black by George Tombs. Tombs is an award-winning Montreal journalist. Robber Baron: Lord Black of Crossharbour was published in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom on November 1st. This unauthorized, hard-hitting book provides exclusive new details, insights, and revelations about Conrad Black and his criminal trial for fraud, obstruction of justice, and racketeering. Tombs is the only biographer of Black to have interviewed him extensively and to have maintained personal contact with him over the last six years.

And it just might become the wildcard release from second year publishers Snare Books this season when Thumbscrews by Natalie Zina Walschots makes its way around the country. Read about Natalie’s tour here: http://snarenewest.blogspot.com

Selected TDR Montreal Interviews & Reviews:

 

 

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