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Spring preview 2014: non-fiction, part one

Politics & current affairs

During much of the past year, it was hard to encounter the word “senate” without “scandal” following soon after. Two spring books carry the conversation into 2014. In Our Scandalous Senate (Dundurn Press, $24.99 pa., May), former Progressive Conservative MP Patrick J. Boyer takes an in-depth look at recent events, arguing that the senate is dead weight among Canada’s political institutions. “¢ Nova Scotia journalist Dan Leger analyzes the man at the centre of much of the controversy in Mike Duffy: Scandal in the Senate (Nimbus, $29.95 cl., March).

Well before the senate story broke, another former Harper insider was drawn into a media storm. Unlike Duffy, however, Tom Flanagan has written his own book about the ordeal. In Persona Non Grata: The Death of Free Speech in the Internet Age (McClelland & Stewart, $29.95 cl., April), the conservative political scientist offers his side of the story regarding his controversial comments about child pornography, as well as a defence of freedom of speech. “¢ Flanagan will also publish a book with McGill-Queen’s University Press in March. Winning Power: Canadian Campaigning in the Twenty-first Century ($34.95 cl.) looks at the art of successful political campaigns.

Despite being dubbed “the world’s oldest profession,” prostitution is rarely viewed as a legitimate form of labour. In Selling Sex (UBC Press, $34.95 pa., Jan.), academics Emily van der Meulen and Elya M. Durisin, with activist and sex worker Victoria Love, present diverse perspectives that challenge the prevailing narrative vilifying sex work. “¢ This season University of Toronto Press launches a new series called UTP Insights, a “collection of brief books offering accessible introductions to the issues that shape our world and Canada’s place within it.” The first book is Paul EvansEngaging China: Myth, Aspiration, and Strategy in Canadian Policy from Trudeau to Harper ($19.95 pa.), due out in April.

“Commoning,” a term coined by American Marxist historian Peter Linebaugh, describes the ethos that resources should be shared and replenished collectively. While the idea has flourished in recent years (think Wikipedia or the Occupy movement), the practice itself is ancient. Heather Menzies explores the concept in Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good (New Society Publishers, $17.95 pa., May), a book that links the practices of Menzies’ ancestors on the Scottish Highlands with a contemporary call to action.

In Killer Weed: Marijuana, Grow Ops, Media, and Justice (UTP, $29.95 pa., Feb.), B.C. academics Connie Carter and Susan C. Boyd show how the media has depicted marijuana production as a “dangerous criminal epidemic,” arguing that this narrow perspective has negative consequences for Canadian society. “¢ Another book about growing pot is due out from ECW Press in May. In Hidden Harvest: The Rise and Fall of North America’s Biggest Cannabis Grow-op ($19.95 pa.), author Mark Coakley tells the story of an abandoned Molson beer factory turned pot farm, and the criminals who were arrested a decade after police raided the location. “¢ The title of Paula Mallea‘s history of illegal drugs in the 21st century was lifted from a phrase coined by Ronald Reagan in 1971. In The War on Drugs: A Failed Experiment (Dundurn, $24.99 pa., June), Mallea extrapolates from a statement former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan made in 2011: the war on drugs “has not ““ and cannot ““ be won.”

It’s a widely held hypothesis that the Internet has a democratizing effect, allowing a plurality of voices to be heard. Conversely, documentary filmmaker and cultural commentator Astra Taylor argues in The People’s Platform (Knopf Canada, $24.95 pa., March) that a handful of Internet giants dominate our lives, and that the most widely proliferated content is driven by sensation and broad appeal. “¢ Montreal activist Amy Miller‘s The Carbon Rush (Red Deer Press, $24.95 pa., Jan.) is based on her groundbreaking documentary of the same name. In the book, Miller describes the people around the world most affected by the emerging, multibillion-dollar carbon trading system. “¢ Adam Aptowitzer offers the practical guidebook Starting a Charity: A Guide to the Legal, Accounting, and Management Basics ($29.95 pa.), due out from Self Counsel Press in April.

Art, music & pop culture

If it weren’t for a 1907 trip across Alaska undertaken by Emily Carr and her sister, Alice, the artist might never have evolved into the venerated icon she later became. It was during the journey that Carr likely painted her first totem poles and received encouragement for her burgeoning artistic aspirations. With the publication of Carr’s diary from the era ““ long suspected to be lost ““ admirers can glean for themselves the impact of the trip on her development. Sister and I in Alaska ($19.95 cl.) is due out in March from Figure 1 Publishing. “¢ In celebration of the Royal Ontario Museum’s centenary, House of Anansi Press (in partnership with The Walrus Foundation) will publish a collection of essays by 21 Canadian writers on objects in the museum’s collection. Every Object Has a Story ($29.95 cl., March) includes contributions from Dionne Brand, Joseph Boyden, Chris Hadfield, Deepa Mehta, and more.

In It Doesn’t Suck: Showgirls ($12.95 pa., April), the first book in ECW’s new Pop Classics series, Adam Nayman argues that the 1995 Razzie-winning film by Paul Verhoeven is in fact a masterpiece. “¢ Coach House Books continues its pop culture series with a pair of pithy works of cultural criticism: Shawn Micallef‘s The Trouble with Brunch: Class, Fashion and the Pursuit of Leisure ($13.95 pa., Feb.) and Geoff Pevere‘s Gods of the Hammer ($13.95 pa., Feb.), about the Hamilton punk act Teenage Head.

First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers is known for paintings and prints that combine the realism of European art with the stylized forms of his aboriginal ancestry. The Art of Roy Henry Vickers (Harbour Publishing, $49.95 cl., April) includes 118 previously unpublished works.

The unofficial bible for the thinking fashionista is the independently produced WORN Fashion Journal. Some of the magazine’s best work is collected in the 500-page tome The WORN Archive (Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 pa., May), edited by founder and editor-in-chief Serah-Marie McMahon.

True crime

The Lynching of Peter Wheeler (Goose Lane Editions, $19.95 pa., March) is the second book by author and forensic anthropologist Debra Komar about historical Canadian crimes. Her latest details the wrongful murder conviction and execution of Peter Wheeler of Digby, Nova Scotia, whose trial was among the first to introduce forensic evidence into the courtroom. “¢ Humber College criminal justice professor Mark Totten will publish a third book on the lives of gang members in April. Gang Life (James Lorimer Publishing, $24. 95 pa.) reveals the stories of 10 gang members ““ murderers, rapists, drug traffickers ““ and depicts the complex circumstances that lead people to crime.

Memoir & biography

My Journey (HarperCollins Canada, $29.99 cl.) is the first book from politician Olivia Chow, considered a frontrunner in the race to become the next mayor of Toronto. Although the Trinity-Spadina MP has not confirmed if she will run, the book is due out in January ““ just in time for the official start of campaigning. “¢ Also from HarperCollins Canada is a memoir by Canadian rower Silken Laumann, who won bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games just weeks after suffering a potentially career-­ending injury. Unsinkable ($29.99 cl., Jan.) is co-written with Sylvia Fraser. “¢ Prairie naturalist Trevor Herriot, author of River in a Dry Land, returns with The Road Is How (HarperCollins Canada, $27.99 cl., April), a recounting of a three day walk taken while recovering from an accident that nearly ended his life.

In Writing with Grace (Douglas & McIntyre, $22.95 pa., March), Vancouver author and Journey Prize nominee Judy McFarlane tells of her experiences as a mentor to an aspiring writer with Down Syndrome. “¢ Debut author Lynn Thomson, a Toronto bookseller with husband Ben McNally, has written a memoir about bonding with her adolescent son over their shared enthusiasm for bird-watching and nature. Birding with Yeats (Anansi, $22.95 pa., April) is an exploration of motherhood, family, and the beauty of the natural world. “¢ Listen to the Squawking Chicken (Knopf Canada, $29.95 cl., April) is a mother-daughter memoir from eTalk host Elaine Lui, the author of the popular celebrity blog Lainey Gossip.

The debut book from University of Guelph associate professor Karyn L. Freedman is a memoir about the enduring effects of the author’s brutal assault in Paris at the age of 22. One Hour in Paris: A True Story of Rape and Recovery (Freehand Books, $21.95 pa., April) weaves Freedman’s personal experiences with philosophical, neuroscientific, and psychological insights into the aftershock of trauma.

In Search of Canada (Great Plains Publications, $24.95 pa., April), by Winnipeg writer and editor Christopher Dafoe, is a biography of the author’s grandfather, John Wesley Dafoe, a prominent newspaper editor in the previous century.

Q&Q‘s spring preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2014. “¢ All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q‘s press time. “¢ Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.

This feature appeared in the January/February 2o14 issue of Q&Q.


January 17th, 2014

6:32 pm