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Spring Preview 2017: Non-fiction

Scaachi Koul

Scaachi Koul (Barbora Simkova)

On a personal note

Style journalist Karen von Hahn is best known for her reporting on the material world. But in personal stories about her mother – described by her publisher, House of Anansi Press, as a “Guerlain- and vodka-soaked narcissist” – von Hahn observes in her memoir, What Remains‚ that the quest for beautiful objects isn’t as glamorous or as meaningful as it may appear. Hungarian-born, Montreal-based author Akos Verboczy examines la belle province’s identity politics through 50 personal vignettes in Rhapsody in Quebec: On the Path of an Immigrant Child (Baraka Books), translated by Casey Roberts. After bestselling author Sharon Butala’s husband died suddenly, she packed up her Saskatchewan country life to start over in the city. Her memoir of grief and hope, Where I Live Now, appears from Simon & Schuster Canada in April.

SpringPreview_JanFeb_A-BarefootBingoCallerMore memoirs…

Michelle Alfano shares her experience as the parent of a transgender child in The Unfinished Dollhouse (Cormorant Books). Toronto author Antanas Sileika finds humour wherever he travels – from drunken booze cans to the streets of Paris – in The Barefoot Bingo Caller (ECW Press). • Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg shares insights into the misogyny of the food-service world in I Hear She’s a Real Bitch (Doubleday Canada). • BuzzFeed writer and Twitter shit-disturber Scaachi Koul gets personal about growing up as a woman of colour in Canada in One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter (Doubleday Canada).


SpringPreview_JanFeb_Simon&Schuster_HowtoFallinLovewithAnyone_CoverHeart and solo

Mandy Len Catron’s 2015 New York Times essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” went viral – resulting in a lot of couples staring into each other’s eyes for an uncomfortable four minutes. This makes her the ideal author for the personal essay collection How to Fall in Love with Anyone (S&S Canada). If you prefer going to the movies solo, there’s Michael Harris’s collection about the power of alone time, Solitude: A Singular Life in a Crowded World (Doubleday Canada).

SpringPreview_JanFeb_DirectorsCut_CoverCulture club

Before Johnny Cash found the sunny side with June Carter, the man in black was in the care of manager Saul Holiff. No one knew why Holiff quit suddenly in 1973 – until now, thanks to Julie Chadwick’s The Man Who Carried Cash (Dundurn). Ted Kotcheff got his first experiences behind the camera directing Canadian films such as The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz before heading to Hollywood to helm cult classics like First Blood and Weekend at Bernie’s. Kotcheff’s memoir, Director’s Cut: My Life in Film (ECW), written with Josh Young, covers both his life and craft. Scientists by day and Orphan Black nerd girls by night, Casey Griffin and Nina Nesseth decode the popular television show in The Science of Orphan Black: The Official Companion (ECW). Slip into something plaid before sitting down with Jason Murray’s A Distorted Revolution: How Eric’s Trip Changed Music, Moncton, and Me (Nimbus Publishing), an homage to the first ’90s Canadian band to get signed to grunge label Sub Pop Records. Cartoonists Jane Mai and An Nguyen examine the often-misunderstood Japanese frills-and-lace subculture in So Pretty/Very Rotten: Essays on Lolita Fashion and Cute Culture (Koyama Press). Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? What about wives? B.C. professor Melanie Murray suggests that it’s time to remember Jean Armour in Should Auld Acquaintance: Discovering the Woman Behind Robert Burns (Nightwood Editions).

Societal status

  • SpringPreview_JanFeb_NewUrbanCrisis_CoverAfter Richard Florida coined the term “the creative class,” it became a rallying cry for politicians and planners eager to attract educated, knowledge-based citizens. Flash forward 15 years and Florida finds himself having to examine the darker side of the creative economy, and how it has propelled gentrification, inequality, segregation, and the destruction of the middle class. The New Urban Crisis comes from Basic Books in April.
  • SpringPreview_JanFeb_Gentrifier_CoverThe G-word gets a sociological and geographic examination by academics John Joe Schlichtman, Jason Patch, and Marc Lamont Hill in Gentrifier (University of Toronto Press).
  • Is it possible to be a responsible political consumer? Louis Hyman and Joseph Tohill bring together experts who believe wallets can be weapons in Shopping for Change: Consumer Activism and the Possibilities of Purchasing Power (Between the Lines).
  • Venture capitalist Joel Solomon hypothesizes that pressure from millennials will lead to demands for change in The Clean Money Revolution, coming from New Society Publishers.
  • SpringPreview_JanFeb_McGill_WhyDissentMatters_CoverAuthor and lawyer William Kaplan delivers a timely and necessary thesis in Why Dissent Matters: Because Some People See Things the Rest of Us Miss, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.



Coke Salish, Sonny Assu, 2006

Coke Salish, Sonny Assu, 2006

Art me up

Printmaker Tony Miller illuminates the life of John “Daddy” Hall, an escaped slave who became an iconic figure in Owen Sound, Ontario, where he lived until his death at 117 years old. Daddy Hall: A Biography in 80 Linocuts comes from the Porcupine’s Quill in April. Prolific B.C. artist Sonny Assu, known for his pop-art-infused interdisciplinary work addressing indigenous issues, is celebrated with Sonny Assu: A Selected History (Heritage House) featuring more than 120 pieces of art and essays by Candice Hopkins, Richard Van Camp, and others. York University professor Don Thompson investigates how modern economics triumph over artistic worthiness in The Orange Balloon Dog: Bubbles, Turmoil and Avarice in the Contemporary Art Market, coming from Douglas & McIntyre in April.

Past lives

SpringPreview_JanFeb_CoachHouseBooks_AnyOtherWay-HowTorontoGotQueer_CoverToronto Editors John Lorinc, Jane Farrow, Stephanie Chambers, and Tim Mc-Caskell examine the people, places, and events that shaped Hogtown’s thriving LGBTQ communities in the illustrated Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer (Coach House Books).

Michael Quealey recalls his past life as a priest, while blending Toronto history and counterculture in his memoir, My Basilian Priesthood, 1961–1967 (Wilfrid Laurier University Press).

SpringPreview_JanFeb_ArsenalPulp_BloodSweat_CoverB.C.’s first forensic investigator John F.C.B. Vance, known as Canada’s Sherlock Holmes, was so good at his job that in 1934 there were seven attempts on his life. Eve Lazurus examines the evidence in Blood, Sweat, and Fear (Arsenal Pulp).

Poet and books writer Kerri Cull peers behind the quaint St. John’s tourism ads to reveal the Newfoundland capital’s diverse sex industry in Call Me Jezebel: A Look Inside the Oldest Profession in North America’s Oldest City (Breakwater Books).

Climate controls

Activist David Suzuki, who turned 80 in 2016, recently referred to his efforts to have environmental rights included in the Canadian Constitution as the “last great fight” of his life. But as Suzuki and Ian Hanington remind us in their book, Just Cool It!: The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do: A Post-Paris Agreement Game Plan (Greystone) – described as a call to action and demand for practical solutions – this is just the first step to saving the planet.  Robert William Sanford, author of 30 books on the Canadian Rockies, turns his attention and camera to Our Vanishing Glaciers: The Snows of Yesteryear and the Future Climate of the Mountain West, published by Rocky Mountain Books.

Peanuts and Cracker Jack

Part of the thrill and frustration of baseball is the likelihood of failure: successful batters, on average, only hit three out of 10 pitches. University of Toronto professor Mark Kingwell’s new book, Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters (Bilbioasis), combines memoir, humour, and philosophy to show how even strikes can teach lessons about “fragility, contingency, and community.” Passionate fan Stacey May Fowles dispels the myth that her favourite sport is still a boys’ club in Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me (McClelland & Stewart).

Beauty and the East

For generations, the coastal Inuit com­munity of Nunatsiavut in Labrador has been producing unique art from traditional materials such as stone, wood, and sealskin. Now, a new generation of contemporary artists is being introduced to the world through SakKijajuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut by Concordia University professor Heather Iglioorte. The book, which will be released in English, French, and Inuktitut editions by Goose Lane, coincides with an exhibition organized by the Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St. John’s. The Rooms is also paying tribute to noted Newfoundland painter, sculptor, and printmaker Gerald Squires with a retrospective exhibition and book, featuring more than 100 colour images and essays by Stan Dragland and Michael Crummey. Published by Pedlar Press, Gerald Squires launches in May.

The Female Emigrant’s Guide

The Female Emigrant’s Guide

Food for thought

While diet and healthy-eating cookbooks are always in season, these titles offer an alternative perspective to mealtime:

  1. A new edition of Catharine Parr Traill’s 1855 The Female Emigrant’s Guide, edited by Nathalie Cooke and Fiona Lucas (McGill-Queen’s University Press), promises modernized recipes for Victorian-era staples such as shanty bread and dandelion tea.
  2. Polyamorous queer Italian-Canadian author Monica Meneghetti traces her lifelong relationship with food as it connects to family and sexuality in What the Mouth Wants: A Memoir of Food, Love and Belonging (Caitlin Press).
  3. Jonah Campbell returns with the same irreverent food writing that made his debut essay collection, Food & Trembling, a standout with Eaten Back to Life (Invisible Publishing) is out in June.
  4. Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller turned a vacation into Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip (Appetite by Random House), a collection of recipes from more than 80 contributors representing the country’s diverse culinary landscape.
  5. Lenore Newman travels the country to taste its evolving cuisine in Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey (University of Regina Press).
  6. David Waltner-Toews, the veterinary epidemiologist who brought you The Origin of Feces, comes the mouth-watering Eat the Beetles!: An Exploration into Our Conflicted Relationship with Insects (ECW).

Riel talk

Louis Riel expert David Doyle suggests it’s time Canada acknowledges the Métis leader as a father of Confederation. His latest, Louis Riel: Let Justice Be Done, comes from Ronsdale Press in March. Saskatchewan author John D. Pihach recounts the life of American abor­iginal frontiersman Irvin Mudeater, who moved to Canada and, while portraying himself as a white man, played a lead role in capturing Riel. Mudeater: The Story of an American Buffalo Hunter and the Surrender of Louis Riel appears from the University of Regina Press in March.

Canada: 150 Panoramas

Canada: 150 Panoramas

Sesquicentennial sweet spot

Publishers are tapping Canada’s sesquicentennial like a maple tree this season. Here are six titles celebrating the country and its history:
Ingenious: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smaller, Smarter, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier and Happier, David Johnston and Tom Jenkins (Signal)
 The Canadaland Guide to Canada, Jesse Brown with Vicky Mochama and Nick Zarzycki (Simon & Schuster Canada)
 They Desire a Better Country: The Order of Canada in 50 Stories, Lawrence Scanlan (Figure 1 Publishing)
 The Year Canadians Lost Their Minds and Found Their Country: The Centennial of 1967, Tom Hawthorn (Douglas & McIntyre)
 Canada’s Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests, Peter H. Russell (University of Toronto Press)
Canada: 150 Panoramas, George Fischer (Nimbus Publishing)