Karlinsky book launch

Book Launch – October 28

Come to the launch of Harry Karlinsky’s first novel!

evolutionThe Evolution of Inanimate Objects:
The Life and Collected Works of Thomas Darwin (1857-1879)
Published by Insomniac Press

Thursday, October 28th
7:00 to 9:00 pm

Reading begins at 7:30 pm
Introduction by editor Anne Stone

Coffee and dessert will be served.

RSVP to library@jccgv.bc.ca

Jewish Community Centre (JCC)
2nd Floor
Isaac Waldman Library

950 West 41st Ave (at Oak)
604-257-5111 ext 249

Large parking lot attached to the JCC entrance
off 41st Avenue

Praise for The Evolution of Inanimate Objects:

“An incredible work of the imagination. A revolutionary novel.”
Lee Henderson, author of The Man Game and The Broken Record Technique.

“The Evolution of Inanimate Objects invites us to surrender, for a few hours, the distinction between biography and fiction, reason and delusion, the organic and the contrived–and what sly fun ensues!”
Joan Thomas, author of Curiosity and Reading by Lightning

“Harry Karlinsky has produced an extraordinary artifact, a novel disguised as closely researched history, so carefully constructed and convincingly made that we believe in the sad, amusing, story as if it were fact. The book is wonderfully imagined; it is a romp, a mine of information, and a refined pleasure.”
Dr. Vivian M. Rakoff, Professor Emeritus, Dept of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

“This fascinating historical narrative succeeds not only in creating a convincing nineteenth century British-Canadian psychiatric milieu peopled by engaging characters, but also in delivering incisive comment — often satirical — on important themes and issues.”
Dr. Paul Potter, History of Medicine, University of Western Ontari

“A radical novel that, among other things, vividly recreates Dr. R.M. Bucke, one of Canadian history’s true eccentrics.”
George Fetherling, author and editor of more than 50 books, including Walt Whitman’s Secret

“I was completely taken by the story. It is a compelling read that takes the reader into another historical dimension, and suspends belief. The unlikely story of the evolution of cutlery even becomes plausible. In brief, it is a good and captivating read, solidly set within an historical context of great interest.”
Dr. Keith Benson, an historian of biology and past Principal of Green College at University of British Columbia

Warland on Books Rational

Betsy Warland came by the Arts Rational radio show on Thursday to talk about her new book, Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing (Cormorant, 2010). Her book will be launched on Sunday, September 12, 5:30–7:30 pm, Rhizome Café, 317 East Broadway (at Kingsway).

You can catch the interview here:

Whom he took about everywhere

“Abel de la Rue was hanged at Coulommiers in 1582; he had made a pact with a demon in spaniel’s shape and rendered his male neighbors impotent. In 1591 Léonarde Chastenet was burned alive in Poitou at the age of eighty, after confessing that she had cast spells on corn, been to the Sabbath, and had the Devil for a lover. Madeleine Michelle Chaudron was hanged, strangled, and burned at Geneva in 1652 for having bewitched girls and impressed the ‘Devil’s seal’ on their bodies. An Italian priest, Benedetto Benda, was burned in the sixteenth century, also at eighty years of age, upon confessing that he had kept in his house for forty years a female demon named Hermeline, whom he took about everywhere without anyone seeing her.”
–Émile Grillot de Givry

Book talk with Sampirisi and Peck

This past Thursday, I dropped into Co-op Radio’s Arts Rational: Thursdays, 9-10 p.m. on CFRO 102.7. (Who better to talk books with visiting writers than a sleep-deprived new mom?)

Host Megan Turnbull and I interviewed Jenny Sampirisi and Aaron Peck about their debut novels. (I got fancy and, after downloading and parsing the archive, pasted together some freeware sound effects, creating a little sound-scape introduction for such episodes — ahh, the things one can accomplish when baby sleeps).

Coop Radio

Tonight, tune into Coop Radio (102.7 fm) to hear Aaron Peck and (from Toronto, via phone) Jenny Sampirisi, talking about their new novels (sometime between 9 & 10). I’ll be interviewing Aaron on The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis, and Megan Turnbull will be talking to Jenny Sampirisi about her debut, Is/Was.

Sampirisi & Peck

Hope you can make it to the upcoming Vancouver launch of Is/Was by Jenny Sampirisi, who’ll be reading alongside Aaron Peck (from his recent debut, the Bewilderments of Bernard Willis.) 

Date: Sunday, March 22, 2009
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Location: Cafe Montmartre — 4362 Main Street (at 28th)

About the authors:

Jenny Sampirisi is a Toronto writer and editor. She is the managing editor for the poetry publisher, BookThug, and the online vispo journal, Other Cl/utter. She is also an executive member of the Scream Literary Festival. Is/was is her first novel. The Globe and Mail praised Is/Was as “remarkable for its layered insights and depth of observing…. Where the book really shines and lingers in memory is in the parsing of the family’s internal dynamic.”


Aaron Peck was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and now lives in Vancouver BC. He is an editor at both the on-line Doppelganger Magazine and the literary press, Greenboathouse Books, which publishes beautiful handmade books in limited edition. The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis is his first novel.




Launch of is/was by Jenny Sampirisi

If you are in the Toronto area, you’ll want to attend the launch of Jenny Sampirisi’s debut novel, is/was (Insomniac Press, 2008).

Sampirisi is the second writer I’ve edited for the Wayside/Serotonin imprint (shared with JP Fiorentino). This is a tight, dense, and complex work, lovely in its use of language, and frightening in its implications. Read this book. The launch will feature Sampirisi reading from her novel, as well as an interview conducted by Jude MacDonald (the author of Grey: Stories and Jane — another highly recommended book).

iswas.jpgABOUT THE BOOK:

Set in the media-saturated 1980s, when images of missing children first occupied the public imagination, is/was explores one town’s complex emotional reaction to the brutal rape and murder of a child within its bounds.

It is October 1983 and eight-year-old Abigail Wren has gone missing from a tiny Ontario town. In the crosscuts and fragments of each day’s news, word of the abduction filters into the troubled Fitch family household. Roland Fitch becomes unhinged by long kept secrets, while his wife Eva, turns inwards, tracing the aftermath of her own surgically precise loss. In the days and weeks following Abigail Wren’s death, the Fitch children, Andrew and Isabel, are increasingly left to parent themselves. As the already tenuous boundaries between family members are slowly effaced, once solid definitions – of the child, the adult, and the body – come unmoored.

At its core, is/was is an unflinching meditation set at the very edge of human limits. Boundaries of language, media, and the body itself transform to hold the complex currents of lust and absence. This investigative first novel is never reductive, but with subtlety and nuance, unfolds the terrible trajectory of loss.


is/was is a shattering portrait of the psychological effects on one family of sudden and inexplicable violence. Jenny Sampirisi evokes dissociated states of mind and blocked communication with impressive precision. Tuned in to the body and its almost alternate life, this narrative pulls the reader into the gradually unfolding suspense of suspended knowing.
— Daphne Marlatt, author of Taken and Ana Historic

is/was explores loss in its immensity, but it rivets us, always, to its world of details. To the micro-rituals of conduct during periods of duress. To the concreteness of words on the page and the capillary routes of the sentence. Jenny Sampirisi is at once a marvelously fearless and disciplined writer.
— David Chariandy, author of Soucouyant

In the Canadian experimental lineage of Atom Egoyan’s film Exotica, Lynn Crosbie’s poetry Missing Children and Gail Scott’s novel Main Brides, this searing story of a bereft family at its core searches to reunite pain’s palimpsest with its fleshed healing. Sampirisi keenly makes us ache for a renewed stab at what was and can be.
— Margaret Christakos, author of Excessive Love Prosthesis and What Stirs

Jenny Sampirisi is a poet, prose writer and editor. She is the managing editor for BookThug and facilitates the online vispo journal, Other Cl/utter. She teaches English at Ryerson University where she runs the Ryerson Reading Series. She is also an executive member of the Scream Literary Festival. Her first novel, is/was (Insomniac Press 2008) explores the flexible boundaries of language, media, and the body.

Jude MacDonald is the author of Jane (1999) and Grey: Stories for Grown-Ups (2001) and the editor of section15.ca.

Lately reading…

“People drive by in their nice cars and stare because, like an accident, they realize it could happen to them. So for that brief moment, they can’t take their eyes away from that person’s tragedy because for that brief moment, they understand it could be them, and for that long moment it is them, and even when they are saying ‘poor bastard,’ they’re really thinking of the weight of their own potential loss.”
    —Marie Clements. The Unnatural and Accidental Women: a play. (Talon Books, 2003). 

“I was born with a fever, but it seemed to subside for sixteen years. High school, I was a good girl. I was pretty, I smiled, I fit in fine. And then as I turned sixteen and stopped smiling, the fever returned, though my skin stayed pale and sure, showing no sign of the heat inside me.” 
    —Rebecca Godfrey. The Torn Skirt: a novel. (Harper Collins, 2001). Continue reading

Launch of West Coast Line


Please join us for the launch of …

West Coast Line 53
Representations of
Murdered and Missing Women

Edited by Anne Stone and Amber Dean

With presentations or readings by
Reg Johanson, Larissa Lai, Sachiko Murakami, Lora McElhinney, Renee Rodin, and others…

Tuesday, October 23rd at 7pm
Spartacus Books
319 West Hastings, 2nd Floor
Free! All welcome.

For more information write to westline@telus.net

Word on the Street

Well, it was a miserable rained-out day in Vancouver, with scraggly looking and soppy wet people huddling around piles of books, covers curling in the damp. But man, hard core book people are always great to talk to (except when they’re crazy).

Stuck around for a few hours with Dan, manning the Insomniac Press table. Am really happy to know Insomniac publishes Marian Engel, Jane Rule, Gwendolyn MacEwen. Picked up a couple of newer Insomniac titles: Whatever Happens by Tim Conley and The Grammar Architect by Chris Eaton and Julian the Magician by Gwendolyn MacEwen.

And now, for a hot bath…