People’s coop books

Just days after Duthies Books announced its closure, this after 53 years in the business of selling books, there is a chance to save another independent bookstore.

People’s Coop books is my local bookstore. They handsold Delible, as they do a lot of other books by Vancouver-based authors. Every time I drop in, I always find some interesting political or literary boardbook for my babe.

Come to the Wise Hall Friday night, 7:30, and $10 will get you entrance to a marathon line-up. Charlie Demers is hosting. The writers on the bill include George Bowering, David Chariandy, Kevin Chong, Rex Weyler and me, as well as playwrights Marcus Youssef and Camyar Chai. You’ll see performances by comedians Morgan Brayton, Katie-Ellen Humphries, and Alicia Tobin, DJing by Dreamscene and music by Chelsea Johnson, The Carnival Band and Team YPE.

I just can’t see the drive without People’s Coop Books.

The asocial suburb

Just finishing up an email interview with a student who is studying Delible. She asked a question about the setting (why the suburb of Mississauga as opposed to the DTES) that renewed my thinking about suburbs as asocial spaces (something I thought a lot about while writing Delible). Here is part of my response:

The suburbs themselves interest me as a locale. They’re often portrayed idyllically in literary stories, but I wanted to explore how suburbs are (or aren’t) shaped for social uses. Suburbs aren’t built for walking or gathering – the suburbs are generally asocial in their organization. Especially now that I have a daughter, I really appreciate the way that the Commercial Drive neighbourhood is a series of beautifully social spaces, shared and inhabited by many different people. It’s quite remarkable. I can’t help but compare the experience of living here with living in a suburb, a neighbourhood of quiet homes set very far apart from gathering spaces (which tend to be very condensed commercial spaces, like malls). So, you get miles and miles of houses, then a node of commercial activity (a mall), then miles and miles of houses. In the Commercial Drive area, by comparison, social spaces dot the neighbourhood; residential, commercial and social areas intermingle. The asocial organization of suburbs makes driving a necessity. For a teen, who cannot drive, a suburb can be as entrapping as an island; it can be experienced as a real wasteland.

All there is to offer

There’s an interview with Cormac McCarthy out. It’s been excerpted on various blogs, including Bookninja — the line specifically where he says

CM: I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.

which is smart and made me laugh out loud. Until I read on, the part where he talks about his (scientist) friends at the Sante Fe Institute. He says something here that feels much more true, and echoes something Wayde once said to me:

CM: I have friends at the Institute. They’re just really bright guys who do really difficult work solving difficult problems, who say, “It’s really more important to be good than it is to be smart.” And I agree it is more important to be good than it is to be smart. That is all I can offer you.

Demers on Books Rational

Last Thursday, I had a chance to interview Charles Demers, whose book The Prescription Errors is the lastest Wayside Editions title at Insomniac Press. He was (of course) an awesome interview. Earlier this month, when interviewed at This Magazine‘s blog, he had this to say:

“I know one thing I wanted was to write about an intelligent person who doesn’t have money; usually, the kinds of characters who get to have existential worries are middle-class types, while working-class people deal with external challenges, say, oppression by social and natural phenomena.”

We get into class and representation towards the end of the interview — a subject that there’s so much more to say about.

You can hear my interview with Demers below (or subscribe to “Books Rational” through Itunes, and also get older interviews with Hiromi Goto, Aaron Peck, & others).

Charles Demers’ double book launch

The latest Wayside Edition / Insomniac Press title is about to be launched. Charles Demers impressive debut, the Prescription Errors, is out now (locally, you can pick it up at People’s Coop, though of course amazon and others have it too). For a peek at the novel, look here or pick up the latest issue of Matrix (he’s featured in the Vancouver Dossier). For a glimpse of Demers’ thinking, you can read THIS interview, or tune into Coop Radio’s Arts Rational (102.7) on Thursday November 12th sometime between 9 & 10 to hear him interviewed.

errorsHere is the advanced praise:

“Charles Demers writes wittily, unguardedly, and often downright scandalously, until he arrives, in The Prescription Errors, with a novel that is as much about an individual’s uneasy condition as it is about a society’s deeper illness. Read this book if you’re prepared for fiction’s equivalent to a raucous stand-up performance, if you’re prepared for a merciless send-up of social pieties, and most of all, if you’re prepared to confront and enjoy the strangest of symptoms.”— David Chariandy

The Prescription Errors is a thoughtful, hilarious and deeply engaged novel. Charles Demers’ many obsessions make for compulsive reading.” — John K. Samson

“An impressive debut in fiction.” — George Fetherling

“With this book, Charles Demers has written a complicated love letter to Vancouver. The Prescription Errors is as filled with debilitating insecurities, troubled relationship histories and affirmation of the power of community as the city itself. I read it on a trip and it made me homesick for the city I so love/hate.”— Morgan Brayton

specialDemers will also be launching a book of non-fiction, Vancouver Special (Arsenal), which is highly anticipated. Oh, and there’ll be refreshments, short readings from each book and, of course, books for sale!

Cafe Rhizome,
317 East Broadway (just east of Kingsway),
Thursday November 26th, 7:30 p.m.

The syphilis notebooks

When I read at SFU on Thursday, Mercedes Eng was there and asked a great question — or made a great point. In distinguishing the earlier (two) novels (jacks and Hush) from the later one (Delible), I’d said something along the lines of how the earlier works had more in common with poems, and in each short novel, I’d tried to sustain a single note or pitch (chord, more accurately, as both of those novels are multivocal). In Delible, by contrast, I’d aimed at more than a single note (or chord). Mercedes pointed to a passage I’d read that day about 15 year old Lora, who takes to (sometimes) wearing her missing sister’s glasses after she is gone. Is that how you tried to achieve more than one note, she asked, with the glasses? And, yes, — Continue reading

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