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The Fall of Books

Jurassic erotica, those who can’t, quarter-life crises, paramedic muses and so much poetry you’ll puke. It’s a round-up of all things small press and then some

By Nathaniel G. Moore

Another season, another crop of newborn ISBN numbers come crawling through the mail and hopefully wind up on bookshelves-better yet, wind up in the hands of paying readers. Where to begin?

Evan Munday is a stand-up Toronto literary guy. Beyond his duties as side-kick illustrator and dutiful publicist for the mighty Coach House Books, he is a solo visual artist, currently putting it all on the line with his own take on hipsterdom in Quarter-Life Crisis, a graphic comic that follows two brothers-Harper and Aaron Yung-as they attempt to survive in a post-apocalyptic Toronto, in which only the 25-year-olds mysteriously survive. “It’s a fun romp through a futuristic hellscape ruled over by neighbourhood-based gangs,” says Munday about the project. “I call it Scott Pilgrim meets Mad Max.” Munday will release the first of a planned series this fall and hopes to pique the interest for these future-books. “And walk away entertained, most of all. I hope people find it an exciting and fun read. I’m so tired of books where nothing happens!”

Holding Still For As Long As Possible (Anansi) by Toronto’s Zoe Whittall has three narrators and, according to the busy author’s blog: “one is a medic in downtown Toronto named Josh.” Whittall seems to be going all out for this one, even convincing five paramedics to form a human pyramid in Trinity Bellwoods Park for a promotional trailer-a publicity stunt that seems to be all the rage these days in the tech-heavy literary world.

It’s literally an all-you-can-read buffet of literary anthologies this fall (Tightrope alone is publishing three of them). Perhaps the curious of all the anthologies (not including BP’s own notorious Can’tLit collection which celebrates the best fiction from our own fiction bone pile) is Dinosaur Porn. Published by Toronto’s micropress The Emergency Response Unit / Ferno House, the collection promises to shake things up. Says one of its editors: “we’re trying to bring people out of their comfortable press-table shells. We’re embracing absurdity and oddball humour without sacrificing production value or literary quality. And we’re trying to force writers and patrons of the small press community to think differently about what can and cannot be produced in the literary scene.”

Another anthology sure to get some hype is the anthology of women’s poetry, Prismatic Publics (Coach House) which features excerpts from and interviews with some of Canada’s most daring women writers, including: Nicole Brossard, Erin Moure and Lisa Robertson. And what are the three Tightrope anthologies? Gultch, by the now infamous Steel Bananas crew, which features 52 pieces from 52 different authors while The Best Canadian Poetry, (edited by 2009 Griffin Poetry Prize winner A.F. Moritz) and The Best Canadian Essays cull the best from magazines nation-wide.

Freehand Books publicity department leaked the news that somewhere in Anik See’s new collection of short fiction, postcard and other stories, there’s a story in which a displaced Toronto book designer falls madly in love with philosopher Mark Kingwell. That alone should be worth the price of admission. Indie great Philip Quinn is back in the land of fiction with his new novel The Skeleton Dance (Anvil Press) which takes place on the mean, once clean streets of a pre-millennial Toronto. Also from Anvil is metal bass player Catherine Owen’s fifth book of poetry, Frenzy. Staying in from the poetry arena is Angela Hibbs’ second collection, Wanton parts of which are described as “at once sweetly comic and brutally grim.” Plus, Unanimous Night by Cyril Dabydeen (Black Moss Press)

And what publishing season would be complete without the infamous road trip non-fiction book, where anything can happen-hopefully. According to publisher Nic Boshart at Invisible Publishing, This American Drive is “an account of a road trip Mike [Holmes] and his girlfriend at the time Jodi took from Halifax to Houston in 2006 to visit Jodi’s family at Christmas.” It’s full of funny anecdotes and humourous side trips and side-splitting drawings and food. “It’s a hell of a lot of stories about fried, southern food,” says Boshart, from the Crumpled Press in Brooklyn. The gang will be publishing an illustrated chapbook called Staten Island: Or, Life in the Borroughs by John Kuhner.

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