Kissing through a handkerchief

Edward Byrne has freely transposed the sonnets of Louise Labé (1522-1566) and Guido Cavalcanti (shown at left, circa 1255-1300) for audaciously modern renderings. REVIEW

Who’s Who

A is for Appleseed
Poet Joshua Whitehead debut novel, Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal $17.95), is the first B.C.-published fiction in many a year—since David Chariandy’s Arsenal-published Soucouyant in 2007 and Claire Mulligan’s The Reckoning of Boston Jim in 2008—to make it onto the Giller Prize longlist. It’s the tale of a Two-Spirit Indigiqueer cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living in the big city. Jonny has one week before he must return to the “rez”–and his former life–to attend the funeral of his stepfather. Now Arsenal has partnered with VS Books for a new imprint to boost young writers who are Indigenous, Black of people of colour. 9781551527253

Leanne Baugh

B is for Baugh
In Leanne Baugh’s The Story of My Face (Second Story $13.95), seventeen-year-old Abby Hughes goes into hiding after being facially disfigured by a grizzly bear attack. Returning to finish her last year of high school, she is rejected by so-called friends. A boyfriend ignores her; a bully torments her. She must search for meanings, for beauty, below the surface. Her return to drama class is the only path forward. Baugh has been a waitress, receptionist, teacher, stay-at-home mom and a screenwriter. 9781772600704

C is for Charish
Vancouver-based Kristi Charish launched a new urban fantasy series with The Voodoo Killings (Vintage Canada 2016), following the modern, urban adventures of Kincaid Strange, a voodoo practitioner who solves paranormal murders. Kincaid’s “ex” is a Seattle cop named Aaron who works the “afterlife” beat. In the follow-up novel coming in January, Lipstick Voodoo (Vintage $19.95), Kincaid’s roommate, who is the ghost of a grunge-rocker who was frequently unhinged, returns home bound to a dead body. This roommate, Nate, is trapped within the corpse; and the corpse is coveted by Kincaid’s new mentor, Gideon, a powerful sorcerer. If that’s not complicated enough, Aaron, the cop, wants Kincaid to help him interview Nate’s ghost… It’s billed as creepy and fun. Charish studied archeology and zoology, achieving her BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in molecular biology and biochemistry; later she earned a PhD in Zoology at the University of British Columbia. She has worked as a scientific adviser for fantasy and science fiction writer Diana Rowland and is co-host of the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast. She says she spent her formative high school years listening to grunge music. Charish also has an ‘Owl’ series about an antiquities thief named Owl, a modern-day ‘Indiana Jane’ who reluctantly navigates a hidden supernatural world. 978-0-345-81590-3

Brian d’Eon

D is for d’Eon
Nelson-based Brian d’Eon wrote  Big Ledge: The Triumphs and Tribulations of Robert E. Sproule (Home Star Press 2018) about the American prospector who rowed up Kootenay Lake in the summer of 1882 to a promontory known as Big Ledge. Here, Sproule quickly found a rich ore body. But his plans to strike it rich are endangered by other prospectors in the area, as well as a Californian businessman, John C. Ainsworth who is preparing to buy up the property that Sproule is working. As the back page blurb concludes: “Conflict seems inevitable, and murder, not past reason.” D’Eon also published the novella Eta Carina (Vagabondage 2013) and plans to publish his first novel, The Draper Catalogue in 2019. 978-1-77538-720-6

Gord and Ann Baird

E is for Eco-sense
Gord and Ann Baird co-created an Eco-Sense home in Victoria when greywater, rain water harvesting, compost toilets and earthen architecture were still on the fringes of cultural acceptance, not yet supported by local regulations. By challenging the codes and regulations in a logical, informed and respectful manner, they created the first legal, seismically-engineered, two-storey load bearing cob home in North America. It became the first Eco-Sense home audited within the Living Building Challenge (LBC) project. The LBC is the most challenging green building rating system globally, and the Baird’s home was the first to achieve petal recognition leading to the status of “World’s Greenest Modern House” for a number of years. From wastestream to mainstream, the Bairds have flushed forth their knowledge in Essential Composting Toilets: A Guide to Options, Design, Installation, and Use (New Society $39.99). Gord Baird is the Water Commissioner for the Victoria Capital Regional District’s regional Water Supply Commission and Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission. He was a technical editor for the BC Ministry of Health’s Manual of Composting Toilets and Greywater Standard Practices (2016). Ann Baird works on regional climate action initiatives involving water, food, and energy resiliency in climate adaptation and risk management. 9780865718722

Fiona McQuarrie

F is for Fiona
For six-and-a-half years North Vancouver-born Fiona McQuarrie was a music critic at the Vancouver Sun and The Province. Her lifelong interest in pop music has led to her first book, Song Book: 21 Songs from 10 Years (1964-74) (Walthamstow, UK: New Haven Publishing 2018 / $18 U.S.) which tells the stories of how and why some of her favourite songs were written by the likes of Randy Newman, Beach Boys, Tim Hardin, Donovan and Split Enz. 9781912587155

Chris Gainor

G is for Gainor
In The Bomb and America’s Missile Age (Johns Hopkins $49.95), Christopher Gainor examines the US Air Force’s (USAF) decision, in March 1954, to build the Atlas, America’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) designed to quickly deliver thermonuclear weapons to distant targets, generating a crucial threat to Russia during the Cold War. ICBMs also carried the first astronauts and cosmonauts into orbit. Gainor first recalls how guided missiles were created before and during World War II, then follows the evolution of both Soviet and American rocket programs. 978-1-4214-2603-7

H is for Hale
Amanda Hale’s Angela of the Stones (Thistledown $19.95) is her second collection of stories linked to the Cuban village of Baracoa, sometimes described as the second European settlement in the Americas where Christopher Columbus reputedly erected a cross. Hale continues to document the social and political changes as seen in eastern Cuba. One story concerns a right-wing Miami ex-pat, based on an interview she conducted in 2014 at the time when Raul Castro and President Obama shook hands and exchanged prisoners. “All of Cuba is a museum now. We live off our old Revolution,” laments Gertrudis, one in a cast of characters. Godofredo, born in January 1959 as a victorious Fidel marched into Havana, now limps along the streets of Baracoa where he encounters tourists and townspeople while maintaining his anonymity as the peanut vendor. In the Embrace of the Alligator, a first collection of linked fictions set in Cuba, was published in 2011. 978-1-77187-165-5

I is for Ian Weir
Even though, by 2018, Ian Weir has won two Geminis, four Leos, a Jessie and a Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award, there was still time for a third adult novel, this one dubbed a deadpan revisionist Western. In The Death and Life of Strother Purcell (Goose Lane $22.95), we follow lawman Strother Purcell into the mountains of B.C. in 1876 as he tracks his outlaw half-brother. He resurfaces some sixteen years later in a San Francisco jail cell. Just as an opportunistic journalist came along and inflated the reputation of Jesse James with tales of biographical hokum, a ne’er-do-well scribe named Barrington Weaver proceeds to make hay with Purcell’s life story of obsession, lost love, treachery and revenge. The journalist only requires his protagonist to produce a bang-up ending… 978-1773100296

J is for James
Rick James has provided an authoritative overview of what really happened when B.C. boats ran liquor to the U.S. during Prohibiton Don’t Never Tell Nobody NothinNo How: The Real Story of West Coast Rum Running (Harbour $32.95). “We operated perfectly legal,” said Captain Charles Hudson. “We considered ourselves philanthropists! We supplied good liquor to poor thirsty Americans … and brought prosperity back to the Harbour of Vancouver.” 978-1-55017-841-8 [Author photo by Patrick Lawson]

K is for Kaszas
Before the arrival of Europeans to what is now British Columbia, First Nations tattooed their bodies with clan crests and symbols of identity. Missionaries discouraged this practice and in some areas, carved metal bracelets were used to cover the tattoos. Eventually, bracelets were carved with clan crests and took the place of crest tattoos. In the past few years, a revival of cultural tattooing has been underway as described in Body Language: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest (Bill Reid $28.57), that accompanies the exhibition of the same title at the Bill Reid Gallery, on until January 13, 2019. “The revival of Indigenous tattooing is a process of re-indigenization,” writes co-curator Dion Kaszas, a self-described Hungarian, Métis and Nlaka’pamux cultural tattoo practitioner, scholar, and visual artist. “We are using our traditional tattoo practices in a way that communicates who we are at the core of our beings. When we take on our traditional markings we are resisting colonialism and affirming who we are in a way that makes us visible as Indigenous people to ourselves and to the world.” 978-0-9812341-7-5

Natalie Lim

L is for Lim
Natalie Lim of Vancouver won the 2018 winner of the CBC Poetry Prize for Arrhythmia, selected from more than 2600 works submitted from across the country. As this year’s grand-prize winner, Lim will receive $6000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and her poem will be published on CBC Books. She will also receive a writing residency at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Arrhythmia is available to read at CBCBooks.ca. Lim’s narrator speaks in both English and remnants of her ancestral Cantonese to evoke stories of Chinese labourers on the Canadian Pacific Railway while also presenting a relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter who do not speak the same tongue. The jury was composed of poet Jordan Abel, writer and social worker Kai Cheng Thom and singer and songwriter Ruth B. Lim will soon graduate from the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. Arrhythmia is her first published work.

M is for Maillard
Set in West Vancouver, Keith Maillard’s 14th novel Twin Studies (Freehand $24.95) follows a twin researcher at UBC named Dr. Erica Bauer who meets a set of pre-teen twins, raised by a single mom, who are evidently fraternal, but who urgently insist they are identical. It’s an examination of gender and identity, class and money, and the complicated bonds between twins and siblings, lovers and friends. Maillard was far ahead of his time in 1976 when he published his first novel about gender fluidity, Two Strand River, which also explored the nuances and complications of non-conventional sexual identity. For decades Maillard has taught creative writing at UBC where he worked with such writers as Zsuzsi Gartner, Joan Skogan, Rosalind MacPhee, Allan Wilson, Zoe Landale, Tammy Armstrong, Steve Galloway, Maureen Medved, Eden Robinson, Laisha Rosnau, Madeleine Thien and Lee Henderson. 978-1-988298-31-3

Joyce Nelson

N is for Nelson
In her follow-up to Beyond Bankers in 2016, social critic Joyce Nelson not only exposes the fallacies of the neoliberal  economy, she highlights the inspirational efforts of those who are rallying against it–such as the ongoing Citizens’ Revolution enacted in 2007 by Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno. In Bypassing Dystopia: Hope-Filled Challenges to Corporate Rule (Watershed Sentinel $20),  she cites analyst Wendy Holm who decries how NAFTA has already erased sovereignty issues around water exports. “With respect to trans-boundary movement of water, there are no real ‘decisions’ to be made.” says Holm. “The ship has already sailed.” In essence, if Canada tried to stop bulk water export, it would be subject an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) lawsuit.  Both Holm and Maude Barlow are urging that water “as a good, service or investment” be removed from both NAFTA and the FTA. 978-0-9953286-3-1

onjana yawnghwe

O is Onjana Yawnghwe
As her spouse transitions from perceived masculinity towards a new identity, poet onjana yawnghwe bravely records her own sense of wonder and loss in the small way (Caitlin $18), a remarkably compassionate view of a heart-twisting, dwindling friendship, sated with respect. Born in Thailand, yawnghwe is a Shan-Canadian who grew up in B.C. Her poems have been featured in numerous anthologies and journals, including The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2011, 4 Poets, CV2, Room, Ricepaper, The New Quarterly, Force Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia (Mother Tongue) and Poems from Planet Earth (Leaf Press) edited by Yvonne Blomer and Cynthia Woodman Kerkham. Featuring work by Yawnghwe, Daniela Elza, Peter Morin and Al Rempel, 4 poets (Mother Tongue 2009 $18.95) was the first volume in a proposed series from Mother Tongue to highlight emerging poets. It included poetry drafts, interviews, author photographs, poetics and short biographies as well as translations of select poems into French, Thai, Bulgarian and Tahltan. Onjana Yawnghwe has taught English as a second language, and worked in office administration at non-profits for many years. She currently works as a nurse in mental health. Aside from writing, Onjana also hosted a podcast and blog called “The Alaskan Riviera” about the 1990’s television show Northern Exposure. 978-1-987915-77-8

Andrea Potter

P is for Potter
With the explosion of Kombucha drinks on North American store shelves it was only a matter of time before a guide to brewing the probiotic fermented tea appeared. DIY Kombucha: Sparkling Homebrews Made Easy (New Society $29.99) by Vancouver chef and registered holistic nutritionist Andrea Potter offers practical easy recipes that don’t require expensive equipment or hard-to-find ingredients. Readers will find out what a SCOBY is (basically, it’s the culture used to make Kombucha but there’s a long story behind it), the history and other interesting facts such as how to prevent bottles of fizzy drink from exploding. The book also explores similar health drinks such as Jun, and water Kefir. 978-0-86571-887-6

Q is for Quebec
It was Gordon Campbell’s regime that instructed ICBC to become more litigious when British Columbians try to get compensation as accident victims. Possibly it says something about his popularity, after a decade-long premiership that included the Winter Olympics, that the first critical book to examine his legacy isn’t B.C.-published. From the McGill-Queen’s imprint in Quebec, UNBC professors J.R. Lacharite and Tracy Summerville have gathered 368 pages of critical essays for The Campbell Revolution? Power, Politics and Policy in British Columbia (MQUP $31.46). 9780773551039

R is for Riches
Graham Riches’ Food Banks Nations. Poverty, Corporate Charity and the Right to Food (Earthscan/Routledge $39.95) has been described as a critique of domestic hunger in the rich (OECD) world. Riches outlines the moral vacuum at the centre of neoliberalism “driven by the corporate capture (Big Food/Big Ag) of food charity (US style food banking with Canada’s support) and its false promises of solidarity with the poor.” He presents a human rights counter-narrative to the feeding of ‘left-over’ food to ‘left behind’ people and explores the role of civil society to hold indifferent governments to account. 9781138739758

Buddy Joseph

S is for Salish
The last major book on Salish weaving, by Paula Gustafson, was published in 1980. Since then, Leslie Tupper, recently retired as Curator of Western Ethnology at the Canadian Museum of History, and Janice George (Squamish hereditary chief, Chepximiya Siyam) travelled to many countries to visit museums housing Salish blankets and together developed resources that have helped revive Salish weaving. Janice George and Willard (Buddy) Joseph (Skwetsimltexw), who is also Squamish, come from a long line of Salish weavers, and the two have worked together for many years to revitalize the skills of weaving. When they started in 2004, only one weaver remained in the Squamish community of Squamish. Since then, Janice George and Buddy Joseph have taught over 2,500 weavers. Now Salish Blankets: Robes of Protection and Transformation, Symbols of Wealth by Leslie H. Tepper, Janice George, and Willard Joseph (University of Nebraska Press $40 (U.S.) arrives on the heals of a UBC Museum of Anthropology exhibit of Salish blankets, “Fabric of our Land,” which featured ten blankets from the 1800s loaned from museums around the world, which were displayed along with more than two dozen modern Salish weavings. “The role of George and Joseph has been inspirational,” writes Ormsby Reviewer Liz Hammond-Kaarremaa, “and their contribution to the Salish weaving revival has been incalculable. Along with their technical weaving knowledge, they bring to Salish Blankets a deep understanding of the spiritual and cultural aspects of Salish weaving and Salish blankets.” 9780803296923 VISIT https://bcbooklook.com/2018/12/08/442-salish-blankets-and-weaving/

T is for Ts’elxwéyeqw
Having co-edited a Haig-Brown BC Book Prize-winning atlas in 2001, David M. Schaepe has proceeded to edit the mammoth Being Ts’elxwéyeqw: First Peoples’ Voices and History from the Chilliwack-Fraser Valley, British Columbia (Harbour $94.95) by the Tselxwéyeqw Tribe in which 85 place names are traced and explained. The traditional territory of the Ts’elxwéyeqw First Peoples covers over 95,000 hectares of land in Southwestern B.C., encompassing the entire Chilliwack River Valley. The Chilliwack region gets its name from the Ts’elxwéyeqw tribe. Being Ts’elxwéyeqw portrays the people, artifacts and landscapes that are central to the Ts’elxwéyeqw people, and represents a rich oral record of an aboriginal heritage spanning thousands of years. 978-1-55017-818-0

U is for Ut’akhgit
Smithers arose from a swamp beneath a mountain. Initially the non-indigenous residents of the town in northwestern B.C. largely excluded the surrounding Witsuwit’en population. As a third-generation native of Smithers, who now works as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at Florida State University, Tyler McCreary has orchestrated interviews with more than fifty Witsuwit’en and non-indigenous families for Shared Histories: Witsuwit’en – Settler Relations in Smithers BC 1913 – 1973 (Creekstone $24.95). To celebrate this publication, the community of Witset (formerly Moricetown) and the Liksilyu clan organized a 34 km. Walk to Witset and a feast hosting more than 400 guests (over 50% non-Indigenous). Ut’akhgit Henry Alfred, the last living Witsuwit’en plaintiff in the Delgamuukw – Gisdaywa court case, hosted the feast, attending in spite of illness, and died soon after. “This book is part of a process to acknowledge the historic contributions of Witsuwit’en people to building the town,l” says McCreary, “and the forms of discrimination that they endured.” 978-1-928195-04-7

Peyman Vahabzadeh and picture of himself in the Iranian army.

V is for Vahabzadeh
There is a tendency to think of violence and non-violence as polar opposites, particularly when it comes to revolutionary change and social movements. U of Vic’s Dr. Peyman Vahabzadeh describes these concepts as in a much different way in his new book, Violence and Nonviolence: Conceptual Excursions into Phantom Opposites (U of Toronto Press $37.95). Regarding the way the terms violence and nonviolence are commonly used in discourses today, Vahabzadey quotes Gandhi that one might as well, “try to extract breeze from the hurricane.” Rather than viewing the two concepts as mutually exclusive, Vahabzadeh proposes understanding the relationship between them as concentric, not opposites. Born and raised in Iran, Peyman Vahabzadeh immigrated to Canada in 1989. He earned his PhD in Sociology from Simon Fraser University (2000) and he has taught sociology, political science, CSPT, and humanities at SFU, UVic and Brock University (Ontario). Dr. Vahabzadeh’s lifelong interest is in human (collective) action and social movements. In addition his academic, non-fiction books , Dr. Vahabzadeh has also authored eight books in Persian in poetry, fiction, literary criticism, and memoirs. He has been a regular commentator on Iranian affairs in Canadian media and is an advocate of democratic movements and human rights in Iran and a defender of non-violence and alternative social organizations. His essays, poems, short stories, memoirs, literary criticisms, and interviews have appeared in English, Persian, German, and Kurdish.

Karen Lee White

W is for White
Karen Lee White is a Northern Salish, Tuscarora, Chippewa, and Scots writer from Vancouver Island. She was adopted into the Daklaweidi clan of the Interior Tlingit/Tagish people. In 2017m White was awarded an Indigenous Art Award for Writing by the Hnatyshyn Foundation Her writing has appeared in Exile’s That Damned Beaver: Canadian Humour; Laughs and Gaffes anthology, EXILE/ELQ magazine, the collection of Indigenous Writers Impact, Colonialism in Canada, and other literary journals. She has been commissioned as a playwright by theatres in Vancouver and Victoria, and was commissioned by the Banff Centre to produce a story for the Banff Centre Fables of the 21st Century special edition, released in 2018. Written as a love letter to the Tlingit/Tagish people in the Yukon Territory with whom she trapped, hunted and fished in the 1970s, her fictional work, The Silence (Exile $21.95), includes a CD of original music performed by the author. She says it was inspired by the rugged, unspoiled beauty of the Yukon Territory and “the deep peace found in wild places.” 9781550967944

X is for Xinhuixian
The story of how Wah Lee and his wife, Mon Ho, travelled from Xinhuixian (formerly Sun-wui County) in China to British Columbia in 1917, via the Sun Ning Railway corridor and Hong Kong, begins the family memoir, From Wah Lee to Chew Keen: The Story of a Pioneer Chinese Family in North Cariboo (Friesen Press $17.49), by relative Liping Wong Yip. The couple settled in Quesnel where Wah Lee became known as Chew Keen, and the couple had six children. This important work of B.C. history has been reviewed by Tzu-I Chung in The Ormsby Review. 9781460294307

Patricia Young

Y is for Young
Patricia Young’s latest collection of poems Amateurs at Love (Goose Lane $19.95) explores the dynamics between lovers. To the question of what is love, the BC Book Prize winner for poetry answers: “I think it means a boxcar going off the rails, grain spilling down a gully, fermenting over summer, a bear gorging on that grain, passing out in a field, a bear that could wake any moment, hung-over and thirsty and ready to kill for a drop of water.” Young employs a range of poetic forms, unconventional metaphors, and rich rhythms to describe the many layers of human relationships and joy. She has published twelve previous poetry collections, a book of short fiction, and been chosen for many anthologies. Young has received other accolades including the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, the Confederation Poets Prize and been twice nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry.  978-0-86492-991-4 

Mark Zuehlke

Z is for Zuehlke
As the twelfth installment in Mark Zuehlke’s military history series, The Cinderella Campaign: First Canadian Army and the Battles for the Channel Ports (Douglas & McIntyre $37.95) describes First Canadian Army’s urgent and thankless mission of opening the Channel ports to Allied victory in World War II. They thought of themselves as the “Cinderella Army” and international correspondents agreed. This was because First Canadian Army had been relegated to the left flank of the Allied advance toward Germany from the Normany beaches and given the tough and thankless task of opening the Channel ports from Le Havre to Ostend in Belgium. Then suddenly in September 1944, securing these ports became an Allied priority that would allow Field Marshal Montgomery to drive to the Rhine with Operation Market Garden and win the war before Christmas. Over the month of September, the Canadians set about fighting for control of each port–a terrific undertaking fought against brutal German resistance–and scrambling for supplies while under constant military pressure to get those ports open now. For Canada this was the Cinderella Campaign, the battle for the Channel ports. For those who fought it, the sacrifice of comrades dead and wounded would never be forgotten. The Cinderella Campaign: First Canadian Army and the Battles for the Channel Ports ($37.95) is one of five shortlisted titles for the 2018 John W. Dafoe Book Prize, a $10,000 prize in memory of Canadian editor John Wesley Dafoe. 978-1-77162-089-5

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