A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mark Haddon and His Curious Book Design

Over at Book Lust I read a post that Patricia did for Drawn.ca on Mark Haddon book design, in particular his multiple designs for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which I enjoyed very much.

Today I was in Duthie Books and spotted on the counter a copy of Hadden’s poetry collection. What you can’t tell from the cover image on Amazon is that there is a scroll wheel on the side and you can turn it to reveal little images and the book title in the cutout windows. Unlike The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this book cover is not designed by Haddon, but it is beautiful nonetheless. Congratulations to designer Peter Mendelsund.

The design shows this is clearly book as objet d’art. I fell for it immediately.

There are very few poetry books I’ve ever bought but the ones I have are all little pieces of art.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Anosh Irani’s Bombay

Anosh Irani and Sheryl MacKayThis afternoon I attended a recording for the CBC Studio One Book Club. The guest author this week was Anosh Irani [seen in the photo with Sheryl MacKay in CBC Studio One]. Anosh published his first novel with Raincoast Books, The Cripple and His Talismans.

I was completely hooked on his writing the first time I read the novel, then I happened to get tickets to his play The Matka King, which was put on by the Arts Club Theatre in Vancouver. What impresses me about Anosh is his ear for dialogue. The dialogue in his novels is especially engaging. It is witty and sarcastic and there’s a beautiful flow between the narrative and the dialogue. It’s not like some books where the dialogue seems completely structured.

Reading The Cripple and HIs Talismans was like reading an Indian Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A sense of doom hangs in the story, but it is mixed with strangely magical moments. There are passages in the book that are still vivid in my imagination. Magical realism from Bombay.

Anosh mentioned in the book club today that his new book is more realistic whereas The Cripple was more surreal. In an interview with John Burns in The Georgia Straight Anosh said that he’s looking to create a series of stories about Bombay that each reveal a different side to the city.

It was certainly clear today listening to Anosh speak about his childhood, his parents, moving to Vancouver and his writing, that there are many more stories to come. This is one author who is definitely on my radar. His new play, Bombay Black, is being produced in Toronto by Cahoots Theatre. If you have the chance to go, please let me know how it is. I’m hoping that the Arts Club puts it on here in Vancouver.

More about Anosh Irani’s The Song of Kahunsha
The Song of Kahunsha is set in Bombay in 1993 at the time of the violent clashes between the Muslims and Hindus. Ten-year-old Chamdi has left his orphanage for the streets of Bombay. He’s searching for his long-lost father and has no hope in hell of finding him, yet he is a boy filled with hope. The novel is his struggle with his new friendships, the enemies on the street and his own dreams. You can read the reviews and descriptions on Amazon.ca.

Also check out The Cripple and His Talismans. A fantastic read. And if you find it in hardcover, the design is beautiful. It is red cloth over board with embossed symbols on the cover.

More about CBC Studio One Book Club
Always enjoyable to see how the radio works. You can be an audience member by entering the CBC online contests to win a seat. Usually you have to write a snippet on why you want to attend. May 7 is David Suzuki. Watch for details on http://www.cbc.ca/bc/bookclub/. The book club is hosted by Sheryl MacKay of CBC Radio and John Burns of the Georgia Straight, and is recorded for broadcast on North by Northwest and other CBC Radio programs. Anosh’s recording should be on next weekend.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Boris the Bunny

Magpie and Cake blogged recently about the The Essence of Rabbit. I’m a particular fan of the cartoon bunny. In fact my pet name for my mom is Rabbit.

No other living creature features as heavily in contemporary character design and art as the humble hare. But what exactly makes bunnies so irresistible to artists, designers and illustrators worldwide? Depending on the viewersí cultural context rabbits can symbolise anything from insanity, alertness, defencelessness, all the way to promiscuity, magic powers and utter innocence. By condensing the endless variations of the rabbit motif into one ultimate system - a perfect bunny mandala - the true nature of the beast emerges: the eternal essence of rabbit.

Over 1,500 bunnies.

Here’s the close up shot of the bunny wallpaper design.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

CBC Words At Large

CBC has a subsection on their website, CBC.ca/wordsatlarge. I discovered it in the intro section of my daily headlines email. I like receiving the CBC Headlines email because sometimes I miss the morning news on the radio.

The subsite has some interesting content on literacy, bestsellers and a blog. But there doesn’t appear to be a RSS feed for the blog so perhaps it’s just labelled a blog. I read almost everything in a RSS Reader so it’s unlikely that this subsection will be a regular visit for me. What about you? How do you read blogs: visiting the actual blog pages or reading things in a Reader?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature

Bud Parr, of MetaxuCafe, sent me an email about an exciting week long writing series they are doing about the Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature. There’s a write-up on the Orhan Pamuk and Margaret Atwood event. Orhan is a famous Turkish author. He was in my Lonely Planet, which I read extensively last September when James and I were travelling about Greece and Turkey.

Here’s the link to the MetaxuCafe post. Photos included.

More details from Parr: “In conjunction with the Words Without Borders blog, MetaxuCafe will be covering over 30 events this week and posting at MetaxuCafe and other places around the Web.”

Check it out at:

Camilla Gibb wins Trillium Book Award

Congratulations to Toronto’s Camilla Gibb, who won the 2006 Trillium Book Award for Sweetness in the Belly published by Doubleday Canada. The Trillium Book Award honours books written by Ontario authors, and the prize is $20,000. Not a bad prize amount.

Click for what Amazon.ca says about the book.

My friend’s book club read it and enjoyed it very much, but I haven’t read it yet. I know it is a haunting novel set in Ethiopia. Anyone read it?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Joy of Words

Tonight in Vancouver.

[From a press release]

What: The Joy of Words, An Evening of Readings and Music with Award-Winning Canadian Author Joy Kogawa
When: Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Time: 7:30 to 9:00 pm
Where: Christ Church Cathedral, 690 Burrard Street, Vancouver
Price: Admission by donation

Kogawa will read from her first novel, Obasan, recently re-released as a Penguin Classic. Along with Joy, special celebrity guests, including well-loved actors Joy Coghill, Doris Chilcott, and Bill Dow, along with CBC Radio One host Sheryl McKay and other special guests, will read favourite selections from BC prose and poetry. Japanese Canadian actors Minami Hara, Hiro Kanagawa and Maiko Yamamoto will read from the libretto for Naomi’s Road, the opera based on Joy Kogawa’s children’s novel. Jazz gospel singer Leore Cashe will also perform.

The event is a fundraiser to save Kogawa’s childhood home. The owner of the property has given TLC and the Save Kogawa House committee only until April 30 to fundraise the $700,000 needed to purchase the house. So far, more than $220,500 has been raised from 384 donors around the world.

TLC wants to save the house as a cultural landmark for all Canadians. Once protected, the house will be a used as a writing retreat, enabling new writers to create works focusing on human rights issues. It will also be open for public and school tours to educate people about the Japanese Canadian experience during World War II. For more information visit http://www.conservancy.bc.ca

Monday, April 24, 2006

Tap Talk: Legends of Canadian Tap Dance

The West Coast Tap Dance Collective and the Arts & History Division of the Vancouver Central Library are co-hosting a 1-hour presentation on the legends of Canadian Tap Dance.

Details: Saturday, May 27 at 3:00 in the Alice McKay room, Vancouver Central Library—350 W. Georgia.

This hour-long presentation on Canadian Tap Dance includes lecture, video and live performance. It highlights the careers of 3 legends in Canadian tap dance: Heather Cornell, William Orlowski and Dr. Jeni LeGon. Information about the local Vancouver tap scene will be shared and audience members will be treated to a live performance by Vancouverís Urban Tap Squad.

I have had the pleasure of taking classes with Heather Cornell and Jeni LeGon. They are certainly living legends.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

BC Book & Magazine Week

Hey it’s BC Book and Magazine Week. I’ve missed out on some of the events, but there are still some things going on. Check out the events page at www.bcbookandmagainzeweek.com.

Last year I went on the literary tour, which was fantastic. Lit Tour post from last year.

Here are the details for this year’s Literary Tour

Hosts: Michael V. Smith & Billeh Nickerson
Date: Thursday, April 27, 2006
Time: 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Location: Main Street, various venues

The art swarm for literary buffs! For one night only, book and magazine publishers will host a series of launches and readings (with staggered starting times) at venues on and around Vancouver’s hip Main Street. Hosted by the dynamic duo, Michael V. Smith and Billeh Nickerson, the evening will consist of two tours, uniting for a finale presentation at the Western Front. The entire group is then invited to Shine night club downtown for more literary revelry. With fresh and energetic new poets and long-time literary scenesters, it promises to be a night to remember. Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to register for your preferred tour.

Shortlist Announced for BC Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

The shortlist for the second annual BC Award for Canadian Non-Fiction was announced by Premier Gordon Campbell and Keith Mitchell, Chair of the BC Achievement Foundation.

The finalists for the $25,000 prize are Rebecca Godfrey for Under the Bridge, J.B. MacKinnon for Dead Man in Paradise, John Terpstra for The Boys, or Waiting for the Electrician’s Daughter, and John Vaillant for The Golden Spruce.

More on the books is available at http://www.bcachievement.com/nonfiction/index.html

The winner will be announced in Vancouver on May 26th.

The BC Award for Canadian Non-Fiction is a national initiative of the BC Achievement Foundation, an independent foundation established in 2003 by the
Province of BC to celebrate excellence in the arts, humanities and community service.

The finalists:
Rebecca Godfrey for Under the Bridge (HarperCollins)
Rebecca Godfrey reconstructs the circumstances of the murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk, the unravelling of the secret of it, and the trial and its aftermath.

J.B. MacKinnon for Dead Man in Paradise (Douglas & McIntyre)
In Dead Man in Paradise, J.B. MacKinnon sets out to uncover the truth about the killing of an uncle he never knew, a Canadian Catholic priest, 40 years earlier in the Dominican Republic.

John Terpstra for The Boys, or Waiting for the Electricianís Daughter (Gaspereau Press)
A personal account of the short lives of his three young brothers-in-law, who each struggled with the gradual but relentless physical deterioration brought on by muscular dystrophy.

John Vaillant for The Golden Spruce (Knopf Canada)
The Golden Spruce makes a profound statement about manís conflicted relationship with the wilderness.

USS Midway

The IslandI was in San Diego last week and toured the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier.

San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum website

The USS Midway was in service for 47 years. It was commissioned in 1945 and served as a flagship in Desert Storm in 1991. Apparently no other carrier has served as long.

Initially I was skeptical. I didn’t really want to tour an aircraft carrier, but then I listened to a radio documentary in Tod Maffin’s workshop. The documentary was “Somewhere in the Arabian Sea” from This American Life. You can listen to it online by searching the site for “arabian”. The documentary is about life aboard the USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea. The bombing missions and military aspect of aircraft carriers are still not interesting to me, but the people who live onboard are. And, the stats are certainly interesting.

There’s 2,000 feet of anchor chain aboard the USS Midway.
Each chain link weighs 130 pounds.
Anchors weigh 20 tons each.
The Midway is 1,001 feet long: 3+ football fields
The flight deck is 4.02 acres.
The catapult power is 0 to 170 mph in 3 seconds or less.

(An aircraft carrier does not have the space that an airport does, i.e., no runway. In order to get the planes airborn they are launched or catapulted into the air—0 to 170 mph in 3 seconds.)

The landing area within arresting wires is equal to the size of a tennis court.

(This means the planes must land within an area the size of a tennis court. They also must hook one of three cables or arresting wires. The cables stretch up to 273 feet. The plane must stop by then otherwise it crashes. One vet I talked to, Bob, said that stress tests have shown landing on an aircraft carrier at night is more stressful than surprise attack. Bob had 1243 launches. He said you want to have equal number of landings. He did.)

The flight deck is 50 feet off the water.
The aircraft carrier draws a 35-foot draft under water.
4,300 crew worked to support 200 aviators: approx. 750 men/women in engineering; 225 cooks.

I toured the hangar deck with the berthing spaces, where they slept, and then went up the Island, which is like the air traffic control tower. I missed the second deck with the mess, food galley, sick bay and post office. According to someone who did visit that area, it is impressive.

10 tons of food per day
13,500 meals a day
10,500 cups of coffee at a time
4,500 pounds of beef per meal when served
3,000 pounds of potatoes per day
1,000 loaves of bread a day
650 pies when served

The aircraft carrier weighs 70,000 tons. I wonder if that is before or after a meal. Regardless, it was all rather interesting.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Publishing Tidbits

Here’s my round-up of publishing tidbits:

SFU’s Master of Publishing program has launched the new version of Thinkubator. The site is aimed at those in publishing and newbies. I’ve never been a dedicated reader, nevertheless, I did read an interesting post on web fonts.  Some web 2.0 developers have found a way to dynamically render any font for the web.

Bruce Walsh, formerly of M&S, has joined Atwood’s Unotchit team as vice-president of marketing. Bruce is a very clever guy and I’m glad that he’s still in some aspect part of the publishing world. Bruce got me hooked on the M&S 100 Readers Club, which I truly hope continues despite his departure from M&S.

And, if I wasn’t hanging out in San Diego, I’d show you the totally awesome bookplate that my internet buddy Patricia of BookLust has sent me. It is most beautiful. I adore her cartoons.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Desk Potato Diet

This might be treading into “sandwich blog” territory, you know, the type of blog that posts the minutia of someone’s day. I ate this, I went there, I did that ... but I need to have a little sandwich moment.

Yesterday I went for lunch. I walked to a little restaurant nearby. It was awesome. Awesome because the food was good and I was actually away from my desk. I spend more time at my desk than I do sleeping at night. I know this is wrong. My sore back and bottom tell me it is wrong. Yet I toil away.

Luckily, care of Lue, I have discovered a nutritional plan to suit my daily grind.

As a Desk Potato, you have specialized nutritional requirements. Although modern wisdom is that variety is the key to good nutrition, the Desk Potato prefers the traditional method of categorizing foods into Food Groups, and recommending that you maintain a pseudo-random distribution of samples from each of the major groups.

The Desk Potato Food Guide goes on to discuss the essential food groups of caffeine, take-out, empty calories, gummys and chocolate.

Chocolate is described as the “cross-over food between the sugars and the caffeines, yet soooo much more!” And I’ve also just learned that “gummy technology is a highly evolved food form, replacing the older, ‘sugar’ group.” How can you not love the gummy? “The gummy group includes not just Gummy Bears, but also such varieties as gummy colas, sour keys, sour peaches, floral gums, wine gums.” I enjoy the blue whale, the Swedish berry, orange sections, strawberries and licorice: black nibs and red twizzlers.

Are you a desk potato? Take the test. It’s a little outdated but swap Netscape for Firefox and you’ll do just fine.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Testing testing 1-2-3

I’m removing the index.php from my site and although I’ve followed the directions, I don’t truly believe everything won’t explore. This is a test. Not to panic.

On a side note, I was discussing computer crashes with a colleague and we were laughing about the fact that people expect computers to act goofy. To do things that we don’t understand. Anyone who has called support or an IT person has internalized the following, “have you tried shutting off and restarting the computer.”

This magical act of shutting down works in most cases. At minimum, it eleviates the desire to throw the computer from a second-storey window, and while you’re calming down, something magical is happening in computerland to make everything dippity-do again. I work on a Mac so when the smiley face guy re-appears, my smiley face appears.

Now we were laughing because this restart-behaviour is par for the course with a desktop computer, but what about other big computers? If something goes wrong with our car, we don’t pull over, shut it off, hop out, lock it up, wait a few seconds then start it up again. That would be ridiculous.

Ah, but with the small Mac mini that controls my life ... I wait by its side, cooing softly to it, and building a small catapult. I’m led to believe that it is a memory problem, as in not enough, that is causing my angst. I’ll add some decorative features to the catapult while I wait for that theory to be proven or rebuked.

Now let’s see if that index.php thing is still around. I hope not because I can no longer see the hidden .htaccess file on my desktop.

The Shebeen Club presents ...

The Shebeen Club is a Vancouver’s literary meet-up group. Each event is organized around a theme. I enjoyed attending these events, however, I have been unable to attend since August due to conflicting schedules. I’d love to attend this month’s event but yet again I am out of town. What sad twist of fate is this?

Here’s what I said about the Shebeen as I headed out the door for the last event I attended:

07/20/05 Link to original post

Iím off now to Shebeen for a Hemingway evening. Shebeen is a Vancouver whiskey bar, accessible from the Irish Heather. It is only open for private functions, and for those willing to creep out the back door of the Irish Heather into Blood Alley.

In the early days of Vancouver, Blood Alley was the location for a number of butcher shops. Public executions were also held in Blood Alley Square. Your choice on the roots of the name.

Speaking of doors, you go through the alley and look for the red door. Unmarked ...

The Hemingway event was fantastic. Each meet-up has a literary theme that extends to the special drink and food item on offer.

So if you are in Vancouver on the 18th, attend the Shebeen Club’s Crime Night. Here are the details

Who: The Shebeen Club presents Jeremy Hainsworth, crime reporter extraordinaire
What: My Life in Crime!
When: 7-9pm Tuesday, April 18th, 2006 (3rd Tuesday each month)
Where: The Shebeen, behind the Irish Heather, 217 Carrall
Why: Voyeurism runs deep, baby! Find out what it really takes to do this job. It’s not all fedoras and dive bars.
How much: $20 before April 14th, $25 thereafter
Paid to: Reservations and media inquiries: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Admission includes a criminally good dinner/drink combo!

The skinny:
Putting the “laughter” in “manslaughter.” With patented black humour, Jeremy will lead us down the dark and twisted alleys of a crime reporter’s life. From paperwork to prison visits, we’ll become one with the sordid underbelly of Vancouver. It’s Blood Alley, so we’re halfway there! Jeremy will also be discussing (and bringing a copy of) the publication ban on the Pickton trial. Dress: Clark Kent, Lois Lane, or Raymond Chandler. Ann Rule doesn’t know how to dress!

Bio: Jeremy Hainsworth is one of a handful of journalists writing for the international media from Vancouver. As B.C correspondent for the AP, he has had the dubious honour of covering the ongoing hearings of alleged serial killer Robert Pickton and the Air India terrorism case. He has freelanced for Reuters, was senior crime reporter for The Calgary Herald, senior editor of Sterling News Service (his office was below that of Conrad Black’s partner David Radler), and managing editor of the Dawson Creek daily paper where he covered his first murder from seeing the body to the release of the convicted youths. He has a diploma in journalism from Langara and a BA from UBC. His work has appeared in many of the world’s major newspapers on every continent except Antarctica where penguins cannot read.

Meet & Mingle from 7-7:30
Listen & Learn from 7:30-8
Wistful reminiscences of hookers with hearts of gold from 8-9