A Rainbow of Literary Events

WorldPride 2014 Toronto is just around the corner, and it’s already shaping up to be one of the biggest international events of our times. Everyone knows about the parades and parties that are happening next week, and those events are a great way to celebrate Pride Week, but there are also plenty of literary events happening in the city that you should consider checking out.

Toronto Public Libraries all over the city are opening their doors to authors, singers, comedians, and drag performers, showcasing thought-provoking discussions on the history and ongoing struggles of LGBTQ people for full equality and rights.  

Glad Day Bookshop, the first Canadian and longest surviving lesbian and gay bookstore worldwide, is hosting a number of events featuring over 100 writers & performers from June 20th – June 30th. 

Check out some of the LGBTQ literary events happening around our city during World Pride!

50 Years of Toronto Pride
Tues Jun 24th
7:00 p.m.
Toronto Reference, Atrium

Hugh Brewster, part of the Body Politic collective and one of the organizers of the first Gay Pride Parade in 1972, moderates a panel of gay activists past and present.

The Science of Gaydar: Making Sense of Sexual Orientation from Limited Perceptual Cues
Wed Jun 25th
7:00 p.m.
Bloor/Gladstone

Does “Gaydar” really exist? University of Toronto’s Dr. Nicholas Rule looks at how people form snap judgements about a person’s sexual orientation, and the real-world consequences of those judgements.

Two-Spirited People in Indigenous Societies
Thur Jun 26th
7:00 p.m.
Spadina Road

Jessica Danforth from the Native Youth Sexual Health Network speaks about Two-Spirited people in First Nations communities.

Fiction With Friction
Sun Jun 29th
11:00 a.m.
Glad Day Bookshop

Join local and internation gay novelists with a reading and Q&A. This is an official Proud Voices, World Pride event! Featuring Jeffrey Round, Michael Rowe, and O’Brien Dennis.

For more events go to www.gladdaybookshop.com, www.torontopubliclibrary.ca, and www.worldpridetoronto.com 

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WorldPride Comes to Toronto

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The month of June has been designated LGBT Pride Month (or LGBTTIQQ2SA Pride Month, if you care to use the fully inclusive abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirited, and Allies) in honour of the Stonewall Riots which occurred in New York City in 1969. Since then Pride Celebrations have taken place celebrating the history, courage, diversity, and future of LGBTTIQQ2SA communities worldwide. From June 20-29, 2014 Pride Toronto welcomes the WorldPride Human Rights Conference to our city, marking the first time the event will be held in North America.

Pride Toronto began in the early 1970s with its Gay Days Picnics and became an annual event in 1981 with the first Pride Day being officially proclaimed by City Council in 1991. Since then the organization has promoted activism, education, and culture of global LGBTTIQQ2SA communities, assisting in making Toronto one of the world’s most progressive and liveable cities. Toronto’s two gay villages each boast terrific nightlife, cutting edge queer theatre, and funky restaurants. The Church Wellesley Village is home of the ground-breaking inclusive community centre The 519 which has over 80 community-led social, recreational, arts, and cultural programs including the youth writing program Pink Ink and OUTwrites, a space for queer writers and literature workshops for queer participants.

Aside from WorldPride featuring spoken word events, singer-songwriters, drag artists, dance, and burlesque performances across 10 open air stages, the youth programs Fruit Loopz and Black Queer Youth and the family friendly zone Family Pride will provide entertainment for visitors of all ages. The Pride Festival has also partnered with Toronto’s galleries and museums for a diverse cultural program to support the WorldPride Human Rights Conference taking place from June 25 to 27 at the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. The festival’s Opening Ceremony is June 20 followed by nine days of events including the Trans March and Dyke March on June 27 and 28 and the Annual Pride Parade on June 29. A free street-fair and Arts and Culture Festival will also take place from June 27-29.

In a city whose LGBTTIQQ2SA population is estimated to be around 10% – making it one of the largest gay communities in North America – it is no surprise that Toronto is such a “creative, dynamic, connected, and welcoming” place (to quote The Village’s website). WorldPride 2014 will likely put the city and Canada as a whole on the map as a leader in acceptance, equality, and human rights and is sure to be the can’t-miss cultural event of the summer.

For more information visit worldpridetoronto.com.
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Rough Paradise by Alec Butler

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In a society where gender is often still considered a binary divide, people identifying themselves by unique definitions often fall through the cracks. Enter Terry Tomey, protagonist of Rough Paradise, who is an intersex teen born as Theresa but longing to legally change his name to Terence and live as a man. The novella tells Terry’s story of growing up in the 1970s in a conservative, working class community where being different leads to incarceration at “the Butterscotch Palace”, a mental institution far less pleasant than its whimsical name suggests. Though Terry knows he is meant to be a boy, his attempts to live truthfully are constantly frustrated by a closed-minded community that chooses to ostracize rather than understand diversity.

From a young age Terry’s tomboy behavior is encouraged by his steelworker father, but once puberty hits and Terry begins experimenting with his sexual desires towards girls, the community’s reaction is devastating to the sensitive boy. Terry’s parents send him to a girls-only school, force him to wear dresses, and make him see a psychologist intent on “aversion therapy”. Terry’s only friends are his adopted stray cat Pussy and Darla, a girl whose own father regularly pimps her out to customers behind his dive bar. The two form an unlikely bond as best friends, confidantes, lovers, and the only support system each other has.

This edgy novella lives up to its name as it describes Terry’s struggles to fit in at home and with his peers. When his blossoming relationship with Darla culminates in several intense erotic encounters, Terry experiences pleasure but also confusion and shame at his body, a universal experience of adolescence magnified further by the humiliation imposed on Terry by his parents and doctor. Terry’s journey to self-acceptance takes on a noble quality as he survives trials tantamount to a contemporary Hercules, and the narrative is infused with First Nations and Greek mythology of two-spirited or two-sexed oracles in an examination of contemporary attitudes to gender and sexuality.

If you’re seeking an edgy, challenging read told from a perspective you’ve likely never considered, Rough Paradise is an excellent place to start. Informative, entertaining, and highly relatable despite its exceptional subject matter, Rough Paradise manages to cut to the core of the adolescent experience while addressing important social issues.

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May Book Launch

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Last Wednesday, May 28 Quattro Books had our second Spring 2014 Book Launch at District Oven in Toronto’s Little Italy. Over fifty literature enthusiasts including supportive friends, family, and fellow writers gathered to hear readings from first time novella-ists Alec Butler and Robert Shoub as well as a reading from poet Phlip Arima.

The evening began with an introduction from Quattro’s Luciano Iacobelli about the novella as an ideal outlet for interesting new perspectives and peculiar narratives. Alec Butler then read from his compelling first novella Rough Paradise about an Intersex teen struggling with self-discovery in a conservative small town. Butler claimed his novella was “a bitch to write” but that he is eager to continue working in the challenging format.

Robert Shoub followed Butler with a reading from his novella Look at Me, a bold and blunt satire about technology, violence, and the struggle of many contemporary youth with masculine identity. While introducing this highly topical book, Shoub reminded the audience of the recent horrific events in California with two haunting words: “Elliot Rodgers”.

Finally, Toronto poet Phlip Arima took the stage for a reading from his newest collection Pin Pricks, a work of “short, pithy, aphoristic” poems in the words of Quattro’s Allan Briesmaster. Arima’s unconventional poems had the audience both chuckling and pondering big issues as he outlined the expected reaction of a reader as: “Aw, that’s going to disturb the rest of my day.” The night, however, was enhanced rather than ruined by Arima’s spirited reading, and the small reception after was the perfect conclusion to an exciting night.

Quattro Books would like to thank its May authors for contributing to a successful evening of poetry and fiction as well as other Quattro Authors who came along to support the press on this special occasion. Thank you to the fantastic staff at District Oven and to everyone who assisted in making this event a success!

We look forward to seeing you at future Quattro events!

Be sure to visit our Facebook page to view photos from our Second Spring 2014 Launch. 

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Rough Paradise by Alec Butler

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As a preview of our Second Spring Launch, Quattro would like to share an excerpt from Rough Paradise by Alec Butler.

The first day I met Darla and spoke to her, I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. I was not having any luck lying low and I stuck out like a sore thumb wherever I went. I was trying to save a starving cat that was hanging out in the school parking lot. I watched Darla as she put on her red lipstick in the side-view mirror of a souped- up Duster. The older boys meowed obscenely at me, and called me “Pussy Boy.”

“Look at what the freak is doing now,” they jeered at me, half-drunk before first period. “It wants to be a boy so bad but it will only ever be a boy with a pussy, right? A Pussy Boy!” They all cracked up at the joke made at my expense.

Pussy is the beautiful calico cat I was trying to save that day. Pussy finally came out from under the cars that morning before first period. I was down on my hands and knees on the parking lot asphalt calling out “Here, pussy. Here, pussy” over and over. I was determined to save her. This is why they call me “Pussy Boy” wherever I go now. It was also the first time I spoke to Darla. It was the first time Darla spoke to me.

“Give that poor, starving pussy some food,” were Darla’s first words to me.

Because of Darla, the starving cat finally let me feed her some of my tuna sandwich and pet her. I will never forget Pussy arching her back into my hand, purring as I looked up at Darla as she put away her lipstick. Now, Pussy lives with me, here in my room. Sleeps on my bed. Purrs and purrs for hours beside me while I’m reading and writing this. I love my pussycat. It will be impossible saying goodbye to her. The day I reach my limit and can’t stand this so-called paradise anymore, I will find a way to take Pussy with me.

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Don’t miss the launch of this and other exciting Quattro Books titles at our Second Spring Launch on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at District Oven, beginning at 7:30 pm. Visit the Events section of our website for more information.

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Because I Could Not Wait For Death

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In the past month, the literary community bid farewell to three authors who produced a lifetime of critically acclaimed and universally recognized work. First Columbian novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, and journalist Gabriel Garćia Márquez died at the age of 87, followed within three days by Canadian novelist, short story writer, and academic Alistair MacLeod at 77 years. Then on May 6, 2014 Canadian author/environmentalist Farley Mowat passed away at the age of 92. Garćia Márquez and MacLeod each received dozens of literary awards in their lifetimes – including a Nobel Prize for Literature for Garćia Márquez. Mowat also left a legacy decorated with Canadian literary awards and a ship named in his honour.

Gabriel Garćia Márquez is best known for his novels 100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.  Despite being born and raised in an isolated Columbian town and struggling financially during his early adulthood, Garćia Márquez’s talent allowed him to triumph over his difficult situation to become one of the most respected writers of the Twentieth Century.  His writing served as an influence for great contemporary writers such as Salman Rushdie, Isabel Allende, and Canada’s own Michael Crummey.

Alistair MacLeod, whose 1999 novel No Great Mischief has been called Atlantic Canada’s greatest book of all time, taught English and Creative Writing for over three decades at the University of Windsor, and his short stories and novel influenced countless writers across the world. MacLeod was known for being a perfectionist, and his eye for detail shows through in his work. Canadian poet Lorna Crozier said of MacLeod following his passing, “Did anyone look into the face of suffering with such a clear eye and with such a faith, finally and at great cost, in human decency?”

Farley Mowat achieved fame with books chronicling life in the Canadian North and his advocacy for environmental causes. His 1956 novel Lost in the Barrens won a Governor General’s Award, and he published more than thirty other books in his lifetime which have sold over 15 million copies – more than any other Canadian author. Fellow environmentalist David Suzuki said Mowat “drew his passion and inspiration from Canada’s natural beauty and the original people who inhabited it, elements that are a big part of our identity.”

An outpouring of public tributes combining grief and admiration were seen for these writers, demonstrating the immense impact their words have had on the world. Though they may not have lived the type of fast-paced, anxiety-riddled writerly existence glamourize in film and popular fiction, these gentlemen of words prove that longevity and commitment to craft are the true marks of an artist. As Garćia Márquez himself said, “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

The youthful exuberance – and wise knowledge – in the writings of Garćia Márquez, Mowat, and MacLeod will allow them to live on, as masters of the written word and purveyors of timeless tales.

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Review: Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table by Peter O’Brien

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Did you know that Latin has shaped sixty percent of all English words? Or that today there are over 800 million native speakers worldwide of Romantic languages derived from Latin? Neither did I until I had the pleasure of reading Peter O’Brien’s clever and enlightening Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table: Why I Studied Latin with My Teenager and How I Discovered the Daughterland. These are just a few of the many facts about the Latin language and its continued influence that can be found in this delightful treatise on communication in the modern age.

Cleopatra begins with a single father setting out to connect with his teenaged daughter, injecting himself into her daily life by undertaking the study of Latin, one of her tenth grade electives. “The horror!” a chorus of dismayed and scandalized teenagers cries, but despite O’Brien’s fears of becoming known as the lame imposing dad, his interest in studying the ancient language for his own purposes – finally reading classic authors such as Plato and Ovid, challenging his “hard and crusty” gray matter with the pursuit of new knowledge – combined with the touching anecdotes he shares of growing as a parent alongside his daughter make for an endearing tale of family connection.

The book is peppered with interesting facts about ancient cultures and stories about the father/daughter relationship throughout history, and O’Brien discusses with refreshing openness topics both mundane and sometimes uncomfortable to address between parent and child. His reflections on the development of language and new communication technologies are timely as public debates continue relating to youth’s exposure to technology and its connection to juvenile delinquency.

Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table uses classical examples to demonstrate that parents have always been concerned about the degeneracy of youth when, in fact, the kids seem to be doing alright. By injecting snippets of Latin grammar, images from classical art and sculpture, and comparisons between the unknowable languages of Greek and codespeak, Cleopatra becomes so much more than a mere history or language lesson.

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Pin Pricks by Phlip Arima

As a preview of our Second Spring Launch, Quattro would like to share an excerpt from Pin Pricks by Phlip Arima.

Pin Prick 1

As each illusion fades
I know less than I thought
and am more than I was.

Pin Prick 7

Normal is a measure
not a goal.

Pin Prick 50

Superstars are a poor substitute
for heroes.

Pin Prick 73

A seed gets trapped
In pavement crack.

A tender sprout
reaches for the sun.

Mighty roots
shift man-made stone.

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Don’t miss the launch of this and other exciting Quattro Books titles at our Second Spring Launch on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at District Oven, beginning at 7:30 pm. Visit the Events section of our website for more information.

 

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Look at Me by Robert Shoub

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As a preview of our Second Spring Launch, Quattro would like to share an excerpt from Look at Me by Robert Shoub.

So, my happy family. My mom – her name’s Lauren – works as an upscale real estate agent – only handles properties over a mil. Lots of those. She also flips a lot of properties herself – buys them, gets her crew to work them over for a month or two, then resells them for more. Way more. I’ve gone with her to a few open houses, just to check out some killer cribs. Actually, she likes it when I go with her, because she sometimes gets spooked – she tells me that there’s a lot of violent crime in showing upscale houses – she’s heard of some real estate agents being held up, or even raped. She carries mace and a small caliber gun – I think a .32. Anyways, I’ve seen some really cool places. There was one with an indoor lap pool – you just swim and stay in one place with this current flowing past you, and an outdoor infinity pool, where the water goes right to the edge at one end, so you’re lying in it and just staring off like it’s the ocean, never ending. Plus it had a fully equipped digital front projection theatre with a twenty-foot screen, popcorn machine, the whole place wired for sound with hidden speakers, sauna wired for audio, heated garage, wine cellar – man, why would anybody sell that? I’d never leave a place like that. Goodbye world, see you later. What else do you need?

It was kind of spooky walking around other people’s homes. I’d always take a little something, just a tiny piece from the place. I don’t know why. Maybe just because I could. It just felt kind of cool. So, anyways, now I have this drawer filled with ashtrays and cutlery and fridge magnets and shells and pens and even a few photos. Sometimes I make up little stories in my mind about all these people. What their lives were like.

I went with my mom to one house that was done in this real clean way, all granite and glass, everything grey and shiny. Metal and stone. Very classy. Very cool. Kind of like our place. In one room they actually had a tree, like a huge tree trunk going from the floor to the ceiling, with branches and everything – no leaves though. Get this – it was coated in plastic sealant. My mom told me that they’d injected the tree with a plastic chemical to totally seal it up. It had little photos in plastic sleeves hanging from the branches – I took one. I called this thing the Tree of Wishes and made up a story about how the tree had magic in it, how in ancient times people would come to make wishes for their future and leave things in a hole in the trunk. The people who lived in this house had heard about this. When they bought the property they decided to put the tree inside their house, and preserve it forever, and the photos were their way of making their wishes. But the gods were angry at them for cutting the tree down, so the whole family died in a fiery car accident … or something like that. Anyway, writing stories hasn’t helped me out too much, as you’ll soon see. I wish I could re-write my life story, but I guess I wasn’t really the only author of that one. I wonder who’ll write the movie version?

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Don’t miss the launch of this and other exciting Quattro Books titles at our Second Spring Launch on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at District Oven, beginning at 7:30 pm. Visit the Events section of our website for more information.

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April Book Launch

Peter O'Brien

Last Thursday, April 24 Quattro Books had our first Spring 2014 Book Launch at Supermarket Restaurant in Kensington Market. The event had a fantastic turnout with nearly one hundred literature enthusiasts gathering to hear readings from poet Christopher Levenson and authors Carmela Circelli and Peter O’Brien, as well as being treated to an interview with George Fetherling.

The evening opened with a fond farewell to one of Quattro Books’ founding members: John Calabro who has moved on to new and exciting opportunities with the Toronto International Book Fair. John played a huge part in the press’s success, and he will truly be missed.

Next our Quattro authors took to the stage with Christopher Levenson treating the audience to a selection of poems from his new collection Night Vision. 

George Fetherling then sat down with Cary Fagan and Bruce Whiteman to discuss the reissue of his memoir Travels by Night, regaling the audience with anecdotes and reminding us that “everybody has to come from somewhere”.

Next Carmela Circelli read from her introduction to Sweet Nothing, a work of “intellectual activism”  encouraging readers to become more mindful of the state of Being.

Finally, Peter O’Brien shared several segments from Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table, a book that is equal parts intellectually stimulating and amusing.

Quattro Books would like to thank its April authors for contributing to a successful evening of poetry and literary non-fiction as well as other Quattro Authors who came along to support the press on this special occasion. Thank you to everyone who came down to Supermarket and assisted in making this event a success!

We look forward to seeing you at our next launch on May 28th, 2014!

Be sure to visit our Facebook page to view photos from our First Spring 2014 Launch. 

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Sweet Nothing by Carmela Circelli

As a preview of our First Spring Launch, Quattro would like to share an excerpt from Sweet Nothing by Carmela Circelli.

excerpt from Chapter 2: SPRING, AIR AND MIND

Despite my commitment to the task of recovering the importance of darkness, I am as delighted as anyone when the light returns to defeat the dark at the spring equinox. Briefly, they are equal partners; but then, the light stretches its long arms and pushes back the dark. Naturally, I follow, shedding my winter clothing and stretching more freely with the extending days. The city streets and parks fill up with people walking, running, playing, throwing frisbees, kicking balls, happy dogs scampering after them. Lolling on grassy slopes, I join the human throng, longing in sympathy with the blazing yellow forsythia and the ruby red tulips, rising with shocking beauty and confidence from the warming earth. We witness this renewal and rebirth with hope and expectation, our bodies responding to the earth’s glad tidings with its own need for openness and rebirth. Spring at last.

According to ancient pagan correspondences, spring is generally associated with the element of air. This may be because for our ancient, European ancestors, the central male divinity was symbolically tied to the growing and dying vegetation. His fate, therefore, was directly linked to the solar cycle, which is also why he is sometimes identified with the sun itself. In spring, with the lengthening of the days and the warming of the nights, the air itself seems to grow in prominence. Our bodily attunement to the season seems to confirm this. The days are not only getting longer, but somehow wider, as if the surrounding world were expanding and we with it. The shedding of our winter clothing means the air can touch our skin, warm breezes awakening our sensuous connection to the elements. Caressed by warming air, the earth shoots forth with ecstatic beauty, at first with fine tentative whispers; then, with confident abandon, it releases itself to the air’s balmy seductiveness, foliage, bloom and fruit, born from this ancient wedlock of Earth and Sky.

I have always had great difficulty commemorating the crucifixion of Christ right in the middle of spring and the exquisite flowering of the earth. Although I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I still experience Good Friday as a somber day, set against the incongruous backdrop of chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs. For like most other holiday celebrations, the dominant symbols and rituals, though detached and rootless, always hark back to our pagan ancestry. The bunnies and eggs, for example, relate back to an ancient, European fertility Goddess called Eostre, whose symbol was the hare; the eggs, symbols of fertility and rebirth, are associated with the maiden Goddess of spring.

Although I have been reading about the current revival of neo-pagan spirituality for many years, it never occurred to me that the Goddess’s hero/consort was the original prototype of male divinity upon which the Christian Christ was based. This realization, inspired in part by Tom Harpur’s book The Pagan Christ, has helped me to clarify some of my long- standing confusion about Christ and our original pagan hero. By thinking about the sacrifice which Christ made in light of the myth of the Hero-King and his relationship to the Goddess, I have come to more deeply appreciate the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice and the sacrifice of our male divinity in general.

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Don’t miss the launch of this and other exciting Quattro Books titles at our First Spring Launch on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at Supermarket Restaurant, beginning at 7:30 pm. Visit the Events section of our website for more information.

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Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table by Peter O’Brien

As a preview of our First Spring Launch, Quattro would like to share an excerpt from Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table: Why I Studied Latin With My Teenager and How I Discovered the Daughterland by Peter O’Brien.

Excerpt from “Chapter One: My Daughter, Me and the Magisterium”

ONCE UPON A RECENT SPRING MORNING my 14-year-old daughter, Siobhan, told me during breakfast that she had settled on her courses for the following school year. One of her electives, she informed me nonchalantly between munches of whole-wheat toast and sips of cinnamon tea, would be Latin. As her father, I naturally think that she is beautiful and talented and wise, but I was startled to learn that in our era (consumed with that which it is nourished by: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and continuous text messaging) Latin was even an option at her local public high school. She had decided, with not an iota of encouragement or pressure from me, to dip her nail-polished toes into the vast and unknown waters of Latin, a language that has been “dead” for 2,000 years or so.

When I asked her why she wanted to study an ancient language, she said, in that special tone which teenagers have of talking to their oh-so-out-of-touch parents: “I don’t know, Dad. Do I need a reason? I think it will be fun. A bunch of my friends are also taking Latin next year.” Wayfinding for a separated parent with a teenager is, of course, always a challenge. Even with the technological benefit of wireless GPS, accompanied by a standard-issue internal compass, a parent is always on the lookout for unmarked paths and mislabeled routes that must be negotiated. And Siobhan, like all teenagers, has her own distinct vision of the landscape through which she travels, what I’ve taken to call the Daughterland. One small, cunning example of this: riding back on the subway from our first trip to her orthodontist, Siobhan looked across at a poster advertising a crisis hotline for kids in trouble. The poster blared: Thinking of suicide? There is help. Let’s talk. and listed a telephone number to call. “Dad,” she said, giving me a mischievous jab in the ribs with her elbow, “can you take down that number for me?”

As a former English major who has wandered among books and writers – including a few ancient authors, all in translation, of course – I decided that it might be fun to accompany her on this year-long linguistic adventure, despite the evident navigational hazards. It might help spark my sympathies for this foundational language, might inspire some random reading of a few great writers, and might provide me the opportunity to read about early Roman history and perhaps even consider if there were historical lessons that could be applied to our Internet-infused age. Most important, it might provide me with a way to keep connected, in a fatherly fashion, to Siobhan’s expanding teenaged life: the swirling torrents and tumults, the impending serpent’s-tooth bouts of “Dad, really! You don’t understand anything!” that I thought were sure to be part of her teenaged years. Could I convince her that the two of us studying together wasn’t too, using a word she might use, “creepy”? Would I get in her way by being too parentally pedantic? Would I embarrass her (more than I usually do) in front of her friends? Would my language acquisition skills (my grey matter is already turning hard and crusty) be able to keep up with her language acquisition skills (hers is still refreshingly soft and malleable)? Would we still be talking to each other at the end of the school year?

I had, as usual, more questions and doubts than answers. When I asked what she thought of me studying with her (I didn’t go into the whole father-daughter bonding stuff), she was initially supportive, I think. “Oh Dad,” she said with a bit of a snarky, know-it-all sneer and an upward rolling of the eyes. “Don’t you have enough other stuff to do? Aren’t you looking for work you know, paid work? Don’t you…ummm, well okay, I guess.”

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Don’t miss the launch of this and other exciting Quattro Books titles at our First Spring Launch on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at Supermarket Restaurant, beginning at 7:30 pm. Visit the Events section of our website for more information.

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Review: Night Vision by Christopher Levenson

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Night Vision is not for the faint of heart.

For anybody seeking honest, compelling images of living through the Blitz, working in war torn and flood-ravaged countries, and striving for political change, Levenson has produced a masterpiece of narrative whose haunting imagery encourages the reader to take a moment and consider what humanity seeks to accomplish with its continued glorification of war and efficiency.

Levenson’s beautifully written collection begins with a remembrance of his childhood in Britain, where war was a distant idea despite the echoes of bombs over London and regular broadcasts of “Churchill’s orations” on BBC radio. Levenson longs for the days of childhood when innocent indifference was acceptable and globalization hadn’t yet brought violence to the forefront of our daily lives as silent observers – and often voyeurs – of worldwide trauma.

As the collection continues, Levenson examines violence on TV, the regeneration of destroyed cities, and the narrow divide between human and animal, drawing parallels between old and new, innocence and experience, good and evil, and inviting us to examine the thin line between these worlds.

Night Vision takes its title from the night vision goggles worn by soldiers to see through the darkness to destroy and kill as well as from the political and ecological night that threatens humankind. With beautiful, thought-provoking language Levenson paints pictures of life in Europe, Canada, and Central America in both the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries, inviting readers to question the global respect for rationalism which has bought about so much destruction.

Night Vision is filled with beautiful and compelling poems and is rife with poignant observations of human pain and loss. It also presents a shadow of what could be if humanity chose to throw off its dark cloak and “abandon our sadness for joy”, an admirable vision indeed and one Levenson clearly believes is worth striving towards.

Reviewed by Ashley Gerling

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Industry News: Bookstore Closures

By Ashley Gerling

chapters1cOn May 30, 2014 Chapters former flagship store at John and Richmond Streets will close its doors to the public, making it the sixth in a chain of bookstore closures in the GTA this year alone. This “Book-bonic Plague” has already claimed the lives of Toronto landmarks including Book City in the Annex, the World’s Biggest Bookstore, the Cookbook Store in Yorkville, and Steven Temple Books, as well as the Chapters Indigo location at Runnymede.

The closure of bookstores across Canada is nothing new, as less than 100 independent booksellers and bookstores remain across Canada as more people purchase their literature online and in the form of e-books. These store closures come in the wake of an announcement by online retail giant Amazon – whose e-book sales alone are estimated to be between $265 to 530 million per year (Forbes) – that the company will be expanding to include musical instruments and wireless products in its catalogue.

Though research from Publisher’s Weekly and other sources suggest that e-book sales are slowing, the popularity and convenience of online shopping continue to place a strain on booksellers across Canada. This begs the question: will print culture survive in the age of technology? A whole-hearted “YES!” is my response, as e-book sales indicate that people continue to seek out books in whatever form they can find them.

However, I would also argue that e-books are disposable, easy to overlook amongst the dizzying clutter of files and folders on any device, and often inaccessible to those without access to the internet or who do not have a credit card or PayPal account. Printed books, on the other hand, remain accessible to all whether in a bookstore or library, and can be passed from hand to hand in a trail of words. Books demand to be acknowledged, to be picked up and leafed through. They require space on a shelf, and the physical investment of mind and body which is so rare in our internet age.

The Roman philosopher Cicero – who did more for print culture than Amazon or any other online retailer will ever do for the written word – said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” There will always be a need for books and thus a need for bookstores. Though large shops are closing down, smaller stores – including those in the Book City and Chapters families – remain open. Perhaps a return to the small, localized book shop is on the horizon. Either way, books are here to stay.

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Travels by Night by George Fetherling

As a preview of our First Spring Launch, Quattro would like to share an excerpt from Travels by Night: a memoir by George Fetherling.

“I checked into the YMCA on 20th Street where a friend of mine lived who was talking about launching a little magazine (as with so many literary magazines, one would only need the premiere issue in order to have a complete run). There was barely space in his room for the iron bed and the chest of drawers with cigarette burns all round the edge, much less for the portrait busts he’d been making. I found the Y a loudly congenial place, as it was about to go off, pending the day when methadone users would outnumber Methodists. At twenty-one dollars a week, however, the rent was more than I could afford. When one of the reporters at the Intel left town, I was able to assume her spot in a communal apartment in the old flat-iron building at Main and South Streets, between the newsroom and the cavernous railway freight sheds by the river. Five of us lived there for what one or two persons might have expected to pay for other accommodations of equivalent squalor. A determining factor in the price was the way that one could reach the place only by passing through the premises of the business that occupied the ground floor. The establishment was called the Stark Artificial Limb Company. We had latchkeys and at night would grope our way across the showroom in the dark, bumping wooden legs and other such prostheses.

I marvel now at how busy I was and to so little purpose. No doubt it was partly to put emotional distance between Mother and myself that I ran everywhere and took part in everything, though beneath the desperation, I believe, was a real sense of joy at being able to indulge an appetite for experience. The war dominated the news and reaction to it was becoming the central element in the arts, whether boldly stated or not, and I entered into a stage, lasting perhaps a dozen years, when I felt completely attuned to the rhythms of the popular culture even though I was not a direct consumer of its goods. All through that period, for example, I never had a stereo or even a radio but knew all of the music intimately, as though some generational organ inside me had sucked it in from the atmosphere and drawn it through my pores. Looking back, I seem to have been balanced on the moment, living in past and present alike, nocturnally and in daylight. I was sick, frightened and disgusted most of the time, but strangely I was never more open to experience.”

*

“In those days Greenwich Village was still a flourishing enterprise, though it had taken a rough turn. Walking up and down, huddled inside a reefer coat from the army surplus store, you got somewhat the same feeling you get in England, the sense that history lies in layers beneath your feet. The past was almost tactile but it wasn’t real. What set it apart was its improbable innocence. Whether you looked at the residue of the First World War generation of writers or the atmosphere that Dylan had bequeathed to his folksinging friends in 1963 or so, you couldn’t help being brought up short by the lightness and optimism that had vanished somehow, been killed off by the new realities. One of these was the occupation of the East Village. It didn’t have the same artistic history – until relatively recently it had been part of the Lower East Side of Italian and Jewish immigrants – and there was nothing to give it the hard centre of cultural humanism so apparent in the other, which people were beginning to call the West Village. The New Wave was under way there. You could see it in the rejection of gentleness and in the violence that informed the happenings, the light shows and most of all the street life.

I had a routine because I had a mission. Each morning, before the lack of sleep disabled me, I would ascend Fifth Avenue to the main public library at Forty-second Street and study the Canadiana there. It wasn’t all in one place but it amounted to an extraordinary collection. Since the day Mary Tominack first put the notion of Canada in my head, I had been subscribing to Canadian periodicals and through Jasmine [Erskine]’s example monitoring the CBC. In time I got to the point of maintaining a correspondence with a few Canadian writers. Now, sitting in the library, sometimes taking pills to help me stay awake in the impossibly overheated reading room, I deepened my commitment to learning Canadian politics, economics, culture – the works. The abiding tradition of anti-Americanism always present deep down in the public if not always pursued by cowardly governments, was one I found especially attractive, though I was careful not to let my own enthusiasm shape my curriculum. For the only time in my life, I was a serious pupil in addition to being a good student.”

*

“Anansi was small in sales but big in its goals. Its main ambition, as seemed obvious even then, was to publish its own people, the ones engaged in the expression of a new Canadian, reality, urban, politically savvy and ‘freewheeling’ (Dennis [Lee]’s favourite word at the moment), and propel them into the mainstream. The place seemed haphazardly run, with erratic schedules, inconsistent design, almost non-existent promotion. Yet we were the new attractions at the zoo, drawing large crowds, and the media had to pay close attention even though they had never seen such animals before. Incredible though this may sound today, the big newspapers rushed to do full-page stories on us.

A few other small presses on the scene were engaged in interesting publishing too. Talonbooks was in the process of emerging from Talon, the little magazine, and there was another Vancouver press of some importance: Very Stone House, which the poets Patrick Lane and Seymour Mayne had started in 1966. But Very Stone House tapered off after a while, as Pat roamed restlessly around the country, haunted in some measure, I think, by the tragically early death of his elder brother, the poet Red Lane. Towards the end, the Very Stone House publications were chapbooks or folded broadsides under the imprint Very Stone House in Transit, put out from wherever Pat happened to be – logging in B.C. somewhere or hunting in the Rockies.

The most important underground press prior to Anansi had started in 1965 when Stan Bevington and a number of others opened Coach House Press in Toronto, on Bathurst Street below Dundas in a perfectly nice slum, which an overly officious government later razed for a park. One approached the eponymous coach house by navigating a muddy little alley running beside a deserted building that had once been a locksmith’s shop. Bevington, a printer, had red hair and wore a big beard, and was friendly in a slow-moving non-specific way – and equally so to everyone. His interest was in handsetting type and keeping his old Linotype in operating condition. The Coach House logo, then and later, was a cast-iron platen press with an enormous fly-wheel, and in those days he actually printed on the press from which the image had been made. Later, in the 1970s, Bevington made a complete volte-face, suddenly abandoning the traditions of the craft for the vanguard of computer-generated graphic arts. The switch was probably coincidental to the emergence of Coach House as one of the primary institutions of what would later be prevailing orthodoxy, but the two events were parallel in time.”

*

Don’t miss the launch of this and other exciting Quattro Books titles at our First Spring Launch on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at Supermarket Restaurant, beginning at 7:30 pm.Visit the Events section of our website for more information.

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Night Vision by Christopher Levenson

As a preview of our First Spring Launch, Quattro would like to share an excerpt from Night Vision, a collection of Christopher Levenson’s poetry.

excerpt from “Fifteen Nocturnes”

1
Evening lies fallow: afternoon’s harvest of noise
has been gathered in, sheaves of sunlight stowed
in a dark barn. The estuary’s glutted with gold,
the total sky august, mysterious.

2
Textures of light; beyond
an elusive flotsam of cloud
richer darkness prevails
among the salt marshes, extends
deserted shorelines.

3
The skies grow lucid,
jet trails ruffle then merge
into mares’ tails, cirrostratus.
High winds up there. Down here
after a close day, relief.
Our local park’s staked out
with panels of shadow.
A few lamps cautiously peer
into encroaching darkness.
Come what may, I am at ease
making my peace with night.

*

excerpt from “Habitat”

for Moshe Safdie and in memory of Lewis Mumford

Prologue

Once everything was distance: as a kid in my London suburb
anywhere else was a house of postcards, balanced
precariously on the words of my father’s friends
who came as refugees burdened with stories from Hamburg,
Vienna, Berlin, their desperate homelands, self-stored
‘for the duration’. It took till I was eighteen
to find my own way, to know what ‘city’ meant,
a knowledge that grows within me like rings in a tree
into my age. Now I can turn at will,
wheel back those days when first I explored alone
Munich or Amsterdam, felt on my tongue
the bitter dust of the Balkans, the desolation
of Djakarta’s slums or Delhi’s,
or the high of my first sighting
of Vancouver and San Francisco, knowing myself to be
part of this city, that era, a succession of nights,
a pulsing anagram of the places I lived through
that strobe my body with memories. Their details re-jig my brain:
the brawl of sun-striped, rain-battered market stalls,
myriad peasant voices arguing,
haggling like seagulls over a scrap of cloth,
a scrag end of mutton; evening’s first lamps string out
the curve of the esplanade; the floodlit fortress surveying
the Old Town beyond the stairways and statued bridge,
the cathedral’s son et lumière and the ornate piazzas,
a maze of open-air cafés with always the chance of seeing
familiar faces and stopping to chatter a while
over cappuccino or latte. People are on display here.
In Budapest’s Vaci Utca, Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat,
in every Italian or Jugoslav town towards nightfall
townsfolk converge on the Corso to see and be seen, to enjoy
the pride of being at home to everyone. These cities become me.

*

Don’t miss the launch of this and other exciting Quattro Books titles at our First Spring Launch on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at Supermarket Restaurant, beginning at 7:30 pm.

The Vancouver Launch of Night Vision takes place Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Vancouver Public Library. Levenson will also be reading in Ottawa and Kingston at the end of April. Visit the Events section of our website for more information.

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National Poetry Month

by Ashley Gerling

April 2014 marks the 16th National Poetry Month in Canada, and this year’s theme is Poetry City. What began in 1998 as a means of celebrating poetry and its place in Canada’s vibrant literary culture has now become a national event which celebrates not just poetry but also the small presses, poets, and writers who contribute to the cultural life of Canadian communities and champion an art form that has received far too little attention in the past century.

While Canada is doing well for itself with over a dozen poetry awards distributed annually, in comparison to honours given for literature and non-fiction in both Canada and worldwide, recognition for our thriving poetry community is severely lacking. One of Canada’s most well-known and highly decorated poets Margaret Atwood has commented on the conditions under which poets work: “giving all, receiving little in return from an age that largely ignores them.” Though UNESCO maintains poetry’s global status with World Poetry Day (March 21), poetry continues to be viewed as elusive to the greater public.

American actor/director/poet James Franco chatted about poetry with Jimmy Fallon last week, saying “I know how an actor writing poetry sounds,” reinforcing the notion that poetry and popular culture cannot go hand in hand. The world of poetry has become divided in a way similar to the high/low dichotomy well-known in the arts, with “serious” poetry published in collections by literary publishers floating on its pedestal high above poetry slams and amateur blogs which are often scoffed at by both literati and the general public.

But poetry, which was once the most popular art form during the days of the Romantics, was never meant to be inaccessible and indecipherable. Canada’s current Parliamentary Poet Laureate Michel Pleau recently said, “Poetry has existed since the beginning of humanity. Our ancestors gathered around the fire and tried to communicate with mysteries bigger than themselves.” The message that needs to be rediscovered then is that poetry is about uniting people through universal truths communicated in beautiful language, not about dividing them.

Natasha Trethewey, former U.S. poet laureate has said, “Dismissals of poetry are nothing new…. It’s easy to dismiss poetry if one has not read much of it.” So this National Poetry Month, I encourage you to pick up a collection of poetry, attend an event or reading, and discover the “subterranean Wonderland of Canadian writing” (as Margaret Atwood so eloquently described it). The League of Canadian Poets as well as small presses like Quattro are doing what we can to ensure poetry will always have a place in Canadian culture, and there is no better time to get involved than during National Poetry Month.

National Poetry Month launches in Toronto on Tuesday April 1, 2014 at Ben McNally Books on Bay St. 

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Fairy Tale for All Ages

Book Review

emperor's panda

The Emperor’s Panda

By David Day

Illustrated by Eric Beddows

I really enjoyed this book. I really liked it. Yes, I am an adult, and yes this is an original fairy tale by the beyond talented David Day. In a world where it is acceptable for adult readers to indulge in young adult titles, I think it ought to be equally encouraged for adult readers to take the time to read some children’s fiction. To this day, some of my personal favourite stories are considered to be children’s stories. They have a timeless quality, embedded with a very clear message and gently trying to guide us in the ‘right’ direction.

The Emperor’s Panda is no different.  It pulls you almost instantly into a world where the music of a simple instrument, can cast a spell as bewitching as an enchanted forest.  The protagonist is a young flute player named Kung who is mild and even tempered until his uncle is tricked and taken away by sorcerers with evil intentions. Kung follows his uncle and on the ways encounters a dragon, an enchanted forest, a beautiful and wise princess and an emperor with an unusual collection.

The pleasure in the ‘moral’ of this tale is one of simplicity: “What was it that the great panda had always said? Balance, not conflict. Overcome evil with reason, not with force.”

Taking the time to slow down and think allows Kung to defeat a great evil and reunite with his good friend panda.  I wonder what kind of place the world would be if we all slowed down just a little and took the time to think a bit more. Perhaps this story is meant for children, but perhaps there are some adults who could use to indulge in a fairy tale too.

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Take a Trip to ‘Traitors’ Gate’

TraitorsGate_Cover_Sept9.pdf

Reading Traitors’ Gate was definitely an adventure. The biggest surprise was how much I learned by reading it. It was smart, and fast paced and I feel like I learned about relationships between Israel and Palestine in a way I had never considered before. Against a fictional backdrop, the issues took on a different and new meaning for me and painted a picture of a part of the world I had, admittedly, not wholly understood before. In many ways, a book that can open your eyes and show a reader something new, is a wonderful gift. I was also drawn to the heroine, a strong and steadfast intelligent woman, weaving her story and herself through the London underground in an attempt to solve a mystery and a murder.

Traitors’ Gate took me out of my comfort zone and was definitely not the kind of thing I usually read. I am, however, so pleased to have read it! It was a refreshing take on the mystery, crime, and thriller spy novel and kept me guessing until the end. I highly recommend taking a trip to Traitors’ Gate, where nothing is as it seems, but what you get is a great read!

Kristen

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Do Government Grants Lead to Self-Censorship?

An offhand comment by American comic author Gary Shteyngart raises the question of censorship in Canadian literature. Shteyngart, when discussing whether or not fiction writing should be subsidized, claimed “Let me say this. I was the judge of a Canadian prize, and it’s subsidized, they all get grants. Out of a million entries, we found four or five really good ones, but people just don’t take the same damn risks!”

Despite his rescinding his comment on the grounds of being drunk, the idea is one worth considering. If we rely on government grants to produce art, does this mean that the integrity of that art is compromised in order to accommodate, or not risk offending, the patron? Personally, I don’t really think so. There are numerous examples of edgy and interesting Canadian writers and publishers who continue to push boundaries. ChiZine Publications is an excellent example because they refuse to ‘play it safe’. Their philosophy IS to take risks, to publish the unusual and interesting AND they are also supported by Ontario Arts Council grants. So there you have it!

The issue is not one of government granting bodies controlling what or who a publisher chooses to publish; it seems to me more an issue of what is sellable, while fitting the publisher’s own tastes and vision. Should a book be preferred for publication if it lacks originality but caries a big name? Or do we take chances with something smaller that might pack that punch that Shteyngart is looking for?

Want to weigh in? Tweet us at @QuattroBooks

Original articleHERE

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IN CONVERSATION WITH KAREN CONNELLY – With Canadian Poetries

Take a look at this fantastic interview by Canadian Poetries, with Karen Connelly,  Check out the link to the full interview at the bottom!

“SL: How difficult is it to continue to give voice to those who are unable to tell what they’ve been through, especially when people go on asking, “Haven’t we all heard these stories before?” In what ways have you felt silenced?

KC: The only time I have been silenced in my life was when I was a small child, or, occasionally, when I was a young woman living abroad—that naturally happened while I was learning different languages. It also happened because I was female. And that silencing helped me to identify with all people, children and adults, who struggle against various mechanisms of oppression. Shutting people up is one way of oppressing them, obviously. But I love how people always keep talking.

As to those who say, as they said of Come Cold River, ‘Haven’t we all heard these stories before?” I can respond with the obvious answer, Well, yes, we have heard these stories before, but clearly we did notlisten to them. If we had listened to them, perhaps there would not be dozens, hundreds of missing Aboriginal women in Canada. Or perhaps we might have arrested and imprisoned the sick men who are murdering them with shocking impunity. If we listened well to the stories of abused children, perhaps we, the adults of the world, would not allow other adults to abuse more children sexually in order to make pornography. Did you read about that last ring, broken by the Toronto police? An international porn ring, with teachers and doctors and nurses and community leaders in on the fun.

To hear depressing true stories on the news is one thing; listening to a living individual is another. That is one of the great works of poetry: it can listen in a devout and human way. It attends. Sometimes it can witness, and poetry that witnesses has always moved me because of the circumstances of my own life, both here and abroad. But beyond witnessing, poetry provides a room, a chamber for listening. Poetry can respond to what is going on in this world, in this country, in this city, in your city, on my street. The poet can bring the world into this room; she can bring any human voice into our range. God forbid that it is always our own voice, the poet’s voice; we can speak in tongues; we can let the voices of others into our work.

It’s not that street sex-workers and homeless people don’t have a voice. They do. I know because I sometimes read their blogs and web pages and chat with them in person. Sex-workers, especially, of all stripes, have become organized and articulate in the last twenty years. See the Supreme Court’s recent decision around the uselessness, and danger, of prostitution laws in Canada, the striking down of those laws that endanger sex workers and make it hard for them to protect themselves. It was brave, articulate, smart sex workers who challenged those outdated and discriminatory laws.

Still, there are many people who do not write things down, who do not or cannot speak out loud. Many stories are lost or hidden or denigrated—unlistened to—by the wider culture. We shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking there are no longer taboos, no longer subjects we are not supposed to write about.

It just occurred to me that my years spent learning other languages meant constant listening to other people’s voices. Learning from them, allowing them equal space in my cluttered brain. Loving those voices. I have spent half my life speaking imperfectly in other languages. When it comes to communicating, perfection is not the point. In Turkey, carpet-weavers are instructed to weave a flaw into their designs, so as not to insult God by trying to be perfect. What great instruction for any artist.It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it cannot be perfect because perfection is inhuman. So. What does that mean, especially with this new book? It means I might say it wrong, but I will dare to say it.”

Check out the full interview HERE

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Currying On: An Open Letter of Thanks & Farewell

296739_931765777966_1773325285_nDear Quattro friends,

It is with mixed feelings that I announce that after four years with Quattro Books, I am leaving my position as Assistant Publisher to pursue another opportunity. While the new challenges ahead excite me, Quattro is not a job I can easily leave precisely because it is more than a job: it is home, it is family.

Four years ago, I finished my degree, packed the uncertainties of my future up with all my worldly possessions and caught a Greyhound bus to Toronto. I had no plans and no direction; I only knew that I wanted to keep reading, keep writing, and work with books. Much to my good fortune, my writing professor, Seymour Mayne, had put me in contact with a certain Beatriz Hausner of the publisher Quattro Books, for whom I might have a chance to intern. I am forever grateful to Professor Mayne that he sent that first email, and to Beatriz for replying!

At the time, I was only just learning about Canada’s vibrant small press scene. Reading about Quattro, and their commitment to publishing varied voices to better represent the diverse character of Canada, and their championing of marginalized voices (and indeed, a marginalized genre, the novella), made me eager to work for them in any capacity they would have me.

And so I met the Quattro team – Beatriz, John, Allan and Luciano – and much to my wide-eyed amazement, my dream of working with books became a reality. I began as their enthusiastic, but hopelessly clueless, intern. Their patience with and confidence in me was encouraging; in short time, I was managing projects and learning about all facets of the intricate world of small publishing. Eventually, I moved up to Assistant Publisher, and could devote more time and effort to supporting the press that I had come to love, and the industry that I have come to fiercely believe in.

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With Quattro, I began my travels down the rocky road of publishing, living the highs and the lows:  the excitement of grants, the reality of costs, the thrill of working full-time, the harsh taste of cutbacks. I have worked with some phenomenal people: Quattro’s own writers, my contacts at LPG, LitDistCo and Marquis, and the interns and staff that Quattro took on [one of whom, Sarah Beaudin, became my irreplaceable business partner and heterolifemate].

What’s more, I have had the great fortune to grow creatively under the founders, who are  incredible writers and artists who sincerely believe in and commit to quality literature and honest expression, challenging the status quo, and in providing for future generations. I continue to live by “small is mighty”; in part, the dedication, commitment, and creative energies of the Quattro team encouraged me to co-establish my own small press, Meat Locker Editions. The book industry is one built on and sustained by grace and grit; I have nothing but respect for all who work within it.  You are people of remarkable talent, skill and resolve; you assure me that our industry is gonna be just fine.

It has been an honour, a privilege and a joy to work with Quattro. Rest assured that the invaluable Kristen Blank, who is taking on the position of Office Coordinator, will continue to hold the torch (and perhaps burn an even brighter light!)

And so, to the founders John, Allan, Luciano and Beatriz, to Quattro writers, friends and supporters, I raise a glass of our official drink, teQuila. I am eternally grateful to you all.

Happy holidays and all the best for 2014,

Maddy Curry

 

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Industry News: The Inevitable Comeback of Short Stories

Lynn Coady
2013 GG winner Lynn Coady*
 

- by Hufsa Tahir

This year, Lynn Coady’s Hellgoing took the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Stéphanie Pelletier’s Quand les guêpes se taisent (“When the Wasps are Silent”) was awarded best work of French-language fiction in the Governor General Awards. What do both of these books have in common, besides their evident literary prowess?

They’re both short story collections.

The short story form (or novella) has had a harsh run in publishing. Only a few years ago, it was seen by many as the thing writers do when they’re not quite ready to work on a full-length novel yet. It was a pastime, something to not be taken too seriously. Even award-winning Alice Munro—who, incidentally, won the Novel Prize for Literature this year—has faced criticism for focusing on short stories. Agents and publishers have handled this neglected genre warily in the past, citing it as “hard to sell” and generally avoiding it. They weren’t the only ones.

Literary awards like the Man Booker Prize seemed not to favour this genre much either. This is never more apparent than in the one year when Kazuo Ishiguro – a regular on the Booker longlist — was mysteriously absent from the Booker Prize listing. That was the year his short story collection, Nocturnes, had garnered much attention.

While the Booker Prize remains fairly staunch in its favour toward full-length novels, other awards are seeing a turnaround, and it seems as if the short story form is set to make a powerful comeback.

Much of it may also have to do with the increasing prominence of tablets like the Kindle, Nook and iPad. The novella is particularly fitting for the fast-paced modern reader who has little time to finish a novel between lunch breaks and on commutes. It is almost a parallel reflection of how Twitter became so wildly popular after Facebook. Tweets are succinct and conveniently short, ideal for someone checking in on a time constraint.

Short stories, while succinct, are in no way less nuanced than a novel. The idea that novellas are something writers do when they\re having trouble handling a novel is incredibly misleading and ironic. In fact, a novella’s limited word count requires the kind of brevity most novelists can’t maintain. Mark Twain puts it plainly when he says, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

More and more publishers are starting to see the potential of the novella form. They’ve yet to reach the ubiquity of mainstream fiction genre novels, but evidence seems to be indicating they’re not that far off. If this isn’t convincing, Inspire!, the 2014 Toronto International Book Fair, will be celebrating the short story form with a host of events: a contest, author panels and conferences.

*Check out the short story collections from Quattro’s list: A Certain Grace by Binnie Brennan and The Sandbar by Jean-Paul Daoust! 


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Featured Fiction: The Sandbar

sandbar_Nov12

- by Hufsa Tahir

Jean-Paul Daoust’s The Sandbar is, at its heart, delightfully amusing. Nonchalant in its doleful foretelling at the end of every tale, this collection of short stories follows a refracting path showcasing the lives of the crew of The Sandbar.

The stories almost seem to poke fun at the day-to-day events that the quirky cast of characters cherishes: Aunt and Uncle’s never-ending “war of attrition”, the pretty barmaid holding court at the bar, the lonely pianist’s nightly fifteen minutes of fame, the rowdy relatives from New York. Enveloping it all as a reminder of grim reality—the Blacks’ Rebellion, the death of Marilyn Monroe and the birth of the hippie era.

Living through it all is young Nephew, adopted by his Aunt and Uncle at eleven and growing up amidst the craziness of the bar’s patrons. He has his first sip of alcohol at twelve and is predicted by many a customer to become a full-blown alcoholic before he reaches legal drinking age. Surprisingly, Nephew may just be the sanest person at The Sandbar, with an unshakeable composure that keeps him grounded through every shenanigan he’s pulled into.

Simultaneously entertaining and disquieting in its blunt reminders of the stark reality of 1950-60s America, The Sandbar will draw you into a world of lovable characters and the ridiculous everyday incidents that make for memories worth keeping.

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Recommended Reading: Come Cold River by Karen Connelly

CCR_FrontCover
- by Hufsa Tahir
When I first picked up award-winning poet Karen Connelly’s Come Cold River, one thing was apparent—this poetry collection is unequivocally honest about its grim subject matter. It sheds light on the topics nobody wants to talk about: familial abuse, the racism still prevalent in Canada, and violence against women and children.
 
Harsh words and truth propel the poems as they relate tales of voices silenced and dismissed, of inconceivable acts of cruelty and crime.There is an undercurrent of despair prevalent through the stories Connelly tells, some of which are drawn from her own life.
 
She has a way of painting vivid scenes with the simplest words, In one of her poems, she mentions a “noose of cigarette smoke swinging in the air”, and this evocative, poignant image is but one of many in the book. 
 
This book is a must-read for those in search of a refreshingly biting look at the more repulsive side of human nature and, by extension, Canada.
 
Here’s a review of Come Cold River in Canadian Poetries and a Q&A with Karen Connelly in the Toronto Quarterly.
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Industry News: Crowdfunding for Publishers

money for oct newsletter

- by Hufsa Tahir

Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter have been popular in many avenues of entertainment –game development, new technology, charity drives, even tuition fees – but this practice has taken its time getting to publishing. Now that it has, the prospects seem huge. But is it all good?

There are already several sites like PubSlush and LeanPub that allow members to donate funds toward publishing a book based on its premise. Another site, Unglue It, works by having the author agree to put the work in the public domain in exchange for being funded by potential readers.

I don’t know how much I agree with this idea. On the one hand, the fact that funding like this is a great lift for an industry where there is never enough money to go around. Lots of books are never published because the publishers’ just didn’t have the funds to cover printing costs. Special art books, children’s books with extensive interactive features, memorabilia books, these are all costly ventures, and not many smaller houses want to touch them. A Kickstarter for publishers would be a huge asset for them. Crowdfunding would allow more publishers to take risks with diverse books they would have turned down before. It would broaden the scope of literature available. It would be a huge relief to an indie publishing house.

It can go further. Communities can fund books that talk about social issues that actively affect them: everyday racism, spousal abuse, alcoholism, etc. Books are a great avenue to have your voices heard.

But on the other hand, when I think about someone touting their book as “the next Harry Potter” and getting energetic fans to pay for its publication – or worse, a well-known author’s publishers getting lazy and putting the author’s sequel to a popular series up on a crowdfunding platform – then I begin to worry about reader exploitation. Where is the line between servicing literature and abusing a passionate audience?

What do you think? Is crowdfunding publishers a good move for the industry? Comment below!

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Oct 24 Launch: Recap

On Oct.24, the Supermarket was packed to the rafters with an eager audience, excited to hear from the first round of our Fall 2013 List. With theatrical performance, musical accompaniment and a wide-range of genres, it was a night to remember.

karen connelly oct 24 launchActor Lindsey Clarke (Family Story, SummerWorks Festival; Roland, TIFF; upcoming lead in Scheherezade, Next Stage Theatre Festival) brought poetry to life with an original monologue drawn from and inspired by Karen Connelly‘s Come Cold River. Karen herself then delivered a stunning reading from a truly exquisite collection.

Joseph Jones then stepped up to the mic to offer not only a fascinating introduction to The Invention of Death, giving insight into the translation process, but also gifted the audience an enticing passage, leaving them hungry for more from this dark tale.

 

rob at Oct 24 launchRob Rolfe was joined by singer-songwriter Larry Jensen, whose beautiful originals not only captivated the crowd, but were the perfect, haunting accompaniment to Beyond Mudtown‘s poignent verses.

Intermission saw a busy, busy book table and authors signing copy after copy of their new titles. We had an incredible audience; thank you to all of who you came out to celebrate with us!

 

 

 

nicholas pengelly oct 24As an incredible finish to the night, Nicholas Pengelley read from his debut publication, Traitors’ Gate, Quattro’s first political thriller (and what a thriller it is!) Nick’s reading ended on a cliffhanger, so audience members were quick to rush to the book table, needing to know more.

Nick’s reading also featured Quattro’s youngest (and cutest!) audience member yet: Declan Pengelley, the author’s new baby boy, who’s just a few days younger than the book!

declan oct 24 launch

(Seriously: isn’t he the cutest?!)

 

 

 

Missed our launch? Don’t despair! Our fall books are available at bookstores, or you can order directly from us online: Just visit the book page for the title you’re interested in.

Another huge thank you to the readers and audience members, who remind us why we do what we do – all in the name of and love of good literature! Please join us on Thursday, Nov.21, as we celebrate Eric Wright‘s latest, Dempsey’s Lodge, David Day‘s The Emperor’s Panda and Lincoln Clarke‘s Cyclists.

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Featured Fiction: Harbour View by Binnie Brennan

Harbour View

- By Hufsa Tahir

Binnie Brennan’s Harbour View, a collection of shorts, explores the bittersweet tang of nostalgia inside the quiet little world of a nursing home. Simultaneously touching and melancholy, it is not a book I’d normally pick up – but I am incredibly glad I did. The delicately interwoven stories, beautiful in the poignant emotion behind every word, present a multifaceted view of the reality of life within the walls of a home.

Each story introduces a new character, all revolving around each other. We meet Buddy, seeing the world through the sightless eyes of a man who now lives through sound, both around him and in his memories of a fiddle-playing, deceased daughter. There’s Violet, writing a letter to her grown-up niece about that one time when, in the prime of vivacious youth, she posed nude for a painting her niece has just unknowingly hung on the walls of her TV room.

The collection has its bleak moments. After Buddy, we meet Dahlia, the woman hiding a tremendous secret that has ostracized her from her family for decades. And beyond the patients, the nurses nurture demons of their own. Muriel is known to all as that chipper, bubbly nurse—but she remembers the times she used to wear long sleeves in summers to hide the evidence of spousal abuse. Then there’s dark-skinned and sombre Estella, feared by white residents out of some misguided remnants of racism, who sings to the angels in church on Sundays.

Every resident and worker at the home bears private scars. Some just hide theirs better.

The decision to put a loved one into a home is heavy with guilt and even, perhaps, some relief. Harbour View will shake your expectations of what life in a home is truly like, and make you question your own judgement.

 

*Note: Harbour View was shortlisted for an 2010 Atlantic Book Award, The Margaret and John Savage First Book Award

*Want to read what all the buzz is about? Visit the book page for Harbour View to purchase your own copy.

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Recommended Reading: Sew Him Up by Beatriz Hausner

Sew Him Up

The world of Beatriz Hausner’s poetry in Sew Him Up is a surreal place. For those who enjoy a little critical thinking in their free verse, I recommend this book. This isn’t your average, straightforward poetry collection.

At times nostalgic, other times heartrending, this book weaves the nuanced, complex emotions of the heart and the physical cover of the human body into a sewing motif that is simultaneously hypnotic and morbid. With an obvious cognizance, Hausner distorts a reader’s expected perception of love, family and dreams.

This collection exemplifies surrealism at its heart – the jarring and disorienting transformation of something once familiar and uncomplicated, now twisted beyond recognition to achieve a refreshingly new perspective. Experience passion and gut-wrenchingly dark imagery in the same verse, and the confusing but beautiful sensual overtones layered into the misleadingly simple process of stitching a dress.

Curious? Check out more on Sew Him Up here.

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2014 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest: Winner & Shortlist

Congratulations to Elizabeth Copeland, who has won the 2014 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest for her novella, JAZZ. Elizabeth’s award is publication with Quattro, and we are thrilled to welcome her to our family.

We’d like to also recognize the writers who made our shortlist:

Ann Ball, William New, Kenneth Newton for Junction Book
Sanita Fejzic for To Be Matthew Moore
Linda Hutsell-Manning for Heads I Win
Sylvia Son for Guest of Honour

Thank you to all those who submitted manuscripts to our contest. The 2015 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest will open in March 2014. Stay tuned for details!

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Quattro Books: up for awards!

relit award

Congratulations to Claudio Gaudio: his novel, Texas (Quattro Books, 2012) has been shortlisted for a 2013 ReLit Award! See a full list of finalists here.

Submissions for QWF Prizes Ð 2004

We’re thrilled that Jocelyne Dubois‘ debut novella, World of Glass, recently published as part of our Spring 2013 list, has been shortlisted for the Quebec Writers’ Federation Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. Congratulations to Jocelyne.UPDATE: Congratulations to the winner, Saleema Nawaz for Bone and Bread (House of Anansi Press).

QWF jurors said of World of Glass: “In World of Glass we find a very different approach (to mental illness)… one that is important as well as aesthetically satisfying. Here is an utterly convincing and credible portrayal of the true brutality of both the disease and, even worse, the way our society chooses to deal with it. The story is powerful and vivid, and creates an almost surreal atmosphere of falling over the edge.”

See what all the buzz is about and order your copy of World of Glass today!

gg2

We’re also extremely proud of our own John Calabro, beloved president of Quattro Books, whose Le Cousin (Lévesque éditeur, 2013), the translation of The Cousin (Quattro Books, 2009), is up for the 2013 Governor General Award for Translation. This is the first book that we ever sold French rights to – and boy, are we glad we did! Congratulations to all GG finalists, winners and their publishers, and special congrats to Sophie Voillot, winner of the French translation award for L’enfant du jeudi.
Order Le Cousin from Lévesque éditeur, or the English, The Cousin,  from us.

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Industry News: a Toronto Book Fair

front cover_tibf report

Last month the industry was abuzz with word of a new-and-improved book fair that could come to Toronto. On August 8, “A Re-Imagined Book Fair” feasibility report was publicly released, detailing the need for and structure of a national book fair. In uncertain times, the clear vision of the Fair, and the refreshing message which informs all its proposed programming, is one that industry and public can all get behind:  to be a place to champion the book, and to be recalled to the “enchantment of the world of reading.”

The report was launched in January, 2013 in response to the challenges currently faced by the book and publishing industry. Led by Rita Davies (Culture Capital) and John Calabro (Association for Art and Social Change), and with advice from an Advisory Committee comprised of leading figures in the industry, the team researched the local and national literary landscape over a five-month period in order to determine the feasibility for and potential structure of a national book fair in Toronto. The findings of the report indicate that a fair which provides for professionals and the public alike; which caters to all genres; which showcases the breadth of talent of Canadian writers in both official languages; and which highlights the diverse writings of the multicultural communities of Toronto and Canada, is the “galvanizing” event the industry so urgently needs.

Moreover, the potential fair would be a reinvigorating feature to Toronto and Canada’s literary landscape as a whole; as Martin Knelman so worded it in The Star, “the most tantalizing prospect for most people would not be the gatherings designed for workers inside the book publishing trade, but the public component, which would draw book lovers who like to browse and talk about books, see them and feel them.”

View or download the full report; you can also access it from the OMDC website.

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Featured Fiction: The Invention of Death by Hubert Aquin

- by Hufsa Tahir

InventionDeath_Nov12

Aquin’s The Invention of Death is an emotional ride that treads through the murky rapids of one man’s depression and his eventual contemplation of suicide.

The reason I enjoyed this book is simple: I flipped to the first page and was immediately caught up in the scene. This is an author who knows how to build a grim mood. The novella opens with René Lallemant alone in his dark hotel room, having bid farewell to his lover, a married woman whom he’s been seeing for a year and has no intention of seeing again. He has not told her this either. It isn’t clear whether René is cruel or just apathetic – his thought processes are baffling in their Stygian detachment to everything around him.

Right away, it’s easy to tell there is something terribly off about him. René is a brooder, given to much introspection, and has a cynical streak of pessimism so strong, he can no longer tell foe from friend. He is convinced his old friend Jean-Paul is sabotaging his career progress to keep René forever a subordinate – and we can never fully ascertain that he isn’t – and thinks that his current fling is cheating on him…with her husband. With his career prospects looking bleak and his love life seemingly flimsy, René feels as if he is accomplishing nothing, that he would be better off ending his paltry existence altogether.

As he gets in his car and drives toward a predetermined bridge where he can crash through and fall to his own death, he is still quite undecided. René’s contemplations of suicide take him on a journey through his memories: he remembers old flings, hapless incidents in his past, even his father’s face after a fight with his mother. He even remembers brief moments where he felt strengthened. Ultimately as he draws close to the bridge, these memories push him toward making the most significant decision his life.

Does he live or cave in to a quick death? Pick up a copy of The Invention of Death and find out!

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RECOMMENDED READING: Cyclists by Lincoln Clarkes

Cyclists_1_P_HI

Fall brings with it a return to the daily grind of work and school, but we’ve managed to find a group of people who refuse to look anything but fantastic as they head out for a busy weekday. Lincoln Clarkes’ Cyclists is a beautiful collection of photographs showcasing the everyday cyclists of Toronto. From elegant to sport chic to Wall Street savvy, these men and women share only a determination to get somewhere, and look good doing it.

Toronto has always been associated with a lively cyclist culture. More bikes lanes are appearing everywhere by the day, Biking is one mode of transport this heavily populated city needs more of. It’s economical, environmentally friendly and a great way to get in your daily dose of exercise. Clarkes pays homage to this highly underappreciated vehicle in its natural environment – the bustling streets of Toronto.

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September 19th: Rob Rolfe launches latest poetry collection in Owen Sound

Beyond Mudtown_Quattro Books

What better way to celebrate the glorious coming of fall in stunning Northern Ontario but with the launch of a new poetry book?!
Join us as we launch Rob Rolfe’s third poetry collection, Beyond Mudtown.

When: Thursday, Sept.19th, 7pm
Where: The Ginger Press Bookshop (848 2nd Avenue East, Owen Sound)

Books will be available for purchase.

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August 15th: Join us for the Launch of Cyclists!

Cyclists_1_P_HI

Join us on August 15th, 4-9 pm at Oz Studios (134 Ossington Avenue) for the official launch of Cyclists by Lincoln Clarkes!

From August 15-21st, this will be a Pop-Up Shop Exhibition: Cyclists and other Works by Lincoln Clarkes.

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Call For Interns

Quattro Books Inc. and The Association for Art and Social Change (AASC) are  seeking interns!

Each internship requires a commitment of 15 hours a week by the intern and lasts for three months. After the completed internship, an honorarium of $500 will be paid to the intern, by Quattro Books Inc. or AASC.

1. Publishing Intern (Quattro Books): The intern will report to the Assistant Publisher and publishers and will be involved in all aspects of the publishing process, from manuscript preparation to promotion of the finished product. The candidate should possess excellent writing skills. Knowledge of social media, editing, website administration is important.  MS Word and InDesign skills are a must. Start date: September, 2013.

2. Transmedia Intern (Quattro Books): The intern will report to the Publisher and be responsible with assisting on one project: the creation of a transmedia campaign for one of Quattro’s fall titles. The candidate should possess excellent writing and editing skills and in-depth knowledge of social media and websites administration. Start date: ASAP.

3. Art Association Intern (AASC): The intern will report to the President of the Association. The Association has two main projects: The Prism Prize (national, juried music video award show) and the Toronto International Book Fair (research into creating an international Book Fair in Toronto.) The intern would be working on the Toronto Book Fair project. Start date: ASAP.

Please indicate which position you are applying for and send CV to: john@quattrobooks.ca

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One of the Original Four has moved on

As many of our friends already know, Beatriz Hausner, one of the four founders of Quattro Books, who was with us since we began in 2006, has left our partnership to pursue other opportunities. Beatriz was a vital contributor to the formative and ongoing vision of our press, and to many of its publications, both poetry and fiction, and she will be greatly missed. We are happy that Quattro published her outstanding book of poetry Sew Him Up in 2010, and made arrangements for her bilingual book The Seamstress and the Living Doll to come out last year from Mantis Editores of Guadalajara, Mexico. Allan, John, Luciano, Maddy, and the whole Quattro team wish her the utmost success in all her future undertakings.

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Novella Sale: Celebrating Ken Klonsky Novella Contest winners

2013 marked the fifth year that Quattro has run its annual Ken Klonsky Novella Contest. The contest is now open for 2014. We invite submissions from Canadian citizens from coast to coast; the competition is fierce, with winners being awarded publication. We are consistently amazed at the talent of Canadian writers, and thrilled to see more and more writers experimenting with the great form of the novella, whose time to shine in North America, we feel, is finally here (and long overdue!)

While contest-winning stories vary greatly in content and style, one thing they all have in common is strong writing from fascinating voices. Below, check out our list of award winning books. Until July 12, all past winners are on sale!

2009

Harbour View by Binnie Brennan
A Pleasant Vertigo by Egidio Coccimiglio

2010

Retina Green by Reinhard Filter
A Gardner on the Moon by Carole Giangrande

2011

Shrinking Violets by Heidi Greco
Break Me by Tom Reynolds

2012

The Proxy Bride by Terri Favro
The Lebanese Dishwasher by Sonia Saikaley

2013

Inheritance by Kirsten Gundlack Levinson
Oatcakes and Courage by Joyce Grant Smith

2014
YOU?! Get your submission in today and it could just be!

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Recommended Reading: Works by Italo-Canadian Writers

Bravo

June was Italian Heritage month! As a last hurrah, we encourage you to check out our list of the fabulous works that we’ve published by Italian Canadian writers — we even have an anthology: Bravo! A Selection of Prose and Poetry by Italian Canadian Writers edited by Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni. This wonderful collection features the work of many Italian-Canadian writers, including many who have published full books with us – see below!

Poetry:

Too Much Love  and My Etruscan Face by Gianna Patriarca
Without Blue by Chris D’Iorio
Immigrant Songs: The poems, fiction and letters of Saro D’Agostino, edited by Antonino Mazza
Book of Disorders, and Painting Circles by Luciano Iacobelli
Strong Bread by Giovanna Riccio
hold the note by Domenico Capilongo
Ten Thousand Miles Between Us by Rocco de Giacomo
Garden Variety: An anthology of flower poems, edited by Lily Contento
Looking at Renaissance Paintings and Other Poems by Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni.

Fiction:

Texas by Claudio Gaudio
The Proxy Bride by Terri Favro
A Gardner on the Moon by Carole Giangrande
The Cousin by John Calabro
A Pleasant Vertigo by Egidio Coccimiglio

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Featured Fiction: The Extraordinary Event of Pia H. by Nicholas Vulpe

The Extraordinary Event of Pia H 

- by Kristen Blank

The Extraordinary Event of Pia H., who turned to admire a chicken on the Plaza Mayor is by far one of the most intriguing novellas (and compelling titles) I’ve read in a while. The dark and mysterious undertones in the writing pulled me and as the story unravelled, I found myself more and more curious about how things would turn out!

Pia H., while on vacation with her husband in Spain, turns to admire a chicken, a russet chicken to be exact; in the next moment, she is gone.  Why and how did Pia disappear? Is it a miracle or to be expected from an unhappily married woman? These are the questions which plague the reader and goad them further in the strange  and morbid world painted by Vulpe. We follow  Pia’s confused and lost husband as he runs around Europe like a chicken with its head cut off (too much?).

While I wasn’t a huge fan of his aimless café European meanderings, what shone for me was the mysterious side narration. The details about deep sea exploration complemented the feeling of loss felt by Pia’s husband and the emptiness that can be found with the loss of love or in the deep void.  Both characters are just trying to find themselves and what it means to be defined as a person, without anyone else’s help. A very worthwhile lesson to learn, and in a unique and unexpected package.

An extraordinary tale indeed!

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Industry News: What’s up, Wattpad

wattpad
As any savvy writer knows, there is a world of self-promotion opportunities available to you in social media: you’re tweeting and re-tweeting, thumbs-upping, page managing, and Tumblring around. But the sea of social media is vast and unwieldy. It’s easy to feel as if you are painstakingly slipping notes into bottles and casting them into the unknown with a prayer: go now, missive, find the readers!

But what if there was a free social media platform set up with a huge, eager and excited whole network of readers and writers to interact with? Where people are there to share stories? Well my friends, welcome to Wattpad: the social media app for a community of readers and writers.

Wattpad has been around for a while and if you follow social media, you’ll remember the buzz when Margaret Atwood joined on, who states: “Wattpad opens the doors and enlarges the view in places where the doors are closed and the view is restricted.” More interactive than Goodreads, Wattpad allows readers to closely follow and comment on the work of writers as they upload it, whether as a serial work [chapter by chapter] or standalone works such as short stories.

What an alternative to those writers who struggle with the notion that writing must occur in isolation! Stories are meant to be shared, and it can be incredibly frustrating to produce a work and wait for response to trickle in.

Now, it’s true, Wattpad is not for everyone; one wonders at the success, or even presence, of poetry in such a medium, not to mention the same “problem” of getting visibility among so many users. What’s more, just like the other social media, the trending topics and books aren’t necessarily those with more literary content. However, there are opportunities to find that community on Wattpad, and again, to interact with already interested parties. To beat a metaphor to death: instead of casting bottles with no destination, you’re casting lines to an ocean full of fish!

With so much more opportunity for dialogue about all aspects of writing and reading – characters, scenes, plot lines, input from readers who follow your work, creative collaboration – Wattpad is certainly worth at least checking out. And it’s free! While Wattpad might make the traditionalist uncomfortable, it’s sort of like an online writing group – but with this group, there’s the opportunity to raise your readership, which might even end up in traditional publishing deals [like some users have had!]
www.wattpad.com

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Fall 2013 List

Come Cold River_Quattro Books Dempsey's Lodge_Quattro Books Beyond Mudtown_Quattro Books TraitorsGate_CatalogVersion.pdf

It may only be July but we’re getting some fantastic fall titles ready for you. You can check them out on our site today, and even pre-order! We’re releasing two works of poetry, Come cold river by Karen Connelly and Beyond Mudtown by Rob Rolfe, and two new works of fiction, Traitors’ Gate by Nicholas Pengelley and Dempsey’s Lodge by Eric Wright. Coming soon!

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Launch Recap: May 30th at Q Space

rosemary aubert-launch

On May 30, Quattro Books proudly presented the four final titles of our official Spring 2013 season: Rosemary Aubert‘s Terminal Grill, Jocelyne Dubois’ World of Glass, Kirsten Gundlack’s Inheritance, and Jean-Paul Daoust’s The Sandbar.  Rosemary, Jocelyne and Kirsten were all in attendance to deliver some fierce readings which left the audience wanting more; unfortunately, Jean-Paul was unable to make it, but we’ll be bringing him to Toronto in the fall!

If you missed the readings and are curious about these books (as well you should be!), be sure to check them out on our website and don’t be shy to click that “Buy Now” button: support local Canadian talent!

 

jocelyne dubois - launch                                                  kirsten-launch

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Industry News/OP piece: Amazon’s Digital Platform for Fan Fiction

by Kristen Blank

In the wonderful world of Amazon, fan fiction steps up and takes its place among champions. Amazon has announced the launch of a new digital publishing platform dedicated to everyone’s favourite: fan fiction. In other words, this is a legal way to get your juicy short stories about Lizzie and Darcy ‘out there’ for tons of adoring fans to read before you get ‘discovered’ and your genius will be forever immortalized in the desired hardcover book. Forgive me if I sound cynical, but this basically means we are encouraging the E.L James’s of the world. I can’t imagine a world in which we need that.

The platform, Kindle Worlds, enables Amazon to profit from fan fiction. Authors will get a 35% royalty (pretty nice) for NET revenue on any work 10,000 words or longer. So get out your pencils or stylus’s and go nuts. I mean, I get it, lots of people like this stuff and boy oh boy I’m sure interested to see how this pans out. On the other hand, way to go Amazon for finding a way both to promote authors that otherwise might never be published and make money from the masses.

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Recommended Reading: Ten Thousand Miles Between Us

tenthousandmiles

Ten Thousand Miles Between Us
By Rocco de Giacomo, reviewed by Kristen Blank

I confess I found myself travelling the world from my own backyard while reading this lovely poetry collection. The whole of it seemed devoted to the great love of the speaker’s life, and even when they could not be together, perhaps even 10,000 miles ( = 16,093 km to the nearest decimal, thank you, Google) apart; they were never truly without the other.

I enjoyed the palpable sweetness and flavor of the poetry and the appreciative nostalgia when a person recognizes that even though someone is gone from your life, you can keep them with you. In this case it is through memory and poetry. While not always perfect ‘sweet enough/ to shatter with a fist/ thrown out of love…the weight of thunder/the slap of lightening/or/whatever/finally/broke us’(28-9); it was the most perfect form a storm could take. It wasn’t about the good or bad, but the acknowledgement that at least it was still time spent together. This feeling seeps through the page and the sincerity can catch you off guard.

I enjoyed the story this collection told and after the love was gone, there was a contentedness in letting it go while remembering it. I particularly liked the poems about the camping trips that were taken after the love seemed to have passed ‘The tent wants to talk about your life/But you lie so willfully against/ the unforgiving earth’(52). Camping didn’t seem to be a far enough place to learn to forget and the end of this collection finds us in exotic locals where the perspective shifts to the appreciation of different lifestyles and the wonders that can be found when you leave your own backyard.

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Featured Fiction: Good Evening, Central Laundromat by Jason Heroux

By Q Cafe guest contributor, Tom Wyndham

Good Evening Central Laundromat

Good Evening, Central Laundromat by Jason Heroux is a well-paced, poetic and entertaining novella published by Quattro Books, telling the story of a man, a mystery, and the strange phenomena accompanying the two – a fortune-teller trading life-altering advice for cigarettes, a best friend’s paranoid ghost, a pigeon with a plan of his own, and the strange characters the man comes across that seem to ride the line between reality and surrealism. This novella takes place in Kingston, Ontario, a town where “you either have to be a student, ex-convict, or senior citizen, or you’re nobody.”

I have to admit, I chose to start reading Good Evening, Central Laundromat after polishing off the second book in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy of five. In retrospect, this was a mistake; I will forever compare Cameron Delco, the voice of Good Evening, Central Laundromat, to the protagonist of Hitchhiker’s, Arthur Dent. Both are fairly passive, introverted males that let the newly erratic events in their environment unfold around them without consciously embracing their own place in the scheme of things. It would be wrong, however, to say that Cameron Delco hasn’t quite dug his heels into the shifting reality of his world. Cameron seems more at peace with the strangely subdued calamity that is taking place around him than many of the other people noticing their own titled reality.

The plot starts to lead the reader at the beginning of the story, without spending much time on exposition. This is a personal preference of mine; I start to go cross-eyed when I realize that I’ve just read 30 pages without the plot moving anywhere. The pacing of the story tells the reader, “Take my hand…none of this is important anymore, and we can learn more about that dude on the way.”

Though one of the main characters is mysteriously mute, dialogue is the strongest element in this story. It is simple, yet remains expressive of the slight displacement of normality of Cameron’s day-to-day life. Cameron’s unspoken observations make you begin to wonder whether or not Cameron’s mental state is the shifting element rather than the world around him, or if the entire town had a concussion, leaving everything just so slightly off kilter. I learned quickly, however, to remain wary of my own theories – this story doesn’t get any less bizarre.

This novella might make you feel uncomfortable, but I like uncomfortable. This story is bizarre, entertaining, intelligent, and makes you feel like you should be paying more attention to what’s happening in your own daily life. A mystery, indeed.

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Quattro Trio of Fiction: May 23rd, Halifax NS!

Quattro Trio Reading Invitation (2013)

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Thursday, May 23: Jack Layton: Art in Action Launches in London, ON!

ArtAction_Nov12_sansJack Layton: Art in Action Book Launch
Thursday, May 23, Aeolian Hall, London, ON.

Doors Open: 7 pm, 7:30 start.

Jack Layton: Art in Action is a collection of anecdotes, interviews and thoughts about Jack and his involvement with arts and culture, reflecting his life in politics and beyond. Stories and remembrances in his honour have been contributed by more than 100 “ordinary Canadians” and well-known personalities alike. Jack Layton left an indelible, inspirational legacy for everyone. Jack Layton: Art in Action features some of Canada’s best people’s poets… and peoples’ politicians… and some of London’s best people! We are launching Jack Layton: Art in Action, edited by Penn Kemp on May 23 to celebrate Jack’s ongoing influence. A beautifully produced 300 page book, yours for a mere $25!

Please join us in celebrating Jack’s ongoing legacy!

MP Irene Mathyssen and editor Penn Kemp will co-host the evening with many London and area contributors as well as Quattro’s Allan Briesmaster. Read more on the event here

The Aeolian, 795 Dundas St. E., London, 519-672-7950, info@aeolianhall.ca
www.aeolianhall.ca. Contact: Quattro Books, info@quattrobooks.ca, 647-748-7484 or Penn@pennkemp.ca.

Jack Layton: Art in Action is a truly inspiring cornucopia of anecdotes, reflections, poems, and images infused with Jack’s spirit, and with the spirits of many who were touched and motivated by his example. It reveals his life as a work of art capable of igniting us into positive, caring action.
“Read this beautiful book about Jack’s passion for the arts. I hope his story will inspire you to live your life based on love, hope and optimism.”– NDP MP Olivia Chow, www.oliviachow.ca

“What a magnificent and inspirational tribute to Jack, and what a monumental task…a loving portrait of Jack Layton, which should appeal to all Canadians regardless of their political leanings.” – Richard Young, Publisher, www.thebeatmagazine.

“Jack Layton, more than any other politician I’ve ever known, was able to combine politics, the arts, compassion and uncommon sense into a public life that is a blueprint for public service. I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants to serve as Jack did. And for everyone who votes.”
Thomas King

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Final Launch of Spring 2013: MAY 30, 7:30pm!

Final Spring Launch 2013-2

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Isa Milman Wins 2013 Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry!

Something Small To Carry Home
Congratulations, Isa Milman! Something Small to Carry Home has won the 2013 Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry! This is the Victoria poet’s third time winning this prize.

If you’re in Toronto, be sure to come out for the 2013 Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards Ceremony next month!

Thursday, June 6, 8 PM | FREE
The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon
at the Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge St., Toronto

You can order this prize-winning book directly from us.

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Launch Recap: April 27th, Blue Metropolis Literary Festival

jean paul daoust at blue met                      moritz at blue met

On April 27th, Quattro Books had the honour and pleasure of participating at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal, Quebec. We featured two Montreal writers whose new books were fresh from our Spring 2013 list: World of Glass by Jocelyne Dubois and The Sandbar by Jean-Paul Daoust. We also offered up some choice pickings from our recent fall 2012 list including A.F. Moritz’ gorgeous translation of Ludwig Zeller’s poems, The Rules of the Game, and Claudio Gaudio’s lyrically charged, innovative novel, Texas. As a special treat, Quattro president John Calabro stepped up and read from his Le cousin, the recent translation of The Cousin into French through French wonder press, Levesque Editeur.

claudio at blue met                    john atbluemet

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Jack Layton: Art in Action Book Launch in Vancouver! MAY 2ND

ArtAction_Nov12_sans

Simultaneously with our Toronto launch of Jack Layton: Art in Action, we are launching the book in Vancouver!

When: May 2nd, 6:30-9pm.
Where: Peter Kaye Room, Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver BC .
MC:: Renée Saklikar.

As consulting editor and partner in Quattro Books/Fourfront Editions, Allan Briesmaster will launch Jack Layton: Art in Action on May 2, to celebrate the second anniversary of the NDP as Official Federal Opposition. Confirmed Presenters: Terry Ann Carter, Heidi Greco, Franci Louann, Sonnet L’Abbé, Susan McCaslin, J Peachy. Contact: allan@quattrobooks.ca.

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Quattro Books at Blue Metropolis Festival: April 27th!

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Launch Recap: April 18th at Q Space

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Last night, we launched our first three books of our Spring 2013 season to a rapt crowd – no one seemed to even notice the rain thundering down outside! In honour of poetry month, we featured our two outstanding poetry books: Allan Briesmaster’s Against the Flight of Spring, and Susan L. Helwig’s And the cat says… We were also lucky enough to have in attendance author Joyce Grant-Smith, all the way from Nova Scotia, to read from her novella, Oatcakes and Courage.

Check our events page to see where our authors will be next, and if you haven’t yet got a copy of these three terrific new works — what are you waiting for?! Head on over to their book pages!

susan launch apri l18                 joyce grant smith launch april 18

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Intern Chronicles: Review 1 The Book of Frog by Jan Zwicky (Pedlar Press)

After a beautiful and satisfying day at work (Wintern-ing) OR making delicious coffee and espresso beverages at Q Space (not unlike my favorite alternate personality Hannah in Girls) I enjoy looking at the books that line the shelves in the lovely bookshop I have the privilege to work at. One title which caught my attention several months ago was a charming pale green book by Jan Zwicky.

 The Book of Frog is a charming account of the life of frog, a small granite frog who is 200 million years old. The story opens with Hugh and Liv finding frog at a beach and bringing him home.  frog does not capitalize his name, likes traveling (when his humans remember to bring him along), has an imaginary friend, al, the albatross and enjoys internet cafes.

The story itself feels more like an observation of the everyday lives of Liv and Hugh with frog’s insisting nature cutting in like a child. He spends a lot of his time telepathically communicating or regularly emailing his friend Al, the imaginary albatross. In a very grounded text, Al is a present reminder of a spiritual existence. He flies above all and seems less attached to the woes of the world.  Zwicky’s talent lies in telling such an unusual and yet normal story. Despite the obvious question of the exact nature of frog’s relationship with his humans or how he can type emails if he is made of granite; The Book of Frog conveys a much needed message.

A simple life is worth living and the small pleasures of gardening or enjoying the ambiance of a green onion pancake at an internet café, are the things we should embrace.  Loving other people and enjoying a beautiful piece of music are equally valid pursuits and true happiness can be found in the small things. Even a 200 million year old granite ffrog.

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Featured Fiction: Surrender

by Kim Hesas

Surrender

What do you get when you combine a diabolical beaver school mascot, The Wizard of Oz, Robbie Burns, and Dante? Why, you get Surrender, the debut novella by Peter Learn, the tale of a defunct school mascot that returns to haunt the principal who ordered his demise. Told through a series of vivid nightmares and haunting flashbacks, Surrender is a literary loot bag of pop cultural references and linguistic surprises.

In addition to the laugh-or-snort-out-loud-humour and snappy narrative style, Surrender casts a fresh perspective on our imperfections. Everyone has a past that sneaks into our subconscious and can sometimes skew our perceived reality. Sometimes it seems all you can do is surrender to a furry web-footed nemesis… but don’t give yourself away.

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Industry News: Anyone out there self publishing?

by Monica Georgieff
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To jump on the bandwagon of the spike of self-publishing, Barnes and Noble has introduced their own self-publishing service called Nook Press. The intention is to compete with Amazon’s Kindle DIrect Publishing and is based on technology developed by the e-publishing company FastPencil. Nook Press allows a writer to receive live-chat support, online ePub formatting tools, commenting and sales reports. What’s more is – it’s free! Authors who choose Nook Press will receive 40-60% of the list price of the book in royalties. The new program will replace Barnes & Noble’s current self-publishing service, PubIt.

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Recommended Reading: The Sylvia Hotel Poems

by Kristen Blank

The Sylvia Hotel Poems

“What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?
What joy is joy, if Silvia be not by?
Unless it be to think that she is by
And feed upon the shadow of perfection”
-Shakespeare

This quote passed constantly through my thoughts as I wound my way through The Sylvia Hotel Poems by George Fetherling. In many ways I felt like I was chasing my own Sylvia, reading these poems which fed upon the shadow of her perfection. The love poems were touching and passionate and pulled at me in a very personal way.

At times I connected with Fetherlings muse, understanding that desire to separate oneself from everything involving unpleasant memories. At others I understood that sadness of an unrequited love that can never be fully realized. This beautiful collection was an ode, not just to a woman, but to the hotel itself; the place where this love materialized and whose memories have left their mark in the stone.

“Poems should be wisdom or be love” (29)
In this case it is safe to say that Fetherling accomplished both, and that there is a wisdom in understanding the heart and it’s desires and needs. I certainly left The Sylvia Hotel with a better realization not just of the poems, but of myself. A very moving and elegant collection.

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First Launch of 2013: APRIL 18TH, 730PM

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Case Study: The Intern

Imagine this: An intern. New York. The intern has been working for the (insert artsy organization) for a year, unpaid and has just been cut off financially by her parents. Sounding familiar yet? She can barely pay her bills and decides that today she will ask to be hired full time, or at least to be paid. Her boss regrets her decision to leave (since she does not know photoshop or other useful skills apparently) and tells her when she gets “hungry enough” she will figure it out. She is now jobless, penniless and her essay collection will surely never be read or published as she dreams.

In a way, Girls captures so many of the ideas and experiences I almost and sometimes do have, being a twenty something living in Toronto, supporting myself, dating weirdos and playing job Jenga. But dear Lena, you have a book deal with Random House (or perhaps I should say Penguin Random House) for over 3.5 million dollars. So I guess things worked out for you. Awesome, but what about the rest of us? The economic climate has created this nifty title for those of us trying to ‘find ourselves’ and a career as well, please and thank-you. The Intern.

The intern works in a field that they love and which University told them they would have a job in by now with the help of their magical piece of paper. The intern is idealistic and hard working. The intern is excellent at blending in and very eager to please since they hope their internship may turn into a job one day. All interns are the best people ever because that is their job. They come in all shapes, skill sets, and senses of humour (a definite requirement).

I have been working as an intern in publishing with Quattro Books now for four months and it has been simply scrumtrulescent. I work with a small, but determined, ambitious, kind, gifted and amazing team at Quattro Books. I have been given every opportunity to learn, to ask questions, to choose what I might want to learn more about, to produce content, to create and to be creative.

I look back to the aforementioned clip of Hannah’s internship experience: unpaid, under-appreciated worker in the arts, hoping that they will one day be recognized, waiting to be chosen. I am sure this may be true for many artists, but my point is that it is not necessarily the case for everyone. I have met amazing new people, networked myself into other equally interesting opportunities and learned so much about the industry. Being an intern gave me the chance to see what I could be capable of, to access the potential and creativity which I try to bring with me every day to work.

I’m not just an intern, I WINtern.

Kristen

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Toronto Public Library Goes for the Big Bucks

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The Toronto Public Library has steadily been initiating changes in their system that will allow them to cover their costs and make up a $3.9-million budget shortfall. By next month, when you take out a library book and get your handy date-due slip you will also be receiving a push towards buying some new product. Based on the Library’s new advertising program run by the same Toronto-based company which colours the back of your grocery store receipts with logos and slogans, this new venture will generate roughly $20,000 annually as well as save the TPL twice as much in paper costs. In fact, this is not the only money-making option they are exploring. Soon ads might be popping up on the library WiFi service as well as on their main website. Furthermore, the library announced the launch of their Retail Affiliate Program, allowing customers to purchase books via its website, with the library itself retaining a portion of the sales. Its partnership with Indigo is another way they’re making up a conspicuous budget gap holding them back. Although I hardly noticed it before, the library seemed to be a relatively ad-free space…and it seems like that’s about to change with Indigo and other companies buying space on its sidebars and receipts alike. What do you think about the Toronto Public Library’s plan to boost its revenue?

Monica

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Recommended Reading: Saugeen by Rob Rolfe

Saugeen
Saugeen

By Rob Rolfe

Reading Saugeen was like visiting the cottage of a close friend. I was invited to stay awhile, and explore the area dense with history and natural beauty. It felt like taking a small but necessary vacation from the dreary March weather. The poetry flows with ease and grace as the master storyteller guides the reader through the different regions introducing us to the locals and their history.  The poems themselves speak to the concerns of the landscape and the often rough and industrial beauty that can be found there. The relationship between nature and humanity is one of give and take: “breaking rocks in a quarry/ dull hands shattered stone a hard life/ breaking the fragile back of the earth” (17). Both man and the earth suffer, each trying to earn the right to exist apart from the other. On the other hand, there is optimism present in part one of the collection which promotes a hope despite the possibilities: “In the early days the sound was wide open/ life muscled its way up from the docks/ damnation or salvation a choice at every corner” (25).

There is a very human element at play throughout this collection and moments of intense pathos:“the silent poverty in the trampled shacks…where fog bites into the somber coast” (71).

Between Charlotte and Jimmie, Rolfe paints a picture of what life was like for both men and women and the physical extremes they endured and overcame because of the landscape. I was particularly touched by the journey Charlotte made every day on the lake despite her fear of it in order to work, and the warmth she radiated despite her circumstances.

What I liked best about this collection was the way it guided me not only through the history of the region, but through the tension between the forces of industrialization and nature — one must retreat: “gravel roads dissect the forests…foxes fishers slip into the shadows” (79). It is terribly sad and one does not need to look far to see the same implications at work even today. We have already lost much we cannot get back and Saugeen attempts to restore a sense of what used to be. A golden age.  Saugeen is an accesible and sincere collection anyone would have the pleasure of reading – and I hope you read it!

Kristen

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Featured Fiction: Room Tone by Gale Zoë Garnett

Room Tone
“At that moment, on the last day of filming, the sound director shouts, ‘Quiet, everyone. Quiet on the set. Complete silence please. Room Tone.’” The practical application allows for re-recording with a room unaltered by other sounds; simultaneously, it is a moment in which an entire cast collectively pauses and reflects on the weeks, the months of work that have gotten them to that final minute. Gale Zoë Garnett’s novella Room Tone plays with this notion of reflection: at the end of a passionately delicious relationship, a project, one life stage before it progresses to another, what is held in the silence that is left behind?

Nica Lind is the daughter of a renowned French actress and Swedish cinematographer, born and raised on the backdrop of the classics, old Hollywood glamour and artistic expression. Heavily influenced by her all-access pass to a local Montmartre cinema, young Dominica falls in love with film and, as a beautiful teenaged woman, enters the family business. European cinematic successes lead her to the office of a big-shot agent in Los Angeles, who finds her a high-paying role as the female star of a hit Western TV series. Eventually, Nica returns to her European roots artistically dissatisfied with the limitations placed upon her as a result of her Hollywood successes.

Nica’s tongue is sharp, her sense of self, unwavering, and her raw talent mixed with intuition, knowledge and profound emotional strength. Through moments of criticism, acclaim, love and loss, Room Tone is an eyes-wide-open look at European and American film making – the beautiful, the sexy, and the down and dirty – that resonates long after the final chapter.

Kim

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The Canadian Version of Amazon Prime is Not Cool Enough Yet!

If you’re an addicted Amazon shopper and ‘online shopping’ means books, not clothes then you must be thrilled that Amazon Prime has been made available in Canada! Amazon Prime is Amazon’s paid service which gives you VIP perks like unlimited free two-day shipping, Kindle e-book lending and Amazon Instant Video. Since Canada is the 6th country to adopt the Prime model, Canadian bibliophiles have been well aware of what wealth of upgrades they are in line to receive from Amazon. Surprisingly, the feedback can more readily be filed under backlash as opposed to support.
Unfortunately, when Prime launched, Canadians were, putting it mildly, let down. Although the price for the American version of the service is the same as the one released in Canada ($79), Canadians are looking hard to find the value in this package.

Furthermore, the Canadian Prime package is only valid for amazon.ca….which seems rational…but still, hasn’t amazon.com always had the bigger selection – come on, let’s be honest. Another downfall of the system, as if the above mentioned were not enough, is the fact that Amazon can’t actually promise that customers in rural areas of the Great White North will be able to take advantage of one of the only features Canadians are actually getting – two day shipping.
However, some customers of Prime in urban environments have been raving about the new free quick-ship option. The niche gets too tight however, because what this is really saying is that Amazon.ca Prime is for you if you:
a) live in a city
b) literally buy everything off Amazon (books, batteries, backpacks, earphones and….even underwear)
c) you won’t miss the instant video option (one of the most popular in the U.S – free movies, free movies, free movies!)

It seems that Canadian patrons of Amazon are being offered too little for too much money and the Amazon honchos have some re-working to do before the Canadian Amazon Prime can become a product of mass appeal.

Tell us why you think/ don’t think this is an attractive option? Comment below!

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Freedom to Read Week

 

by Kim Hesas

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Canada is a country committed to intellectual freedom: it’s even outlined in section 2b of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At the same time, even as a free country, by international standards, there are still books that are banned at the Canadian border and removed from schools, bookstores and public libraries all the time. Most often, this happens because an individual or an organization challenges a book because of its political or religious nature, sexual or obscene content, or gratuitous violence. These challenges ultimately seek to limit public access to the text.

A surprising amount of titles – some that you might not even expect – have been challenged or banned in Canada at some point. I can’t imagine completing the high school curriculum without having read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (challenged by a Toronto parent in 2008) or never having had the pleasure of reading Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Even if a book is never banned, it is always possible that the content has been censored in publication to avoid particular issues or moral ambiguities that the text may hold.

The current window display at TYPE Books on Queen Street West in Toronto boasts a stunning visual display of pages of content pouring out of books and titles deemed “Censored Must-reads That Might Have Been Can’t Reads,” some of which are among my favourite books of all time: Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange and Charles’ Burns’ controversial graphic novel, Black Hole that tackles teenage social anxiety, sexuality, and is often interpreted as a representation of the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event held by the Book and Periodical Council (BPC), in association with the OLA, Canada Council for the Arts, Quill & Quire and other major publishers and companies. The week raises awareness about the censorship that that still exists today through a nation-wide series of events, and encourages people to exercise their intellectual freedom by picking up a “banned” or “challenged” book.  So live on the wild side this week – or any time, for that matter – and take a peek into something that, somewhere along the line, someone didn’t want you to read.

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MARCH 6TH, 2013: Gianna Patriarca launches “Too Much Love”

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Featured Fiction: In the Mind’s Eye

By Kristen Blank

In the Mind's Eye

“I cannot move past this eye…it invades even here, it is not your eye, not God’s, it is the mind’s eye – the one with the pitiless stare that extracts one’s essence drop by drop.”

For Caitlin Winstrum, a doctor of psychology at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane, it is through her mind’s eye that she is able to find what she wants from her life. Ponomareff beautifully captures this period of historical change both in the roles that characters are expected to play and the inner turmoil which prevents them from fulfilling them.Caitlin struggles with her sense of place, both in her role as a woman entering the medical field and in her personal life. The pressure to create a family for herself, to decode her patients and to be taken seriously as a woman psychologist, builds as she navigates what it is she wants from her life.
Colourful details like the dissatisfaction with streetcars and how their inefficiency used to make the local newspaper headlines made me laugh out loud, as I can’t say they run any better now than they did back then. While exploring the novella I found myself seeing the city I live in through a different set of eyes, and while it may not have been my own mind’s eye, it connected me to a history we should all understand in order to learn where we might go. The future is open and sometimes all you can do for it –is wait.

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Recommended Reading: Fermata

by Monica

Fermata

The fermata, also known as the hold or grand pause in musical notation, indicates that the note which it accompanies can be sustained at the performer’s discretion. In her poetry collection of the same name, Dennison Smith brings our attention to the inarticulate tender ‘truths’ which surround us every day. She lets us linger there and choose when to move on. It is that necessary pause which her elegant work demands that gives us a sense of closure with many parts of ourselves we keep trying to negate or disrupt. That moment when you “wake wanting, and reach for toast or love,” or that “there is always something called suffering” and that “time dissolves the sugar” – “here is unsweetened love.”
The collection carefully selects its moments and gives the reader the opportunity to decide whether and for how long to pause on each. It’s our own sense of control that mirrors Smith’s own – of the words on the page, of the hours in the day and the colours which transform our routines into the pieces of life we may yet learn to love

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Industry News: “Greystone Books rises out of the ashes of Douglas and McIntyre”

by Kim
Nearly two weeks ago, a glimmer of hope arose from the doom-and-gloom despair surrounding 2012 in Canadian publishing – and the news couldn’t come soon enough! A press release announced that Victoria-based Heritage House Publishing had purchased all assets of Greystone Books, an imprint of Douglas & McIntyre Publishers who filed for bankruptcy in October 2012. The BC Supreme Court approved the sale shortly thereafter.
The demise of D&M seemed to signify the death of independent publishing in Canada collectively attributed to the rise of Amazon and ebooks, the dwindling selection of independent retailers, the “lifestyle” redirection of Chapters/Indigo, and competition from multinational powerhouses for authors and market space. The rise of Greystone Books was affirmation that this is not, in fact, the case.
The good news continued when it was announced last Wednesday that Vancouver-based publisher Harbour Books had purchased the assets of D&M, obtaining a list of approximately four hundred active titles. Howard White, co-founder and co-owner of Harbour Books explained that the lists will remain editorially independent, combining marketing, distribution and production with hopes of gaining stronger foothold in the Ontario market and across Canada.
These sales seems to suggest that banding together as the purveyors of Canadian culture – perhaps through opening a store and cultural space to sell books by independent presses on consignment, collaborative sales and promotions, and, sometimes, the rescue of a seemingly surrendered legacy – is the direction that we should move in.
Paired with digital sales that allow for broader distribution directly from publisher websites and the power of social media for promotion and increased visibility among readers, I think that independent presses have a fighting chance.
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Featured Fiction: Break Me

By Kristen Blank [appeared in QB Newsletter vol. 2, issue i]

Break MeBreak Me opens with the death of Pierre’s mother and his admission that “Now I am free”. We follow Pierre through his daily routine, which becomes increasingly unnerving and sinister. This novella is skillfully narrated and as the reader I found myself doubting my ability to discern the truth from Pierre’s unreliable admissions. The murder of a young girl initiates a series of suspicious events which seem to follow Pierre despite his ‘innocence’. Break Me is a fascinating look inside the head of a man whose loss precipitates the onslaught of dark desires cloaked in mingled philosophies. A very interesting, and at times, suspenseful read.

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Recommended Reading: hold the note

By Kim Hesas [appeared in QB Newsletter vol. 2, issue i]

hold the notehold the note by Domenico Capilongo speaks to the musician, the family-minded, the jazz enthusiast, and the poetry lover. Lines crafted to push the limits of linearity and metre strike a chord – and I don’t just mean the dominant seventh jazz chord – with metaphors that resonate throughout the book. The collection is divided into three distinct parts: the jazzy syncopation of “jazzista,” the reminiscent, sexy, and at times, comical “nessun dorma” section, and the emotionally charged reflections of “after midnight”. Any collection of poetry that can quote the Weakerthans, pay tribute to Louis Armstrong, and reference Leonard Cohen is all right by me: hold the note is accessible and entertaining. In his description of “how jazz can improve your life,” Capilongo writes, “listen til you hear it/ listen till you hear/ your heart breathing/ skin opening to the night.” Like a great jazz performance or a glass of whisky, hold the note goes down smooth as you immerse yourself in the language and enjoy.

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Bricks and Mortar Meets the Digital Dilemma

By Monica Georgieff  [appeared in QB Newsletter vol. 2, issue i]

Foyles bookstore has partnered with the online news resource The Bookseller in order to revolutionize the flagship Foyles store on Charing Cross Road in London by inviting customers and industry experts to put their two cents in on the design of the new space! By collecting ideas of how to modernize the new store according to standards of the way of book trade fluctuates, the project aims to successfully create ‘the bookshop of the future’. How do digital texts change the way book-selling manifests itself in a physical form? How do bookstores handle declining sales? How about accommodating events? The editor of The Bookseller Phillip Jones maintains that the bookshop isn’t dead (and rightly so!) but the changing environment and its effects need to be addressed to keep the business going. “What we are offering … is a truly unique opportunity, an open digital platform for creative but constructive play, a chance to create a bookshop where the experiential, cultural strengths of bricks and mortar meets the growing opportunities of digital,” project director and architect Alex Lifschultz explains. This initiative hits close to home with Quattro in regards to our own Q Space on College. Working off the necessity of publisher and author collaboration, the exchange of ideas to keep independent publishing afloat in the age of digital and corporate giants and the changing faces of ‘the bookseller itself’ – Q and Foyles aim to address the same real-world problems of the modern publishing industry.

 

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Toronto WordStage Tonight

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It’s 2013 and we’re back with another groovy set of readers! Featuring:

 

ROBERT COLMAN
Robert Colman is a writer and editor based in Newmarket, Ontario, whose work has been published in literary magazines across Canada. His first full-length collection of poems, The Delicate Line (Exile Editions, 2009), was nominated for the ReLit Award. His second, Little Empires, came out in September, 2012 from Quattro Books.

SARAH BEAUDIN
Sarah Beaudin is a Toronto-based designer and publisher with a penchant for coffee, buttons, and the occasional poem. She was a founding member of the Steel Bananas art collective, and is the founder and coordinator of The Underdog Poets Academy, a local reading series dedicated to providing opportunities to under-publisher writers. She is the co-editor of Gulch: An Assemblage of Poetry and Prose, and the editor of this place, an anthology inspired by Barrie’s Society of the Spoken Word. Sarah is interested in helping artists, particularly emerging writers, bridge the gap between education and successfully working in their profession.

JAY MILLAR
Jay MillAr is a Toronto poet, editor, publisher, teacher and virtual bookseller. He is the author of several books, the most recent of which are the small blue (2008), esp : accumulation sonnets (2009), Other Poems (2010), and Timely Irreverence (forthcoming, 2013). He is also the author of several privately published editions, such as Lack Lyrics, which tied to win the 2008 bpNichol Chapbook Award. MillAr is the shadowy figure behind BookThug, a publishing house dedicated to exploratory work by well known and emerging North American writers, as well as Apollinaire’s Bookshoppe, a virtual bookstore that specializes in the books that no one wants to buy. Currently Jay teaches creative writing and poetics at George Brown College and Toronto New School of Writing, where he is also the co-director.

JEANNINE M. PITAS
Jeannine M. Pitas is a poet, nonfiction writer, teacher, and graduate student in comparative literature. She is the author of Our Lady of the Snow Angels (Toronto: Lyricalmyrical Press, 2012) and the English-language translator of Uruguayan poet Marosa di Giorgio’s The History of Violets (Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). She was also co-organizer of the Fourth International Festival of Poetry of Resistance, held in Toronto in October 2012.

*All readings are free, but we do “pass the hat” in support of our lovely readers*
Doors – 7:30p.m  |  Readings – 8p.m.

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Check out the Quattro Books’ Newsletter

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Did you miss an issue of our newsletter? You can browse our archives here:

2013

Volume 2, issue i

2012

Volume 1, issue vi
Volume 1, issue v
Volume 1, issue iv
Volume 1, issue iii
Volume 1, issue ii
Volume 1, issue i

 

You haven’t signed up for our monthly newsletters yet? What are you waiting for?! Just add your email address and click Subscribe. It’s a great way to find out what’s going on behind the scenes at Quattro and what is happening in the changing world of book publishing. We also offer newsletter-exclusive contests!

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Book of the Month Club

Get great reads right at your doorstep. Each month we’ll mail you a new book from our front list, a personalized letter, and something special from the Q team.

A one year (12 month) subscription is just $130. That includes free shipping anywhere in Canada. That’s $10 per book: You save up to 40% on each book!

Either subscribe below through PayPal or email us!





 

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Toronto WordStage Tomorrow

WordStage_Dec Join us for another edition of the Toronto WordStage.

*Please note: This event is on Thursday, not the usual Wednesday!*

TIM CONLEY: Tim Conley is the author of two collections of short fiction entitled Whatever Happens (2006) and Nothing Could Be Further (2011). He was also co-editor of the poetry anthology Burning City. In the time that he isn’t writing he teaches English and Comparative Literature at Brock University. He recently published his debut collection of poetry, One False Move, with Quattro Books.

MISHA BOWER: Misha is a writer and musician from London, Ontario. She released her first book of short stories, Music For Uninvited Guests, with Cringles Publishing earlier this fall, and is a lead vocalist and founding member of Toronto-based band Bruce Peninsula.

BARRY OLSHEN: Barry used to be a professor at Glendon College, York University, where he taught a broad range of courses in literature and drama, creative writing, and multidisciplinary studies. He has published books and essays in a variety of fields including Bible, modern novel, drama, theatre history, autobiography, and psychoanalysis. He has also published some poetry. He is now a psychotherapist in private practice, and is at work on, among other things, what he calls his “psychoanalytic poems,” some of which he may read this evening.

HOA NGUYEN: Born in the Mekong Delta and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Hoa Nguyen studied Poetics at New College of California in San Francisco. With the poet Dale Smith, Nguyen founded Skanky Possum, a poetry journal and book imprint in Austin, TX where they lived for 14 years. The author of eight books and chapbooks, she currently lives in Toronto Ontario where she teaches poetics in a private workshop and at Ryerson University. Wave Books published her third full-length collection of poems, As Long As Trees Last, in September 2012.

Doors – 7:30p.m.  |  Readings – 8p.m.

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Night-Eater Launches in BC

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Christmas Sale

QBChristmasSaleStarting December 1st, Quattro titles go on sale! What better gift to give but CanLit from independent book publishers? Our books are also perfectly sized to even fit in the stocking. Come down to the Craft Sale at Q Space on December 8th and 9th to pick some up in person, or order online.

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November Book Launch

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Intern Chronicles: Be There, or Be Square

Industry attendance is an important part of being involved in the social scene which encompasses the publishing community. There are always events taking place around the city and deciding which ones to attend takes some careful planning. It is important to be informed on what is happening in the community and to go to events to see what is being done. Now as much as I hugely dislike but am reliant against my will on Facebook, it is undeniably an excellent place to help me out with my social calendar.

I daresay that is it’s only remaining useful feature (disagree? Tell me why @QuattroBooks)

If you are anything like me (working 3-5+ jobs at any given time? Don’t really have a social life but love your job(s)? Avid watcher of Girls?) you have a hard time planning your life. Facebook is actually very useful for this as many publishers have either groups or fan pages which lets people know when the next event is for their reading or when the next launch for a new seasonal slew of books will take place.

Being active and aware of events is the first step to actually attending them.  Attending events can be a great way to network and talk with and meet other people who are equally passionate and interested in writing, publishing and reading. I am not always a terribly social human being, but I try to attend events in order to have a better understanding of how different people and publishers write, publish and present their content to the world. Attending an event is a way for you to express your interests and share them with others, support local artists, and network with other industry professionals.

Never underestimate the power of good networking skills and remember that if you are passionate and willing to make the effort, people will see it and good things will come your way.

Case in point: This past Halloween I had decided to dress as one of my favorite cartoon characters (if you are not watching cartoons in your twenties, you SHOULD) and I wore the costume to the office, fluffy hat and all. I had mentioned my interest in learning a new skill with one of my bosses and he happened to know someone who might be able to help me. I had been prepared to do the research and contact them myself, but sometimes luck or karma sides with the intern and what do you know but the woman he had mentioned just happened to show up on Halloween! In my excitement I had forgotten both myself and my costume, and charged out to meet her and show her how determined and willing I could be. Long story short, she liked my costume and my energy and she gave me the opportunity to learn with her.

Sometimes it just comes down to being at the right place, at the right time, in the right cartoon costume.

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10 Week Poetry Course Coming Up

WritingCourseposter

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The “end of a dream”? Publishers don’t think so!

‎”We don’t come to work to survive. We come to work to publish books for readers today and into the future.” Hear, hear!

Check out House of Anansi’s response to The Globe and Mail article by John Barber.

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Quattro’s Second Fall 2012 Launch

OctLaunchPoster_1Q-Space was bursting at the seams with friends, family, and members of the Quattro community who attended the Second Fall Launch last night.  With four stellar collections of poetry and Quattro’s debut novel being launched, celebrations were definitely in order!

A lyrical reading by Dennison Smith from her collection, Fermata kicked off the night, as the audience lingered on every word, every phrase and listened to the musicality of the author’s writing. Patricia Young’s energy captivated our hearts and ears as she read a series of both entertaining and contemplative poems from Night-Eater. Luciano Iacobelli’s modest and comedic introduction of his work was followed by three deeply moving poems from his second collection, Painting Circles, which included a Spanish reading by Barbara Landry.

A highlight of the evening was the duo of Ludwig Zeller and Susana Wald introducing Ludwig’s culminating collection of work, The Rules of the Game that was translated by A.F. Moritz, who read his English translations of the poems. I truly believe that poetic mastery preserves the beauty of an original work in the language of translation, which is exactly what Zeller and Moritz achieved.

Claudio Gaudio’s reading from his debut experimental novel, Texas,had us on the edge of our seats and resulted in a flooding of the book table as people rushed to purchase copies of the book to find out what happens next. A fellow intern and I both declared that we would love to have an audio book of Texas, and so it is only fitting that the text is available to hear online, read by Claudio with the accompaniment of a string bass at moredeaththantexas.com.

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Hands on at Quattro

by Kim Hesas

Production intern: I knew the position I had been hired to fill. I had completed a course in my publishing program about book production, where I learned that every aspect of a book – from the paper stock it’s printed on to the kerning of the lines and typesetting – is crucial to the overall experience of reading. But when the responsibility of creating this reading experience fell on me, the term “book publishing” got real.

I had experience with InDesign. I understood the logistics of creating a file to be sent to the printer. I had proofread some books that were already laid out, so I knew there would be many eyes passing over the file I would be creating. But I was mortified. Thankfully I was carefully coached by my digital manager, who assured me that the process was “fairly intuitive” – the benefits of being an intern!

Flowing the text seemed simple enough and formatting paragraph and character styles became very familiar after several hours doing it. Inserting page breaks after appropriate stanzas was a significantly greater challenge, however the real challenge came when I received my first round of proofreading feedback.

They say that making corrections can introduce new errors. That is the understatement of a lifetime! After completing my first round of proofs, I had proudly sent away my InDesign file and PDF… only to receive another email outlining the spacing and formatting issues I had introduced.

I felt awful for letting in so many errors, and while it would be inaccurate to say retrospectively that I’m glad I did, I really feel that these errors made this task the most rewarding experience I’ve had as an intern.

As an aspiring editor, I like to think that I have an eye for detail. Working with the text in this capacity definitely proved how important that eye is. An extra space between two words, a period added at the end of a line, or a page number on a page with no other writing ultimately affect the way a book is read.

I’m proud to say that the book has been sent to the author to be approved. I will probably frame a copy when the printed book arrives at the office next month. It felt really good to say, “I made a book today, what did you do?” And I am so thankful that Quattro gave me the opportunity to be able to say that.

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Translation News

[appeared in QB Newsletter Vol. 1, issue 3]

The_CousinCalling all Francophones! We’re excited to announce that one of our books has been picked up for translation. The Cousin by John Calabro is being translated into French by Lévesque Éditeur. You can expect to see it on shelves in November 2012.

Coming on the heels of Patrick Senécal‘s Against God, our first translation from French, we’re thrilled to be collaborating with yet another small Canadian press.

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Last Night’s Book Launch

Check out Terri Favro entertaining the crowds.

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Book Launch at Q Space Tonight!

september 2012 BookLaunch poster v1

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2013 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest Announced

We are thrilled to announce the 2013 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest WINNERS: Kristen Gundlack for “The Face of Grace” and Joyce Grant-Smith for “Oatcakes and Courage”! These two novellas will be part of our 2013 publishing list.

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2012 ReLit Award Long List Announced

Congratulations to all the Quattro authors who made the 2012 ReLit Award Long List!

Novellas: Tom Reynolds for Break MeRichard Cumyn for Constance, Across, and Michael Mirolla for The Ballad of Martin B..

Poetry: Giovanna Riccio for Strong Bread, Luciano Iacobelli for Book of Disorders, and Patrick Friesen for jumping in the asylum.

 

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