LATEST Feature Articles
by Sunday, November 10, 2013-
She's Canada's most famous recluse-writer. A revered 82 year-old Canadian who has been living and writing primarily about small town Ontario for over 45 years in her specialty genre, the short story, with 14 books to her credit. That's a new book every 3 to 4 years. She has won Canada's highest accolades for writing among her international awards: the Governor General award three times, the Scotia-Giller Prize twice, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the Man Booker for lifetime achievement. The full list appears on her wiki listing. Brad Martin, the President and CEO of Penguin Random House Canada said,
“It’s the crowning achievement. As a Canadian, we should all be proud of her. I think she’s the best short story writer in the world. This just confirms it.”
What does this mean for Canada? Canadians have won 23 Nobel Prizes in the various categories since the titular Swedish award first began in 1901. The majority are held in the field of Chemistry followed by Physics and Medicine. In the mid to late nineties Canada saw a sweep of prizes in the field of Economics. As for the category of Literature, Alice Munro is technically the first all-Canadian to win, since Saul Bellow, who won in 1976, is listed as a dual citizen of Canada-USA having moved from Lachine Quebec to Chicago at age six.
How does Canada stack up against other countries? Here is the list of the closest countries in prize count, starting just below Canada and listing all those above her to the top. Of note there are just two Indian prize-winners despite that country's 2nd highest population ranking, and China at number one population ranking first made it onto the list in 2000 then again in 2012:
[First number = the country's total prize count; second number = their total prizes in the field of Literature, third number is the country ranking by population size.] continued...
LATEST Author Interviews
by Saturday, November 02, 2013-
If you missed Holly Marie Armishaw's photo composite exhibit "The Guilded Life" at the Back Gallery Project in Vancouver last month you can catch up on this talented Canadian artist's work here. Captivated by the image left, I was intrigued to learn more about Armishaw, her oeuvre and her technique. If you admire the self-portrait work of Diane Arbus, you'll like this. Since there's a strong historical research and literary connection with a video of the artist (below) explaining her work to accompany the piece, this article fits our BookBuffet podcast interview segment. Of note, New Materials Art Fair (Miami Beach) has just announced Holly Marie Armishaw as the winner of the Solo Artist International Competition. So her work will be travelling Dec 6-7th to Miami where Art Basel-Miami takes place.
Let's start with Holly's artistic statement. She makes a new one for each new project so that it will be pertinent to the work. French art critic Jean-Francois Lyotard writes in his essay, What is Post-Modernism? "It must be clear that it is our business not to supply reality, but to invent allusions to the conceivable, which cannot be presented.”
The two defining aspects to this series are: a heavy use of photoshop to portray a "visual hypothesis" and the use of self-portrature to literally place herself within the realm of subject and tableau. Each one of the pieces in the show is a self portrait of Armishaw heavily photoshopped in a pose to retrospectively fit a previously photographed period gown, to which the figure is then placed into its scene—a previously photographed interior or exterior space of the Chateau Versailles, which she shot on location while composing this series. That is some amount of work! And Armishaw uses her interpretations of research to back ...More >>
Feature Articles >>
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
"Brendan Jay Sullivan was an up-and-coming New York City DJ when he met Stefani Germanotta, then a struggling artist, in 2006. She was a go-go dancer who sewed her own outfits but had bigger ambitions—she wanted nothing less than to take over the music world. In this intimate portrait of the budding star who would soon catapult to fame and fortune, the author describes afternoons sitting with Gaga on the floor of her bare Lower East Side apartment, drinking wine from pint glasses and plotting out the pop stardom that awaited her."
Reminiscent of the artistic primordial goo before them (Patty Smith, Factory Girl, Madonna's early New York stories) witness this generation's creative musical talent emerge. Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives (Harper Collins 2013) is the memoir of the moment. A fascinating look into the life and friendship of Gwen Stefani and Brendan Jay Sullivan. “We’d go out every night, eight nights a week, if we could. She would match me for drinks toe-to-toe,” said Sullivan. "People loved her as a dancer. When she was up dancing on stage [people] were like, 'Who's that?'"
But my take on this story is something Brendan is doing quietly reflective of his humanitarian side. You can find the provocative GoGo dancer images elsewhere. Take a look at this video Brendan produced about a friend he made on the streets of New York when he and she were two people trying to get a leg up in the world. This video shows you BJS at the heart. (click to view) ....More >>
Book Reviews >>
Monday, November 18, 2013
Fans of Donna Tartt have been waiting for her new novel since they closed the pages of her last one. She's kept us waiting almost a decade. The Goldfinch (published by Little and Brown, 2013) does not disappoint, all 766 pages of it in the hard cover version that depending on the font size you select on your e-reader can become as much as 1200 some odd pages! As the title suggests the central "character" is a bird. Well actually, a painting of a bird (which also happens to exist in RL - real life) and comes with its own intriguing back story. Painted by the Dutch master Carel Fabritius, it is one of only a few works left in the world, his others having been lost in a tragic explosion of the gunpowder factory situated next door to the painter's studio and home. Fabritus is supposed to have been the forerunner of Rembrandt who helped his protoge acquire his masterful technique. The painting is a favourite of ....More >>
Publisher News >>
Monday, July 01, 2013
M&A's are common in the business world, and the publishing world is no exception. The traditional "big six" has just been slashed to five with the merger of Penguin (Pearl) and Random House (Bertalsman). What does it all mean? John Makinson is chairman of Penguin Random House and Markus Dohle, serving as CEO says,
"As outlined by its parent companies, PRH will have over 10,000 employees worldwide and publish more than 15,000 new titles every year across 250 imprints. It is estimated that the new trade publishing powerhouse will have annual revenue of $3.9 billion."
One can't help but think this is a move to better compete with Amazon and the nexus between online sales, online publishing and self-publishing trends in sales and marketing. Advocates from either corporate side had two tongue-in-cheek ideas for the merger's new corporate name depending on their stripe: Random Penguin or Penguin House. Let's see how things look when the dust settles. ....More >>
Whistler Reads >>
Thursday, November 14, 2013
The Canadian short story rules! So think people from coast to coast to coast after Lynn Coady's sublime collection of short stories in her book, Hellgoing: Stories (published by Anansai Press, 2013) won this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize. Whistler Reads members were here to cheer her on. The native Cape Bretonian who now lives in Edmonton Alberta obtained her MFA in writing from the University of British Columbia and her writing appears in magazines and newspapers across the country.
The Giller committee writes of her work:
“The eight stories in Lynn Coady’s Hellgoing offer a stupendous range of attitudes, narrative strategies, and human situations, each complete and intricate, creating a world the reader enters as totally as that of a novel, or a dream. Yet the book as a whole is also magically united by Coady’s vivid and iconoclastic language, which brims with keen and sympathetic wit. Whether from the perspective of a writer flailing in the social atmosphere of a professional conference, or a woman trying to extend forgiveness to a lover’s abusive father, Coady offers a worldview full of mournful humour, ready indignation, and vertiginous possibility; the reader feels in the presence of life itself.”
And her own publisher says:
"Equally adept at capturing the foibles and obsessions of men and of women, compassionate in her humour yet never missing an opportunity to make her characters squirm, fascinated as much by faithlessness as by faith, Lynn Coady is quite possibly the writer who best captures what it is to be human at this particular moment in our history."—RandomHouse.Get your book online here or via Armchair Books in Whistler, where members receive a 10% discount. We'll announce the venue for this January discussion shortly. In the meanwhile, here are some questions to keep in mind as you read:
- What do you think sets Coady's writing apart from the crowd? Bring an example of writing that grabs you in the gut to share with the group.
- Is there a common thread among the stories as in theme, mood, feeling? Like an album or CD of music, much thought goes into the order of stories. Consider how the editor chose these.
- How would you compare Lynn's writing to other Canadian short story specialists? WR discussed Alice Munro's Runaway Sept 2009, and there are many other Canadian short story specialists. Is there anything that speaks to "every Canadian" and the sense of a national identity?
- A writer's style has a lot to do with the mechanics; the cadence of their sentences in addition to subject, plot, setting. Is it short and punchy like Hemingway, or long paragraph-length unpunctuated sentences like Proust? What is Coady's distinguishing style?
WGBH Boston >>
Saturday, September 15, 2012
The wildly popular Masterpiece series Downton Abbey, written and created by Julien Fellowes, premiers Season III on January 6, 2013. "The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate." With its all-star returning cast and Oscar-winning guest star Shirley MacLaine, there's even a countdown counter on the Masterpiece site. As of today there is 113 days, 9 hours and 53 minutes to go. The site continues:
Executive Producer Gareth Neame remarks, "What a rollercoaster it has been to be part of this truly global phenomenon. We couldn't be more thrilled by the way American critics and audiences have taken Downton to their hearts and I'm so excited to be getting the third season ready for everyone to see."
The press loved the second season, with USA Today marveling, "Lightning can strike twice." The Hollywood Reporter called the series "one of the great melodramas of the modern television age." And The Los Angeles Times styled it "big, beautifully acted, and romantic."
Viewers were no less passionate, with 17.1 million tuning in across the seven episodes, making Downton Abbey, Season 2 the most-watched Masterpiece series on record. It was also the most talked-about. "What sets Downton Abbey apart," wrote Reuters, "is the buzz the show is creating on new social media websites like Twitter and Facebook." And with today's multitude of viewing options, a younger audience is being seduced by Downton Abbey's sumptuously spread-out plot, notes Masterpiece Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton. ....More >>
Wine & Book Club >>
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan won Canada's highest honor, The Scotiabank Giller Prize for 2011. Esi was also longlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction, a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction and the Ethel WIlson Fiction Prize. That is a lot of final lists! Take a peek as Esi is awarded her prize at the Giller Prize ceremony followed by her interview on Canada AM.
The author's website describes the novel as: "Berlin, 1939. A young, brilliant trumpet-player, Hieronymus, is arrested in a Paris cafe. The star musician was never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black.
Fifty years later, Sidney Griffiths, the only witness that day, still refuses to speak of what he saw. When Chip Jones, his friend and fellow band member, comes to visit, recounting the discovery of a strange letter, Sid begins a slow journey towards redemption.
From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris, Sid leads the reader through a fascinating, little-known world, and into the heart of his own guilty conscience.
Half-Blood Blues is an electric, heart-breaking story about music, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art. ....More >>
Author Interviews >>
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Bookbuffet caught up with short story writer Sarah Seleky on October 9th to talk about her career, her book This Cake is for the Party: Stories (published by Thomas Allen in May 2010), her writing practice, her online writing classes and her annual story intense workshop. We also delved into topics like taking a break from social media—that in-the-moment thought-thief, and the question facing writers today: "Is self-publishing an option?" Please join me for 00:24 delightful minutes with Sarah Seleky.
Of note: this interview took place just before the Nobel committee's announcement of Alice Munro's win of the 2013 prize for literature.
Sarah's website "This Cake" was a finalist for The Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, longlisted for the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award and winner of the CBC Bookie Award. She also garnered "Best New Writer" of 2010 from the Globe 100, Best Canadian Fiction. ....More >>
Technology Corner >>
Saturday, September 14, 2013
After I bought my new Canon EOS 5D Mark II I was at a loss for how to operate it beyond the automatic controls. I wanted to use the manual functions and I wanted to know how to achieve certain effects. I turned to You Tube with the search terms "Photography, Canon 5D Mark II" and was introduced to www.Lynda.com and what would become hours of online tutorials in exactly the content information I needed. In addition to that I discovered a world of creative how-to's that compelled me to subscribe. Now part of my weekly early morning ritual after yoga, the dog walk and breakfast, is a delicious hour of self-determined online tutorials. Want to learn how to use Excel better? Master Photoshop and other Adobe Creative Suite products like InDesign? What about some tricks on your film editing program or tips on accounting products? It's all available from Lynda.com. Now meet Lynda... ....More >>
Thursday, November 14, 2013
The Cornucopia Festival in Whistler BC takes place each November during the formerly slow "shoulder season". That's the time of year when summer visitors have left locals daily watch the alpine fill with snow as the snow-line creeps down the ski runs toward the village. It's also when incredible deals can be had on food, as restauranteurs offer price-fix menus at discounted fairs, and everyone around awaits the food and wine festival so-named because of its proximity to Thanksgiving. This year they've ramped up to 11 full days of programming: so more wine tastings, more incredible winemaker dinners, cooking demonstrations and now they've added a fun new literary component. Wined Up on Books writes Pique Newsmagazine takes place Sunday November 17th at 7pm when ticket holders are matched up "speed dating style" with a panel of local authors to meet, chat about their writing craft, publishing experiences, check out their books and connect one on one over a few lovely glasses of wine. Participating this year is East Coast writer and long-listed Giller Prize nominee, Michael Winters, Minister Without Portfolio and current Whistler writer in residence Ania Szado, the best-selling author of Studio Saint-Ex who is also from Ontario, is taking part.
Local participating authors include children's author Sara Leach, author and founder of The Point artist-run centre Stephen Vogler, science journalist and author Leslie Anthony, Sue Oakey Baker author of the recently released memoir Finding Jim, author of coffee-table book Mauritania Paula Shackleton and Harvey herself, whose novel Nicolai's Daughters came out last year.