Son of a Trickster
by Eden Robinson
Knopf Canada $32.00
ON SALE FEB 7
Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who's often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he's also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can't rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby)--and now she's dead.
Jared can't count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can't rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family's life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat...and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he's the son of a trickster, that he isn't human. Mind you, ravens speak to him--even when he's not stoned.
You think you know Jared, but you don't.
Eden Robinson will be speaking in Westdale on Wed. Feb 8. Please see our events page for details.
Higher States: Lawren Harris and His American Contemporaries
by Roald Nasgaard and Gwendolyn Owens
Goose Lane Editions $50.00
Lawren S. Harris is best known for his iconic landscape paintings that declare a sense of cool Canadian resilience. Yet, in the 1920s, an audacious and more colourful interior world began to emerge in his work, and by 1934, the patriotic landscape painter had taken a seemingly unexpected turn toward a transnational career in abstract painting.
The social, intellectual, and aesthetic milieu of American transcendentalism shaped a movement of abstract art across North America, seen in the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Katherine Dreier, Raymond Jonson, and Lawren Harris. Harris, in particular, made an impact on both sides of the border. Inspired by the ideas of Kandinsky and informed by the writings of Emerson and Whitman, Harris and his contemporaries turned to abstraction to express higher states of consciousness, creating work that was the very embodiment of the modern spirit.
As Harris's career progressed, as he ascended from mountaintops to inner states of mind, he sought greater and more ethereal spiritual heights. This magnificent volume features reproductions of more than 75 paintings by Harris and his contemporaries. Two major essays by Roald Nasgaard and Gwendolyn Owens investigate Lawren Harris's exploration of modernity and the evolution of his work towards a form of abstraction that enthusiastically embraced the energies of the ambient visual culture.
Higher States: Lawren Harris and His American Contemporaries accompanies an exhibition organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection that will open in February 2017, and travel to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary in October 2017.
The Lonely Hearts Hotel
by Heather O'Neill
HarperCollins Canada $32.99
ON SALE FEB 7
Set in Montreal and New York between the wars, a spellbinding story about two orphans whose unusual magnetism and talent allow them to imagine a sensational future, from the bestselling, two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted author.
Exquisitely imagined and hypnotically told, The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with the power of legend. Set in the early part of the 20th Century, it is an unparalleled tale of charismatic pianos, invisible dance partners, radicalized chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians, brooding clowns, and an underworld whose fortune hinges on the price of a kiss. In a landscape like this, it takes great creative gifts to escape one's origins. It might also take true love.
Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1914. Before long, their true talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing for the rich, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.
Separated as teenagers, both escape into the city's underworld, where they must use their uncommon gifts to survive without each other. Ruthless and unforgiving, Montreal in the 1930's is no place for song and dance. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes, the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they'll go to extreme lengths to make those dream come true. After Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls hit the stage and the alleys, the underworld will never look the same.
With extraordinary storytelling, musical language, and an extravagantly realized world, acclaimed author Heather O'Neill enchants us with her best novel yet — one so magical there is no escaping its spell.
Heather O'Neill will be in Hamilton on Feb 9 to talk about her book. Please see our events page for details and ticket info.
From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds
by Daniel C. Dennett
WW Norton $38.95
Science / Philosophy
ON SALE FEB 7
How did we come to have minds?
For centuries, this question has intrigued psychologists, physicists, poets, and philosophers, who have wondered how the human mind developed its unrivaled ability to create, imagine, and explain. Disciples of Darwin have long aspired to explain how consciousness, language, and culture could have appeared through natural selection, blazing promising trails that tend, however, to end in confusion and controversy. Even though our understanding of the inner workings of proteins, neurons, and DNA is deeper than ever before, the matter of how our minds came to be has largely remained a mystery.
That is now changing, says Daniel C. Dennett. In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, his most comprehensive exploration of evolutionary thinking yet, he builds on ideas from computer science and biology to show how a comprehending mind could in fact have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection. Part philosophical whodunit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett’s legendary career at the forefront of philosophical thought.
In his inimitable style—laced with wit and arresting thought experiments—Dennett explains that a crucial shift occurred when humans developed the ability to share memes, or ways of doing things not based in genetic instinct. Language, itself composed of memes, turbocharged this interplay. Competition among memes—a form of natural selection—produced thinking tools so well-designed that they gave us the power to design our own memes. The result, a mind that not only perceives and controls but can create and comprehend, was thus largely shaped by the process of cultural evolution.
An agenda-setting book for a new generation of philosophers, scientists, and thinkers, From Bacteria to Bach and Back will delight and entertain anyone eager to make sense of how the mind works and how it came about.
In the Black: My Life
by B. Denham Jolly
ECW Press $29.95
Biography / Social Activism
A remarkable memoir about achieving prosperity in the face of relentless prejudice.
In the Black traces B. Denham Jolly’s personal and professional struggle for a place in a country where Black Canadians have faced systematic discrimination. He arrived from Jamaica to attend university in the mid-1950s and worked as a high school teacher before going into the nursing and retirement-home business. Though he was ultimately successful in his business ventures, Jolly faced both overt and covert discrimination, which led him into social activism. The need for a stronger voice for the Black community fuelled Jolly’s 12-year battle to get a licence for a Black-owned radio station in Toronto. At its launch in 2001, Flow 93.5 became the model for urban music stations across the country, helping to launch the careers of artists like Drake.
Jolly chronicles not only his own journey; he tells the story of a generation of activists who worked to reshape the country into a more open and just society. While celebrating these successes, In the Black also measures the distance Canada still has to travel before we reach our stated ideals of equality.
This & That
by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek
Fiction (Ages 3-5)
A delightful read-aloud by internationally bestselling picture book author Mem Fox!
This & That reunites bestselling picture book author Mem Fox with illustrator Judy Horacek, following their most recent collaboration on Good Night, Sleep Tight. In this delightful tale, two mice set off on a storytelling adventure that takes them through cavernous caves, atop crazy giraffes, and over palace walls until they return safely home to the comfort of their beds. A sweet, rhyming story, This & That is perfect for helping children develop their sequencing skills!
Big Blue Forever: The Story of Canada's Largest Blue Whale Skeleton
by Anita Miettunen
Red Deer Press $24.95
Science / Marine Life (Ages 9+)
Big Blue Forever is inspired by the true story of how a blue whale skeleton found on a remote beach in PEI was shipped cross country and reassembled for permanent display at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.
This unique Canadian adventure story is complemented with intriguing facts about blue whales and their environment, and the fascinating process that museums go through to uncover, prepare, and reassemble skeletons for display and study.
by Fonda Lee
Fiction /Fiction (Ages 12+)
The fight for the future begins.
It's been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose their rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn't one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison, and Donovan's high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guaranteed him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan's abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.
When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they've found the ultimate bargaining chip. But the Prime Liaison doesn't negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan's survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn't win the last one . . .
The House on Selkirk Avenue
by Irena Karafilly
Guernica Editions $20.00
It is autumn, 1997 and Kate Thuringer is back in her hometown to help her college-age daughter settle into her new life. A professional photographer, Kate has lived in Western Canada for nearly three decades. Before her marriage, however, she survived a turbulent year in which Québécois terrorists kidnapped a British diplomat and murdered an innocent politician. The middle-aged Kate is obsessed with the past, particularly with the memory of a poor francophone student with whom she had been involved during the historic October Crisis. Back in Montreal, she is plunged into a mid-life crisis, struggling to reconcile her romantic past and her melancholy present.
The House on Selkirk Avenue is a complex novel about obsessive love, family bonds, aging, and the impact of political events on innocent people's lives.
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars
by Nathalia Holt
Little Brown & Company $22.49
History / Science
A New York Times bestseller
A Los Angeles Times bestseller
The riveting true story of the women who launched America into space.
In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they didn't turn to male graduates. Rather, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible.
For the first time, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women--known as "human computers"--who broke the boundaries of both gender and science. Based on extensive research and interviews with all the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we've been, and the far reaches of space to which we're heading.