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Fall preview 2012: Canadian non-fiction, part II

The season of high-profile literary awards and author festivals is on its way, and there’s no shortage of new releases from marquee names. In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at some of the fall’s biggest books.

TRUE CRIME

In 2009, police discovered a car in the Rideau Canal just outside of Kingston, Ontario. The car contained the bodies of three sisters – Zainab, Sahar, and Geeti Shafia – and 50-year-old Rona Amir Mohammad. Authorities later arrested the girls’ father, brother, and mother, all of whom were convicted of first-degree murder for their roles in the honour killings. Paul Schliesmann’s Honour on Trial (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $19.95 pa., Oct.) examines the facts behind the case that horrified Canadians.

BUSINESS & FINANCE

He’s been a dragon in his den and gone to prison for his reality-television show, Redemption Inc. Now, Kevin O’Leary, businessman, pundit, and author of the hybrid memoir/business guide Cold Hard Truth, returns with The Cold Hard Truth about Men, Women and Money (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., Dec.), a guide to avoiding common financial mistakes. • O’Leary’s left-leaning opponent on CBC’s The Lang and O’Leary Exchange, Amanda Lang, has a leadership book out this season. The Power of Why: Simple Questions that Lead to Success (HarperCollins Canada, $33.99 cl., Oct.) postulates that asking the right questions leads to increased productivity.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

From the internal combustion engine and cold fusion to the Internet and the artificial heart, all scientific discoveries and technological advancements are the product of human ingenuity. In the 2012 CBC Massey Lectures, Neil Turok argues that science represents humanity’s best hope for progress and peace. The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos (House of Anansi Press, $19.95 pa.) appears in September. • Terence Dickinson is editor of the Canadian astronomy magazine Sky News and author of the bestseller NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe. His new book, Hubble’s Universe: Greatest Discoveries and Images (Firefly Books, $49.95 cl., Sept.), is a visually sumptuous compendium of images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

CULTURE & CRITICISM

Novelist and short-story writer Thomas King, who was also the first native person to deliver the prestigious CBC Massey Lectures, has long been a committed advocate for native rights. In The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (Doubleday Canada, $34.95 cl., Nov.), King examines the way European settlers and natives have viewed each other via pop culture, treaties, and legislation. • Poet and critic Kathleen McConnell explores the portrayal of women in pop culture through the ages in Pain, Porn and Complicity: Women Heroes from Pygmalion to Twilight (Wolsak & Wynn, $19 pa., Nov.).

In A Civil Tongue, philosophy professor and public intellectual Mark Kingwell predicted the devolution of political discourse into a schoolyard-like shouting match. His new collection, Unruly Voices: Essays on Democracy, Civility, and the Human Imagination (Biblioasis, $21.95 pa., Sept.), is about how incivility and bad behaviour prevent us from achieving the kind of society we desire.

Poet, publisher, and critic Carmine Starnino turns his incisive and cutting attention to CanLit in his new collection of essays, Lazy Bastardism (Gaspereau Press,  Sept.). • James Pollock believes that Canadian poetry lacks an authentic relationship with poetry from the rest of the world. His new book, You Are Here: Essays on the Art of Poetry in Canada (The Porcupine’s Quill, $22.95 pa., Nov.), attempts to situate Canadian poetry in a global context, through examinations of the work of writers such as Anne Carson, Eric Ormsby, and Karen Solie.

A new anthology from Women’s Press brings together essays addressing specific concerns of LGBT communities and individuals across the country. Edited by Maureen FitzGerald and Scott Rayter, Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies ($64.95 pa., Sept.) takes up issues of education, law, and religion, among others. • For a brief moment in the 1960s, Montreal became a hotbed of Civil Rights activism, radically challenging traditional conceptions of racial hierarchies. The 1968 Congress of Black Writers included activists and spokespeople such as Stokely Carmichael, C.L.R. James, and Harry Edwards. David Austin chronicles this important gathering in Fear of a Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal (Between the Lines, $24.95 pa., Nov.).

Belles Lettres (McArthur & Company, $29.95 pa., Nov.) is a collection of postcards from authors such as Baudelaire, Flaubert, Proust, and Charlotte Brontë, collated and annotated by Greg Gatenby, the founding artistic director of Toronto’s International

Festival of Authors. • In The Other Side of Midnight: Taxi Cab Stories (Creative Book Publishing, $19.95 pa., Oct.), writer and anthologist Mike Heffernan chronicles the experiences of St. John’s cab drivers and their clients.

ENTERTAINMENT

In the years following Liz Worth’s Treat Me Like Dirt, the market for books about the Canadian punk music scene has been as frenzied as the audience at a Fucked Up concert. In Perfect Youth: The Birth of Canadian Punk, (ECW, $22.95 pa., Oct.), Sam Sutherland looks at the historical context for Canadian punk progenitors such as D.O.A., the Viletones, and Teenage Head. • One early Canadian punk band – Victoria’s NoMeans­No – is the subject of the latest book in the Bibliophonic series from Invisible Publishing. NoMeansNo: Going Nowhere ($12.95 pa.), by Halifax author Mark Black, is due out in October.

Marc Strange, who died in May, was known for mystery novels such as Body Blows and Follow Me Down. He was also the co-creator (with L.S. Strange) of the seminal Canadian television series The Beachcombers. Bruno and the Beach: The Beachcombers at 40 (Harbour Publishing, $26.95 pa., Sept.), co-written with Jackson Davies, the actor who played Constable John Constable in the series, chronicles the iconic show and its equally iconic lead actor.

Since its release in 1971, Ken Russell’s notoriously blasphemous film, The Devils, has been the subject of heavy censorship in both the U.S. and the U.K. Canadian film scholar Richard Crouse examines the history of this cult classic in Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils (ECW, $19.95 pa., Oct.), which includes an interview with the film’s director, who died in 2011.

HUMOUR

Former model and current stay-at-home mom Kelly Oxford has found her largest measure of fame as a result of her sarcastic Twitter feed (@kellyoxford), which features such Oscar Wildean witticisms as “IDEA: ‘Bless This Mess’ novelty period panties” and “Some parents in China get their kids to work in factories and I can’t get my kid to pass me some Twizzlers.” The essays in Everything’s Perfect When You’re a Liar (HarperCollins Canada, $24.99 cl., Sept.) promise more of the same. • If you prefer your humour with a larger dollop of political satire, you’ll be pleased to know that Rick Mercer has a collection of brand new rants on the way. A Nation Worth Ranting About (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., Oct.) includes the author’s description of bungee jumping with Rick Hansen, and a more serious piece about Jamie Hubley, a gay teen who committed suicide after being bullied.

If you want to know whether you might be a redneck, ask Jeff Foxworthy. If you want to know whether you might be a native of Saskatchewan, check your birth certificate or consult the new book from author Carson Demmans and illustrator Jason Sylvestre. You Might Be from Saskatchewan If … (MacIntyre Purcell/Canadian Manda Group, $12.95 pa.) appears in September.

FOOD & DRINK

Rob Feenie is the latest Food Network Canada celebrity chef with a new cookbook. The host of New Classics with Chef Rob Feenie, who famously defeated Masaharu Morimoto on Iron Chef America, offers innovative approaches to classic, family-friendly fare in Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics: Everyday Recipes for Family and Friends (D&M, $29.95 pa., Sept.). The recipes have undergone stringent quality control, each one having been approved by Feenie’s children, aged 3, 6, and 7.

Camilla V. Saulsbury’s 500 Best Quinoa Recipes: Using Nature’s Superfood for Gluten-free Breakfasts, Mains, Desserts and More (Robert Rose, $27.95 pa., Oct.) provides more healthy recipes based on the reigning superstar ingredient. • Aaron Ash, founder of Gorilla Food, a Vancouver restaurant that features vegan, organic, and raw cuisine, has achieved popularity among celebrity fans including Woody Harrelson and Katie Holmes. His new book, Gorilla Food: Living and Eating Organic, Vegan, and Raw (Arsenal Pulp, $24.95 pa., Oct.), collects 150 recipes, all of which are made without a heat source.

SPORTS


Rocker Dave Bidini returns to his other passion – hockey – in A Wild Stab for It: This Is Game Eight from Russia (ECW, $22.95 cl., Sept.), in which the author talks to various Canadians about the influence of the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series. The release of the book is timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the iconic series. • The man who made that series so memorable also has a book out this fall. Co-written with sports commentator Roger Lajoie, The Goal of My Life (Fenn/M&S, $32.99 cl., Sept.) traces Paul Henderson’s route through the OHL and the NHL, on his way to scoring “the goal of the century.”

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup, ex–CFL quarterback and coach Frank Cosentino has penned the appropriately titled The Grey Cup 100th Anniversary (McArthur & Company, $29.95 pa., Oct.). • Crime fiction writer Michael Januska offers his own take on 100 years of Canadian football history in Grey Cup Century (Dundurn, $14.99 pa., Sept.).

Q&Q’s fall preview covers books published between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2012. • All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. • Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.

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Spring preview 2012: Canadian non-fiction

In the January/February issue, Q&Q looks ahead at the spring season’s new books.

MEMOIR AND BIOGRAPHY

Revolutionary activity in the Middle East and North Africa has created an appetite for stories about life in these regions. Among them is the story of CBC News foreign correspondent Nahlah Ayed. In A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter’s Journey from Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring (Penguin Canada, $32 cl., April), the Winnipeg-born journalist traces her passion for reporting on the Middle East to her Palestinian roots and the time she spent in a Jordanian refugee camp as a child. • When Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a Vancouver-raised beauty queen, first heard of Nazanin Fatehi, a teen on death row in Tehran for the murder of her would-be rapist, the two young women had only a name and their Iranian heritage in common. The Tale of Two Nazanins (HarperCollins Canada, $31.99 cl., May), co-written with Susan McClelland, is the story of how the women found common ground in the struggle for Fatehi’s freedom.

While on a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006, reservist Trevor Greene had an axe plunged into his skull and lived to tell the tale. Read it for yourself in March Forth: The Inspiring True Story of a Canadian Soldier’s Journey of Love, Hope and Survival (HarperCollins Canada, $29.99 cl., Feb.), co-written with his wife, Debbie Greene.

A pair of memoirs out this spring feature sons coming to terms with their late fathers’ true identities. Deni Béchard follows his fictitious family saga, Vandal Love, with a personal story. Cures for Hunger (Goose Lane Editions, $29.95 cl., May) finds the novelist dealing with the fallout from discovering his dad’s criminal past. • In Cold Comfort: Growing Up Cold War (Talonbooks, $18.95 pa., May), poet Gil McElroy writes about discovering his father’s hidden past working on the controversial Distant Early Warning Line.

In The Many Voyages of Arthur Wellington Clah: A Tsimshian Man on the Pacific Northwest Coast (UBC Press, $29.95 pa., Jan.), historian Peggy Brock creates a portrait of Arthur Wellington Clah, a Hudson’s Bay Company employee who left one of the few first-hand accounts of colonization in Western Canada written from an aboriginal perspective. • In 2008, the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria commissioned a chronicle of the globetrotting life and unconventional work of artist and printmaker Pat Martin Bates. The result is Balancing on a Thread (Frontenac House Media, $49.95 cl., April), a biography and critical analysis by Pat Bovey, former director of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Internationally renowned composer and music educator R. Murray Schafer recounts personal and artistic growth in My Life on Earth and Elsewhere (The Porcupine’s Quill, $27.95 pa., May), which follows his journey from aspiring painter to sailor to vagabond before deciding to dedicate his life to music. • As an octogenarian, Naomi Beth Wakan considers herself somewhere between old and “old-old,” and thus amply qualified to comment on retirement homes, elder abuse, death, and the disconnect between self-image and society’s perception of seniors. Liquorice and Lavender: Some Thoughts on Roller-coasting into Old Age (Wolsak & Wynn, $19 pa.) appears in April.

William Stevenson may be best known for his book A Man Called Intrepid, about the similarly named British spy William Stephenson, often considered the real-life model for James Bond. Stevenson tells his own life story, touching on his career as a war reporter, in Past to Present: A Reporter’s Story of War, Spies, People, and Politics (Lyons Press/Canadian Manda Group, $28.95 cl., June). • B.C. cowboy and rodeo regular Bruce Watt spins a few yarns about the good, the bad, and the ugly of ranching in Chilcotin Yarns (Heritage House, $16.95 pa., May).

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS

As the Canadian government works toward repatriating child soldier Omar Khadr, McGill-Queen’s University Press is set to publish a timely anthology exploring the Canadian-born man’s background, his incarceration at Guantanamo Bay, his treatment at the hands of Canadian authorities, and the implications raised by his legal case. Omar Khadr, Oh Canada ($24.95 pa., May), edited by Janice Williamson, includes contributions from Sherene Razack, Roméo Dallaire, Charles Foran, Judith Thompson, George Elliott Clarke, and Maher Arar.

Nora Young, host of CBC Radio’s Spark, explores issues such as the real-world impact of online communities and why it’s essential to ensure digital privacy in The Virtual Self: How Our Digital Lives Are Altering the World Around Us (McClelland & Stewart, $29.99 cl., April). • Some form of monarchy has ruled Canada since the start of the nation’s recorded history. The Secret of the Crown: Canada’s Long Affair with Royalty (House of Anansi Press, $29.95 cl., March) by John Fraser is a witty look at our country’s enduring appetite for all things regal.

HISTORY

A number of titles this season take an unflinching look at Canada’s history of racism. In Orienting Canada: Race, Empire, and the Transpacific (UBC Press, $34.95 pa., Jan.), John Price, associate professor of history at the University of Victoria, exposes anti-Asian racism at home and in foreign policy through examples such as the 1907 Vancouver race riots and Canada’s early intervention in the Vietnam War. • Canada’s Forgotten Slaves: Two Centuries of Bondage (Véhicule Press, $27.95 pa., May), George Tombs’ English-language translation of the late Marcel Trudel’s groundbreaking work on the history of slavery in colonial Canada, identifies Canadian slave owners and reveals the extent to which national leaders tried to cover up this unsavoury past. • Bryan Prince looks at slavery in One More River to Cross (Dundurn Press, $24.99 pa., Jan.), which tells the real-life story of Isaac Brown, a slave who was falsely accused of murder and made a daring escape from New Orleans before coming to Canada.

Educator Paul Keery and illustrator Michael Wyatt borrow from the graphic novel tradition to make Canada’s military history accessible in Canada at War: An Illustrated History of Canada in the Second World War (Douglas & McIntyre, $24.95 pa., May). • Originally published in Italian in 2003, Pietro Corsi’s Halifax: The Other Door to America (Guernica Editions, $15 pa., March), translated by Antonio D’Alfonso, explores the city’s role in the immigrant experience through a first-hand account.

POP CULTURE

In The Weakerthans: Watermark ($12.95 pa., April), the second instalment in Invisible Publishing’s Bibliophonic music series, author Dave Jaffer makes the case that the Winnipeg indie rockers are among the country’s best musical acts.

SPORTS

Hockey-shmockey. This season’s ice sport of choice is Arctic aviation. Based on the Canadian TV series of the same name, The Ice Pilots: Flying with the Mavericks of the Great White North (Douglas & McIntyre, $21.95 pa., Jan.), by Survivorman series co-author Michael Vlessides, follows pilots at Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife as they haul supplies and passengers in their Second World War–era propeller planes to remote Arctic outposts. • Frontenac House Media is set to publish Yukon Wings ($59.95 cl., May), an illustrated history of the territory’s aviation sector by industry veteran Bob Cameron.

Much has been written about Leanne Shapton’s quirky style and seemingly charmed career. Swimming Studies (Penguin Canada, $26.50 cl., June) dives into new territory: the illustrator’s lifelong passion for swimming, and her former dream of making it to the Olympics. • Speaking of the Olympics, a former athlete and coach have authored a pair of books on leadership. In The Power of More: Achieving Your Goals in Sport and Life (Greystone Books, $22.95 pa., May), three-time Olympic gold-medal rower Marnie McBean explains how to break down big tasks, set goals, strive for more, and recognize success. • In Leave No Doubt: A Credo for Changing Your Dreams (McGill-Queen’s University Press, $19.95 cl., March), NHL coach Mike Babstock (with co-writer Rick Larsen) expands on a pep talk originally intended for Team Canada, whom he coached at the 2010 Winter Games. • Start your own journey from novice to Olympian with Paddle Your Own Kayak (Boston Mills Press/Firefly Books, $29.95 pa., March), a fully illustrated guide by longtime paddlers Gary and Joanie McGuffin.

Vancouver writer Kevin Chong recounts how he unexpectedly found a new life direction as part-owner of a horse in My Year of the Racehorse: Falling in Love With the Sport of Kings (Greystone, $22.95 pa., April), a look into the tradition and faded elegance of the horse-racing scene.

GARDENING

When friends Rachel Fisher, Heather Stretch, and Robin Tunnicliffe ventured into business together they came up with Saanich Organics, a co-operative of small organic farms around greater Victoria. They’ve teamed up again for All the Dirt: Reflections on Organic Farming (TouchWood Editions, $29.95 pa., Feb.), in part a personal reflection on food entrepreneurship, in part a how-to for small-scale organic farming. • Get growing with Canadian Gardener’s Guide (Dorling Kindersley/Tourmaline Editions, $30 cl., March), an illustrated handbook by prolific food writer and urban gardening guru Lorraine Johnson.

FOOD AND DRINK

In 2009, Lynn Crawford resigned as executive chef at Four Seasons New York to launch a restaurant in Toronto and kick off a new travel series for Canada’s Food Network. The spin-off book, Lynn Crawford’s Pitchin’ In: 100 Great Recipes from Simple Ingredients (Penguin Canada, $37 cl., Jan.), includes recipes the chef acquired in her travels across North America. • While Crawford peddles local foods, University of Toronto geography professor Pierre Desrochers and economist Hiroko Shimizu suggest a different approach in The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet (Public Affairs/Perseus Books Group, $30 cl., June). The duo argues the locavore ethos is little more than a well-meaning marketing strategy that distracts from global food problems.

A perfect counterpoint to last season’s roster of meat-heavy cookbooks, Eleanor Boyle’s High Steaks: Why and How to Eat Less Meat (New Society Publishers, $17.95 pa., June) investigates the ecological, health, and social problems caused by conventional meat production, and offers guidance on supporting sustainable livestock practices. • University of Toronto Press’s Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History ($34.95 pa., May), edited by Franca Iacovetta, Valerie J. Korinek, and Marlene Epp, is a rare scholarly examination of food culture and traditions from a Canadian point of view. • For nearly three decades, Toronto’s FoodShare has fought to make healthy eating possible for everyone. Share: Delicious Dishes from FoodShare and Friends (Between the Lines, $24.95 pa., May), by Adrienne De Francesco with Marion Kane, brings together favourite recipes from the FoodShare community that emphasize healthy, affordable, culturally diverse, and seasonal meals.

BUSINESS, FINANCE, AND ECONOMICS

Economist Jeff Rubin follows up his bestselling Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller with The End of Growth (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl., May). This time, Rubin posits that the tendency for governments to tie economic well-being to population growth will ultimately lead to disaster. • Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty tread similar territory but offer a solutions-based approach in The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-state Economy (New Society, $26.95 pa., June), about shifting from growth to a sustainable, low-carbon economy.

Rob Carrick, a columnist at The Globe and Mail, has written a personal finance guide for the Boomerang Generation. How Not to Move Back in with Your Parents: The Young Person’s Guide to Financial Empowerment (Doubleday Canada, $22.95 pa.) comes out in March, just in time for the end of the academic year. • Toronto ad man Rick Padulo – the brains behind the slogans “Leon’s Don’t Pay a Cent Event” and “Black’s Is Photography” – shares the story of his climb up the agency ladder, and spills a few trade secrets, in I Can Get It for You Retail: Down and Dirty Tales from a Canadian Ad Man (Dundurn, $29.99 cl., March).

HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

It seems a new health and fitness fad springs up every week. Timothy Caulfield, director at the Health Law and Science Policy Group at the University of Alberta, has tried some of them so the rest of us don’t have to. Through first-hand research and analysis, Caulfield’s The Cure for Everything! Untangling the Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness, and Happiness (Penguin, $32 cl., Jan.) exposes the special interests behind many scientific claims in the health industries, and suggests getting healthy is not as complicated as it seems. • In Thinking Women and Health Care Reform in Canada (Canadian Scholars’ Press, $39.95 pa., Feb.), the Women and Health Care Reform working group sets out its argument for why changes to Canada’s health care sector are women’s issues. Researchers raise the issue of gender in such areas as privatization, home care, medical insurance, access to treatment, and maternity care. • When a group of women in Parry Sound, Ontario, decided to raise money for a new mammogram machine at their local hospital, they opted for a fundraising project that was fun, creative, and cheeky. Compiled by the West Parry Sound Health Foundation, Support the Girls: Bra Art for Breast Health (Second Story Press, $21.95 pa., April) features the personal stories and bra-based artwork of breast cancer sufferers and survivors, their loved ones, and health-care workers. A portion of proceeds will go to breast cancer research.

Clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Nancy Reeves has travelled throughout North America facilitating workshops on grief, trauma, spirituality, and art therapy. A Path Through Loss: A Guide to Writing Your Healing and Growth (Woodlake Books, $19.95 pa., Feb.) contains self-guided journalling exercises Reeves has employed and honed over the years.

ENVIRONMENT

David Suzuki is back with another collection of thoughts on the environment. The aptly titled Everything Under the Sun: Toward a Brighter Future on a Small Blue Planet (Greystone, $24.95 pa., June), co-written with Ian Hannington, broaches topics such as solar-energy dependence, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the difference between human hunters and other predators. • Documentarian Amy Miller investigates the effects of carbon-emissions trading and carbon credit–funded projects in Carbon Rush (Red Deer Press, $24.95 pa., June), a scathing exposé of a system that bankrolls large-scale industrial operations and endangers all manner of life.

Cameron Dueck’s The New Northwest Passage: A Voyage to the Front Lines of Climate Change (Great Plains Publications, $24.95 pa., April) recalls the journalist’s trip through one of the least accessible places on the planet to encounter the effects of climate change on Arctic life. • In Save the Humans (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl., April), Rob Stewart, the filmmaker behind Sharkwater, turns his attention from marine life to the human cost of environmental carelessness. • Couched in tales of hard-living fishermen and the history of the West Coast fishing industry, Bluebacks and Silver Brights: A Lifetime in the B.C. Fisheries from Bounty to Plunder (ECW Press, $22.95 pa., May), by Norman and Allan Safarik, presents a dire ecological outlook for the Pacific Coast thanks to government mismanagement and overfishing. • In Nevermore: A Book of Hours ($20 pa., April), the third title published by Quattro Books’ non-fiction imprint, Fourfront Editions, David Day elegizes species that are long extinct, with illustrations by Maurice Wilson.

SCIENCE

Carolyn Abraham travels around the world, DNA kits at the ready, to probe the genetic background of her spotty family tree. Along the way, she struggles with the ethics behind using genetic tests to trace bloodlines. The Juggler’s Children: Family, Myth and a Tale of Two Chromosomes (Random House Canada, $32 cl.) lands on bookshelves in April. • In developing neurological exercises to overcome her own severe learning disabilities, Barbara Arrowsmith Young pioneered a cognitive training program that demonstrated the possibility for neuroplasticity – the notion that behaviour and training can alter brain function. The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: Stories of Transformation from the Frontier of Brain Science (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, $29.99 cl., May) recounts Arrowsmith’s story and sets out her methodology.

ESSAYS

Author and writing teacher Douglas Glover shares the finer points of the writing life, as well as a few exercises to get scribbling, in The Attack of the Copula Spiders and Other Essays on Writing (Biblioasis, $21.95 pa., April). • Thirty-three writers with ties to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, including Michael Turner, Madeleine Thien, and Wayde Compton, recast the maligned neighbourhood as a hub of creativity and humanity in V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (Arsenal Pulp Press, $19.95 pa., April), edited by Elee Kraljii Gardiner and John Mikhail Asfour. • Edited by Kathy Page and Lynne Van Luven, In the Flesh: Twenty Writers Explore the Body (Brindle & Glass, $24.95 pa., April) contains essays by André Alexis, Trevor Cole, Lorna Crozier, Candace Fertile, Kate Pullinger, and Brian Brett that explore aging, illness, and insecurity through a specific body part.

FINE ART AND GRAPHICA

Canadian cities provide a rich source of inspiration for a number of fine art and non-fiction graphica titles this season. Dave Lapp combines new and previously published comics about encounters and conversations on the streets of Toronto in People Around Here (Conundrum Press, $17 pa., April), a follow-up to 2008’s Drop-in. • Toronto streets are brought to the fore in Full Frontal T.O. (Coach House Books, $24.95 pa., May), a chronicle of the Big Smoke’s ever-changing streetscapes by photographer Patrick Cummins and Stroll author Shawn Micallef. • Meanwhile, illustrator Michael Cho wanders Toronto’s backstreets for Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95 pa., May), a collection of vibrant illustrations of the city’s hidden streetscapes.

Heading West, Michael Kluckner’s Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 20 Years (Whitecap Books, $35 pa., April) updates the artist’s classic book of the same name two decades after its initial release. The new edition documents the city’s rapid development and features more than 200 images, including the author’s own watercolours and brush-and-ink drawings. • Rocky Mountain Books celebrates 100 years of the Calgary Stampede with Cowboy Wild ($39.95 cl., May), a photo book by David Campion chronicling a decade of the greatest show on earth, with text by Samantha Shields.

The latest from D&Q’s Petit Livre art book imprint is Idyll: Dream-filled Landscapes, Portraits, and Abstracts in Beautiful Detail ($19.95 cl., March) by Amber Albrecht. Inspired by the dreaminess of childhood, Albrecht’s paintings, screen prints, and drawings employ folklore and female iconography to address loneliness and loss.

HUMOUR

Just in time for summer break, Thomas Allen Publishers will release Almost There: The Family Vacation Then and Now ($24.95 pa., May), Curtis Gillespie’s take on family travel. • A “good mommy” is as real as a unicorn or Bigfoot, argues Willow Yamauchi in Bad Mommy (Insomniac Press, $19.95 pa., April), which celebrates the kind of parenting that falls somewhere between Joan Crawford and June Cleaver.

RELIGION

Conservative commentator and Sun News Network host Michael Coren’s latest book, Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity (Signal/M&S, $29.99 cl., April) picks up where 2011’s Why Catholics Are Right left off, challenging popular assumptions about Christianity regarding issues such as homophobia, sexism, and racism. • To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, in which the Roman Catholic Church updated its practices for an increasingly secular world, Novalis will publish Vatican II: Fifty Years of Evolution and Revolution in the Catholic Church ($18.95 pa., May) by Margaret Lavin, associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Regis College.

The fine print: Q&Q’s spring preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2012. All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. • Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.

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Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

Critic, gadfly, supporter of the Iraq war, misogynist, atheist. Christopher Hitchens was all these things. He was also one of the most erudite and plain-spoken writers of his day, possessed of intelligence, wit, and interests that were, in the secular sense of the word, catholic.

Hitchens died last night after a protracted battle with esophageal cancer. He was 62.

The man himself would, perhaps, cavil with the term “battle” to describe his ailment. In one of a series of pieces he wrote for Vanity Fair magazine describing, in typically direct, often painful detail, his daily struggles with the disease that was killing him, he referred to the oft-repeated term as “one of the most appealing clichés in our language”:

You’ve heard it all right. People don’t have cancer: they are reported to be battling cancer. No well-wisher omits the combative image: You can beat this. It’s even in obituaries for cancer losers, as if one might reasonably say of someone that they died after a long and brave struggle with mortality.

Once lionized by progressives, Hitchens’s views fell increasingly out of favour in the years following 9/11, especially concerning his support for the unpopular war the U.S. and its “coalition of the willing” launched against Iraq in 2003. From the Observer:

His advocacy for the Iraq war was only the latest of Hitchens’s positions that many on the left found uncomfortable, and led to a chill in his relations with Gore Vidal, who had once nominated him a “successor, an inheritor, a dauphin or delphino.” But Hitchens’s opposition to what he called “fascism with an Islamic face” began long before 9/11, with the fatwa on his friend Salman Rushdie, imposed by the Ayatollah Khomeini, whom Hitchens accused of “using religion to mount a contract killing,” after the publication of The Satanic Verses.

He was also excoriated in many circles for a 2007 article in Vanity Fair entitled “Why Women Aren’t Funny,” which prompted outraged, and not unfounded, cries of misogyny. That essay is included in his 2011 collection, Arguably, which is one of the books in the inaugural season of McClelland & Stewart’s non-fiction imprint, Signal. Writing on Random House’s Book Lounge blog, M&S president and publisher Doug Pepper says:

Christopher dealt with his illness as he did his life leading up to it: with wit, insight, incredible intellectual productivity, and extreme courage. We are all terribly saddened by his passing – his was an incredible life cut short and we send his family our heart-felt regrets and sympathy. We are honoured to be his publishers, and in that role to have brought and continue to bring his work to Canadian readers. He will be missed but his great and inspiring legacy will live on.

Among the many tributes pouring in is one from Graydon Carter, the longtime editor of Vanity Fair, where Hitchens served as contributing editor and where much of his recent writing appeared:

He was a man of insatiable appetites – for cigarettes, for scotch, for company, for great writing, and, above all, for conversation. That he had an output to equal what he took in was the miracle in the man. You’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who could match the volume of exquisitely crafted columns, essays, articles, and books he produced over the past four decades. He wrote often – constantly, in fact, and right up to the end – and he wrote fast; frequently without the benefit of a second draft or even corrections.

Indeed, Hitchens went out as he likely would have wanted to: writing. As recently as this month, he published an essay about his cancer treatments interrogating, with clarity and an utter lack of sentimentality, Nietzsche’s famous bromide that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger:

I am typing this having just had an injection to try to reduce the pain in my arms, hands, and fingers. The chief side effect of this pain is numbness in the extremities, filling me with the not irrational fear that I shall lose the ability to write. Without that ability, I feel sure in advance, my “will to live” would be hugely attenuated. I often grandly say that writing is not just my living and my livelihood but my very life, and it’s true. Almost like the threatened loss of my voice, which is currently being alleviated by some temporary injections into my vocal folds, I feel my personality and identity dissolving as I contemplate dead hands and the loss of the transmission belts that connect me to writing and thinking.

These are progressive weaknesses that in a more “normal” life might have taken decades to catch up with me. But, as with the normal life, one finds that every passing day represents more and more relentlessly subtracted from less and less. In other words, the process both etiolates you and moves you nearer toward death. How could it be otherwise? Just as I was beginning to reflect along these lines, I came across an article on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. We now know, from dearly bought experience, much more about this malady than we used to. Apparently, one of the symptoms by which it is made known is that a tough veteran will say, seeking to make light of his experience, that “what didn’t kill me made me stronger.” This is one of the manifestations that “denial” takes.

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Christopher Hitchens talks cancer and religion

In the September issue of Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens discussed his cancer diagnosis in an essay called “Topic of Cancer.” In it, he gave a more intellectual than emotional account of his illness, one that still managed to be moving.

Now, The Atlantic is following Vanity Fair’s lead. Last week, the magazine posted a video of Jeff Goldberg interviewing Hitchens at the latter’s home in Washington, D.C. Martin Amis even drops in to chat for a bit. According to the Los Angeles Times book blog, Jacket Copy, the video is one in a series “on the possibility of Hitchens having a religious conversion or awakening.”

Hitchens, for his part, does not consider such a thing likely.

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Sebastian Faulks is sorry about that whole “Koran the rantings of a schizophrenic” thing

Earlier this week, The Sunday Times ran a lengthy interview with novelist Sebastian Faulks in which he had this to say about the Koran:

“It’s a depressing book. It really is. It’s just the rantings of a schizophrenic. It’s very one-dimensional, and people talk about the beauty of the Arabic and so on, but the English translation I read was, from a literary point of view, very disappointing.

“There is also the barrenness of the message. I mean, there are some bits about diet, you know, the equivalent of the Old Testament, which is also crazy. If you look again at those books of the law, Leviticus or Deuteronomy, there’s a lot about who you are allowed to sleep with, and if a man had lost his testicles he wouldn’t enter into the presence of God, that is just terrible. But the great thing about the Old Testament is that it does have these incredible stories. Of the 100 greatest stories ever told, 99 are probably in the Old Testament and the other is in Homer.

“With the Koran there are no stories. And it has no ethical dimension like the New Testament, no new plan for life. It says ‘the Jews and the Christians were along the right tracks, but actually, they were wrong and I’m right, and if you don’t believe me, tough — you’ll burn for ever.’ That’s basically the message of the book.”

For some odd reason, people felt this might be a tad controversial, so Faulks has now written a slightly more conciliatory essay in The Telegraph:

While we Judaeo-Christians can take a lot of verbal rough-and-tumble about our human-written scriptures, I know that to Muslims the Koran is different; it is by definition beyond criticism. And if anything I said or was quoted as saying (not always the same thing) offended any Muslim sensibility, I do apologise – and without reservation.

It was never my intention to offend my Muslim friends or readers, and if you read my novel I think you will see how I have shown the positive effects of the Koran on a kind and typical Muslim family.

Awww…

Meanwhile, Riazat Butt, the Guardian‘s religious affairs correspondent, writes that Faulks had it wrong to begin with:

The Qur’an is neither a bedside read nor a Booker entry – I won’t be packing it in my hand luggage before I go to Tunisia this weekend. It is, for Muslims, a blueprint for everyday life, with guidance on subjects such as divorce, the day of judgment and everything in between. So if it reads like a rulebook, that’s because it is.

The Qur’an was not written in English, nor is it normally read in English, so of course the scriptures lose something in translation. Should Faulks want to fully appreciate and experience the Qur’an, he should brush up on his classical Arabic. Most, but not all, of the Qur’an’s stories are based on tales from the Old Testament, so if he thinks the Qur’an is a bit rubbish at capturing the imagination, then it follows the Bible is a bit of a let-down too.

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Harry Potter and the Fickle Pope

With the latest film adaptation of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, set to hit theatres at midnight tonight, a review in L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, has given the movie two thumbs up. This stance is a complete about face from previous comments made by the Pope (then Cardinal Ratzinger) in 2003, in which he criticized the series’ “subtle seductions” that could “corrupt the Christian faith” in young children. Additionally, an article in the Vatican paper last year further condemned the series’ emphasis on the occult, calling Harry himself “the wrong kind of hero.” From The Telegraph:

L’Osservatore Romano said the movie was the best adaptation yet of the J.K. Rowling books, describing it as “a mixture of supernatural suspense and romance which reaches the right balance.”

“There is a clear line of demarcation between good and evil and [the film] makes clear that good is right. One understands as well that sometimes this requires hard work and sacrifice,” the newspaper judged.

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Three men sentenced for firebombing U.K. publisher

From CBC.ca:

A judge in Britain has sentenced three Muslim men to 4½ years in prison each for an arson attack on the home of a publisher of a novel about the child bride of the Prophet Muhammad.

Ali Beheshti, Abrar Mirza and Abbas Taj were convicted of conspiracy to commit arson at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday in the firebombing of the home of Martin Rynja on Sept. 27 last year.

The trio spilled diesel on the front door or Rynja’s house in the Islington area of north London and set it on fire, just days before Rynja’s Gibson Square company was scheduled to publish The Jewel of the Medina by Sherry Jones.

One of the firebombers, whose lawyer argued at sentencing that his actions were justified, now “considers his conduct to have been misguided, disproportionate and counter-productive.” Ya think?

(We should note that both this post and the previous involve the intersection of politics, religion, books, and fire. What can we say? It’s hump day.)

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Sarah Palin memoir: Now with 25% more God!

Well, she sure does know her target audience. In a profile in the August 2009 of Vanity Fair, Alaska governor Sarah Palin revealed that her forthcoming memoir will be published both by HarperCollins (as previously announced), and also by HarperCollins’ Christian publishing imprint Zondervan in a separate, special edition. From the Vanity Fair profile:

Soon Palin will take a crack at her own story: she has signed a book contract for an undisclosed but presumably substantial sum, and has chosen Lynn Vincent, a senior writer at the Christian-conservative World magazine, as co-author of the memoir, which is to be published next year not only by HarperCollins but also in a special edition by Zondervan, the Bible-publishing house, that may include supplemental material on faith.

(Thanks to Publishers Weekly for the tip.)

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Can a commercial printer invoke religion in order to refuse services?

A blog post on Torontoist yesterday looked at Toronto printer Harmony Printing, and its refusal to produce author Adam Bourret’s autobiographical graphic novel I’m Crazy, a story that deals with “histories, secrets, obsessive compulsive disorder, drugs, gay romance, hallucinations, and insanity.” Although Bourret is serializing the novel online, he wanted to do a small run of print copies, and approached Harmony for an estimate, to which he received this reply:

Unfortunately due to the content I am going to have to respectfully decline. The reason is we have a lot of long standing clients who are religious organizations. They are in our facilities all of the time and [we] cannot risk having this content out in the open during production. Please understand that this is not a slight against your artwork or the message that you are trying to convey to your audience. I wish you all the best and I hope you can understand our position.

The biggest unanswered question from Harmony’s reply is what dubious “content” they are referring to, since it is not explicitly mentioned. When the Torontoist contacted Harmony, they clarified that the issue was not the sexual orientation of the writer/main character, but rather the images of people having sex. Either way, is Harmony’s refusal of services legal? The Torontoist sums up the details on both sides of the debate:

A good place to start any discussion about the legality of refusing services is the Ontario Human Rights Code, which guarantees the right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods, and facilities without discrimination because of certain characteristics. After much struggle, sexual orientation was added as a characteristic in 1986.

The flip side, however, is that equal treatment isn’t guaranteed if the characteristic isn’t listed. (Exception: a court may choose to “read in” a new characteristic that has been unconstitutionally omitted, but this is rare.) So a magazine can refuse to print ads for escort services, and a club can have a style code, because the Code doesn’t prohibit discrimination in the provision of services against prostitutes or the unstylish.

If you accept Harmony’s defence–that it feared a backlash from religious clients who would object to images of people having sex–then Harmony is probably in the clear. The characteristic of “having sex” is not listed in the Code, and it is (highly) unlikely to be read in.

This is, as the quote above notes, if you accept Harmony’s defence, and that you don’t instead believe that Harmony feared a backlash from religious clients who would object specifically to images of two men having sex.

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The gospel according to Dan Brown

New York Times columnist Ross Douhat (who does not look at all like David Brent … well, maybe just a little) believes that Dan Brown’s novels are successful not just because the books are cheesy page-turners, or because the notion that the Vatican conceals nasty little secrets is inherently interesting (especially to many Catholics), or even because, well, corny thrillers often sell huge, but because The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons (the film of which just opened to big numbers) present an alternative vision of faith, one more attuned to modern life:

Brown is explicit about this mission. He isn’t a serious novelist, but he’s a deadly serious writer: His thrilling plots, he’s said, are there to make the books’ didacticism go down easy, so that readers don’t realize till the end “how much they are learning along the way.” He’s working in the same genre as Harlan Coben and James Patterson, but his real competitors are ideologues like Ayn Rand, and spiritual gurus like Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. He’s writing thrillers, but he’s selling a theology.

[...]

For millions of readers, Brown’s novels have helped smooth over the tension between ancient Christianity and modern American faith. But the tension endures. You can have Jesus or Dan Brown. But you can’t have both.

Jesus and Dan Brown, then, are kind of like cake and cookies – you can only pick one.

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