Rebecca Higgins’s characters do weird things in their attempts to negotiate the world. They steal books and hide in bathrooms and treat grocery receipts like tarot cards. They may want solitude, even escape, but they don’t want to be invisible. They move between isolation and connection—on the internet, at uncomfortable parties, in a tent after Hurricane Katrina. These stories are about friendship and loneliness and the awkward, fumbling ways we try to love each other. We lie and leave things out, so often torn between hiding ourselves and needing to be seen.
“The stories in The Colours of Birds display their verve right from their opening sentences. They are playful and sympathetic, particularly to oddballs, and ultimately to all of us scrambling to navigate the surprising, mystifying business of being human.” —Catherine Bush, author of The Rules of Engagement and Accusation
“Rebecca Higgins’ debut collection of stories is bold, enchanting, and highly original. A wonderful, delightful read.” —Helen Humphreys, author of The Evening Chorus and Afterimage
“In The Colours of Birds, disillusioned Internet daters, heartbroken book thieves, lonely grocery receipt collectors, and lovesick builders of gingerbread houses take turns searching for meaning, fumbling for connection, and clinging to hope that something better is just around the corner. This is a charming, unsettling, and splendid debut.” —Jessica Westhead, author of Things Not to Do and And Also Sharks
“Cunning portraits of the lives around us” —Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star
Photo by Hayley Andoff
Rebecca Higgins has lived and worked in Ireland, Honduras, and Brazil. She has a background in social work and has worked in mental health education since 2011. Her short stories have appeared in such publications as the Toronto Star and the Antigonish Review. She lives in Toronto.
In You and Me, Belonging, Aaron Kreuter explores our contemporary world with insight, originality, and empathy. The stories in this debut collection are brimming with characters striving to fit in, to find their place in the world, to belong. A Jewish waitress has an affair with a Palestinian chef. A one-percenter self-destructs when he becomes obsessed with mastering the guitar. A university student stoned in Amsterdam hallucinates about Anne Frank on Birthright Israel. In the closing novella, a vanful of young women follows a fictional jam band across America, steeping in counterculture, music, and the ups and downs of the road. The collection is satiric and emotional, angry and hopeful, passionate and surprising. Like a wedding speech gone off the rails, like the best improvised music, You and and Me, Belonging takes readers to some unexpected places.
“You and Me, Belonging is a dazzling debut. Sexy, biting, and sharp. Kreuter’s prose is swift and clean. These stories are slyly funny while delivering a sucker punch to the heart. They are full of adventures and dashed dreams, art, sex, desire, and brawn. Brilliant.” —Lisa Moore, author of Caught
“In You and Me, Belonging, Aaron Kreuter captures our universal quest for belonging and meaning with great compassion and nuance. Told from a range of viewpoints, and spanning continents and decades, these beautifully conceived stories are at once boldly political and fiercely personal, and explore what it means to be young, Jewish, and North American in a messy, complex, and conflicted world.” —Ayelet Tsabari, author of The Best Place on Earth
“In writing that crackles and smoulders and leaves you checking your pants for burn holes, Aaron Kreuter maps the veinwork of the Jewish Toronto experience. Swill a bottle of honey, get haunted by Anne Frank, ride a waterslide into the unknown. On the surface, these are stories about suburbs and movie theatres, jam bands and A/V kingpins—beneath it all there’s a riptide of hectic passion and desperate intimacy. You and Me, Belonging steals beauty from wreckage, stashes love in all the right places.” —David Huebert, author of Peninsula Sinking
“Aaron Kreuter’s new collection is fresh and exciting. His enthusiasm for his characters and their stories draws the reader in and beckons continuation page after page. His descriptions are colorful; his dialogue is realistic. Kreuter really captures the whole jamband scene—our feelings, our joys, and our difficulties.” —Christy Articola, editor and publisher, Surrender to the Flow
“Outstanding debut collection of short stories. Kreuter quickly and powerfully establishes character, motivation and obstacle and draws the reader in towards the struggles of the respective protagonists… definitely one to read.” —Mira Sucharov, Canadian Jewish News
“Vivid stories full of various places and experiences that rise up off the page and touch ever so gently, the reader’s heart and mind.”—The Miramichi Reader
Photo by by Rick O’Brien
Aaron Kreuter writes poetry and fiction. He is the author of the poetry collection Arguments for Lawn Chairs. His work has appeared in various anthologies, magazines, and journals, including Best Canadian Poetry, Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Anthology, the Puritan, Grain Magazine, and the Temz Review. You and Me, Belonging is his first book of fiction. He lives in Toronto.
ISBN: 9781988040424 Price: $21.95 Pub date: Fall 2018
Tread and Other Stories is a moving, unsettling, and ferociously humane collection of short fiction. The characters are achingly real: the moments at once gut-wrenchingly singular and utterly recognizable. There’s a satisfying range here—from a female prison guard with a yen for bad boys to a lost young man who finds common ground with the French artist René Magritte. Dempster deftly explores the distortions that often accompany our closest relationships, and yet his gaze is always compassionate, never critical. He has created a series of intimacies, each built to make us feel things that we usually only allow ourselves to feel when we’re at our boldest: the desire to pinch the world and have the world pinch us back.
“Barry Dempster writes stories of the everyday that are not everyday stories. They release depth charges of feeling, unease, and strangeness too powerful for that. They take us to places we’ve known but never so vividly.” —Greg Hollingshead, author of Act Normal and Bedlam
“These marvellous stories by Barry Dempster are all about love—the striving for it, the rejection of it, and the unexpected collisions with it. These characters find love difficult. They don’t know the language; the survival skills they were taught as children fail them as adults; they want love but only on their terms. Dempster’s characters are often seemingly hapless, sometimes funny, bursting with baggage and startling moments of awareness. Always, they are heartbreaking in their resiliency and in their push for joy. Dempster knows how to write about the human heart, flawed and hopeful as it is.” —Leslie Greentree, author of A Minor Planet for You: and Other Stories
“Dempster’s stories do what all good short fiction should: give us characters who live and breathe and themes that braid themselves effortlessly around a memorable premise.” —Mark Sampson, Quill & Quire
Barry Dempster, twice nominated for the Governor-General’s Award, is the author of sixteen poetry collections, two novels, and two previous books of stories. His poetry collection The Burning Alphabet won the Chalmers Award for Poetry in 2005. In 2014, he was nominated for the Trillium Award for his novel The Outside World.
Acclaimed writer Richard Rosenbaum’s short stories range in genre from realism to speculative, and stylistically from literary to experimental. In his stunning first collection of short fiction, Things Don’t Break, readers will discover stories about relationships, robots, videogames, the moon, giant evil chickens, and more.
“Things Don’t Break is an amazing piñata of a book. Crack it open and out will fly all kinds of strange and wondrous things (including a robot or two). A truly smashing collection of stories.”—Neil Smith, author of Boo
“Richard Rosenbaum knows the way people work—the way they love, the way they hurt, the way they break. These are stories that fire on all the emotional cylinders. A Pandora’s box of the strange and beautiful things that live inside us all.”—Ian Rogers, author of Every House Is Haunted
Click here to read “Wrong Side of Heaven” from Things Don’t Break.
Richard Rosenbaum is the author of the novel Pretend to Feel (Now Or Never Publishing 2017), the novella Revenge of the Grand Narrative (Quattro Books 2014), and of Raise Some Shell (ECW Press 2014), a cultural history of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is also a regular contributor to the popular culture analysis website Overthinking It. He lives in Toronto.
H.W. Browne’s debut short fiction collection, A Moose in the Dark, questions our ways of knowing. In a world where cathedrals, churches, and temples no longer bind communities, hers is a search for connectivity. Whether a moose prepares the way for old friends desperate to communicate, or a skull saves a child from drowning, Browne’s stories risk the intervention of the uncanny, and immersion in the elements.
“Heather Browne had been known to me as an award-winning poet, and more recently a much anthologized short fiction writer. She has a unique style, meticulously rendering each word for the strongest narrative while maintaining a parallel under voice. Her imagery is priceless. A Moose in the Dark is tight, deep, yet sexy; a pleasure to read, savour, and reread.”—Wayne Curtis, author of In the Country
“Aflame with characters in pursuit of connection and salvation, this fine debut collection is saturated with language that is, like all the best truth-telling, both a conflagration and an inundation: seductive, slippery, and sometimes a little shifty-eyed.”—Diane Schoemperlen, author of This Is Not My Life
“A Moose in the Dark explores the complex loyalties of husbands and wives, lovers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. Browne offers a glimpse of the lives of ordinary people—a trucker, a shoe saleswoman, a school bus driver – illuminated briefly in the headlights, moments of disappointment, reconciliation and resignation. She writes those moments as they deserve to be written, in language rich with poetry and lightened by wit.” Kelly Cooper, author of Eyehill
“If you have a house, then there is always something to do—especially when the hours are stretching out in front of you like a long centre line on a dark night on a lonesome highway. In that time, civil dusk, that time just before it all goes black as pitch, you can make a homemade moose call and see what comes. Just as those were Heather Browne’s words, that moose call is exactly what she’s made, and so who comes to it? All those peculiar half-forgotten relatives who are just as human as we are—the quick and the dead, the old folks and the children, the long gone and now. Can Heather’s house stand up to all these visitors? If you run your hands over the wood, you will feel how well constructed it is, how she’s built it solid and sanded every beam. We don’t know if a moose will come or not, but we will. We can all live in Heather Browne’s house because that’s where we are already.”—Keith Maillard, author of Difficulty at the Beginning
“Communication, or the lack of it, is the theme of A Moose in the Dark, Heather Browne’s
debut collection of short stories, in which her characters strive to connect with one another and with the larger world, but for one reason or another do not… glimpses into the tragedies that lurk behind.”—Wayne Grady, Kingston Whig-Standard
“Contains stories that will—more frequently than not—leave you asking questions… which is a good indicator of the author’s short story writing skills. If you like the literary short story genre, then you will enjoy A Moose in the Dark.—Mirimachi Reader
H.W. Browne writes poetry and short fiction and received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of British Columbia. She has published several books of poetry, and her story, “Beach Glass,” was recognized as a notable short story by the judges for the 2014 Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award. A native New Brunswicker, she now lives in Ontario and continues mentoring creative writers, and of course, learning from the water.
Finalist for the 2017 Trillium Book Award!
Shortlisted for The 2017 Vine Award Award for Canadian Jewish Literature in the Fiction category!
Shortlisted for the 2017 ReLit Award!
In For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, Danila Botha explores the nuances and complexity of relationships, from love to betrayal. In these eighteen unforgettable stories, Botha creates characters so authentic, readers are convinced that they know them personally. As in her debut collection, Got No Secrets, Botha excels at blending literary techniques with popular zeitgeist. With her trademark honest and singular voice, Botha exposes the desire for human connection above all things. The collection is hopeful, fearless, and utterly relatable.
“Everyone in this book is alive. Painfully, nervously, ardently. This collection, (like Chekhov by way of Kathy Acker but utterly original), is truthful and dreamy, tough and tremulous; sad and aching, seductively, with hope.—Lynn Crosbie, author of Where Did You Sleep Last Night
“With an ear for poetry and a knack for tragedy, Danila Botha is an expert on yearning. These stories are for anyone who has ever loved and lost, but not let go.”—Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of Ghosted
“For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known is unlike anything I have ever read before. Unflinchingly honest in its examination of love in all its joyful, messy, agonizing, spectacularly beautiful glory, these stories seem to vibrate on their own emotional frequency. Danila Botha writes with a heartbreaking rawness and intensity that will continue to haunt you long after you’ve turned the final page.”—Amy Jones, author of We’re All In This Together
“I discovered [author Danila Botha] while I was reading books for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award specifically her delightful first story collection, Got No Secrets. These two stories are brand new, stories written in a gutsy, head-on, colloquial style about love, sex and mis-connection among the urban 20-somethings she knows so well. Her characters are all compulsively themselves, driven, probably always, to make a mess of things, but vulnerable, full of desire, and often touchingly witty.”—Douglas Glover, author of Elle
“A searing and beautifully forthright collection about the angst, chaos, tragedy and hope in the quest for love. A series of unique, riveting and perfect portrayals that pulls no punches. Reading these stories made me smile and made me want to smash things.”—Lisa de Nikolits, author of Between the Cracks She Fell
“For All the Men has Botha delivering smart prose that seamlessly balances humour, disappointment, and dysfunction… Botha is an incredibly fresh voice in Canadian literature, and this remarkably visceral and unforgettable collection feels like it’s only setting the stage for much more to come.”—Liz Worth, Quill & Quire
“I devoured this collection, and I hope Ms. Botha continues to hone her craft producing more stories with that healthy touch of realism that she has come to be recognised for.” —Miramichi Reader
“Each of these stories are real and honest, open and gut-wrenching, and Botha makes them jump out from the page into your mind. The characters are unforgettable. This book will stay with you for a long time, as you ponder your own understanding of love long after you have shut the last page.”—Laurie Burns, Atlantic Books Today
“Botha’s characters freely indulge in sex and drugs and copious amounts of alcohol in their quest to find succour or peace, though it becomes readily apparent that what they are most intent on discovering… is some sort of authentic connection with another human being… The author is undeniably familiar with modern urban ennui, and the stories in her collection have an admirable directness and grit.”— Steven W. Beattie, Globe and Mail
“A series of orchestral variations whose loops and iterations are made vital by the steady introduction of new elements… stories full of people who disappoint, or are disappointed, yet they rarely end on a note of despair, which in today’s Tinder-enabled relationship landscape seems almost like an act of subversion… She [Botha] has a fine talent…”—Emily Donaldson, Toronto Star
“Botha’s collection thoughtfully, tragically, and insightfully captures the peculiarities of modern relationships in the time of texting, online dating, and an unnerving urban detachment we’ve come to recognize as a normal thing.”—The Literary Lollipop
Photo: Ayelet Tsabari
Danila Botha is a fiction writer based in Toronto. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, she has lived in Israel, and in Nova Scotia. Her first collection of short stories, Got No Secrets, was praised by the Globe and Mail, the Chronicle Herald and the Cape Town Times. It was also named one of Britannica’s Books of the Year (Canadian short stories), and was published in South Africa in 2011. Her first novel, Too Much on the Inside, was shortlisted for the 2016 Relit Award and won a Book Excellence Award for Contemporary Novel. Her sophomore collection of short stories, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, was published in 2016 to rave reviews. It was also recently named a finalist for the 2017 Trillium Book Awards. She is currently working on her second novel and on a new collection of short stories. Read more on her website: www.danilabotha.com
Winner of a 2017 Ippy Awards Regional Bronze Medal for Fiction!
Shortlisted for the 2017 ReLit Award!
Kelley Aitken’s compelling short fiction collection is united by a sense of place, the Canadian Shield. Her nine short stories traverse an area between land and water; near and far, between the uncontrollable and the veneer of civility. They reflect, Janus-headed, on Nature and human nature. Canadian Shield addresses that anxious paradox between our yearning for the wild and our need for security—a profound dilemma of our time.
“Loss and longing, love, betrayal, and hard-won heart, the souls in these stories are mirrored in the Canadian wild. This is travel over tough terrain—river, rock, and the inner landscapes of people who search—these stories will stay with you for a long time.”—Kim Echlin, author of Under the Visible Life and The Disappeared
“Aitken writes dense, layered stories that play with temporality and use the natural world as a mirror for the psyches of her characters… Aitken’s stories are dark, but tremendously insightful and empathetic. This is a smart, haunting collection.”—Alexander De Pompa, Broken Pencil
“Aitken’s exquisite prose takes us on a profound journey from camp to bush to canoe in a deeply moving reflection on our relationships with ourselves and our surroundings.”—Goodreads
Photo by Zenia Buzanko
Kelley Aitken is a writer, artist, and teacher. Her book Love in a Warm Climate (The Porcupine’s Quill, 1998) was nominated for the Commonwealth Prize, Best First Book. Kelley has lived in the Philippines, Ecuador, and various parts of Canada. Born in British Columbia, Kelley makes her home in Toronto where she teaches drawing at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
In The Animal Game’s nine short stories, Kirsteen MacLeod takes us on a zigzag global journey in search of meaning. Haunting and frequently hilarious, this is a wayward meditation on travel and home, reality and illusion, and seeking one’s place in the world. Written with compassion and insight, the collection’s intersecting stories explore inner landscapes and countries of the heart – Brazil, Toronto, Bahamas, India. Readers are transported and return transformed, joining the book’s characters as they walk, and often stumble, down the uncertain path we all travel to find our true, essential selves.
“Kirsteen MacLeod’s stories about belonging and the search for a spiritual home are poignant reminders of what it is to be human. Beautifully written. The Animal Game is a fantastic debut.”—Helen Humphreys, author of The Evening Chorus
Kirsteen MacLeod’s linked stories are compelling geographies of the spirit, both global and interior, drawing us ever closer to the transformative power that breathes beneath the surface of all things, especially ourselves. The Animal Game is a captivating debut.—Diane Schoemperlen, author of Our Lady of the Lost and Found and This Is Not My Life
“MacLeod’s writing is vivid and deft. Darkly humorous and then suddenly touching—characters caught out in a slant of glancing sunlight.”—Tim Wynne-Jones, author of The Emperor of Any Place
“MacLeod has a gift for writing realistic depictions of mental and emotional states… The Animal Game is a fine debut with clear, vivid writing and intensely realized characters.”—Alexander De Pompa, Broken Pencil
“Engaging debut collection… MacLeod, a Kingston writer, writes with insight and affection for her characters.”—Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star
“Enlightening and beautifully written”—goodreads.com
Photo by Marco Reiter
Kirsteen MacLeod is a writer and yoga teacher who lives in Kingston, Ontario. The Animal Game is her debut collection of short fiction. Kirsteen was born in Glasgow, Scotland, lived in Toronto and Brazil, and has worked as a magazine writer, communicator, and editor for 30 years.
Finalist for the 2016 English Language Trillium Book Award! Longlisted for The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize!
Janette Platana’s cheerfully disturbing, gleefully outraged, and chillingly beautiful stories break open the lives of apparently ordinary people who struggle and sometimes succeed in living without compromise, refusing to sacrifice the world they sense to the world they see, and where things can be true without ever being real. The range of this accomplished and poetic voice may cause vertigo, owing, as it does, as much to the Clash to Stephen King, to Caitlin Moran as to Flannery O’Connor, and something to David Sedaris. A Token of My Affliction will make you laugh while breaking your heart wide open.
“Wild, witty and thought-provoking…”—Michelle Berry, author of Interference
“Janette Platana’s writing is brave and vivid and full of tender sacrilege.”—David Bergen, author of The Time in Between
“Platana questions where choices originate from and what factors make us choose certain paths and not others.”—Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating Canada
“So funny. So perfect; so true. I really haven’t got one negative thing to say about this book. You should read it. Janette Platana is one of our best.” —Richard Rosenbaum, Broken Pencil
“This is an impressive collection of short stories.”—goodreads.com
“This collection is as brilliant as it is terrifying… For Janette Platana, to have an affliction is to be a person… I highly recommend this book.”—Evelyn Deshane, The Rusty Toque
“I’ve never read anything quite as raw as Janette Platana’s first collection of short stories, A Token of My Affliction… if this is only Janette Platana’s debut collection, then we’ve all got a whole slew of incredible stories coming our way.—Galaxy Quill
“A magnifying glass that you hold up to an assortment of lives that look a lot like your own, and through that magnifying glass you see all the fascinating and horrible microscopic entities crawling over the surface and within the minuscule cracks of those lives.”—Andrew Forbes, 49th Shelf
Janette Platana’s poetry and fiction have appeared in literary magazines across Canada, in the U.S., and in Turkey. Originally from Saskatchewan, and with a background in indie bands and improv comedy, she now lives and writes in Peterborough, Ontario. Her short story, “Dear Dave Bidini,” won This Magazine‘s 2009 Great Canadian Literary Hunt. A Token of My Affliction is Janette’s debut collection of short fiction.
This short fiction collection examines the serendipity and spontaneity of history through stories about love, family, and art. Bruce Meyer offers a view that is both personal and panoramic in these heartfelt and surprising stories. The book features the post–WWI novella “A Chronicle of Magpies,” which tells the story of one family’s struggle to build their own paradise, a home and lakeside resort, in the gothic Canadian wilderness. The engrossing novella is the centerpiece to a rich collection of shorter narratives, which are told with the same keen eye and subtle lyricism.
“History and families, along with the events that inform both, lie at the heart of Bruce Meyer’s accomplished collection, A Chronicle of Magpies. These are stories that reach into the past to inform the present, and along the way help us do the same.”—Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist
“A haunting portrayal of Canadian families throughout time”—amazon.ca
“Meyer captures perfectly what it meant to be a Canadian at war and at home”—goodreads.com
Bruce Meyer is the award-winning author of forty-five books of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, and literary journalism. His most recent books include the forthcoming Arrow of Time (2015), The Obsession Book of Timbuktu (2014), Testing the Elements (2014), and The Seasons (2014), which won an IPPY Medal and was short-listed for the Indie-Fab Award. With Barry Callaghan he published the groundbreaking anthology, We Wasn’t Pals: Canadian Poetry and Prose of the First World War (with an afterword by Margaret Atwood). His spoken word work includes the CBC’s bestselling CD series, The Great Books and Great Poetry. His non-fiction volume The Golden Thread: A Reader’s Journey Through the Great Books was a national bestseller in 2000. He was the inaugural Poet Laureate of the City of Barrie and is professor of Creative Writing and Communications at Georgian College and Visiting Professor of Literature at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College. He lives in Barrie, Ontario.
Longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award!
In settings as varied as industrial England, the Syrian desert, urban Morocco, rural “expat” Spain, Canada’s West coast, and the China–Vietnam border, Royston Tester explores the very human struggles of people caught between cultures, social classes, lovers, family members, and sexualities. In “Dotty,” a young Canadian woman on a work-stay program in a Cornish village tries to make sense of her affair with an Italian factory owner. In “Who Knows Where,” two Canadian daughters grapple with their drug-addled mother whose lovemaking is haunted by the ghost of a stillborn baby. In “Face,” a lovesick Chinese Canadian student lays down the law to his ambitious father over a dinner of monkey brains. In unforgettable, stripped-down prose, the stories in this book observe, with an unflinching eye, those who dare to take steps further.
“You Turn Your Back is a vigorous and daring exploration of the limits of form and character. It is a demanding work, often asking the reader to witness and engage with situations of emotional duress and physical violence. It is also a work that rewards.”—Kerri Lu, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal
Royston Tester is the award-nominated author of the story collections Fatty Goes to China and Summat Else. His short fiction has appeared in North American, Asian, and European publications.
Kelly Ward’s debut collection of stories teems with characters just on the fringe of the mainstream, and each story examines the mundane and abject sides of normalcy. A middle-aged woman spends her life in the slot machine pit of a rural casino where she navigates her misplaced affections for two men: one a lifelong gambler and couch-surfing cad, the other a kid in his early 20s who makes her forget her own age and place in the world. Twenty-something newlyweds Asa and Maria attempt to conceive for the first six months of their marriage. When her apparent dream of becoming a mother doesn’t pan out quickly, Maria distances herself from Asa. A septuagenarian utilizes younger shoppers as pawns to make her weekly grocery-store jaunt that much easier to navigate. Each of Keep it Beautiful‘s characters find humor and beauty in unlikely places, while often playing victim—or at times accomplice—to their circumstances.
“Ward’s marginal characters—geriatric shoplifters, lovelorn gamblers, Zellers employees, OCD municipal workers—are curious curiosities. Ward lifts the everyday and everyman and transforms absurd disappointments and fragmented joys of the quotidian to reveal a fresh, intimate compassionate perspective, as all gifted writers do.”—Ibi Kaslik, author of Skinny and The Angel Riots
“Ward favour[s] shorter stories that provide just enough information to comprehend their characters’ motivations and morality, while simultaneously refusing to explain things in a blandly expository manner.”—The National Post
“Keep It Beautiful is full of characters both odd and endearing and makes for fantastic summer reading for short story lovers.”—Open Book Toronto
“The author’s deft facility with character and her willingness to trust her readers by infusing her stories with just the right degree of contingency mark her as an author to watch.”—Steve W. Beattie, 49th Shelf
“Observant and compassionate to the end”—goodreads.com
Kelly Ward is a freelance writer and editor whose fiction, poetry, and journalism have appeared in various publications across Canada, including Existere, Matrix Magazine, SubTerrain, Taddle Creek, Word Magazine, and various other literary journals. Her story, “A Girl And A Dog On A Friday Night,” was longlisted for the 2017 Journey Prize. She lives in Toronto.
Shortlisted for the 2015 ReLit Award, shortlisted for the High Plains Award, longlisted for The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award
The more than 70 stories in I Am Currently Working on a Novel are as diverse as a telephone conversation or your average ocean. There are stories set in Hollywood, London, and the bottom of the sea. There are also pieces about ghosts, robots, love, Pointillism, death, and immortality. Though seldom longer than a few pages, there is more mystery, sadness and sheer mania in Rolli’s slimmed-down fictions than a whole shelf-full of standard novels.
“As dazzling as they are brilliant, these stories are bursting with life. They sing. And they’re very funny too.”—Nik Perring, author of Freaks
“Because this is a magic book, as you absorb its people you begin to realize that the real people around you are and have always been impossible.”—Brian Conn, editor of Birkensnake
“Rolli’s eccentric, whimsical stories exhibit a style and a brand of comedy all his own. There is much to love about this collection for a general audience, but these stories will be most rewarding for Rolli’s fellow writers and artists.” — pankmagazine.com
“The seventy-five stories in mononymous author Rolli’s new flash-fiction collection, I Am Currently Working on a Novel, waver between whimsical and bleak. The best ones are both.”—heavyfeatherreview.com
“Rolli’s imagination is admirable, and his ability to make so much happen in so few words is deeply impressive. Each one of the stories in I Am Currently Working On A Novel is finely-crafted, a miniature triumph.” —neonmagazine.co.uk
Saskatchewan resident Rolli is a writer, cartoonist, and the author of God’s Autobio, Plum Stuff, Mavor’s Bones and Dr. Franklin’s Staticy Cat. His cartoons appear regularly in Reader’s Digest. He lives in Regina, SK.
Written in original, humorous, and innovative ways, these 11 richly, varied stories expose the risks in finding shelter in unaccommodating places. Exploring the precarious lives of an accident-prone Chinese construction worker with a dark secret, a fatally ill Canadian artist who remains in Beijing after the 2008 Olympics, a grieving barber who makes a gruesome discovery about his Czech lover, and a couple who make a shocking, last-minute decision about their adoptive child, these unforgettable narratives—both dark and emotional—travel from China to Canada and Europe to convey vivid descriptions and a nostalgic appeal.
“When you’re in the mood for a challenge–when you need to stretch your thinking muscles a bit–I highly recommend Fatty Goes to China. It’s not a perfect book, and it may perplex you often, but it’s haunting and damned interesting. I won’t forget this book.”—insatiablebooksluts.com
“Royston Tester is a revelation”—Susie Bright
Royston Tester is an associate editor for online Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. He is the author of the story collections You Turn Your Back and Summat Else. His short fiction has appeared in North American, Asian, and European publications.
From critically acclaimed poet and novelist Jim Nason comes a collection of vivid and affecting stories about the brief moments that change lives. The characters in the book’s eleven stories live in a world upside down. From the young professional who leaves her high-powered job to explore street life as a graffiti artist, to the gay man who falls in love with a woman, to the spin class fanatic who learns that there’s a fine line between fitness and addiction, these excessive and radical characters create pandemonium wherever they go. Inspired by everyday people riding the TTC, Jim Nason has crafted a collection of gender- and expectation-bending stories that reveal the extraordinary and often heartbreaking truths behind ordinary life. Poignant and uplifting, The Girl on the Escalator is a fresh look at the world right outside our door.
Praise for The Girl on the Escalator:
“With an unflinching eye—and evoking ‘lapsed’ territories of Raymond Carver and Norman Levine—Jim Nason guides us artfully, and with cutting-edge wit, through a marginalized world whose quiet, devastating terror is that it may be our own . . . Tough, acutely observed, and tender, the stories in this collection bear the hallmark of a prodigious downtown seer whose unforgettable voice is distinctly his own. A gem of a work.—Royston Tester, author of Summat Else
“Nason’s well-drawn characters push themselves to the limit, whatever the limit, and keep going. One excellent story after another, original and very polished. His descriptions and dialogue are right on target—Nason is a terrifically good writer.”—Elisavietta Ritchie, author of In Haste I Write You This Note: Stories and Half-Stories
Praise for The Housekeeping Journals:
“Nason offers readers a glimpse into characters who are bitter and wise, funny and dignified . . . gorgeously and with grace, glimpses into the beautifully fought lives and deaths of his characters.”—Mary Horodyski, Prairie Fire
Jim Nason’s award-winning poems and stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies across the United States and Canada, including The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008 & 2010. He has published three books of poetry: If Lips Were as Red (Palmerston Press), The Fist of Remembering (Wolsak and Wynn), Narcissus Unfolding (Frontenac House). His debut novel, The Housekeeping Journals, was released to critical acclaim by Turnstone Press in 2007. He lives in Toronto.
A startling and original new voice that owes as much to Black Flag and Bikini Kill as it does to J.D. Salinger and Heather O’Neill. A South African copywriter is transplanted to the urban jungle of Manhattan. A recovering rape victim tries to resume a normal life. A Toronto nurse cuts herself to fill her emptiness. In Got No Secrets, Danila Botha takes us into the private lives of twelve different women, with only one question in mind: What if these women were you? From addiction to abuse, from childhood to suicide, from Hillbrow, Johannesburg, to downtown Toronto, Botha’s prose is compassionate, provocative, often funny, and always fearless.
“Intensely original and fantastically written.”—The Literary Lollipop
“Danila Botha is an emerging literary lioness on Canada’s literary landscape… Got No Secrets packs an emotional wallop…powerful and poignant…an honest and freshly forthright debut that is filled with the headaches and heartburns of youth gone awry…”—The Halifax Chronicle Herald
“Danila Botha’s debut collection of short stories makes the personal political. With clear diction, Botha’s prose packs a punch. There’s no skirting the issues, masquerading behind metaphor or dancing between the lines.”—The Coast
“The writing is stark, honest and stripped-down, making no excuses, just like the classic punks that see frequent mention throughout. The question that Got No Secrets asks is: exactly where does bad parenting end and self-determination begin?”—Broken Pencil
“Botha’s story telling technique seamlessly blends tragedy and humour, making this collection a must have”—Reading the Rails, Toronto Word on the Street
Danila Botha was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She volunteered with Na-me-res, an organization benefiting the homeless, which inspired many of the stories in Got No Secrets. Her writing has appeared in 24 Hours, Yoink! Magazine, and NOW. She lives in Toronto. http://www.danilabotha.com
Fall in love with Julia, an adolescent guerrilla; witness Robin wax philosophic with Batman on regret and loss.
Paul Hong unloads animals, superheros, Korean children, and a Native elder into a big city that rhymes with Doronto. Any reader is like the detective that weaves through this collection of short stories to uncover everyday mysteries. Hong’s stories are a blend of hearsay, folklore and opaque traditions leading us to the simple treasures buried beneath our feet.
Toronto writer Paul Hong‘s short fiction, inspired by everything from religious parables to pulp fiction, has appeared in Blood and Aphorisms, Broken Pencil, Mix Magazine, Kiss Machine and in the anthology Geeks, Misfits and Outlaws edited by Zoe Whittall. Hes also the advice columnist, formerly known as Mr. Well-Hung, for Kiss Machine magazine since 2001.
The stories in After the Fires light the dark places where reality burns away to reveal something fantastical.
In these stories Ursula Pflug’s worlds unfold like waking dreams where what was forgotten is remembered. Her narrators accept these shadow worlds as their truth and the reader is seduced into following along to see what has been refashioned and lies waiting to be discovered among the ashes that remain after the fires.
“A mind-tantalising book… evidence of a significant North American short-story writer”—DF Lewis, Dreamcatcher Real-time Reviews
“Ursula Pflug’s stories are the kind you want to carry around with you for those days when it feels like you’re living in a strange and incomprehensible world; her stories will make you feel less alone. They are wondrous and unique little creatures… they are sly and joyous, scary and entrancing, profound, unsettling, amusing, and utterly—perfectly!—unique.” —Matthew Cheney, editor, Best American Fantasy
Ursula Pflug is author of the novel Green Music (Tesseract Books, 2002.) She is also an award winning short story writer, professionally produced playwright, book reviewer, and creative writing instructor.