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News, Events, and Announcements

news | Thursday January 6, 2022

Big Snow, Outside and On the Page

As we have just had a big snow at Talonbooks, we thought you might like “Big Snow” from M.A.C. Farrant‘s One Good Thing: A Living Memoir.

Dear Helen,
How are you getting on in the snow? We’ve been having a few
days of “real winter,” haven’t we? I realize it’s laughable to anyone
east of Vancouver for us to be making such a big deal about it,
but it’s a rare event in our otherwise mild climate, and a little
exciting. Were you snowed in? We were – for a day.
When the roads were finally cleared, I made the trip into
Sidney for supplies – food, mainly, and candles. Traffic in Sidney
was frantic. Everyone, it seemed, was sharing the same survivalist
mentality I was.

Download the full PDF of “Big Snow” here.

news | Wednesday January 5, 2022

Snowy Day Reading Recommendation

We would like to recommend The Weight of Snow by Christian Guay-Poliquin and translated by David Homel as a book perfect for all the recent snowy weather.

A badly injured man. A nationwide power failure. A village buried in snow. A desperate struggle for survival. These are the ingredients of The Weight of Snow. After surviving a major accident, the book’s protagonist is entrusted to Matthias, a taciturn old man who agrees to heal his wounds in exchange for supplies and a chance of escape. The two men become prisoners of the elements and of their own rough confrontation as the centimetres of snow accumulate relentlessly. Surrounded by a nature both hostile and sublime, their relationship oscillates between commiseration, mistrust, and mutual aid. Will they manage to hold out against external threats and intimate pitfalls?

Purchase your copy here, and stay warm!

news | Thursday December 23, 2021

Happy Holidays from Talonbooks

The Talonbooks team wishes you and your loved ones health and joy in 2022. Please be advised that our office will be closed December 24 to January 4. We will resume our regular office hours (9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST) on Thursday, January 6, 2022, as we will be doing inventory January 4 and 5. Please email us at info@talonbooks.com if you have any questions. Happy Holidays!

news | Friday December 17, 2021

Holiday Book Recommendation

The Talon team recommends I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson as a cozy read for this holiday season.

“By June, Philip’s view of English Bay, what’s left of it, will be utterly gone. It was always going to happen. For years now, it’s been getting harder and harder to see what’s out there. For years now, it’s been getting harder and harder to know what to do.”

Eight linked stories, all set around Christmastime in Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood, explore the seasonal tug-of-war between expectation and disappointment. These tales give shelter to characters from various walks of life whose experience of transcendence leaves them more alienated than consoled.

I Saw Three Ships captures a West End community vanishing under pressure from development and skyrocketing real-estate prices. As arch as they are elegiac, as funny as they are melancholy, these stories honour a cherished period in the history of the West End. Sometimes twisted, sometimes tender, I Saw Three Ships will speak to all who have ever been stuck spinning their wheels at the corner of Heathen and Holy.

Pick up your copy here, just in time for the holidays.

news | Wednesday December 15, 2021

Two Talon Writers Make the CBC Best Canadian Poetry List

We are delighted to announce that A History of the Theories of Rain by Stephen Collis and OЯACULE by Nicole Raziya Fong have made CBC’s Best Canadian Poetry of 2021 list.

A History of the Theories of Rain explores the strange effect our current sense of impending doom has on our relation to time, approaching the unfolding climate catastrophe through its dissolution of the categories of “man-made” and “natural.” How do we go on with our daily lives while a disastrous future impinges upon every moment?

Stephen Collis provides no easy answers and offers no simple hope. Instead, he probes our current state of anxiety with care, humour, and an unflinching gazing into the darkness we have gathered around ourselves. Asking what form a resistance to the tenor of these out-of-joint times might take, A History of the Theories of Rain explores the links between climate’s “tipping points” and the borders constraining the plants, animals, and peoples forcibly displaced by a radically altered world ecology.

Pick up your copy of A History of the Theories of Rain here.

OЯACULE occurs at the intersection of poetry and theatre. The book’s dramatis personae inhabits a classical and cosmological world where psychic phenomena constantly threaten to impinge upon the arc of combat occurring between the women trapped within. Influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, the writings of Plato and Homer, and the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini, OЯACULE interweaves lyric expression of dreams, theatrical dialogue, songs, and the voices of both chorus and anti-chorus, interrogating the tenuous relations between absence and time, dream and memory, and conscious and unconscious sensing.

Grab your copy of OЯACULE here.

Check out the CBC’s full list here.

Congratulations, Stephen Collis and Nicole Raziya Fong!

news | Friday December 10, 2021

Talonbooks Office Holiday Closure

Just a friendly reminder that our office will be closed from Friday, December 24 at 12:00 p.m. to January 5 at 9:30 a.m. We would like to thank our readers and writers for all their support in 2021. We wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season. We will see you all in the new year!

news | Friday December 10, 2021

One and Half of You, a CBC Top Pick

We are proud to announce that One and Half of You by Leanne Dunic has been picked by the CBC as one of the best Canadian nonfiction titles of 2021.

From the talented multidisciplinary artist, musician, and writer Leanne Dunic comes the lyric memoir One and Half of You. In sinuous language, with candour, openness, and surprising humour, Dunic explores her biracial upbringing on Vancouver Island, her connection to music, her relationship with her brother, and how she finds connection and community that helps her understand who she is and who she wants to be.

Pick up your copy here, and check out the full list of CBC’s Best Canadian Nonfiction Books of the Year here.

news | Monday December 6, 2021

Painting Time Makes The Guardian's Best Fiction of 2021 List

We are pleased to announce that Painting Time by Maylis de Kerangal and translated by Jessica Moore has made The Guardian‘s Best Fiction of 2021 list.

Painting Time plunges readers into the world of Paula Karst, a young woman who discovers a passion for trompe l’oeil painting techniques. After beginning her studies at the famous Institut de Peinture in Brussels, Paula meets two new lifelong friends – both enigmatic, resourceful, impulsive, and gifted. Together the three weave a complex relationship that mirrors the interconnectedness of their artistic materials. Replicating the grain of wood, the wear of marble, or the protrusion on a tortoiseshell requires method, technique, talent … but also something else. Paula strives to understand what she’s painting, both the “micro” that she is and the complex “macro” of the world and its history.

Paula’s apprenticeship is punctuated by hard work, sleepless nights, sore muscles, and saturnalian evenings. After completing her studies, she continues to practise her art in Paris, in Moscow, and then in Italy at Cinécittà, on the sets of great films – dream factories! – as if rehearsing for her grand finale: Lascaux IV, a life-sized replica of the world’s most famous paleolithic cave art and a zenith of human cultural expression.

In this exquisite and highly aesthetic coming-of-age novel, Kerangal mirrors the enchanted materialism of her protagonist’s artistic journey in her rich, lyrical prose.

Buy your copy here.

Check out The Guardian‘s full list here.

news | Wednesday November 24, 2021

Drew Hayden Taylor, an Influential Indigenous Author in Canada

We are pleased to announce that Drew Hayden Taylor has been named an Influential Indigenous Author in Canada in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Taylor is from the Curve Lake Reserve in Ontario. His plays have garnered many prestigious awards, and his beguiling and perceptive storytelling style has enthralled audiences in Canada, the United States, and Germany. Taylor has also written over 30 fiction and non-fiction books that have questioned, informed, and challenged readers regarding what it means to be Indigenous. Additionally, Taylor contributes to various publications as a freelance columnist looking at issues through an Indigenous lens.

Check out Taylor’s full list of works here by clicking on the Books tab in the top left corner.

Congrats, Drew Hayden Taylor!

news | Friday November 12, 2021

Phyllis Webb In Memoriam


April 8, 1927 – November 11, 2021
Officer of the Order of Canada
Recipient, Governor General’s Award for Poetry
CBC Broadcaster

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Phyllis Jean Webb on November 11, 2021, at 10 a.m. She died peacefully, on her own terms, at Lady Minto Hospital in Ganges, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. “‘I am happy, so happy,’” she said a few days before her death, echoing the last words Gerald Manley Hopkins, one of her favourite poets, spoke as he was dying.

Phyllis was a celebrated and influential writer, admired for her carefully crafted poems, her innovation with form and line, and the unflinching honesty and sharpness of vision through which she wrote about the human condition. Peacock Blue: The Collected Poems of Phyllis Webb (2014), edited by John F. Hulcoop, is a dazzling testament to her masterful use of language and the range of her poetic voice. The main influences on her poetry in her early years may have been male, but she “dispatched” those literary “fathers to the river Lethe,” and began writing, as fellow poet Sharon Thesen put it, in a “female-embodied poetic voice.”

The youngest child of Mary and Alfred Webb, Phyllis was born and raised in Victoria, B.C. She was eager to get off the island as a teenager, and she did so. She lived in London, Paris, San Francisco, Montreal, Edmonton, and Vancouver, yet she ended up spending the last decades of her life closer to home, in Victoria but primarily on Salt Spring Island. She received a BA in English and philosophy from the University of British Columbia. She was twenty-two years old when in 1949 she ran as an election candidate for the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the youngest person ever in the Commonwealth to seek office. She didn’t win, but she maintained an abiding interest in political and social issues, including the Russian tradition of anarchism, specifically Peter Kropotkin, a figure that inspired some of her poetry. She once called herself “a law-abiding anarchist.”

She worked as a secretary in the 1950s and as a freelancer for CBC. Between 1967 and 1969 she was the executive producer of Ideas, the CBC program she co-founded with William A. Young. Following her freelance work for CBC, she taught poetry in the creative writing programs at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and the Banff Centre, and was writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta.

When, circa 1990, “words abandoned” her, she put her typewriter aside, henceforth only used for the letters she wrote to friends, and picked up a camera. She created collages out of the photographs she took, the first step toward becoming a self-taught painter. She continued to paint and write letters until her arthritic fingers dictated otherwise. A voracious yet discriminating reader, one of the last things she read was the most recent issue of Brick, a literary magazine that she hadn’t read for a long while but which she specifically asked for. “Still zany,” she told the friend who sent it to her.

Though Phyllis was intensely private, she cherished old and new friends and was a most loyal and caring friend herself. She will be deeply missed by many.

She is survived by her beloved nieces, Starr Webb, Paola Unger, Sarah Webb, and sister-in-law Marianne Webb. Phyllis was predeceased by her brothers Walter and Gerald.

Our sincere thanks to the nursing and care staff at Lady Minto Hospital for their care, kindness, and generosity to Phyllis and us all over the last few months.

Following Phyllis’s request, there will be no memorial service. A celebration of her poetry and painting will be planned at a later point.

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a pick-the-path experience
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