Deni Ellis Béchard is the author of Vandal Love (Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book); Of Bonobos and Men (Grand Prize winner of the Nautilus Book Award for investigative journalism); and Into the Sun (Midwest Book Award for literary fiction, selected by CBC Radio Canada as one of 2017’s Incontournables and one of the most important books of the year to be read by Canada’s political leaders).
His new non-fiction collection, My Favourite Crime, ranges across the world and over a wide array of contemporary issues. Divided into five sections, all united by a recurring consideration of how writing helps transform our understanding of our family, of ourselves, and of the world, the book addresses a range of disparate topics, including the author’s tumultuous relationship with his father, and the temptation to lapse back into crime when one has been raised with it.
Today, we are sharing the collection’s titular essay, “My Favourite Crime.”
My Favourite Crime
There’s a story my father often told me. I imagine most boys hear stories from their fathers, but not this sort. It was about a bank heist in 1967, the burglary of half a million dollars in West Hollywood. He called it the Big Job, an elaborate crime he’d started plotting when he was first incarcerated. Prison, he liked to say, turned him into a professional. He went in a petty crook and left wanting to do the Big Job, not unlike the way I went to college to study writing and left dreaming of the great American novel.
We are so pleased that BC and Yukon Book Prize–winner Mercedes Eng’s new book, my yt mama, has arrived in-house. my yt mama is a collection of poems that considers historic and contemporary colonial violence in the Canadian prairies, a settler geography and state of mind that irrevocably shaped Eng’s understanding of race as person of colour born and raised in Treaty 7 Territory in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
In a recent paper edition of the Globe and Mail, the Paper Hound bookstore recommended my yt mama, writing, “[h]er books Mercenary English and Prison Industrial Complex Explodes are sharply observed and incredibly poignant/personal long poems; her latest title my yt mama just came out and is, predictably, quite brilliant.” If you’re in Vancouver, call the Paper Hound at 604-428-1344 to order your copy; if you’re outside of Vancouver, order at talonbooks.com/books/my-yt-mama.
Here, we are sharing a three-poem sequence from my yt mama.
A playful and macabre narrative tour de force, structured like a matryoshka doll, Impurity weaves a complex web of interlocking narratives in multiple voices and a variety of forms. The bestselling author Alice Livingston is dead, leaving her philosopher husband, Antoine, dealing with a legacy towards which he has felt increasingly estranged. Confronted with his wife’s much reported disappearance, Antoine revisits their past relationship: open and liberated on the outside, but constrained and even deviant on the inside.
We are happy to share the excerpt, below, from Larry Tremblay’s new novel, Impurity, translated by Sheila Fischman.
Why does he work himself into such a state? Antoine waits nervously for the journalist’s arrival. He has vacuumed the living room and cleared up the dirty dishes in the kitchen. Claire Langlois arrives on time. He figures that she’s at most twenty-five. He shows her into the living room, offers coffee. She comments on the paintings on the walls. Finds them interesting. Whenever someone describes something as interesting he forms two conflicting hypotheses: either the thing in question is worthless or the person who drops the hollow remark knows nothing about the thing in question. Antoine grows tense. Still, he can’t help commenting on the young woman’s dress. Elegant. He’s just paid her a compliment. The journalist tackles the first question:
Today, we’re excerpting “she who had scanned the flower of the world,” a poem from Laiwan’s TENDER, which just arrived in-house at Talon.
a celebration of spring, the coming of light and longer days. a metaphor for a working psychic ecology. towards a sensual economy and its embodiment
we learn to name the oppressor and the name becomes oppressive
this is the logic of repression
she who had scanned the flower of the world
Today, we are sharing a video performance of Oana Avasilichioaei’s “Operator,” from Eight Track.
Operator is a multimedia performance. The concept, text, images, and sound are by Oana Avasilichioaei, and the VFX and video editing are by Jessie Altura.
Operator explores the subject position(s) of military drone operators engaged in the act of tracking, identifying, and ultimately destroying. The performance deals with violence and may not be suitable for all audiences.
We are so pleased that Margaret Christakos’s charger has arrived in-house!
A moving new collection from award-winning poet, novelist, critic, and creative-writing instructor Margaret Christakos, charger considers our plugged-in selves, and the technologies that deliver us to each other.
The book is particularly relevant as we practice physically distancing while socially connecting online!
Most of Talonbooks’ staffers are now working from home, as the world is a little bit strange at the moment!
But we are happy to share yet another good piece of news about Bill Richardson’s I Saw Three Ships with you. In addition to being nominated, last week, for The BC and Yukon Book Prizes’ Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award, I Saw Three Ships is celebrating its eleventh consecutive week on the BC Bestseller list!
Our hearty congratulations to Bill!
Our Spring 2020 launch, which was to take place on April 2 at Pyatt Hall in Vancouver, featuring Cecily Nicholson hosting, and Arleen Paré, Gladys Hindmarch, Margaret Christakos, Laiwan, and Mercedes Eng reading from their new books, has been postponed.
We will be rescheduling. In the meantime, please follow the links below to order the books of our wonderful, talented Spring authors.
Arleen Paré: Earle Street.
Gladys Hindmarch: Wanting Everything.
Margaret Christakos: Charger.
Mercedes Eng: my yt mama.
Many of the events that Talon authors have been scheduled to participate in are being either postponed or cancelled. We will be regularly updating our events page. As well, we are taking a wait and see approach about our April 2 Spring launch.
We are so proud of our Spring 2020 season books, and our Talon authors – but it is important to prioritize community health and well-being.
Please consider supporting our authors by using our website to order books you’d been planning to pick up at events.
We are so pleased to announce that Bill Richardson’s I Saw Three Ships has been nominated for the The BC and Yukon Book Prizes’ Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award!
The Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award is presented to the originating publisher and author of the best book in terms of public appeal, initiative, design, production, and content.
Logging on today to announce the arrival of a book we’ve been pining after for quite some time!
A lyrical collection focussing on a specific street and on a particular tree growing there, Earle Street, by Governor General’s Award winner Arleen Paré, takes the concept of street and urban living, the houses on the street, the neighbours, the boulevard trees and wildlife, and the street’s history as a poetic focal point. The book is divided into four sections, each of which differently considers the poet’s home street – as a river, as an arboretum, as a window, and finally as a whole world – resulting in an extended meditation on place, community, and lesbian domesticity that is at once poetic and philosophical. “Start from the inside,” Paré writes, “as though organic, as though building from inside a seed.” Here is the macrocosm reflected, examined, and refracted through the microcosm of a single, quiet neighbourhood street.
We are positively blooming with excitement to announce that Laiwan’s debut book of poetry, TENDER, is fresh from the press!
Within the contours of TENDER lie field notes from a life lived across multiple affinities, kinships, and desires. Visual and textual, TENDER is a beautifully complex collection spanning thirty years of curious inquiry into our shared human–animal condition. Laiwan traverses diverse terrains – the body, land, language – which are rooted in her courageous and uncompromising history of activism and in experiences of building community across and beyond difference. TENDER offers a radical and decolonizing cleansing of all that oppresses and alienates.
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Talon poet and environmentalist Ken Belford. Ken gave unstintingly to poetics in British Columbia for over fifty years, playing an integral role in writing and publishing in northern British Columbia. He also holds a unique place in Talon’s history as the author of our first published book: Fireweed, released in 1967.
His nine other published books are The Post Electric Caveman, Sign Language, Pathways Into the Mountains, Ecologue, When Snakes Awaken, Lan(d)guage: a Sequence of Poetics, Decompositions, Internodes, and Slick Reckoning. The last three are still in print with Talonbooks.
The “self-educated lan(d)guage” poet wrote that living for decades in the “back country” afforded him a unique relationship to language that rejects the colonial impulse to write about nature, but speaks from the regions of the other.
“The conventional standards of narrative and lyric poetry give me nothing. The intention of the sequences I write is to assemble words that can be messaged to the habituated souls of the city from the land-aware that live outside city limits.”
We will continue to listen to Ken’s voice.
We are so pleased to announce that Mercedes Eng’s wonderful new book of poetry, my yt mama is fresh in-house from the printer!
In the follow-up to her BC Book Prize-winning book of poetry, Prison Industrial Complex Explodes, Eng continues her poetic investigation of racism and colonialism in Canada, weaponizing the language of the nation-state against itself in the service of social justice. my yt mama is a collection of poems that considers historic and contemporary colonial violence in the Canadian prairies, a settler geography and state of mind that irrevocably shaped Eng’s understanding of race as person of colour born and raised in Treaty 7 Territory in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Like the author herself, my yt mama is hybrid: part memoir, part history, part discourse analysis, part love letter to her mother.
We are so pleased to welcome Cissy, a collection of three powerful, intensely relevant plays on gender and young LGBTQ+ folk by the acclaimed playwright Dave Deveau.
In Nelly Boy, an unknown man sits in a nondescript room trying to discover how Nelly came to be running naked along the side of a six-lane highway. My Funny Valentine examines the 2008 murder of fourteen-year-old Lawrence Laetitia King, who’d asked Brandon McInerney to be their valentine. Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls is the story of nine-year-old Fin, a trans boy whose love for the circus infuses the energy of the play, as Fin’s family works to understand and adjust to his gender identity.
Kim Senklip Harvey’s play, Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story, is a high-energy Indigenous matriarchal story that follows two urban Indigenous sisters and a lawless Trickster who face the world head-on as they come to terms with what it means to honour who they are and where they come from.
As she worked on the print version of the play, Kim reflected on working with Indigenous Matriarch Nancy Saddleman to translate the n̓səl̓xcin̓ parts of her play: “I deliberately wrote moments to be unearthed, moments where you have to switch your paradigm into a Syilx one.”
Talon author Laiwan, whose poetry book TENDER is forthcoming this Spring, has just unveiled a new art project in New Westminster, B.C.
WANDER: Toward a Lightness of Being (2019) is a public art project created in collaboration with UBC’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS) and commissioned by TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transportation network, and the City of New Westminster. The art project is located at the 22nd Street Skytrain Station Bus Exchange, 649 22nd St, New Westminster, B.C.
WANDER encourages playful discovery of and advocacy for the lives of phytoplankton, making visible the water critters inhabiting the Fraser River, collected for this project from nearby the 22nd Street Bus Exchange site. The artwork aims to encourage curiosity among commuters and the general public about the natural and built environment surrounding this site.
The project simulates a ‘hidden object activity’ where commuters and audiences have opportunity to locate the twenty-two icons and a number of haikus on site. Some designs may not be immediately obvious, but all can be found in a variety of forms, surfaces or possibilities
For more information please visit: https://www.laiwanette.net/#/wander/.
We’re happy to be sharing another Christmas-y tale from M.A.C. Farrant this almost-Christmas! Talon’s offices will be closed from the afternoon of December 24th, reopening the morning of January 2nd. Happy holidays, everyone!
We’ve seen stains on tea towels that look like Jesus Christ’s face so we know he exists. And we know that dried seaweed can save the Douglas fir from extinction so we hang dried seaweed from the tree’s branches.
And the story about the woman estranged from the banking industry is true. She lost all her money to fiscal fraud and now her days are long and cold. So we pray to the banking industry not to do the same thing to us.
But some people don’t pray at all, believing the practice to be old-fashioned. My friend Warren is like that. He says he’d rather trust the presence of hamburgers in his life to render it benign. He told me this at a party.
Most people, though, believe that the greatest prayer we will ever say for ourselves and our children is that none of us falls from the sky or falls into a grave too soon.
Children, of course, pray to shells brought back from the beach for unexpected joy to visit. A woman I know named Andrea Sumner does this, too. She arranges shells along with rocks, feathers, and pieces of dried kelp in a circle on her living-room rug and claims good results.
Then there are people believing there are giants everywhere. And there are. You and I are just not one of them.
And in case you’re wondering about all those composite pictures tacked onto telephone poles in recent weeks? It’s Jesus Christ again. The pictures are meant to show what he’d look like if he were alive today and sixty-nine years old and lost. Like practically everyone we know.
From The World Afloat, 2014
“Wanderers. All of them. All the Desrosiers, never satisfied, always searching elsewhere for something better …”
Renowned Québec author Michel Tremblay’s Desrosiers Diaspora series spans the North American continent in the early years of the twentieth century. In nine linked books, this 1,400-page family saga provides the backstory for some of Tremblay’s best-loved characters, particularly Rhéauna, known as Nana, who later becomes the eponymous character in Tremblay’s award-winning first novel, The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant, and who is based on Tremblay’s own mother. The Desrosiers Diaspora follows Nana and the other remarkable Desrosiers women, including Nana’s grandmother, Joséphine, and her mother and aunts, Maria, Teena, and Tittite, as they leave and return to the tiny village of Sainte-
The first four volumes of the Desrosiers Diaspora series have been translated into English by Sheila Fischman and Linda Gaboriau and published by Talonbooks. English translations of novels five through nine are forthcoming. In French, they were published by Leméac Éditeur.
In the first volume, Crossing the Continent, we find Nana living with her two younger sisters, Béa and Alice, on her maternal grandparents’ farm in Sainte-
The story continues in Crossing the City, where we meet Maria as she leaves the city of Providence, Rhode Island, pregnant and alone; we also meet Nana in Montréal, two years later. Having crossed the continent from her grandparents’ farm in Saskatchewan, Nana now traverses the city, alone, in an attempt to buy train tickets to reunite her family. Crossing the City includes vivid descriptions of Montréal’s early-twentieth-century neighbourhoods, which Nana traverses as she makes her journey.
The third novel in the series, A Crossing of Hearts, opens during a stifling heat wave in Montréal in August 1915, as war rages in Europe. The three Desrosiers sisters – Tititte, Teena, and Maria – have been planning a vacation in the mountains, to do nothing but gossip, laugh, drink, and overeat while basking in the sun. Maria’s children beg to come along. Reluctantly, Maria takes her children on the week-long trip to the Laurentians. As the reader views the journey through young Nana’s eyes, we come to understand the impoverished circumstances they leave behind in Montréal, only to find poverty evermore present in the country. Yet it feels good to get out of town, and encounters with rural relatives crystallize young Nana’s true feelings for her mother, as confidences and family secrets fuse day into night.
Rite of Passage, just published, finds Nana at the crossroads of the end of childhood, facing the passing of her adolescence and the arrival of new responsibilities as her grandmother Joséphine approaches her last hours. To calm the storm, Nana reads the enthralling tales of Josaphat-the-Violin – a returning character in Tremblay’s Plateau Mont-Royal Chronicles. Three of Josaphat’s fantastical stories contain revelations whose full influence in her own existence Nana cannot yet measure. In parallel, Nina’s rebellious mother, Maria, languishes back in Montréal. She is torn between her desire to gather her young family around her and her deep uncertainty about being able to care for them properly.
Next in the series will be The Grand Melee, translated by Sheila Fischman, to be published in Fall 2020.
For even more information about this series and Tremblay’s other linked works, check out this piece about the development of the character of Nana!
Rite of Passage, the awaited fourth instalment in Michel Tremblay’s enthralling and intensely moving Desrosiers Diaspora series of novels, translated from French by the critically acclaimed and long-time Tremblay specialist Linda Gaboriau, has just arrived in house!
At the crossroads at the end of childhood, Nana faces the hectic passing of her adolescence and the arrival of new responsibilities as her grandmother Joséphine approaches her last hours. To calm the storm, Nana reads the enthralling tales of Josaphat-le-Violon – a returning character in Tremblay’s Plateau-Mont-Royal Chronicles. Three of Josaphat’s fantastical stories contain revelations whose full influence in her own existence Nana cannot yet measure. In parallel, Nina’s rebellious mother Maria languishes back in Montréal. She is torn between her desire to gather her young family around her and her deep uncertainty about being able to care for them properly. Always in search of what’s “best” and what’s “elsewhere,” will Maria seize the opportunity “which only hits the door of life once”?
Novels Crossing the Continent (2008 Prix du grand public Salon du livre de Montréal / La Presse), Crossing the City (2009 Prix du grand public Salon du livre de Montréal / La Presse), and A Crossing of Hearts, instalments one, two, and three in Tremblay’s saga, were all published by Talonbooks.
If you haven’t yet, pick up your copy of I Saw Three Ships today!
Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story, by Kim Senklip Harvey with The Fire Company, has arrived in-house at Talon!
Come along for the ride to Kamloopa, the largest Powwow on the West Coast. This high-energy Indigenous matriarchal story follows two urban Indigenous sisters and a lawless Trickster who face our world head-on as they come to terms with what it means to honour who they are and where they come from. But how to go about discovering yourself when Christopher Columbus allegedly already did that? Bear witness to the courage of these women as they turn to their Ancestors for help in reclaiming their power in this ultimate transformation story.
In 2018, Kamloopa had a three-city world premiere and was nominated for eight Jessie Richardson awards and four SATAwards. The production won the 2019 Jessie Richardson award for Significant Artistic Achievement for Decolonizing Theatre Practices and Spaces and was the first Indigenous play in the awards history to win Best Production. Kamloopa was the 2019 recipient of the Sydney J Risk prize for most outstanding emerging playwright and won the SATAward for outstanding Projection Design.
Kamloopa’s wonderful cover art was created by artist and illustrator Karlene Harvey.
Bill Richardson’s wonderful book, I Saw Three Ships, is #1 in paperback fiction on the November 10 to 20 bestseller list for McNally Robinson Winnipeg.
Congratulations to Bill!!
If this news excites you as much as it does us – and if you’re in Vancouver – we have just the thing for you. You can be part of the audience for a live recording as Bill joins CBC Radio host Sheryl MacKay for a conversation about I Saw Three Ships on December 7 at 11 a.m. at the Central Library branch’s Montalbano Family Theatre, Level 8.
Saturday, December 7, 2019
11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Vancouver Public Library
350 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 6B1
We at Talon would like to extend a huge congratulations to Stephen Collis, the 2019 recipient of the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize. This prize is given to a mid-career poet in recognition of a remarkable body of work, and in anticipation of future contributions to Canadian poetry.
The Jury Citation, from Hoa Nguyen and Margo Wheaton, reads, “In Collis, we find a poet ferociously hitting his stride. We’re looking forward with eagerness to what comes next.”