Congratulations to Claire Tacon, creative writing instructor at St. Jerome’s, at University of Waterloo, on the publication of her second novel, In Search of the Perfect Singing Flamingo. Quill & Quire describes the characters and stories as “touching and resonant.” Tacon received the 2010 Metcalf-Rooke award for her first novel, In the Field. Her fiction has been short-listed for the Bronwen Wallace Award and the CBC Literary Awards. Previously, she has published in The New Quarterly (housed at St. Jerome’s), sub-TERRAIN, and Best Canadian Short Stories. From the press:
When Henry Robinson’s daughter Starr is born with Williams Syndrome, he swears to devote his life to making her happy. More than twenty years later, Henry works at Frankie’s Funhouse, where he repairs the animatronic band that Starr loves, wrestling with her attempts at living outside the family home. His wife wishes he would allow Starr more independence and turn his attention a little more to their own relationship and their other daughter, Melanie. As tensions mount Henry’s young coworker, Darren, reveals he needs to get to Chicago Comic Con to win back his ex-girlfriend, so Henry packs Starr (and her pet turtles) and Darren (still dressed as Frankie the mascot) into the van for a road trip no one was prepared for.
Told in multiple points of view, we hear from Henry, Darren and Starr as they all try to find their place in the world. In Search of the Perfect Singing Flamingo is a charming, tender and often funny story of a father struggling to let his daughters grow up and of a family struggling against hard odds, taking care of each other when the world lets them down.
Some of you may remember UWaterloo English alumnus Tom Cull from a previous interview on Words in Place; others may remember him as a classmate or student. He’s also the author of the chapbook, What the Badger Said (Baseline Press, 2013), and now, the just released book of poems, Bad Animals (Insomniac Press). As the press writes:
“Tom Cull’s debut collection is equal parts zoo, funhouse, and curio cabinet. A mouthy badger tells off a search committee, a family of beavers conspires to commit murder, a celebrity seal slips his cage. In these poems, human and animal spaces overlap, often marking moments of transgression, rebellion, escape, and capture. Home and habitat are flooded with invasive species, cute animal videos, and rising tides.”
Congratulations to Dr. Vershawn Ashanti Young, cross-appointed with English, whose book Neo-Passing: Performing Identity after Jim Crow (co-edited with Mollie Godfrey) has just been published by University of Illinois Press. From the press:
“African Americans once passed as whites to escape the pains of racism. Today’s neo-passing has pushed the old idea of passing in extraordinary new directions. A white author uses an Asian pen name; heterosexuals live “out” as gay; and, irony of ironies, whites try to pass as black. Mollie Godfrey and Vershawn Ashanti Young present essays that explore practices, performances, and texts of neo-passing in our supposedly postracial moment. The authors move from the postracial imagery of Angry Black White Boy and the issues of sexual orientation and race in ZZ Packer’s short fiction to the politics of Dave Chappelle’s skits as a black President George W. Bush. Together, the works reveal that the questions raised by neo-passing—questions about performing and contesting identity in relation to social norms—remain as relevant today as in the past.”
Looking for new–and perhaps unconventional–reading? Volume 4 of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction (Undertow Publications) will soon be available in bookstores, and includes a story from Dr. Sarah Tolmie of UWaterloo English.
The UWaterloo Bookstore has a shelf dedicated to faculty authors: eight of the twenty-four books currently on display are by English faculty. If they want to give us a full third of the display (!), they might order in Dr. Gordon E. Slethaug‘s Music and The Road: Essays on the Interplay of Music and Popular Culture of the American Road (Bloomsbury, 2017). Dr. Slethaug is both editor and contributor. Other UWaterloo English contributors include Dr. Chad Wriglesworth and PhD students Virginia Shay and Evelyn DeShane.
You may recall an earlier post, announcing Dr. Jay Dolmage’s new book, Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education. It is coming out in a few short weeks, and if the wait is just t0o much, you might want to read this interview with Dr. Dolmage on the press’s website. A preview:
I am always searching for visual and spatial metaphors to try and explain things to myself and to others. The contrast between ramps and steps on college campuses is one of those metaphors…When you walk around campuses, the steps really are steep and they are wide, and they are everywhere—and they aren’t really about mobility, they are architectural statements on the most important buildings. So they send a message…[of] schooling as a place to sort society, to decide who gets to go up to which step and who does not. Is this really how we want to think of education—as a place that solidifies and reinforces unequal privilege and unequal access?
You may UWaterloo English alumnus Shawn DeSouza-Coelho (MA 2015) from a previous Words in Place post, part of our “Week in the Life of a Graduate Student” series. Now he has a book coming out, Whenever You’re Ready, available for pre-order from ECW Press. As the press writes:
Whenever You’re Ready is an intimate account of the career of Nora Polley, who — in her 52 years at the Stratford Festival — has learned from, worked with, and cared for some of the greatest directors, actors, stage managers, and productions in Canadian theatrical history. In so doing, Nora became one of the greatest stage managers this country has ever seen. Here is an account of the Stratford Festival’s history like no other. From her childhood forays into a theater her father, Victor, worked tirelessly to help maintain, to her unexpected apprenticeship and the equally unexpected 40 years of stage management it ushered in, this is the Stratford Festival seen exclusively through Nora’s eyes. Here is an immersive account of a life spent in service of the theater, told from the ground floor: where actors struggle with lines and anxieties, where directors lose themselves in the work, where the next season is always uncertain, and where Nora — a stage manager, a custodian, a confidante, a pillar, a rock — finds her rhythm, her patience, her perseverance, her love, her consistency, and her invisibility. These are the qualities that make a stage manager great and, whenever you’re ready, this book will show you why.