25th Trillium Award

Recommended Reads: Kingston

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photo credit: Pamela Cornell

By Ginger Pharand

Canada?s first capital city, Kingston, is located in Eastern Ontario, halfway between Toronto and Montreal, where the St Lawrence River starts its journey from Lake Ontario to the sea. A city of contrasts, Kingston is home to colleges and universities and limestone quarries, prisons and military bases. One may tour Sir John A. Macdonald?s house in the morning and kayak The 1000 Islands in the afternoon. It is a city steeped in as much writing as history. Second-hand and independent bookstores, the special collections at Queen?s, and a thriving literary community make Kingston the ideal location to explore Ontario?s rich literary offerings. Home to authors in every genre, from children?s books to historical romance to captivating non-fiction and award-winning poetry, Kingston has something for everyone to see?and read!

Photo credit: Pamela Cornell

Clouds Without Heaven (Dundurn Press), by Mary Cameron

Clouds Without Heaven (Dundurn Press), the debut poetry collection from Kingston resident Mary Cameron, examines the relationship between visual art and the viewer's heart. With condensed, lyrical lines, Cameron unifies disparate images as curator/editor in each of the book's four galleries: Madame Cezanne, Landscapes, Portraits and Lovers.

Emancipation Day (Random House Canada), by Wayne Grady

The author of 14 highly acclaimed works of nonfiction, Kingston writer Wayne Grady has published his first novel, Emancipation Day (Random House Canada). Based on his own discovery of his family?s racial past and filled with the music of the Big Band and Jazz Age, Emancipation Day reaches from Detroit-Windsor to post-war Newfoundland to explore sacrifice and devotion, race and identity, and the issues at the heart of social change in the 20th century.

The Dead are More Visible (Random House Canada), by Steven Heighton

Steven Heighton, in the Trillium-nominated short story collection The Dead are More Visible (Random House Canada), turns his literary talents to the city where he makes his home. This collection explores Kingston in several stories from McBurney Park (once a cemetery and still known as Skeleton Park) to the walled-off tunnels beneath Hotel Dieu hospital in the centre of the city to the boxing club north of town where the author trained when writing his first novel, The Shadow Boxer. Expertly crafted, The Dead are More Visible speaks to readers in the sure voice of a writer in the prime of his writing life.

Read Open Book Ontario's Trillium interview with Steven Heighton here.

Natural Capital (Mansfield Press), by Jason Heroux

Jason Heroux?s third collection of poetry, Natural Capital (Mansfield Press), is as smart as it is surreal. The book is an invitation to explore the nature of things that exist within our reach, ?all formations of the Earth?s biosphere that provides us with ecosystem goods and services imperative for survival and well-being.? A wild ride into the everyday, Natural Capital will leave readers looking twice through their windows and gardens. (Warning: readers may find the act of slicing a watermelon forever altered.)

Nocturne (Harper Collins Canada), by Helen Humphreys

In her thirteenth book, Nocturne: On the Life and Death of my Brother (Harper Collins Canada), Helen Humphreys has written a prose elegy in the form of a letter to her beloved brother, Martin, following his death from pancreatic cancer. Her talents in poetry, nonfiction and fiction all converge in Nocturne, where she is lyrical and stoic in turns as she moves through the memories of childhood into the disorientation of grief and, finally, the journey back to writing.

The Texture of Days, in Ash and Leaf (Hidden Brook Press), by Bruce Kauffman

Bruce Kauffman?s first full collection of poetry, The Texture of Days, in Ash and Leaf (Hidden Brook Press), invites the reader to lean in, listen closely, look longer at moments that evaporate too soon. In this way, his gentle voice acts as guide and watchglass in poetry that poet Sandra Ridley has called ?a way-marker on a desire-line.?

Read the Open Book Profile on Bruce here.

The Wolves of St. Peter?s (HarperCollins Canada), by Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk

Gina Buonaguro and Kingston writer Janice Kirk celebrate a decade of co-authorship with the publication of their third book together, The Wolves of St. Peter?s (Harper Collins Canada). The historical thriller leads readers through Renaissance Rome on an adventure filled with art, sex and familiar names from history. For anyone curious to meet the inhabitants of Rome?s 16th century art underworld, from a grouchy Michelangelo still painting the Sistine Chapel to the crew of misfits surrounding the corrupt Pope Julius II, The Wolves of St. Peter's is a novel not to miss.

Read the new Open Book interview with Gina and Janice here.

Love, and all that jazz (The Porcupine?s Quill), by Laurie Lewis

Laurie Lewis picks up on her fascinating life with her second memoir, Love, and all that jazz (The Porcupine's Quill). Married and living in the midst of New York City?s 1950s jazz scene, Laurie meets Gary, the embodiment of New York cool, and with whom a relationship develops that will start a journey through divorce, remarriage, motherhood, a return to Canada and into publishing. It is a memoir of a marriage, but it is ultimately a story of independence.

Archive of the Undressed (The Porcupine?s Quill), by Jeanette Lynes

From the burlesque to Hefner?s playmates, Jeanette Lynes creates a darkly comic portrait of changing sexual mores and the roles of women in Archive of the Undressed (The Porcupine's Quill), her sixth collection of poetry. Inspired by a collection of vintage Playboy magazines, the poems bring the pinup world to life with backstories that offer insight into a dehumanizing industry, but also the liberation of body.

Open Book talks Five Things Literary with Jeanette here.

Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety (Between the Lines), by Ian McKay and Jamie Swift

In Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety (Between the Lines), Ian McKay and Jamie Swift tackle the militarization of Canada and its implications on the world stage for Canada's reputation as a nation of peacekeepers. History serves to guide the reader through the political transformation of post-war Canadian patriotism with compelling portraits of such notables as Tommy Burns and Lester Pearson.

Jamie Swift reveals more about himself and his writing in his Open Book Dirty Dozen.

The Truth About Luck (House of Anansi), by Iain Reid

In The Truth About Luck (House of Anansi), Iain Reid takes a five-day Kingston ?staycation? with his 92-year-old grandmother. They exchange life experiences as they make their way around the city. And while much of the story is Grandma?s, Iain?s heartfelt sincerity and subtle humour in the telling make the memoir distinctly his own. A thoughtful read on the nature of aging, family and luck.

Open Book talks to Iain here.

Dr. Swarthmore (The Porcupine?s Quill), by Alexander Scala

At the turn of the 19th century, a cigar-loving clergyman descends on rural Indiana and attempts to sell doomsday to susceptible citizens. Satire of the highest order, Alexander Scala?s Dr. Swarthmore (The Porcupine's Quill) takes on modern capitalism, the church, science and publishing in one go.

At a Loss for Words (Harper Collins Canada), by Diane Schoemperlen

In At a Loss for Words (Harper Collins Canada), subtitled ?A Post-Romantic Novel,? Governor General?s Award winner Diane Schoemperlen twists an epistolary relationship into its modern equivalent in email. All the hallmarks of Schoemperlen writing are there, from the playful exasperation of the narrator in dealing with her silent lover, to the chronicling of the minutiae of daily life (horoscopes, soup labels, coffee lines, appliance repairs) that fill the days of ?a writer who cannot write.? Diane has completed a new collection, By the Book, illustrating her stories with her own collages.

Read more about her new project in the Open Book Interview here.

A New Leaf (Random House Canada), by Merilyn Simonds

A New Leaf (Random House Canada) is an intelligent and inspiring journey through the seasons at The Leaf, the acreage outside Kingston where author and master gardener Merilyn Simonds makes her home. With a host of characters to accompany her through the growing year, Merilyn explores the relationship between the ground and the gardener with wit and the insight that can only come from decades of intimate knowledge of the soil and her gifts.

The Carnivore (ECW Press), by Mark Sinnett

Kingston writer Mark Sinnett examines the role of memory in shaping a marriage in The Carnivore (ECW Press), set in the aftermath of 1954?s Hurricane Hazel. Winner of the 2010 Toronto Book Award, The Carnivore confronts the secrets that have festered for decades in the marriage between cop hero Ray Townes and his wife, Mary. Meticulously researched and skillfully realized, the novel combines the page-turning of a mystery with the meditation of a portrait.

Hooked (Brick Books), by Carolyn Smart

Carolyn Smart explores the lives of seven women of history through monologue in her poetry collection Hooked (Brick Books). These powerful poems have been adapted by Nicky Guadagni for performance, bringing to life the author?s words in the person of fascinating women from Zelda Fitgerald and Carson McCullers to Jane Bowles. In addition to her own writing, Carolyn edits Lake Effect, a bi-annual anthology showcasing the work of her creative writing students at Queen?s.

Read the Open Book Profile on Carolyn here.

Ginger is the Editorial Intern for Open Book Ontario. She lives in Kingston, where she writes short stories, frightens squirrels with her bad banjo playing, and cross trains by running downtown then carrying home her body weight in books.

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