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A Crossing of Hearts continues Michel Tremblay’s Desrosiers Diaspora series of novels, a family saga set in Montreal during World War I. This third novel bursts with life as Nana, the young city girl, explores the natural world – and the enchanted forest of her inner, maturing self. The novel also further develops the character of Maria so that we understand her motivations more fully, and at the same time recognize nods to the history of Quebec and the dynamics of the family under the strictures of the Catholic church.
By Jovanni Sy
Coming May 2017
Everything we eat tells a story. In A Taste of Empire, delectable samples from a real-time cooking demonstration offer food for thought about colonialism and the ethics of modern-day food systems.
“Food and Wine named him Chef of the Decade. In 2016 he was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame. Recently Microsoft released the hit video game Maximo Cortés: Kitchen Gangsta. You’ve seen him on television. You’ve bought his bestselling cookbooks. Now for a limited engagement … it’s the Demon Chef, the Madman of the Kitchen, the Grand Master of Imperial Cuisine … Chef Maximo Cortés.”
The premise of the show is a once-in-a-lifetime cooking demonstration by Chef Maximo Cortés, the renowned inventor of his signature-style “Imperial Cuisine.” The audience excitedly awaits Chef Maximo’s arrival, relaxing with cocktails and complimentary hors d’oeuvres served to their seats. Suddenly their complacency is broken when Maximo’s amusing assistant, Jovanni, appears onstage. The celebrity chef in unavailable, but no worries: Jovanni, too, is an expert at preparing the traditional Filipino dish Rellenong Bangus (Stuffed Milkfish), and the audience follows along on a journey filled with humorous banter and a silky milkfish, sharp chef’s knife in Jovanni’s hand. As he cooks, he deconstructs the dish in humourous and surprising ways, serving up opinions on the European colonization of Asia, the state of modern agriculture, the ethics of food distribution and consumption – only a few of the ideas sampled in this engaging performance piece. When the actual fish dish is cooked and ready to eat, audience members are given tasting plates and even more food for thought. A Taste of Empire is truly a feast for the mind and palate. We call it “Iron Chef meets Guns, Germs, and Steel.” Bon appetit!
Cast of 1 man.
Coming April 2017
An Honest Woman by Jónína Kirton confronts us with beauty and ugliness in the wholesome riot that is sex, love, and marriage. From the perspective of a mixed-race woman, Kirton engages with Simone de Beauvoir and Donald Trump to unravel the norms of femininity and sexuality that continue to adhere today.
Kirton recalls her own upbringing, during which she was told to find a good husband who would “make an honest woman” out of her. Exploring the lives of many women, including her mother, her contemporaries, and well-known sex-crime stories such as the case of Elisabeth Fritzl, Kirton mines the personal to loosen the grip of patriarchal and colonial impositions.
An Honest Woman explores the many ways the female body is shaped by questions that have been too political to ask: What happens when a woman decides to take her sexuality into her own hands, dismissing cultural norms and the expectations of her parents? How is a young woman’s sexuality influenced when she is perceived as an “exotic” other? Can a woman reconnect with her Indigenous community by choosing Indigenous lovers?
Daring and tender in their honesty and wisdom, these poems challenge the perception of women’s bodies as glamorous and marketable commodities and imagine an embodied female experience that accommodates the role of creativity and a nurturing relationship with the land.
A heartwarming comedy about two middle-aged First Nations elders, Evie and Cecil, on their very first trip out of the country.
CECIL: So, what exactly are we going to do now that we’re here in Mexico?
EVIE: I’m so glad you asked. Supposedly there are some ancient Mayan ruins somewhere in the interior, not far from here. I thought that might be interesting.
CECIL: If you want to look at an ancient, broken-down, Indian ruin, we can go visit
Evie and Cecil are celebrating their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. As a gift, their grown children send them on a second honeymoon – to a fabulous resort on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. The only problem is that neither have ever been out of the country, let alone off their Cree reservation. Each reacts to their new experiences differently, and something ominous seems to be bothering Cecil. Despite the sun, sand, and sea sparkling right outside the resort window, all Cecil seems to want to do is sit alone in his hotel room, idly flipping through TV channels, the curtains pulled tight. What is he worried about? Maybe there is more behind this trip than he has been told. The past, present, and future all pay the couple a visit as they acclimatize to the pleasures of Mexico – and
spicy food. Mixed up in all the fun is their hotel housekeeper, Manuela. As they form a bond with this courteous young local, they help her navigate some of the troublesome situations in which she finds herself.
Cast of 1 man and 2 women.
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Empire of the Son is an original one-hander that blurs the boundaries between artistic disciplines and continents. It is a unique theatrical hybrid that combines cinematography with the raw immediacy of a performance piece intimately connected to real life in real time. Through a series of audio interviews, playwright Tetsuro Shigetmatsu discovers vast worlds contained within his emotionally remote father – from the ashes of World War II and Hiroshima to swinging London in the 1960s and work in broadcasting at the BBC. As the playwright learns about how his own father was once a son, he realizes all the ways in which he himself needs to step up and become a better dad. This funny, poignant story of one immigrant family and their intergenerational conflicts reminds us
that no matter how far we journey out into the world to find ourselves – across decades and continents – we never stop being our parents’ children. It is the story of two generations of CBC broadcasters and the radio silence between them. The 2016 remount in Vancouver completely sold out, and Empire of the Son is currently touring across Canada.
Cast of 1 man
Read excerpts from Empire of the Son on Meta-Talon.
By Colin Browne
Every good story is an origin story – and a mystery story – and in Entering Time: The Fungus Man Platters of Charles Edenshaw, Browne ranges through the fields of art history, literature, ethnology, and myth to discover a parallel history of modernism within one of the world’s most subtle and sophisticated artistic and literary cultures.
Tomson Highway’s From Oral to Written is a study of Native literature published in Canada between 1980 and 2010, a catalogue of amazing books that sparked the embers of a dormant voice.
In this atmospheric, post–Cormac McCarthy western novel, four disparate characters criss-cross the desert in pursuit of an impossible ideal. Along the way, these wily characters captivate and intrigue as they seek the American dream in a lawless town in the 1860s.
By R. Kolewe
Coming April 2017
Taking its title from a phrase in a pop-up ad, Inspecting Nostalgia is R. Kolewe’s second collection of poetry that brings together found text and fragments of various writers’ work with scraps from his own journals.
Kolewe’s concerns with “nostalgia,” derived from the Greek “nostos” (return) and “algos” (pain), forge poems that are charged with an intense yearning for that which has been lost. Heartbreak is tempered with Jacques Derrida’s essay on Immanuel Kant to create almost-sonnets and many tercets, and marginal notes brim with desire and memory to test the
limits of the age-old matter of the lyric poem.
These poems have their multiplicity fixed on a certain trait that makes us human: an attachment to the past. By piecing together texts from disparate sources, they capture the kaleidoscopic influence of other voices without incongruity or disorientation. Kolewe perches on the threshold of the lyric and conceptual to allow the melody and jangle of influence to rest
within us as we read, only to leave us changed and wanting as we try to catch up to the rhythm of the present.
Inspecting Nostalgia has all the lucent warmth and sting of heartbreak – roses, stars, and decay abound – subdued by a compositional technique that pilfers and forages the analytical and prosaic to create a cohesive work that is often elegiac and always evocative.
Coming Spring 2017
In Michael Blouin’s Legend, narrative as we know it is torn apart only to be reconstructed piece by piece as the pages progress. Blouin weaves a history of Canadian modern art, Hollywood B movies, and RCMP police procedure in this genre-defying novel that is at once sensual and mindbending.
Drawing from the lives of celebrities and stories from his personal life, Blouin creates parallel worlds featuring fictive characters who dwell in the artifice of successful stories, as well as the people who inhabit these roles, such as Clint Eastwood in The Eiger Sanction (1975) and the dead body in the Maysles brothers’ film Salesman (1969).
Blouin bends every storytelling trope with documentary techniques to include biographical tidbits and primary sources that lay claim to the conviction that imagination is no less real than so-called reality itself. In so doing, he creates an artistic trajectory of influence and collaboration, revealing a deeply personal relationship to his hometown.
Legend unravels the creative process and the construction of narrative itself without the burden of excessive meta-thinking. Blouin guides us through the lives he has known and encountered, including his own, to show us how we come to perceive the roles we play, the plot twists we grant our own lives, and just how much our communities – real and imagined – can shape us.
By Wendy Lill
As in Ibsen’s Enemy of the People, two brothers struggle for power and ideals each believes are right. Messenger takes place in another country, Canada, and in another century but tackles similar themes. A timely play in terms of environmental issues, full of lots of great political dirty tricks.
Same Diff by Donato Mancini meets at the intersection of contemporary poetry, art, and current politics. Influenced by documentary cinema such as the films of Frederic Wiseman, Dada poets, montage techniques, and a range of modern poets, Same Diff explores the way social and economic histories become imprinted within language itself.
The political and poetic melancholy of our moment is revealed in a long poem on climate change, particularly the disappearance of snow, while the real-life effects of fiscal austerity and poverty are voiced in fragments conveying social neuroses that stem from amplified, unfair competition for basic necessities.
Each poem introduces a dominant motif that develops through repetition and incremental variations, sourcing language from newspapers, online sources, and overheard conversations to create an emotive effect, as felt in music.
By Nancy Shaw
Nancy Shaw was an award-winning poet, scholar, and critic who was formative in shifting the ground of Canadian literature and poetics. She was a member of the influential Kootenay School of Writing (KSW) collective, co-director of Writing magazine, artist-in-residence at the Western Front in the 1980s, and served as a chair of the Vancouver New Music Society. Edited by Catriona Strang – who co-authored Busted, Cold Trip, and Light Sweet Crude with Shaw – The Gorge collects a range of Shaw’s prolific writing with a focus on her collaborations and poetry.
Critically acclaimed poet and Vancouver native Adeena Karasick was in her hometown last month to celebrate the donation of her archive to Simon Fraser University. The Collection of Contemporary Literature at SFU’s Bennett Library contains one of the biggest selections of avant-garde poetry in North America.Friday March 17, 2017 in Meta-Talon
All the main characters in this novel are invented, except one. All the towns are real, except for New Babylon. But if such a place were to be imagined, it would be a Wild West town where gunfights are fair play and the law bans only the lawman. It is a perilous place, where the beauty of the desert landscape takes your breath away with the same power as an open blade and a gash to the throat.
On that gruesome note, we hope you enjoy this teaser, lifted from pages 36–38 of In Search of New Babylon.Thursday March 2, 2017 in Meta-Talon
Today on Meta-Talon, please enjoy a very short story from M.A.C. Farrant’s book The Days: Forecasts, Warnings, Advice.
Annual Day happens once a year and it is never good. This year the date is March 2.Thursday February 23, 2017 in Meta-Talon
Migration – the movement of humans from one place to another with the intention of settling – has been top of mind in recent weeks given certain political changes and policy implementations in certain western countries, in recent months in response to the failure of state in Syria and the outflow of refugees from that region, and in recent years characterized by a heightened sensitivity to the possibility of east-west terrorist attacks. Perhaps Canada is a beacon to other states? Or perhaps we still have much learning to do? In the spirit of learning, we recommend twelve Talon books on the topic of migration, refugees, and the immigrant experience.
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