Thistledown Press Spring 2015

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  • 1
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    The Little Washer of Sorrows and Other Stories Katherine Fawcett Canada
    9781771870498 Paperback FICTION / Short Stories Publication Date:March 31, 2015
    $18.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.5 in | 350 gr | 208 pages Carton Quantity:52 Canadian Rights: Y Thistledown Press
    • Marketing Copy

      Description
      The Little Washer of Sorrows is a collection of short stories that explores what happens when the expected and usual are replaced with elements of the rare and strange. The book's emotional impact is created with strong, richly drawn characters facing universal issues, but in unusual settings. The collection is both dark and comical with engaging plot twists and elements of the macabre as characters attempt to cope with high-stakes melodramas that drift further out of their control. The threat of something sinister lingers beneath the surface in many of Fawcett's stories, as she explores the messy "what ifs?" of life and the ever-present paradox of free will.
      Bio

      Katherine Fawcett was born in Montreal, raised in Calgary, has lived in Japan, and now calls the small town of Pemberton, British Columbia home. She started her writing career as a sports reporter before venturing into freelance journalism and commercial writing. After becoming a mother and turning forty, Katherine could no longer ignore her tendency to dance fancy jigs on the boundary between real and imagined and has since turned her hand to fiction. She teaches music in Whistler, BC, and plays fiddle in a band called The Wild Irises. Her short fiction has been published in Wordworks, Event, Freefall, subTerrain, and Other Voices, and her plays have been performed by several community theatre groups.

      AWARD RECOGNITION:Winner Federation of BC Writers Short Story Contest: 2008.
      Winner Whistler Writes Creative Non-Fiction Award: 2008.
      Winner Event Magazine Non-Fiction Contest: 2009.
      Nominated for National Magazine Award for Personal Journalism: 2009.
      Finalist Burnaby Writers Society "Lost and Found" Competition: 2009.
      Shortlisted for Writers' Union of Canada Writing for Children Contest: 2009.
      Finalist for Writers' Union of Canada Writing for Children Competition: 2009.
      Honourable mention in Freefall Magazine Prose Contest: 2009.Winner Pique "Summer of Funny" Contest: 2009.
      Shortlisted for Event Non-fiction Contest: 2011.
      Shortlisted for Event Non-fiction Contest: 2012.
      Longlisted for Carter V. Cooper/Exile Short Fiction Competition: 2014

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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      Reviews
      "An aging male stripper arguing with St Peter at the Pearly Gates, a cuckold hunting unicorn, an android who learns to love Leonard Cohen - Katherine Fawcett is blessed with a fierce imagination. Her style is as original and as wildly diverse as her characters, with stories that range from gritty realism to magical fantasy to wise fable. Fawcett's voice is bold and confident but also surprisingly playful, with unexpected comedy sprinkled throughout the collection."- Angie Abdou

      "Funny and compassionate, this collection of stories leaves you with an understanding of our humanness - foibles, beauty, warts and all." - Stella Harvey, author of Nicolai's Daughters

      "Katherine Fawcett works magic here, whips imagination, wit and anarchy into gold. Each story finds a place where our culture is already strange and jumps off from there. " - Fred Stenson

      "Katherine Fawcett's unique, fast-paced, witty, hits-you-in-the-gut funny short stories appeal to some of our deepest fantasies and darkest questions, such as 'what happens to us after we die?' and 'what if I could create my ideal mate?' Like a magician, Fawcett uses language to create illusion and to reveal truth in a most engaging way."- Sue Oakey

      "Katherine Fawcett inhabits a bizarre back-alley of carnies and pyramid schemes, daily affirmations, making-do and derring-do: a Diane Arbus world of freaks and fables that is at once hilarious, surprising, and profound, turning our view of the place we live in upside down. . . Oddball, yet strangely familiar, the creatures spawned in Fawcett's imagination will move into yours. You'll never be the same again." -Merilyn Simonds

      "Fawcett's stories turn left just when you think they'll turn right; they step on the gas and race deep into the heart of her characters' bizarre lives." - Stephen Vogler

      NPR Books, March 31, 2015

      The Little Washer of Sorrows is not what it seems. At first glance, the debut collection of short stories by Canadian author Katherine Fawcett offers funny, sympathetic sketches of characters who might live next door to you: The homemaker who underutilizes her college degree; the aspiring heavy metal musician with delusions of stardom; the aging couple who can barely muster the passion to even bicker anymore.

      And it works well on this level alone; Fawcett has a flair for quiet drama and unfussy detail, and her dialogue positively fizzes. Little Washer startles, however, thanks to its commitment to the fantastic. Amid the mundaneness of these 19 contemporary tales, whimsy and weirdness abound. Artificial intelligence lurks in the suburbs. Accountants nurse monsters. Movie stars appear as mirages. If Fawcett's characters actually did live next door to you, your life would be in for some serious upheavals.

      Fawcett lets her speculative side run wild. Like fellow fabulist Kelly Link — not to mention forebears such as Donald Barthleme — she finds fertile ground in the fuzzy territory between realism and surrealism. In "BLK MGC," a ripped-from-the-headlines pyramid scheme takes a left turn somewhere near The Twilight Zone; in "The Anniversary Present," an aging Mother Earth is addicted to beauty products while her husband, Father Time, has adulterous feelings for Sister Moon.

      Domesticity plays as big a part in Fawcett's story as science fiction, fantasy, and mythology do. The tenderly combative interplay between the married couple in "Lenny and the Polyamphibians" — which only intensifies when a mermaid enters into the equation — is poignantly layered, even as it sparks with snark. The couple in Little Washer's title story, on the other hand, are haunted by the most prosaic of monsters: Bankruptcy. As their estate manager begins to exhibit supernatural qualities, though, the balance of reality gets turned on its side.

      Little Washer is playful when it comes to age-old tropes, from android imposters to Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. But they're still age-old tropes, and the book's one major flaw is an overreliance on clichés, as freshly as they're approached. Luckily Fawcett transcends that with her bright, nimble voice, not to mention her pop culture savvy and eye small, telling details: A hapless high school teacher presides over a class of students whose names all begin T; in purgatory, people love singing Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" at karaoke. It all works at a deeper level than these breezy stories might imply, as does Fawcett's use of technology as a complication for her characters. Alienated spouses use texting to maintain their disconnect; a computer buffering and freezing emphasizes the communication breakdown between teacher and pupils.

      Occasionally a story flirts with fabulism without diving headlong into it — and in the case of "Suburban Wolf," it makes for the best bit in the book. Wagg is a part of a gang of semi-feral kids who roam neighborhoods, pack-like and barely civilized. Nothing about their situation is explained, nor does it need to be. It's only important to know that it's Wagg's 15th birthday, and he just received his first kiss, and that ecstatic coming of age isn't going to last long.

      Just as Fawcett injects the weird into the mundane, she hides hard, barbed little truths in her otherwise lightweight yarns. "Captcha" might appear to be nothing but a clever spin on The Stepford Wives, but it winds up deftly exploring the nature of monogamy. "Swimming to Jonny Depp" seems like a sweet, silly vignette, but there's a nugget of sadness to the protagonist's middle-age daydreaming. Ultimately, The Little Washer of Sorrows is about epiphanies: their scarcity, their power, and their uncanny ability to make our everyday lives look downright unreal by comparison.

      Jason Heller is a senior writer at The A.V. Club and author of the novel Taft 2012.

  • 2
    catalogue cover
    9781771870504 Paperback FICTION / Literary Publication Date:March 31, 2015
    $18.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.38 in | 300 gr | 160 pages Carton Quantity:60 Canadian Rights: Y Thistledown Press
    • Marketing Copy

      Description
      A man seeking the high life realizes too late that he has destroyed his possibilities for happiness. Four junkies wait anxiously for a drug dealer who seems to have forgotten their existence. A gang leader attempts to navigate racism, greed, and mutiny within the ranks. An aspiring writer assesses and obsesses over a crime close to home as the neighbor girl's boyfriend is on trial for her murder. In Brunch with the Jackals, Don McLellan explores the dark side of urban life through stories that combine black comedy, observational invective, and heart-wrenching irony in a collection of neo-noir fiction whose protagonists range from a young boy playing war games with toy soldiers to a junkie who can't control his aggressive impulses.
      Bio
      Don McLellan has worked as a journalist in Canada, South Korea and Hong Kong, and his journalism has been featured in countless publications including Vancouver Magazine, Equity, and V. He has had short stories published in Descant, Joyland, the Dalhousie Review, and more, and his debut story collection In the Quiet After Slaughter (Libros Libertad) was a 2009 ReLit Award finalist. He currently edits a trade magazine in Vancouver.
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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      Reviews
      Reviews of In the Quiet After Slaughter:

      "In the Quiet After Slaughter is full of unforeseen and amusing moments served up well in strong narratives. . . It all makes for an informative blend of history and fiction, rolled together by McLellan's efficient storytelling." - Matthew Firth, author of Suburban Pornography (in the Danforth Review)

      "Don McLellan is the kind of wise, well-travelled writer we don't see much of these days. . . he earns the right to be included in the exotic tradition of Hemingway, Maugham and Graham Greene. Like all memorable writing, his stories take us to another world and hold us there. Spare and subtle, they will linger in your mind long after the last page." - John Lekich, Governor General's Award Finalist for The Losers' Club

      "The melody in the prose, mesmerizing characters. . . A terrific achievement. . . I consider In the Quiet After Slaughter one of the pleasures of my reading life." - Mike McRanor (in the Vancouver Sun)

      "I just finished reading what is probably one of the best books I have ever read. . . [Some of the stories] reminded me of American Graffiti, others reminded me of A Christmas Story. "Ed's Garage" had me laughing long after I had finished reading it; the same could be said about "Fugitive". Excellent writing from an independent, unknown author who shouldn't be. five stars!" - Brian Bianco, author of Dressed for a Kill
  • 3
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    What Can't Be Undone dee Hobsbawn-Smith Canada
    9781927068892 Paperback FICTION / Short Stories Publication Date:March 31, 2015
    $18.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.75 in | 0.48 gr | 280 pages Carton Quantity:60 Canadian Rights: Y Thistledown Press
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      Description

      In her first collection of short fiction dee Hobsbawn-Smith creates protagonists struggling to navigate the domestic troubles common to life everywhere, including children attempting to make their parents proud, the disintegrating of romantic relationships, and dealing with death and loss. Her stories are rife with the disasters of homelessness, domestic violence, and child abuse, as she exposes the difficulties that arise in relationships between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and parents and children. Hobsbawn-Smith's keen observation and the unflinching eye which she directs towards her characters' flaws bring the land and its inhabitants into painful focus as they grapple with loss.

      What Can't Be Undone is a collection anchored in the Western Canadian landscape, and the natural imagery which has become synonymous to the area reigns supreme. These stories are strongly informed by local colour. Horses' hooves echo from coulee walls, blue jays, crows, and eagles announce the seasons, and coyotes wail from distant valleys as Hobsbawn-Smith travels with her protagonists across rolling prairies, unforgiving mountain ranges, and along coastal highways.

      Bio
      dee Hobsbawn-Smith grew up in a gypsy Air Force family. Her award-winning poetry, essays, fiction, and journalism have appeared in Canadian, American, and International literary journals, books, newspapers, magazines, and anthologies including The Malahat Review, Gastronomica, and Western Living. Her first book of poetry, Wildness Rushing In, was published by Hagios Press in 2014. She recently completed her M.F.A. in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan, and she is an alumna of the Sage Hill Writing Experience. What Can't Be Undone is her first collection of short stories. Hobsbawn-Smith lives west of Saskatoon.
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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      Reviews
      "dee Hobsbawn-Smith's stories begin when love and comfort have faded, or the fatal accident has happened, the fire has burned the house, loved ones or brutal ones are already in their graves. What is left to write about? I'd say a whole lot. Hobsbawn-Smith's characters are not life's victims but life's bludgeoned survivors. Like their earthy forebears, these modern descendants learn to live with regret, and they keep on keeping on. This kind of gutting it out is the very definition of Western grit, and these fine stories are parables of resiliency." ?David Carpenter, author of Welcome to Canada

      "With these carefully crafted stories, dee Hobsbawn-Smith reminds us of why we tell stories at all: to entertain, to reflect, and to render our lives and relationships in a way that is simultaneously simpler and more complex." ? Johanna Skibsrud, winner of the ScotiaBank Giller Prize for The Sentimentalists
  • 4
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    9781771870627 Paperback FICTION / Humorous Publication Date:March 31, 2015
    $19.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.6 in | 400 gr | 240 pages Carton Quantity:48 Canadian Rights: Y Thistledown Press
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      Description
      In this comical novel about sexuality, relationships, and aging, self-proclaimed World's Greatest Lover, eighty-year-old Alberto Camelo frankly recounts his exhaustion at being tasked with a lover whose spontaneous ecstasy becomes too much for him to handle, his short-lived stint in the army, and how he ran a franchise of "specialty" restaurants - into the ground, that is. An aura of absurdity pervades this humorous satire of a life characterized by awkward amorous encounters, lascivious liaisons, and erotic irreverence.
      Bio
      Neil McKinnon was raised in Saskatchewan and served in the Royal Canadian Navy before working as a businessman, archaeologist, university lecturer, and freelance writer in China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and the United States. His articles have appeared in Canadian, Japanese, Mexican and U.S. publications, and his book Tuckahoe Slidebottle was short-listed for the Stephen Leacock Award for humour and for the Alberta Book Award for short fiction. He has served on literary juries and has also edited and published academically. He is a pensioner and long distance runner. When not visiting family in Vancouver, McKinnon and his wife of fifty years, Judy, live in Mexico.
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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      Reviews
      "It's impossible not to adore these characters and envy the author's talent. This book's difficult to put down, easy to recommend. You will laugh out loud." - Shelley Leedahl in Saskatchewan Publishers Group Weekly

      "It is McKinnon's use of language which makes the novel such an enjoyable read. Students will see the possibilities of language come alive in this book. Highly recommended" -J. Lynn Fraser in CM Magazine

      "All (the stories) are told with the wry sense of humor and the deft turn of phrase of which Mr. McKinnon is master." - Mildred Boyd in Lake Chapala Review

      "McKinnon's writing sparkles with wit and his descriptions are so vivid they'll make you feel as if you've visited this place. The twists in the narrative will bring a smile to your face, and occasionally a lump in your throat. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the combination of a good yarn blended with brilliant literary skill." - Alison Solomon in El Ojo del Lago
  • 5
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    Bindy's Moon Lloyd Ratzlaff Canada
    9781771870542 Paperback LITERARY COLLECTIONS / Essays Publication Date:March 31, 2015
    $18.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.32 in | 200 gr | 128 pages Carton Quantity:80 Canadian Rights: Y Thistledown Press
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      Description
      In a series of reflections focussed on his uneducated yet hard-working Mennonite family and touching on childhood exploits from shoplifting and go-kart racing to the juvenile fear of dying (which spontaneously arises during the rehearsal for an elementary school Christmas concert), Lloyd Ratzlaff takes readers on a journey from youth to philosophical maturity. Combining elegy and joyful nostalgia in a series of poetic essays, Ratzlaff recounts the struggles of his youth before analyzing his first marriage, his time at seminary school and as a minister, and examining life as the parent of adult children and closest confidante of a terminally ill friend.

      Never straying far from his spiritual probing, the essays are informed largely by nature and the changing seasons which influence Ratzlaff's life in seemingly magical ways. Small enlightenments arise from his interactions with the natural world, ranging from a spring equinox marking the seventh anniversary of his father's death to the author's ritual of waking to the songs of a robin who comes each spring to live on the riverbank across St. Henry Avenue. Even a small gopher scurrying off and standing like a signpost between graves signals an exploration of mortality.

      Humour and honesty define this spiritual journey, as the boy who grew up speaking an ethnically Mennonite language discovers that the very rigidity and unease of this tongue will become, in part, the catalyst for his own writing and part of his spiritual movement as he "treads his endless path toward the present." Bindy's Moon invites readers to experience the challenges posed by scepticism and the simultaneous desire to believe, weighing the darkness of doctrinarism against the endless energy of the spirt. Ratzlaff gives us a unique example of what so many have experienced, combining humour, quiet reflection, and pearls of carefully considered wisdom, in a poignant prairie coming-of-age autobiography.
      Bio
      Bindy's Moon is the third book in Lloyd Ratzlaff's series of literary essays. Ratzlaff is the editor of an anthology of seniors' writings published by READ Saskatoon and a monthly columnist for Prairie Messenger Catholic Journal. He has served on the boards of local, provincial, and national writing organizations and has taught writing classes for the University of Saskatchewan Certificate in Art & Design (USCAD) and the Western Development Museum. Ratzlaff lives in Saskatoon.
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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      Reviews
      "Lloyd Ratzlaff turns a retrospective eye over times and places in his life and of those people who have nourished him and who he too has nourished on the spiritual roller-coaster that has been his life. Ratzlaff writes highly engaging prose that can be at times both surprising and disturbing, both witty and wise, but which always resonates with honesty. Bindy's Moon is a wonderful, deeply moving read, cover to cover." - Glen Sorestad

      "Bindy's Moon is a wise and honest attempt to address the larger metaphysical issues that challenge us all. A keenly detailed, often lyrical exploration of love, loss, and courage." - Tim Bowling

      "While a personal narrative, Bindy's Moon speaks to a larger element of myth, lore, and legend . . . Bindy's Moon invites the reader in to a simple life quest: to care for and remember those we love." - Lori A. May
  • 6
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    9781771870559 Paperback POETRY / Canadian Publication Date:March 31, 2015
    $17.95 CAD 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.2 in | 250 gr | 80 pages Carton Quantity:50 Canadian Rights: Y Thistledown Press
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      Description
      Rita Bouvier's third collection of poetry is a response to the highs and lows of life and represents an attempt at restoring order through embracing others, reconciling the traumas caused by the deep scars of history, and soaring beyond life's awkward and painful moments in order to live joyfully. Inspired by the metaphor of a voyageur sustained by song on his journeys up and down the rivers of Northwest Saskatchewan, these "songs for the seasons" draw heavily on images from nature as well as the joys, heartaches and transgressions Bouvier has witnessed and experienced as a Métis woman. Using imagery strongly connected to the natural environment, Bouvier evokes earth's regeneration through the seasons as inspiration for moving forward.

      Whether discussing the joys and trials of family life with poems such as "nigosis is sweet and sixteen" and "my grandmother's hands", offering her own take on history in "songs to sing" and "measured time", or exploring Métis identity in "I have something important to say" and "Indigenous Man 2", Bouvier captures the essence of a life that can be "joyful/one minute and then. agony". Yet she always encourages the reader to become "caught in the movement and beauty/of life - dance, breathe, listen" and, of course, sing.
      Bio
      Rita Bouvier is an educator and a writer. She has published two collections of poetry with Thistledown Press, Blueberry Clouds (1999) and papîyâhtak (2004), and has been nominated for several Saskatchewan Book Awards. Bouvier's poetry has been translated into Spanish and German, and her work has appeared in literary anthologies and musical and television productions. In 2008 the Gabriel Dumont Institute published a collaborative children's book with artists Sherry Farrell-Racette and Margaret Gardiner and featuring the title poem from papîyâhtak titled Better That Way. Bouvier lives in Saskatoon.
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    • Awards & Reviews

      Awards
      Reviews
      Blueberry Clouds

      "Bouvier sets wide-ranging goals for her writing. This book of poetry attempts many of those things, and, at times, succeeds. She does, indeed, write of her experiences, which reflect images of herself, her Métis culture and the human condition. She writes simply and with the power to illuminate." -Terry Vatrt

      papîyâhtak

      "Rita Bouvier is a journeyer who searches along the way. Her poems are unafraid to take chances; they are complex in emotion, unsparing in intellect." -Zocalopoets.com

      "Bouvier's poems have a political energy, but they are more about the politics of being human rather than, overtly, the politics of colonialism." -Patrick Carroll, Prairie Fire

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