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Fiction Literary

By the Book

Stories and Pictures

by (author) Diane Schoemperlen

Initial publish date
Sep 2014
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2014
    List Price

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New from the Winner of the Writers' Trust of Canada Marian Engel Award and the Governor General's Award for English Fiction

Once touted as compendiums of human knowledge, the encyclopedias and handbooks of bygone eras now read quaintly, if not comically-yet within their musty pages are often found phrases of uncanny evocative power. Scrupulously stitching such fragments together, in a sequel to the Governor General's Award-winning Forms of Devotion, By The Book is a collection of verbal and visual collages whose alchemies transform long-dead texts into tales of enduring vitality. With her visually witty full-colour artwork and stories like "What Is A Hat? Where Is Constantinople? Who Was Sir Walter Raleigh? And Many Other Common Questions, Some With Answers, Some Without," and "Consumptives Should Not Kiss Other People: A Handy Guide to the Care and Maintenance of Your Family's Good Health," Schoemperlen's irreverent and ironic brand of nostalgia combines vintage kitsch withcomic, creepy, unexpectedly moving yarns.

Praise for By The Book

"Diane Schoemperlen's By The Book is a bravura performance. Fragments, collage, assemblage, found poetry - none of the conventional words cover it for they miss the fantastic wit, the energy of humour, the divine ability to find comedic ore in the print detritus of our culture. She doesn't rescue texts; with her wicked sense of irony, she actually puts thought where there was none. She infects the banal with the virus of her ownbrain and makes it into art. Then she makes a picture of it-oh, dwell upon the details; there are whole novels lurking in the details."-Douglas Glover

"there is no mistaking a Schoemperlen story - devoted to form, faithful to the mysteries of the everyday." - The Globe & Mail

"Schoemperlen's inventive language and narrative structures encourage readers to be free 'from the prison of everyday thinking.'" - New York Times Book Review

"Lovely, clever [and] imaginative." - Wall Street Journal

About the author

DIANE SCHOEMPERLEN is the award-winning author of twelve works of fiction and non-fiction. Her works include In the Language of Love, which was short-listed for the Books in Canada/W.H. Smith First Novel Award; Forms of Devotion, a collection of illustrated stories which won the Governor General’s Award and was adapted as a stage play; Our Lady of the Lost and Found; Red Plaid Shirt: New and Selected Stories; Names of the Dead: An Elegy for the Victims of September 11; and At a Loss for Words: A Post-Romantic Novel. She recently published a collection called By the Book: Stories and Pictures, illustrated with her own full-colour collages, which was long listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She is the recipient of the Marian Engel Award from the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

Twitter: @dianesch

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Editorial Reviews

"There is no mistaking a Schoemperlen story-devoted to form, faithful to the mysteries of the everyday." - The Globe & Mail

"Schoemperlen's inventive language and narrative structures encourage readers to be free 'from the prison of everyday thinking.'" - The New York Times Book Review

"Lovely, clever [and] imaginative." - The Wall Street Journal

"Beautifully written and brimming with complexity." - Boston Globe

"One of the most charming novels you're likely to read this year." -New Orleans Times-Picayune

"Her cuttingly witty stories are ... obsessively precise in their language, they seem to be about ordinary circumstances, but everything convolutes and leads inexorably to startling conclusions. There is a quiet anarchy to Schoemperlen's critique of middle-class life ... Schoemperlen could almost form a school of piquant and inventive fiction with Julie Hecht, Janet Kauffman, and Lydia Davis." - Booklist

"A book about believing in something bigger than oneself andputting faith in what we can't fully know ... a look at the search for meaning." - Philadelphia Inquirer

"A thoughtful and intelligent writer. Readers who enjoy unconventional fiction will find food for thought here." - Publishers Weekly

"Highly intelligent and unique." - Library Journal

"A holy hoot." - Elle

"Strangely appealing ... an extremely clever and often graceful collection that rewards the curious reader." - Kirkus Reviews

"Charming and cool ... Schoemperlen's re-mixed antiqueillustrations delight the eye, and yet also provoke laughter, close study, and further examination ... By The Book is unusual, witty, and whimsical. Add to that the high production value of the volume itself ... and you have a terrific gift for a book, art, or ephemera lover." - Fine Books & Collections

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