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Editors' Picks: Week of October 7–13
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Editors' Picks: Week of October 7–13

By kileyturner
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This week were all about stellar debuts.
Catching the Light

Catching the Light

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

This was the line between here and there. No landwash, no vague intertidal zone, no undecided. She stood at the edge, a mass of instincts and yearnings and despair, while the dawn painted itself in around her, shade by delicate shade.

The kids call her Lighthouse: no lights on up there. In a small town, everyone knows when you can't read. But Cathy is just distracted by the light, lines, and artistry of everyday life. She is a talented artist growing up in tiny Mariners Cove and yearns for accep …

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Our Animal Hearts

Our Animal Hearts

edition:Paperback

Deep in British Columbia, at the turn of the 20th century, lies Winteridge: a small village perched on an enormous lake made famous by the monster said to haunt its depths.

Twelve-year-old Iris Sparks lives in Winteridge with her brother; her working-class Welsh mother, Llewelyna; and her blue-blooded father from England, a progressive bohemian who has brought his family to Canada for an adventure.

But amid the idyllic, Edwardian setting, there are dangers lurking. A blend of Welsh and Indigenous …

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On the Up

On the Up

edition:Paperback
tagged : literary, satire, crime

In this wild, stylish, wickedly funny debut, Shilo Jones charts the journey of three players caught in a high-stakes property development--a dangerous and depraved game that plays out behind the veneer of everyday city life.

Jasminder is determined. Carl is blitzed. Mark is righteous.

Unfortunately, they've pitted themselves against one another and they're throwing everything they have at the same condo development in North Vancouver. The Solstice deal promises what they want most for themselves- …

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Excerpt

Jasminder Bansal

Everything hinges on being believed. I've spent months angling to get inside the corruption story and finally . . . a meeting with the man who employs my brother's killer. Vincent Peele, real estate attorny and the youngest board member of Marigold Group, one of the largest development firms in the country. You don't rise that far and fast without—
"—this is maybe not the best idea? Friday evening, life-changing interview with the boss, what kind of guy am I, to spring that on you with zero notice?"
Vincent uses his teeth to remove his soaked riding gloves while I tell him no problem, it's an honour, I appreciate the opportunity. I wipe moisture from a plastic patio chair and settle into the persona I've created to handle him, keeping my voice quiet and my body language subdued. The trick to getting sources to speak freely is to appear non-threatening. Mentally rehearse my pitch, how I've improved my proactive sales-oriented attitude, the steps I've taken to craft strong relationships with—
Vincent leaps out of his chair, admires the mud splattered across his fluorescent yellow rain jacket. Like a child, it seems he's having a difficult time staying still. "Just went for a killer mountain bike ride. Look at me! covered in mud, maybe even blood. It's awesome! There are bears in the woods. Predators. March, they're hungry. See a bear, Jasminder? Not many bears where you're . . . anyway, cool. Tigers, though?" Vincent curls his hands into claws, pretends to snarl and scratch. "Do tigers still exist? Do I have mud in my teeth?" 
Give him a you-must-be-joking hand wave, sip my tea, and decide he's the kind of okay-looking that, depending on lighting or mood, could easily become obnoxious. His face narrows from the square foundation of his beard to a sharp widow's peak. Precisely trimmed eyebrows. A mouth that hangs slightly open. He has the shitty habit of not looking directly at me, like I'm an interruption in an otherwise outstanding view. Vincent catches me sizing him up, gets the wrong idea, buries his fingers in his beard, says "uh-huh, yeah" under his breath, takes a selfie with the North Shore Mountains in the background. 
I was hired as an entry-level sales associate at Marigold Group five weeks ago. Making cold calls. Harassing mortgage admin. Guiding clients to local sights. The probationary period is over. My hope is that Vincent called this meeting to hire me permanently. To get this story written I need access to his office, his files. “It’s wonderful to finally meet you, Mr.—”
“Wonderful, always, sure.” Vincent crosses right leg in front of left, bends at the waist, grabs his grimy cycling shoe, stretches, flexes his shoulders. “Mmm . . . brutally tight hamstring . . . jeez! Getting structurally integrated tomorrow, soma deep tissue, re-educate the body, heard of it? Nah, didn’t think so. Invented locally? Pretty sure, yes. Isn’t this great? Exercise and espresso! Simple needs. I live a very minimalist lifestyle, despite doing so well for myself.” Vincent looks up without breaking his stretch, nods toward a group sitting at a table on the other side of the outdoor café, lowers his voice. “Those people? Giving me stink eye for stretching in a coffee shop? Uptight, not real Vancouverites, not true West Coasters, stiffs from back east who don’t understand what makes this place so special. But anyway. I’m glad you came. Because I’m a very relaxed person, you know, not business-uptight at all, maybe too casual—I thought, well, how ’bout I call our promising new sales associate Jasminder Ba . . . uh, Bay . . . Bi . . .”
“Bansal—”
“—right now, and see what she’s doing? Give the girl some good news heading into the weekend. Brighten her day! Of course, you don’t mind?”
“Mr. Peele? Are you offering me a full-time sales associate position?”
Vincent waves toward the clouds ringing the mountains. “Look at this city. Nowhere like it! We are so. Lucky.”
We’re at Lonsdale Quay, seated under a steel and glass atrium on a paving stone patio a few steps from the Pacific. The corners of the structure have gone green with algae or moss or something that thrives in near-constant moisture, and the wind coming off Burrard Inlet inspires me to wrap my scarf more tightly around my neck. A blunt, red-hulled tanker inches beneath the Lions Gate Bridge, looks close to clipping the underside of the span. Seagulls shriek and dive into the ship’s frothing wake. “So lucky, Mr. Peele. And no problem about the short notice. I was close by. With family. In Stanley Park.”
Watch him, see if he clues into the lie.
“Family? I have some of those. Vancouver, ooh!”
“Lovely.”
It might even be. Everyone says it is. But I’m not sure anymore. Horizontal lines of slate-coloured water and depthless cloud interrupted by a skyline that appears blocky and indistinct, flattened, as if carved from a single mass. And a new tower rising in the middle of the downtown core. Needle-thin and twice as tall as the rest, made of platinum or chrome or a material not yet discovered . . . and an invasive organic growth erupting two thousand feet overhead, a plague or virus spreading toward the city. No. I take a second look. Of course the malformed skyscraper doesn't exist. Visions. Hauntings? The anniversary of my brother's death is less than a week away.

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Forward

Forward

by Chantal Bilodeau
foreword by Una Chaudhuri
introduction by Tael Naess
edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian

Forward was partly inspired by a ten-day sailing expedition around the Svalbard Archipelago, located halfway between Norway and the North Pole. Spanning a hundred years and thousands of kilometres from the sixtieth parallel North to the top of the world, Forward presents a poetic history of energy development in Norway from the initial passion that drove explorer Fridtjof Nansen to the North Pole, to the consequences of decades of our addiction to fossil fuels. A blend of theatre and electropop …

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Proof I Was Here

Proof I Was Here

edition:Paperback

What's the point of trying to leave a mark when everything disappears? This question is at the heart of Proof I Was Here, a novel that tells the picaresque coming-of-age story of a young thief and aspiring artist who attempts to reboot her life on the streets of Barcelona after an unexpected breakup. Hailing from Toronto, where she has criminal charges waiting, Niki is outside of Canada for the first time. The pickpockets, squatters and graffiti artists she meets challenge her to reassess her id …

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Searching for Terry Punchout

Searching for Terry Punchout

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary

Finalist for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award

Garden State meets King Leary in this slapshot debut. Adam Macallister’s sportswriting career is about to end before it begins, but he’s got one last shot—a Sports Illustrated profile about hockey’s most notorious goon, the reclusive Terry Punchout—who also happens to be Adam’s estranged father. Adam returns to Pennington, Nova Scotia, where Terry now lives in the local rink and drives the Zamboni. Going home means drinking with old fri …

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Frying Plantain

Frying Plantain

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Set in a neighbourhood known as “Little Jamaica,” Frying Plantain follows one young girl from elementary school to high school graduation as she navigates the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation immigrants and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominantly white society.
Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her North American identity and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life l …

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Excerpt

From “Pig Head”
On my first visit to Jamaica I saw a pig’s severed head. My grandmother’s sister Auntie had asked me to grab two bottles of Ting from the icebox and when I walked into the kitchen and pulled up the icebox lid there it was, its blood splattered and frozen thick on the bottles beneath it, its brown tongue lolling out from between its clenched teeth, the tip making a small dip in the ice water.
My cousins were in the next room so I clamped my palm over my mouth to keep from screaming. They were all my age or younger, and during the five days I’d already been in Hanover they’d all spoken easily about the chickens they strangled for soup and they’d idly thrown stones at alligators for sport, side-eyeing me when I was too afraid to join in. I wanted to avoid a repeat of those looks, so I bit down on my finger to push the scream back down my throat.
Only two days before I’d squealed when Rodney, who was ten like me, had wrung a chicken’s neck without warning; the jerk of his hands and the quick snap of the bone had made me fall back against the coops behind me. He turned to me after I’d silenced myself and his mouth and nose were twisted up as if he was deciding whether he was irritated with me or contemptuous or just amused.
“Ah wah?” he asked. “Yuh nuh cook soup in Canada?”
“Sure we do,” I said, my voice a mumble. “The chicken is just dead first.”
He didn’t respond, and he didn’t say anything about it in front of our other cousins, but soon after they all treated me with a newfound delicacy. When the girls played Dandy Shandy with their friends they stopped asking me to be in the middle and when all of them climbed trees to pluck ripe mangoes, they no longer hung, loose-limbed, from the branches and tried to convince me to clamber up and join them. For the first three days of my visit, they’d at least tease me, broad smiles stretching their cheeks, and yell down, “This tree frighten yuh like how duppy frighten yuh?” Then they’d let leaves fall from their hands onto my hair and laugh when I tried to pick them out of my plaits. I’d fuss and grumble, piqued at the taunting but grateful for the inclusion, for being thought tough enough to handle the same mockery they inflicted on each other. But after the chicken, they didn’t goad me anymore and they only approached me for games like tag, for games they thought Canadian girls could stomach.
“What’s taking you so long?” My mother came up behind me and instead of waiting for me to answer, leaned forward and peered into the icebox, swallowing hard as she did. “Great,” she whispered. “Are you going to be traumatized by this?”
I didn’t quite know what she meant — but I felt like the right answer was no, so I shook my head. My mother was like my cousins. I hadn’t seen her butcher any animals, but back home she stepped on spiders without flinching, she cussed out men who tried to reach for her in the street, and I couldn’t bear her scoffing at me for screaming at a pig’s head.
“Eloise!” Nana called. My grandmother came into the kitchen from the backyard and stood next to us, her hands on her hips. The deep arch in her back made her breasts and belly protrude, and the way she stood with her legs apart reminded me of a pigeon.
“I hear Auntie call out she want a drink from the fridge. That there is the freezer yuh nuh want that. Yuh know wah Bredda put in there? Kara canna see that, she nuh raise up for it.”
“I closed the lid,” said my mother. “Anyway, it was a pig’s head. It’s not like she saw the pig get slaughtered. She’s fine.”
“Kara’s a soft one. She canna handle these things.”
I felt my mother take a deep breath in and I suddenly became aware of all the exposed knives in the kitchen and wondered if there was any way I could hide them without being noticed. We were only here for ten days and my mother and Nana had already gotten into two fights — one in the airport on the day we landed, the other two nights after — and Auntie had threatened to set the dogs on them if they didn’t calm down.
“Mi thought Canada was supposed fi be a civilized place, how yuh two fight like the dogs them? Cha.”
I wondered if all daughters fought with their mothers this way when they grew up and started to tear up just thinking about it. Nana looked at me.
“See? She ah cry about the head.”
“It’s not about the head,” said my mother. “She just cries over anything.”
“Like I say. She a soft chile.”

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