New Books and Featured Reading Lists

Each week on the 49th Shelf homepage, we highlight new releases. We also make theme-based lists and showcase lists from guest contributors and 49th Shelf members. This page archives these selections so they are always available to our members.

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New Fiction for the week of July 16th : New Fiction
Ayesha At Last

Ayesha At Last

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : humorous
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Kiss the Joy as it Flies

Kiss the Joy as it Flies

Tenth-anniversary edition
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback Paperback
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Chicken

Chicken

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : literary
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Radiant Shimmering Light

Radiant Shimmering Light

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : humorous
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The Light a Body Radiates

The Light a Body Radiates

edition:Paperback
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The Home for Wayward Parrots
Excerpt

Chapter One
Gumbo

I was sitting on the toilet the first time I ever spoke with my mother. It was a bad habit, taking the phone into the bathroom, but I did it every time. Ever since I got one of those phones with the internet and everything, I'd find myself surfing while taking a crap. I figure that it's just the twenty-first century equivalent of reading the sports section on the john. Of course, the sports section never rings with the phone call you've been wanting to get for thirty years.

Don't get me wrong -- I grew up with a mom and dad just like about half the rest of the world. It was almost like the descriptions in a badly written children's book; we lived in a white clapboard house on a tree-lined street in a quaint little town. The reality is that I don't even know what clapboard is and the house was blue, except for the year my dad got creative. Mom repainted it the next summer. Blue.

I think she liked the blue because Mom was a cop. When I was little I thought her first name was Officer. I think she would have worn her uniform on her days off if she were allowed. On the other hand, unless you lived with us, you'd hardly even know that Dad had a job. Some people thought he was embarrassed -- he was a nurse -- but it was just that he didn't care about work like Mom did. Dad was a good nurse, but he didn't love nursing like Mom loved policing. It was just a job for him and he left the patients at the hospital. Being a cop was like Mom's religion.

Other kids used to make fun of me because of Mom and Dad. "Does your dad wear an apron, too?" they'd ask. I knew it was supposed to be mean, but he did wear an apron sometimes. It never seemed weird to me, I guess because it's just what was normal in my house. Looking back, I guess I'm lucky they named me Brian; I could have been saddled with one of those horrible gender-neutral monikers you see everywhere these days. Hunter, Logan and Mason, like some kind of unisex law firm.

I was lucky in a lot of ways, I know. My parents never let me forget that they loved me, they even spun the whole adopted thing as a way of proving it. They picked me -- I was no accident. And I love my folks just fine, but I can't say I never thought about it. To be honest, I thought about the fact that I was adopted all the time.

#

I guess nowadays you'd say we lived in the suburbs, but everyone just called it out-of-town. It was a half hour car ride into downtown, but it was nothing like living in the city. Even now, Saanich isn't like what I imagine when I think of the 'burbs. We had a quarter acre of our own and the down the road neighbours had a small dairy farm. The neighbourhood smelled like trees and horses.

Growing up in Saanich was kind of weird. It wasn't the country -- I mean it was less than an hour on the bus to anywhere in the city, and the bus ran everyday. Once I got older it seemed like I spent more hours on the bus than anywhere else. That bus was like a second home until I moved into the city after University.

But we lived a lot like country people do, I imagine. The neighbourhood kids all ran around feral in the summers. When my folks would kick me out of the house to "get some fresh air instead of spending all your time with your nose in a book," I'd spending the entire day in the woods with Johnny Frazier, Blair McKirk and Angela Hoeffer. We'd leave our houses first thing in the morning and tear around on our bikes until six or seven at night.

I can't remember us ever doing anything particularly interesting, but we somehow managed to entertain ourselves in those days. I guess it's not really that hard to amuse a bunch of ten-year-olds. The big excitement one summer was this abandoned construction project on the other side of the highway. Crossing the highway was a big deal because we weren't supposed to do it. There weren't really that many rules, but of course we had to break the ones that there were. So crossing the highway without getting caught was the major goal of almost every excursion. And once we found the lot, we were in kid heaven.

Looking back on it, I don't know what we found so exciting about the place. I guess the construction people cleared away anything of value before they took off. There were no dead bodies, buried treasure or working heavy machinery to be found. But at the time they all thought it was the best place ever. Angela found it first, and she never stopped letting us know that it was thanks to her that we had the coolest hangout around.

I was sitting on The Mound, this hill of dirt we claimed as the main meeting spot. It was my turn to bring the food, and I had a bunch of peanut butter and honey sandwiches in my backpack. I handed one to Johnny who started wolfing it down before I'd even managed to give out the rest of them. Typical.

"Jesus, Johnny," Blair said, taking the wax-paper package from me and rolling his eyes. "Your mom doesn't feed you or what?"

"Shut up," Johnny said around a mouthful of sandwich. This was a daily exchange between the two and neither I nor Angela even heard it anymore. I passed her a sandwich and unwrapped my own. The four of us chewed for a while without talking. Blair pulled out a two litre bottle of Coke wrapped in a paper bag and we passed it around like it was a bottle of rotgut wine and we were a pack of hobos. We were all envious of Blair. His parents were getting divorced, and as a result he and his two sisters could get anything they wanted. This largesse trickled down to our gang in the form of Coke, bags of Old Dutch potato chips and the occasional candy bar.

"We should go look for tools behind the shed," Angela said after half her sandwich was gone.

"There's nothing here," I argued. We'd looked for something decent every day for a week and never found anything left behind.

"We haven't looked everywhere," Blair said, looking toward Angela. Everyone knew he liked her, except her and maybe him.

"You got any other ideas, Gumbo?" she asked me, as if Blair hadn't said a word. If it bothered him, he didn't show it.

I was the only one in our group with a nickname, and I was never sure if I liked the unique status or not. It was one of those dumb things that doesn't even make any sense but sticks with you forever. When we were all little, we would go out trick or treating on Halloween together. One year, I was maybe seven, I dressed as an elephant. I don't know where I got the idea or even how Dad pulled it off. He was responsible for stuff like that, though if I'd wanted to be a cop for Halloween I'm sure Mom would have dug up a genuine child-sized uniform for me. I was never once a cop for Halloween.

Anyway, I was dressed up in gray sweats stuffed with pillows and an elephant mask with giant floppy ears and a trunk that hung to my knees. It looked ridiculous, but at least it was warm. The others were already there when Mom dropped me off at Johnny's house. She walked me up to the door and delivered me to Mrs. Frazier with her annual Halloween warning about flashlights, reflective clothing and razor blades and I had the usual sensation of wanting the floor to swallow me up. Having a cop for a mom is a permanent state of embarrassment.

After my blush faded, Johnny's little sister Mary came toddling out to the door. She took one look at me and started jumping up and down and giggling. "Gumbo," she shouted in that little kid voice. "Gumbo, Gumbo, Gumbo!"

At first we though she was trying to say my last name, but how would she even know what it was? She was only three. After a second or two of confusion, we all figured out that she was trying to say Dumbo. It was her current favourite movie, and the Fraziers had even bought the VHS tape for their new VCR. I guess I should be glad that she couldn't pronounce it right. I don't know if I could stand to be known as Brian Dumbo.

"You got any chips, Blair?" I asked, deflecting Angela's question. I didn't have any ideas, but I was getting tired of digging in the dirt for non-existent treasures. They been going out to the site every day for a couple of weeks, and Mom and Dad has sent me out with them more days than they didn't. The novelty was starting to wear off.

Angela wasn't easily ignored, though. She intercepted the bag of Rip-L-Chips that Blair tossed me and said, "Hang on, Gum. You got something you want to do this afternoon? Digging for tools isn't good enough for you? You got some hot book you wanna read? Or do you need to go dust for prints somewhere." My face got hot and I wished I'd never mentioned the Junior Detective Kit I'd gotten for my birthday that year.

"Come on Angela," Johnny said, hand wrist deep in his own bag of chips. "Don't be a jerk."

"Never mind," I said, getting up and wiping the dirt from my butt. "I just don't feel like it today." I half walked, half fell down The Mound toward where the bikes were laying on the ground.

"Where are you going?" Blair called after me.

"Home," I said, not turning around. I picked up my bike and walked it over to the edge of the lot.

As I looked for my opening to cross the highway, I heard Angela laugh a fake high-pitched titter. I knew then that she felt bad, but it was too late. I was already halfway across the highway and heading for home.

#

It was sometime in the summer of the construction lot that I first discovered that it might be possible to find out who my real parents were. I never called them that out loud; I knew that Mom and Dad would die if they heard me say that. But that's what they were in my mind. My real parents. And I could maybe find them someday. The thought of it consumed me the summer I was ten years old.

And it consumed me every summer, every winter, every spring and fall for twenty more years, until the one morning I was in the john reading comics on my phone and it rang.

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This week's recommended reading lists

RMB's Fall 2018 List!

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New Non-Fiction for the week of July 2nd : New Travel Books
Food Artisans of Alberta

Food Artisans of Alberta

Your Trail Guide to the Best Locally Crafted Fare
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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A Taste of Prince Edward County

A Taste of Prince Edward County

A Guide to the People, Places & Food of Ontario's Favourite Getaway
edition:Paperback
tagged : ontario, canadian
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Paddling the Grand River

Paddling the Grand River

A Trip-Planning Guide to Ontario's Historic Grand River
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
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Travels Through the French Riviera

Travels Through the French Riviera

An Artist’s Guide to the Storied Coastline, from Menton to Saint-Tropez
edition:Hardcover
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Go Jump in the Lake

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National Canoe Day

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New Non-Fiction for the week of June 25th : New Art Books
Beau Dick

Beau Dick

Revolutionary Spirit
edition:Hardcover
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Maud's Country

Maud's Country

Landscapes that Inspired the Art of Maud Lewis
by Lance Woolaver
photographs by Bob Brooks
edition:Hardcover
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Uncommitted Crimes

Uncommitted Crimes

The Defiance of the Artistic Imagi/nation
edition:Paperback
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E. J. Hughes Paints Vancouver Island

E. J. Hughes Paints Vancouver Island

edition:Hardcover
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Sonny Assu

Sonny Assu

A Selective History
edition:Paperback
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Landscape into Eco Art

Landscape into Eco Art

Articulations of Nature Since the ’60s
edition:Hardcover
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You Hold Me Up

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New Non-Fiction for the week of June 18th : New Books: Ideas
Hard To Do

Hard To Do

The Surprising, Feminist History of Breaking Up
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Born to Walk

Born to Walk

The Transformative Power of a Pedestrian Act
edition:Paperback
also available: Audiobook Hardcover eBook
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Excerpt

This book is about the transformative properties of walking. About fissures that anyone can explore. It is the outcome of an experiment both personal and journalistic, an attempt to understand my addiction, to see how much repair might be within range.

I have tried to structure it in a logical way, exploring one main benefit of walking in each chapter. This is a problematic construction: the anecdotes, statistics and conclusions overlap and magnify one another. There are also geographic boundaries to stumble over. While I touch down in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the focus is on the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The cultural and economic forces that have shaped the Anglosphere (our cities and habits, our health and happiness) have incubated a distinct set of challenges.

Maturity, we are told, means accepting that the world is broken. Yet, what if some simple patches were possible? All of the people I spoke to or spent time with, outstanding in diverse fields, have demonstrated, in one way or another, that a renewed emphasis on walking, even in communities facing stacked odds, could be a small step toward somewhere better. That my fix just might be a fix.

Generations of writers have gone down this road. Wordsworth, Thoreau, Solnit, Chatwin and scores of others have crafted lyrical poems, essays and books about the power of walking. I bow at their feet. These classics are more relevant now than ever, and they have kindled a resurgence. In 2014 alone, French philosopher Frédéric Gros published a manifesto about the subversive ability of walking to mine the “mystery of presence”; British author Nick Hunt retraced the 80-year-old footsteps of scholar Patrick Leigh Fermor across Europe on a quest to find what remains of the kindness of strangers; historian Matthew Algeo looked back at an era when competitive walking was America’s most popular spectator sport; and naturalist Trevor Herriot embarked on a prairie pilgrimage, wielding “a metaphysics of hope against the dogma that we are aimless wanderers in a world whose chaotic surface is the sum total of reality.” This indispensable paper trail gave my ideas shape and scope.

One of the first guides I talked to was a doctor named Stanley Vollant, the first Aboriginal surgeon from Quebec. A son of the Innu nation, Vollant was striving to inspire hope among Canada’s indigenous peoples by leading group hikes hundreds of miles long, reviving the routes and rhythms of his ancestors. There was a walk coming up. He invited me to tag along.

At the time, I was bogged down by work and domestic responsibilities. But our conversation continued to resonate. “When you begin a journey, you don’t know why,” Vollant had said sagely. “The trail will show you the way.”

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Boys

Boys

What It Means to Become a Man
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
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Putting Trials on Trial

Putting Trials on Trial

Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal Profession
edition:eBook
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Elements of Indigenous Style
Excerpt

CHAPTER 1: WHY AN INDIGENOUS STYLE GUIDE? The need to Indigenize publishing

The paramount purpose of literature focusing on a specific cultural group should be to present the culture in a realistic and insightful manner, with the highest possible degree of verisimilitude. However, the body of literature on Indigenous Peoples mostly fails to achieve this standard. The failure has been a long-standing concern of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

The failure comes from a colonial practice of transmitting “information” about Indigenous Peoples rather than transmitting Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives about themselves. The anthropologist Franz Boas put a name on this perspective in the mid-twentieth century. He called it ethnocentrism, which he recognized as a barrier to cultural understanding. Cultural understanding, he realized, can only be achieved by a “perspective from the inside.” Indigenous and other scholars have since coined other terms for this perspective, such as Eurocentrism, and have written about, for example, the British-centrism of Canada.

Some members of the Canadian literary establishment have also long recognized the damage of this perspective. Margaret Atwood wrote in 1972, “The Indians and Eskimos have rarely been considered in and for themselves: they are usually made into projections of something in the white Canadian psyche.”

The need to Indigenize writing, editing, and publishing in many ways parallels the evolution of writing about African Americans and women in the late twentieth century, and the development of concepts such as “Black History” and “Herstory.” Indigenous writers, editors, and publishers have asserted that the experience of being an Indigenous person is profoundly different from that of other people in North America. Many Indigenous Peoples and authors have cited cultural appropriation, misrepresentation, and lack of respect for Indigenous cultural Protocols as significant problems in Canadian publishing. Indigenous Peoples have frequently taken the stand that they are best capable of, and morally empowered to, transmit information about themselves. They have the right to tell their own story. When an author is writing about them—even in established genres such as anthropological studies, history, and political commentary—Indigenous Peoples would at least like the opportunity for input into how they are represented on the page.

Indigenous Peoples add their voices to the argument that it is important for any national or cultural group to have input into the documentation of its history, philosophies, and reality as a basic matter of cultural integrity. In some respects, this is especially pressing for Indigenous Peoples in Canada and other parts of the world, because they have been misrepresented for so long, which has created a body of literature inconsistent with, and often opposed to, Indigenous cultural understandings.

In So You Want to Write About American Indians, Devon Abbott Mihesuah writes, “If you plan on writing about Natives you must know much more about them, such as tribal history, their language, religion, gender roles, appearances, politics, creation stories, how they dealt with Europeans, and how they have survived to the present day.” Mihsuah further contends, “Can you secure tribal permission for your topic? If you are doing a serious study of a tribe, you can not do the work adequately without conversing with knowledgeable members of the tribes.”

Some improvements in Canadian publishing have come from a slow awakening to the impact of colonial ethnocentrism on who has been writing about Indigenous Peoples, with what process, and in what words. But works are still being produced that contain old stereotypes and perceptions, and that lack respect for Indigenous Protocols and perspectives. In 2017, for example, I asked a well-respected Indigenous colleague, who works as a freelance editor and validator of Indigenous content in a variety of Canadian publishing contexts, for examples of projects that had gone well from her point of view. Her frustration showed in her answer, which was “really none.”

Many Canadian publishers have a sense that they’re not editing work by and about Indigenous Peoples as well as they could. For the most part, they want to do it right, but often they don’t know how to do it right. Part of the solution is to develop and train more Indigenous editors and publishers, so they can work in publishing. Part of the solution is also to train more non-Indigenous editors and publishers so they can better work on Indigenous titles. I take heart from the responses of the more than forty Indigenous and Canadian editors who attended the Indigenous Editors Circle (IEC) and Editing Indigenous Manuscripts (EIM) courses offered at Humber College in Toronto in August, 2017. The IEC faculty (which I was part of until 2017) has been surprised by the increased number of Canadian publishers who are interested in attending the sessions.

Another part of the solution is to recognize work already in progress. Indigenous writers, editors, and publishers are developing and defining emerging contemporary Indigenous Literatures, and they are establishing culturally based Indigenous methodologies within the editing and publishing process.

This style guide aims also to be part of the solution—part of the process of instilling Indigenous Peoples in the heart of Canadian publishing.

Principles of Indigenous style

The twenty-two principles of this style guide are placed in the context of the discussion where they arise.

They are also collected at the end of the guide as an appendix.

Here is the first principle, based on the discussion above about the need to Indigenize publishing:

PRINCIPLE 1: THE PURPOSE OF INDIGENOUS STYLE

 

 

The purpose of Indigenous style is to produce works: that reflect Indigenous realities as they are perceived by Indigenous Peoples;that are truthful and insightful in their Indigenous content;and that are respectful of the cultural integrity of Indigenous Peoples.

 

 

The place of non-Indigenous style guides

This style guide does not replace standard references on editing and publishing, such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the MLA Handbook. Neither does it replace the house styles of individual publishers.

You should still follow these styles, in general, when you are writing, editing, or publishing Indigenous authors and Indigenous content. In some cases, however, Indigenous style and conventional style or house style will not agree. When that happens, Indigenous style should override conventional style and house style. If you are not familiar with Indigenous style, this may not feel right to you at first. Indigenous style uses more capitalization than conventional style, for example, and it incorporates Indigenous Protocols, which require time and attention to observe correctly.

It is helpful to keep in mind that Indigenous style is part of a conversation that aims to build a new relationship between Indigenous people and settler society. Indigenous style is conversing with you, perhaps for the first time, in an ongoing decolonizing discourse.

PRINCIPLE 2: WHEN INDIGENOUS STYLE AND CONVENTIONAL STYLES DISAGREE

Works by Indigenous authors or with Indigenous content should follow standard style references and house styles, except where these disagree with Indigenous style. In these works, Indigenous style overrules other styles in cases of disagreement.

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After Morgentaler

After Morgentaler

The Politics of Abortion in Canada
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
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What's Yours is Mine

What's Yours is Mine

Against the Sharing Economy, Second Edition
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
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Taking The Rap

Taking The Rap

Women Doing Time for Society's Crimes
edition:Paperback
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No Choice

No Choice

The 30-Year Fight for Abortion on Prince Edward Island
edition:Paperback
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This week's recommended reading lists

Cottage Books

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