The Return of History: Conflict, Migration, and Geopolitics in the Twenty-First Century
by Jennifer Welsh
House of Anansi $24.95
2016 CBC Massey Lectures
In 1989, as the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Cold War dissipated, the American political commentator Francis Fukuyama wrote a famous essay, entitled “The End of History.” Fukuyama argued that the demise of confrontation between Communism and capitalism, and the expansion of Western liberal democracy, signalled the endpoint of humanity’s socio-cultural and political evolution, the waning of traditional power politics, and the path toward a more peaceful world. At the heart of his thesis was the audaciously optimistic idea of “progress” in history.
But a quarter of a century after Fukuyama’s bold prediction about transcending the struggles of the past, history has returned. The twenty-first century has not seen unfettered progress toward peace and a single form of government, but the reappearance of trends and practices many believed had been erased: arbitrary executions, attempts to annihilate ethnic and religious minorities, the starvation of besieged populations, invasion and annexation of territory, and the mass movement of refugees and displaced persons. It has also witnessed cracks and cleavages within Western liberal democracies, particularly as a result of deepening economic inequality — at levels not seen since the end of the nineteenth century.
The Return of History both illustrates and explains this return of history. But it also demonstrates how the reappearance of acts deemed “barbaric” or “medieval” has a modern twist. Above all, it argues that the return of history should encourage us all to remember that our own liberal democratic society was not inevitable and that we must all, as individual citizens, take a more active role in its preservation and growth.
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
by Alan Bradley
Doubleday Canada $29.95
Fiction / Mystery
Hailed as "a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes" by The Boston Globe, Flavia de Luce returns in a much anticipated new Christmas mystery from award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley.
In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote's Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia's blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar's wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man's body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It's amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one's spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.
Bill Davis: Nation Builder, and Not So Bland After All
by Steve Paikin
Dundurn Press $50.00
Biography / Politics
Canadian / Hamilton author
The first authorized biography of Bill Davis, the enigmatic Ontario premier who carried on a Tory dynasty, but was also a crucial Trudeau supporter.
A biography of one of Ontario’s most important premiers, who, despite having been out of public life for more than thirty years, is remembered fondly by many as the father of the community college system, TVO, OISE, and was indispensable in repatriating the Canadian Constitution with an accompanying Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Before he became premier, Davis was perhaps the most important education minister in Ontario history, responsible for the creation of the community college system and TVOntario. As premier, he went on to lead Ontario through buoyant and recessionary economic times, leaving a legacy Ontarians continue to enjoy.
Now 87, Davis still lives on Main Street in his beloved Brampton.
The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals and Breakthroughs in Modern Art
by Sebastian Smee
Random House $37.00
Biography / Art
Pulitzer Prize–winning art critic Sebastian Smee tells the fascinating story of four pairs of artists—Manet and Degas, Picasso and Matisse, Pollock and de Kooning, Freud and Bacon—whose fraught, competitive friendships spurred them to new creative heights.
Rivalry is at the heart of some of the most famous and fruitful relationships in history. The Art of Rivalry follows eight celebrated artists, each linked to a counterpart by friendship, admiration, envy, and ambition. All eight are household names today. But to achieve what they did, each needed the influence of a contemporary—one who was equally ambitious but possessed sharply contrasting strengths and weaknesses.
Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas were close associates whose personal bond frayed after Degas painted a portrait of Manet and his wife. Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso swapped paintings, ideas, and influences as they jostled for the support of collectors like Leo and Gertrude Stein and vied for the leadership of a new avant-garde. Jackson Pollock’s uninhibited style of “action painting” triggered a breakthrough in the work of his older rival, Willem de Kooning. After Pollock’s sudden death in a car crash, de Kooning assumed Pollock's mantle and became romantically involved with his late friend’s mistress. Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon met in the early 1950s, when Bacon was being hailed as Britain’s most exciting new painter and Freud was working in relative obscurity. Their intense but asymmetrical friendship came to a head when Freud painted a portrait of Bacon, which was later stolen.
Each of these relationships culminated in an early flashpoint, a rupture in a budding intimacy that was both a betrayal and a trigger for great innovation. Writing with the same exuberant wit and psychological insight that earned him a Pulitzer Prize for art criticism, Sebastian Smee explores here the way that coming into one’s own as an artist—finding one’s voice—almost always involves willfully breaking away from some intimate’s expectations of who you are or ought to be.
The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito
by Tomson Highway, Illustrated by Sue Todd
Fifth House Publishers $24.95
Fiction / Musical Theatre (Ages 4+)
Timely, Fun, Challenging and Wise!
Tomson Highway's musical cabaret, The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito, couldn't be more vividly presented unless you were sitting in the middle seat of the front row watching the Cree playwright, performer, musician and poet himself. The story of a wingless little mosquito from Manitoba has all the whimsy and wise humour any audience could ask for.
The ageless theme of a misfit, who finds her voice through song and who learns to make friends by communicating directly with her audience, is a timely treat for anyone who has felt like an outsider, dealt with bullying, moved to a new place, or was different from the rest of the pack.
The entire script is here, complete with song lyrics, stage directions, Cree vocabulary, and challenging tongue twisters to delight all ages. A perfect book for drama students, teachers, and theatre enthusiasts, this beautiful full-colour volume serves as an interactive read-aloud for the young, or a great way to introduce students to the joys of staging a musical production.
Mark of the Plague: Blackthorne Key #2
by Kevin Sands
Fantasy / Mystery (Ages 10-14)
Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this follow-up to the Indie Next pick The Blackthorn Key, which was called a “spectacular debut” by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.
The Black Death has returned to London, spreading disease and fear through town. A mysterious prophet predicts the city’s ultimate doom—until an unknown apothecary arrives with a cure that actually works. Christopher’s Blackthorn shop is chosen to prepare the remedy. But when an assassin threatens the apothecary’s life, Christopher and his faithful friend Tom are back to hunting down the truth, risking their lives to untangle the heart of a dark conspiracy.
And as the sickness strikes close to home, the stakes are higher than ever before…
Copies signed by the author available.
The Pain Eater
by Beth Goobie
Second Story Press $12.95
Fiction / Sexual Abuse (Ages 14+)
She hadn’t told anyone. Not a single soul. Not one word about that night and what had been done to her had ever passed Maddy Malone’s lips. She’d thought about it at first - had been desperate, even frantic, to tell. But then had come the shame, and the intimidation from the boys who raped her - and the one who held her down. Now it’s the beginning of a new school year and Maddy is hoping that she can continue to hide, making herself as quiet and small as possible. She is consumed with keeping the memories at bay, forcing them down through small cuts and the burn from the end of a cigarette. But when her English class is given the assignment of writing a collaborative novel about a fifteen-year-old girl, The Pain Eater, fact and fiction begin to meet up. When the boys spread rumors about Maddy, she realizes that continuing to hide the truth will only give them more control, and she slowly gains the courage to confront them.
Aloha Wanderwell: The Border-Smashing, Record-Breaking Life of the World's Youngest Explorer
by Christian Fink-Jensen and Randolf Eustace-Walden
Goose Lane Editions $24.95
In 1922, a 15-year-old girl, fed up with life in a French convent school, answered an ad for a travelling secretary. Tall, blonde, and swaggering with confidence, she might have passed for twenty. She also knew what she wanted: to become the first female to drive around the world. Her name was Aloha Wanderwell.
Aloha's mission was foolhardy in the extreme. Drivable roads were scarce and cars were alien to much of the world. The Wanderwell Expedition created a specially modified Model T Ford for the journey that featured gun scabbards and a sloped back that could fold out to become a darkroom. All that remained was for Aloha to learn how to drive.
Aloha became known around the globe. She was photographed in front of the Eiffel Tower, parked on the back of the Sphinx, firing mortars in China, and smiling at a ticker tape parade in Detroit. By the age of 25, she had become a pilot, a film star, an ambassador for world peace, and the centrepiece of one of the biggest unsolved murder mysteries in California history. Her story defied belief, but it was true. Every bit of it. Except for her name. The American Aloha Wanderwell was, in reality, the Canadian Idris Hall.
Drawing upon Aloha's diaries and travel logs, as well as films, photographs, newspaper accounts, and previously classified government documents, Aloha Wanderwell reveals the astonishing story of one of the greatest — and most outrageous — explorers of the 1920s.
The Captain of Kinnoull Hill
by Jamie Tennant
Palimpsest Press $19.95
Canadian / Local Author
Dennis Duckworth - widely considered the least-likeable person on the Chicago music scene - is a philanderer and a misanthrope with a history of inflicting pain and suffering on nearly everyone he meets. When a routine flight from New York mysteriously alters its path mid-flight, he finds himself penniless and stranded on a remote hillside in rural Scotland. The hill is home to Eddie the Red Cap - a curmudgeonly, thousand-year-old goblin who secretly loves books and regrets the violent past of his people. Eddie is determined to put his murderous life of mayhem behind him; Dennis merely wants to stop being a jackass. How can it be that Dennis faces the bigger challenge?
Filled with absurdity, magic, humour and hope, The Captain of Kinnoull Hill asks what happens when we can no longer abide our own nature. How much can we truly change about ourselves and -- in the end -- is it worth it to try?
Into the Sun
by Deni Ellis Béchard
House of Anansi $22.95
Kabul — 10 years after 9/11: When a car bomb explodes in a crowded part of the city, a Japanese-American journalist is shocked to discover that the vehicle’s passengers were acquaintances — three fellow ex-pats who had formed an unlikely love triangle. Alexandra was a Canadian human rights lawyer for imprisoned Afghan women. Justin was a born-again Christian from Louisiana who taught at a local school. Clay was an ex-soldier who worked as a private contractor. The car’s driver, Idris, one of Justin’s most promising pupils, is missing.
Convinced the events that led to the fatal explosion weren’t random, and curious to know more about what led each of them to Afghanistan, the journalist follows a trail from Kabul to Louisiana, Maine, Québec, and Dubai, determined to uncover why they were targeted and who is responsible.
In this monumental novel, Deni Ellis Béchard explores the personal impact of America’s imperial misadventures and draws an unsentimental portrait of the journalists, mercenaries, messianic idealists, and aid workers who flock to war zones. In vivid and evocative prose, Béchard brings to life the city of Kabul itself, along with the people who live there: the hungry, determined, and resourceful locals who are just as willing as their occupiers to reinvent themselves to survive.
Short Takes on the Apocalypse
by Patricia Young
In her new collection, two-time Governor General’s Award nominee Patricia Young decodes the fragile narratives that hold together our collective sense of self.
Her poems leave no aspect of human nature untouched: passions, shames, and even our most blasé conditions are transformed through bold and unconventional metaphors. Young will comfort you and scare you with the same question, revelation, turn of phrase, yet she accomplishes all this amid an unquenchable joy, an abandon only barely contained.