Friday, August 30, 2013

The Bookshelf 40th Anniversary Fall Reading Series

To celebrate our fortieth year, a huge roster of star authors is coming to the Bookshelf and environs this fall, culminating in a reading by none other than Margaret Atwood! Check out this lineup:

Oct. 8, 8:00 p.m.
The eBar
Stephen Henighan, A Green Reef: The Impact of Climate Change
Oct. 9, 7:00 p.m.
Lakeside Hope House
Maude Barlow, Blue Future, hosted by the Council of Canadians and The Bookshelf
Oct. 18, 7:00 p.m.
Lakeside Hope House
Andrew Nikiforuk (The Energy of Slaves) and Stephane Dion, hosted by the Council of Canadians and The Bookshelf
Oct. 23, 7:00 p.m.
The eBar
Deborah Cowley, The Library Tree: How a Canadian Woman Brought the Joy of Reading to a Generation of African Children.
Oct. 29, 7:00 p.m.
Lakeside Hope House

Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.
The eBar 

Nov. 8, 7:00 p.m.
The eBar 
Lawrence Hill, 2013 Massey Lecturer, Blood: The Stuff of Life. Hosted by the University of Guelph's College of Arts Cafe Philosophique and The Bookshelf

Stacey May Fowles, Infidelity; Sean Johnston, Listen All You Bullets

Lyle Estill reads from his book Small Stories, Big Changes
Nov. 10, 2:00 p.m.
St. George's Church
Sally Armstrong, The Ascent of Women, hosted by the Zonta Club of Guelph and The Bookshelf
Nov. 12, 7:00 p.m.
The eBar
Catherine Bush, Accusation; Karen Connelly, Come Cold River; Michael Winter, Minister Without Portfolio
Nov. 21, 7:00 p.m.
The Bookshelf Cinema 
Mary Lawson (Road Ends) and Wayne Johnston (The Son of a Certain Woman)
Nov. 27, 8:00 p.m.
War Memorial Hall, University of Guelph
Margaret Atwood (MaddAddam), hosted by the University of Guelph's College of Arts Cafe Philosophique and The Bookshelf (Tickets $10/$8 students)

We hope you can join us! Watch our website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed for details on these and other events. 

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vote for the October Non-fiction Book Club Title

Last month the Non-fiction Book Club talked about Michael Pollan's Cooked. It was nice to chat with people about barbequing, bread making, braising, and fermentation. By the end of the night I was very hungry, and happy that Michael Pollan will be appearing in Guelph for the Eden Mills Writer's Festival on September 14.

This morning I had a browse around the store and a few great titles jumped off the shelves and begged to be put into an online poll for our next book club. It's an eclectic list. There is the current, the historical, the weird, and the obscure. Have a look at the poll and cast your vote. For more information on a book, just click its title. You can only vote once.

The poll closes on Friday, August 23, 11:00 p.m., and the book club will be in The Bookshelf Greenroom on October 10, 7:00 p.m. Come talk about ideas over great food and drink in a relaxed atmosphere.

Hope to see you there!

- Ben

Which book would you like to discuss in the October non-fiction book club?
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The Savage Detectives

The Savage Detectives
Roberto Bolaño
When The Savage Detectives won the prestigious Rómulo Gallegos Prize (the Spanish equivalent of the Booker) in 1998, Roberto Bolaño became acclaimed as a writer throughout Latin America. The English-speaking world caught on to his significance only after his death from liver disease in 2003, but since then Bolaño has become a posthumous literary superstar in North America as well.

To get a sense of the contrasting worlds presented in The Savage Detectives, imagine a copy of the Norton Anthology of Poetry splayed face down on the dirty ground in a garbage-strewn alleyway. On the one hand, Bolaño’s novel presents an intense, romantic, literary idealism. It traces the journeys of Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano, the young bohemian founders of an avant-garde poetic movement (visceral realism), as they search for the lost poems of one of their artistic precursors. For Lima, Belano, and their poetic co-conspirators, poetry is their prime mover—or it might be that the chaotic passions that drive them can only find sufficient ground for expression in poetry, or the idea of poetry.

But, on the other hand, if Lima and Belano are poetic angels, they sport the filthiest of halos. Although they are the protagonists of Belano’s novel, we never learn about them directly. Instead, we see them filtered through a screen of interviews, diaries, and stories from dozens of other characters, some more reliable than others. And the collective picture painted isn’t a pretty one—Lima and Belano lurch their way through squalid lives, poor, unmoored, and drug-addled, drifting from Latin America to Europe to Africa, settling nowhere and leaving behind a trail of people sometimes wounded by them and sometimes grudgingly touched by their grubby artistic aura.

Roberto Bolaño
The Savage Detectives echoes with a cacophony of voices--some profound, some hilarious, some disturbing--and it’s as fascinating to suss out the various speakers as it is to sift through their impressions of Lima and Belano. In fact, although Bolaño’s novel is all about poetry, we never actually read any of the visceral realists’ poems, save one; our assessment of their status as poets has to be made second hand, from the various narrators’ comments (Hello Seymour Glass!). And there are some who deny that Lima and Belano are poets at all. But what can't be denied, and what makes Bolaño’s novel such a powerful and compelling read, is Lima and Belano's vitality--even buried in the world's muck and smothered by the young men's own stumbling, errant desires, the spark of poetry in them refuses to go out.

The Savage Detectives presents the reader with an extreme form of binocular vision: one eye is trained on the beauty of art while the other keeps a blurry focus on the smog-stained, factious life of the streets. The challenge for the novel’s characters and readers is to bring those disparate images into a unified vision. Offering a few words of poetry peeking out from the scuffed, crumpled pages of a book in an alley, Bolaño challenges us to journey in and turn the book over to read the rest.

- Bruce

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