Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Posts from — September 2009

Joseph Boyden to read at UVM on Sept 25

threeday.jpg blackspruce.jpg  riel_dumont.jpg bornwithatooth.jpg

Reading by Joseph Boyden
author of Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce (winner of the Giller Prize 2008)
Memorial Lounge, Waterman Building
4:00 – 5:00 pm

I’m excited to announce that, at 4:00 pm on Friday September 25th, award-winning Canadian writer Joseph Boyden will be reading at Memorial Lounge in Waterman.
The author of a short story collection Born With a Tooth , novels Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce , and his recent biography of Métis leaders Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, Joseph Boyden has quickly ascended the ranks to be one of Canada’s most widely read writers working today. His novel Three Day Road (2005) won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the CBA Libris Fiction Book of the Year, the in Canada First Novel Award, and in the US was also featured as a pick on the Today Show book club. In 2008, his second novel, Through Black Spruce, won the Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious fiction prize.
Born and raised in Toronto, Boyden completed an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of New Orleans and then returned to the northernmost regions of Ontario where he worked for two years in the James Bay region as a Professor of Aboriginal Programs. His time there working with the Mushkegowuk Cree, not to mention his own Métis ancestry, have made the land and people of this region his “muse and obsession” and the setting for much of his work. Today he divides his time between Northern Ontario and New Orleans where he and his wife, novelist Amanda Boyden, are currently Writers in Residence.
Joseph and Amanda will both be reading at the Burlington Book Festival on September 26th, but I’ve managed to arrange for Joseph to do a reading at UVM at 4 pm at the Memorial Lounge. I’ve taught his novel Three Day Road to hundreds of students over the last three years in courses ranging from English 180 and 182 to my TAP class. It’s an extraordinary book and I think this will be a great opportunity for students to hear him read and to ask him questions about his work.

For more information on Joseph Boyden and his work, see his website at
Reviews of Through Black Spruce:
“Powerful and powerfully told. . .Much of this novel reflects its crisp, poetic title…Will speaks with the straight-faced good humor of Louise Erdrich’s Nanapush…in the novel’s most moving section, Will flees to live along in wilderness few people ever even see. It’s an experience beautifully rendered in the raw poetry of Boyden’s prose.”
—The Washington Post

“Anguished, angry Uncle Will’s revenge drama is almost perfect in pitch and execution. Tragedy and comedy unspool together in a startlingly casual manner when Will speaks, they way they do in life.  When Boyden is at his best, as he often is here, he is matchless.”
—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Reviews of Three Day Road: “Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road is a brilliant novel. You will suffer a bit, but it’s overwhelmingly worth the voyage.”
—Jim Harrison

“Three Day Road  is a devastatingly truthful work of fiction, and a masterful account of hell and healing. This is a grave, grand, and passionate book.”
—Louise Erdrich

September 19, 2009   2 Comments

Spotted Cow Press makes history with innovative double espresso book launch

Later this afternoon, Edmonton publisher Spotted Cow Press will make history by launching its latest book simultaneously in two Canadian cities.

What makes this event unique is that Spotted Cow Press will be printing off copies of S. Minsos’ novel Squire Davis and the Crazy River in each of these locations on Espresso Book Machines, making this the first “Double Espresso book launch” in history. After a reading by the author, both the University of Alberta Bookstore in Edmonton, owner of one of the very first Espresso Book Machines ever produced, and the Titles bookstore at McMaster University in Hamilton, who acquired their machine more recently, will start printing copies of the book simultaneously for customers to purchase on the spot. Customers at the Titles bookstore will be able to watch the book launch in Edmonton, 3000 km away, via live video.

Spotted Cow Press and the University of Alberta bookstore already made history on this front when it launched (PDF) Twice in a Blue Moon, a new collection of poetry by Joyce Harries, using the Espresso Book Machine on November 15, 2007, which might well be the first launch of a new literary title using the machine. The cutting edge approaches of both Spotted Cow Press and the U of Alberta bookstore are only just now becoming more mainstream with more Espresso machines starting to appear in bookstores such as the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, VT, and with Google announcing just yesterday that it will being to sell copies of over 2 million currently out-of-print book titles via the Espresso Book Machine.

(Here’s a PDF link to the Spotted Cow Press press release about this afternoon’s event)

If you’re interested in following along online, I expect that there will be a few people twittering from each event. Just look for the hashtag #doubleespresso or follow @pjmartin or @MACBookstore on twitter.

September 18, 2009   1 Comment

Breaking my silence

I’ve got my head down these days and am working on nothing but my book. I need to take a few moments to say the following:

Even as a non-American, I’m getting a bit freaked out by the rhetoric of the anti-Obama crowd. To me, it’s gotten beyond bizarre and is getting plain scary. I would feel even more disheartened if I saw something like this happening in my own country.

This great editorial cartoon makes light of all this, but, really, can people actually think that it’s okay to pull their kids out of school so they don’t have to hear a message from the leader of their country? That scares me. Of course, those are probably the same people who would be up in arms if they tried to pull the Pledge of Allegiance out of the schools.

I’ve told my kids that, as non-Americans, they don’t need to say the pledge, but that they should be respectful of it. Obama is not their president and this is not their country. I’m happy, though, that they get to watch his speech in school tomorrow. Obama is such a fine example of what is possible when you value education and develop an insatiable curiosity about the entire world. He’s the best role model of any world leader that I can recall. I feel very sorry for the children whose parents are removing them from school tomorrow. That narrow-minded action by their parents is teaching them the exact opposite of what education should be about.

September 7, 2009   No Comments