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Cabalcor: The rise and fall of a mythical tar sands boom town

Cabalcor: An Extracted History

by Sun Belt
(Anvil Press,
2015;
$24.00)

The relationship between activism and spoken word has a long, storied history in Canada. From Michèle Lalonde's 1968 Speak White, performed during the rise of separatism in Quebec to Ojibwe First Nation's Duke Redbird's spoken word performances about anti-aboriginal racism to Nanaimo's Shane Koyczan's recent anti-bullying performance poetry. 

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128 km later: How to hold on after your life doesn't make sense

The Walking Man

by Paul Dore
(Iguana Books,
2015;
$19.99)

"Lemme just get this out of the goddam way; I'm nervous as all hell. Nervous because you may or may not relate to the mess that follows."

This is how Paul Dore's debut novel, The Walking Man, opens: an intimate conversation with the narrator, our unnamed protagonist. A bundle of nerves, the character spills out his anxieties, struggles with depression, fears of opening up to people, of never finding love.

This book is that over-sharing friend we all have, and yet readers should not be intimidated or scared off by its candidness.

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Sex, drugs and pyromania: 'The Green Hotel' exposes Toronto's underbelly

The Green Hotel

by Jesse Gilmour
(Quattro Books,
2014;
$18.00)

First time author, Jesse Gilmour was introduced to the Canadian arts scene as a subject of a book instead of as a writer. His father, the infamous David Gilmour, wrote the memoir The Film Club, which talks about their relationship around the time when Jesse dropped out of high school.

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'Nothing Looks Familiar' asks: 'What does it mean to live in a body today?'

Nothing Looks Familiar

by Shawn Syms
(Arsenal Pulp Press,
2014;
$15.95)

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"I won't go out with another man on the killing floor," says Wanda, the narrator of 'On the Line,' in the opening line of Shawn Sym's debut collection Nothing Looks Familiar. "I can't stand the smell of them, or their attitudes."

Wanda's potential suitors work with her in a meat-packing plant, and carry the smell of dead flesh on their skin. Her preoccupation with their bodies' scent is understandable. It is also emblematic of the author's thematic concerns.

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Hot nights, Toronto streets: What is love enough?

Love Enough

by Dionne Brand
(Knopf Canada ,
2014;
$26.99)

Why is Dionne Brand's new novel called Love Enough?

That was a question I asked myself while reading. Of course, I knew I might never have a proper answer. Still, I suppose that one way to answer that question would be to track where love appears, where love is silent, what love does, what love is in proximity to.

On page five! A clue:

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Whodunit? Counterinsurgency and police violence in Zapatista territory

The Demands of the Dead: A novel

by Justin Podur
(Smashwords Edition,
2014;
$9.99)

Justin Podur's The Demands of the Dead: A novel is a political murder mystery novel, set in Chiapas, Mexico, dealing with themes of counterinsurgency, the drug war and police violence. In the novel, an investigator from the U.S. is sent to solve two murders with potential international implications, in
Zapatista territory.

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'Hysteric' heroically explores identity and madness within us

Hysteric

by Nelly Arcan
(Anvil Press,
2014;
$20.00)

The narrator of Hysteric, Quebecoise author Nelly Arcan's recently translated second novel, is -- like her creator -- a young Plateau Mont-Royal writer named Nelly whose debut novel about her years as a prostitute was an international success. Having sworn at age 15 to end her life at 30, Nelly tells us early in the text that "something within me has always been absent."

But the gaze of a nameless lover, a young freelance journalist with a penchant for cyberporn, infuses her with a fragile vitality; Nelly, at 29, meets him at a techno party in a bar aptly called Nova.

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From war to revolution: How do we survive?

Angels of the Revolution

by J.W. Horton
(Self published,
2014;
$2.99)

Noam Chomsky crossed with Thomas Merton and Thomas Pynchon with a little politics mixed in for good measure? Count us in!

In short novel Angels of the Revolution by J.W. Horton, Katyusha and her lover, the Major, are two former pilots -- and current socialist revolutionaries -- searching the gritty streets of fictional capitol city Weimarstadt for Der Film, a mysterious and legendary piece of cinematography. Based on Germany's post First World War Weimar Republic, emotions and being collide with politics as former 'gun girl' Katyusha is haunted by war, numb to the violence that currently threatens her.

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Quirky? No way! Montreal is bordering on bizarre

Sweet Affliction

by Anna Leventhal
(Invisible Publishing,
2014;
$19.95)

Anna Leventhal, one of Montreal's quietly beloved literary personalities, has released a new book of short stories that pull the rug from under modern life, leaving it exposed and uncomfortable, yet strangely familiar. Montreal readers especially will recognize themselves in at least one of the local cast of characters, represented by Leventhal in a shockingly wide range of narrative voices, from teenage lesbian, to veteran squatter, to brain tumour patient and beyond.

The stories that make up Sweet Affliction are technically fiction -- some even border on bizarre -- but they tend to possess that authentic quality that confirms their previous existence in the archives of lived experience.

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Monia Mazigh explores the interconnected stories of Muslim women's lives

Mirrors and Mirages: a Novel

by Monia Mazigh
(House of Anansi,
2014;
$22.95)

Monia Mazigh's debut novel, Mirrors and Mirages: a Novel, has enriched Canadian literature. 

This lyrical work, exploring the lives and motivations of six Muslim women living in Canada, is a testament to the multicultural fabric that continues to influence the country's character and global reputation. 

Woven effortlessly throughout the interconnected stories are the scents, flavours, sounds, sights and emotions evoking faraway lands, as well as neighbourhoods just around the corner.

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