Thursday, December 17, 2009

'The Heart Specialist' named best book by a Montreal author

The accolades just keep rolling in for Claire Holden Rothman's novel The Heart Specialist, which was listed in this article at as the best book by a Montreal author.

It's about time you read a preview of the book and found out what the buzz is all about!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More words on City of Words

Got some last minute Christmas shopping that needs to be done? Don't know what to get the people left on your list? Well, I've put together a handy-dandy guide to help you choose the perfect present.

Does the giftee:

- like books?
- live in/near Toronto, or is curious about seeing Toronto from a literary perspective?
- enjoy beautiful photographs?
- own a coffee table/want to own a coffee table/stack flat surfaces in their living room to create a makeshift coffee table?

Then may we humbly suggest City of Words: Toronto Through Her Writers' Eyes, a tome that is currently doing bananas* at Toronto-area bookstores.

Need more convincing? Check out these writeups at the Toronto Star and to see just how well the book captures the soul of our city. And head on over to our website for previews of photos in the book!

*Note: Authentic publishing term

Thursday, December 10, 2009

City of Words and The Heart Specialist top Ben McNally's best

On Thursday, December 4, Ben McNally and his partner Lynn Thompson presented their top 45 books of the season. 

We are proud to see both The Heart Specialist and City of Words in the fiction top five! 

Click here to read more.

Win a free copy of City of Words!

Open Book Toronto is offering up a free copy of City of Words. To enter, head over to the contest page and make a comment telling them about one of your favourite things about Toronto.
You can also read about some of Sarah Elton's Toronto favourites, such as the book(s) which, in her eyes, best represent Toronto:
There are so many! Ondaatje made part of Toronto's history come to life with In The Skin of a Lion, and Austin Clarke captured another in his Toronto Trilogy. Dionne Brand's What We All Long For portrays the city as it is today, I think. And then there's David Bezmozgis' Natasha, which combines great writing with great storytelling and at the same time tells us about life here.
 Be sure to enter soon - the deadline is December 18th!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Review of The Honey Locust

Check out this rave review of Jeffrey Round's The Honey Locust at stageand

"The fiction is charged with wisdom as it probes what lies under surfaces of reality and discovers that darkness is not just a camera’s fade to black but the ruins of Angkor Wat, the Lacandan rainforests, the shell-shocked regions of former Yugoslavia, and, most of all, the human heart—that crater where we often miss the chance to forgive and forget and where we waste time and effort in fighting and distancing ourselves from one another."

Read the rest of the review

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Perfect launch for Perfect Red

A little cheesy, maybe, but Thursday's Toronto launch for Perfect Red: The Life of Paraskeva Clark by Jane Lind really was a great success. We took over Libby’s Fine Art Gallery, filling every floor with fans, friends, and family of both the artist and the author. Nicholas Hoare came by to sell books, Jane to sign them, and a great time was had by all.

Jane Lind and Cynthia at the signing table

A view of the crowd

As you can see, it was a full house. Everyone was excited to hear Jane talk about Perfect Red, and to be surrounded by so many beautiful examples of Paraskeva Clark’s art. Thanks to all who could join us!

 From the outside looking in

A happy Jane

One more for the road

And for those who couldn't be there, here is a video of John and Jane's speeches:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Review of Valentine's Fall

A shout out to David Kidney over at the Green Man Review for his great take on Cary Fagan's Valentine's Fall. According to David, "Fagan's writing is crisp, vivid, always enjoyable."

Read the rest of the review here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Canada Counts reviewed by The Globe & Mail Online

Something to write home about.

Peter Scowen of Globe Books has selected Canada Counts as their illustrated book of the week. According to Mr. Scowen,

"Children will be learning to count with the help of the unique and defiantly nationalistic vision of one of the country's great modern artists."

You can read the rest of the review here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Words To Go


Author Carole Giangrande hosts WORDS TO GO, a podcast showcase for up-and-coming writers, great reads and the spoken word.

If you’re a listener who’d love a few quiet moments with a story well told, join us.

If you’re reading something great, tell us why it grabs you — and we’ll tell the world!

Here’s how to connect and listen:

Check out the podcast at

(Google may list it as "under construction," but click on it anyway -- it works!)

...and if you’d like to subscribe(it’s free):

click on RSS on the left side of the podcast page.

Be a fan on Facebook: read about submitting work, and post your good reads. Our page is “Words To Go Podcast.”

Coming Soon: a new website with a podcast link.

Review of The Heart Specialist

Huge thanks to Linda Ellen over at Bambi Reads, who attended Claire Holden Rothman's reading at Point Claire Library in Montréal and wrote up a fantastic review of The Heart Specialist:

"I may be biased in saying this because I am very much a Montrealer who also happens to be attending McGill, but The Heart Specialist is the best literary novel I’ve read thus far."

You can read the rest of the review (and a summary of the reading) here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reviews of 'Because I Have Loved and Hidden It' and 'Valentine's Fall'

Aloha everyone! We've got two great reviews for you folks to check out.

First up is a review of Elise Moser's Because I Have Loved and Hidden It, from Quill & Quire:

"Moser’s Montreal is unusually well-realized, with geographic references that go beyond mere signifiers and instead vividly reflect the city for those of us who don’t know it well"

Read the rest of the review
Read a preview of Because I Have Loved and Hidden It

And here's a review for Cary Fagan's novel Valentine's Fall in The Globe and Mail:

"Fagan has a completely easy and fluid style, and he controls the narrative so as to create suspense ..."

Read the rest of the review
Read a preview of Valentine's Fall

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An interview with Karen McLaughlin

Check out this page featuring the author of From This Distance, Karen McLaughlin:

Not only is there an audio interview, you're also treated to some of her fabulous visual art pieces. And why not pay a visit to her blog at too?

Montreal launch for 'Because I Have Loved and Hidden It'

For those of you in the fair city of Montreal looking for something to do tonight, why not check out the launch of Elise Moser's Because I Have Loved and Hidden It, in Café Romolo at 272 Bernard West?

The event runs from 6-8 PM. So drop by, have a drink, meet the lovely and delightful Elise Moser, get a great book signed. I can think of far worse ways to spend an evening in beautiful Montreal.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The mayor of the Big Smoke has a Big Book

This is Mayor David Miller:

This is the city of Toronto:

Next year, we're going to be publishing Witness to a City: David Miller's Toronto, compiling "some of the most powerful and inspirational of [Torontonians'] stories to articulate his vision of Toronto: a 21st century city that shows the world how different cultures can live, work and dream together as one community."

Gotta tell you, I'm pretty excited. The book promises to be an interesting take on a city I've lived my whole life in. And the idea of working with a sitting mayor of Toronto who's had a very eventful tenure is going to be an experience worth writing home about.

Or in this case, blogging about. So stay tuned!

Read the official press release

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The other day when I was interviewed ...

Last night I was interviewed by Sean Berry, host of The Casting Couch on Blog Talk Radio, an online radio show for aspiring actors, writers, musicians, and so forth, who are hoping to break into the entertainment industry. He's had some really interesting guests on there (aside from me, of course) so do take a look at the archives.

First off, I totally enjoyed the experience, although I'll admit to a few nerves. I didn't want to come off as sanctimonious, or boring, or sounding like a moron, but people tell me I did an okay job and that's the story I'm sticking with.

So that was fun. Why do I bring it up? Well, I think it's a neat example of the subtle things you to get a bit of publicity for your press. As much as I love the idea of going out into schoolyards dressed as a giant Cormorant mascot and harassing terrified children into buying Canada Counts, I find that people will eventually be drawn to substance over style - especially on the internet, where everything lasts forever and your thoughtful material will still be available long after a fad has died.

Not that I think I was groundbreakingly thoughtful in this interview. What the hell are 'baby gloves'? Still, I think I was able to give a little insight into the workings of a small press, talk up our books a little, and even provide useful advice for new writers trying to get published (Seriously: get an agent.)

Here's that interview if you want to give it a listen:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Launching Canada Counts: A Charles Pachter Counting Book

On Wednesday, October 7, at 7pm, Cormorant Books and the Ontario College of Art and Design will be holding the launch for Canada Counts: A Charles Pachter Counting Book.

The event is completely open to the public. Held in OCAD's lovely Great Hall at 100 McCaul Street in Toronto, the launch will feature free drinks and food, as well as a meet-and-greet and book signing with acclaimed artist (and Companion of the Order of Canada) Charles Pachter.

Come. It'll be fun.

Countdown to THE ScoTIAbank GILLer PRIZE Shortlist AnNOUNcement

A little over an hour now.

We're so excited, we're ready to auto-tune EVERYTHING.

Yeah. We're that excited.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Valentine's Fall launch

Photos courtesy of This Is Not A Reading Series

The intrepid Cary Fagan

Cary in converation with National Post cartoonist Gary Clement

Cary signing copies of Valentine's Fall

The Foggy Hogtown Boys, playing some sweet sweet bluegrass.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

So you've been longlisted ...

The stream of traffic to our website just got a whole lot busier.

Because of yesterday's exciting news that one of our Spring titles, The Heart Specialist by Claire Holden Rothman, has been longlisted for the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize, we've been in a rush trying to get the word out to people who don't know and fielding inquiries from people who do know. It's been eventful, to say the least.

Full disclosure: This is my first time working with a book that has a shot at one of the two biggest Canadian book awards. Last year we were shut out, but that was okay because M is for Moose was (and is) selling like bonkers and the two eventual winners, Joseph Boyden (2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize) and Nino Ricci (2008 Governor General's Literary Award) just happened to have their early works (Born With a Tooth and Lives of the Saints, respectively) re-issued by us that very season.

So I was kept plenty busy while spared the possible heartbreak of watching one of our books lose. And if I missed the chance to experience the sheer jubilation of victory, to have my heart leap like a demented stag at the prospect of good publicity and better book sales, well, so it goes.

But thanks to Claire's genius and the toil put in by our team, we have a shot at the Giller. Huzzah!

So what does this longlisting mean for us, the folks on the front lines? Well, there's a press release to write and release ASAP. There's a few tweaks to the website that need to get done - nothing major, though that could change should The Heart Specialist make the cut for the shortlist. There's fielding inquiries from foreign publishers looking to see if they'd want to add The Heart Specialist to their lists. There's blogging and tweeting and facebooking to be done.

Oh, and there's the waiting. The tortuous waiting. Let's see how much candy is eaten before October 6th.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ode to the 2009 Eden Mills Writers Festival

a place with trees and brooks and hills
there was a festival of writers
poets, dreamers, thought-igniters
and we went too, like moths to flame
for words and torches burn the same.

Eden Mills so faire

I left my place on Sunday morn
nonchalant 'til I was warned
by a bag lady sitting on a rock
that the subway sleeps 'til 9 o' clock

I took this news in decent mood
until the cab driver, a nice enough dude
decided Union Station was due west
"It's my second day," he would confess.

Thirty buck meter told me I was late
I paid the fare, ran to the gate
and saw a sign that made me surly
I was half an hour early.

Our publicist, Laura Houlihan
the lady who lays the best of plans
showed up and we were on our way
to Burlington, hooray! Hooray!

Our intern Lindsay, she drove down
from her home in the Steel Town
and carried us on the final course
to Eden Mills - oh look, a horse.

A challenger appears

The Festival was kicked off in style
as the Town Crier cried for a while
about the attending literary stars
and how our cell phones would have no bars.

The Crier brings dire warninge

The sun was bright, the sky was blue
for the reading by Hélène Rioux
and Jonathan Kaplansky, too
from a great book that's coming soon!

Hélène Rioux, author of Wednesday Night at the End of the World

Jonathan Kaplansky, translator of Wednesday Night at the End of the World

Charles Pachter read to the youth
about several Canadian truths:
butter tarts are our nation's own
and moose should sit atop our throne.

Charles Pachter, be-bubbled

The afternoon walk back to the car
was one of the prettiest by far
to keep these vistas in my brain
I think I'll mount them in IKEA frames.

And so I end this doggerel
Was it a good idea? Time will tell.
But one thing I can safely state:
For next year's festival I can hardly wait.


The Heart Specialist longlisted for the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize

We're ecstatic to announce that Claire Holden Rothman's The Heart Specialist is one of the twelve novels longlisted for the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize, along with works by such esteemed authors including Margaret Atwood, Ann Michaels, Shani Mootoo, and Colin McAadam.

View the list here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

And now for something completely different ...

Starting next week, I'm going to take a new approach to this blog that will hopefully be even more interesting than what we've got right now. We're going to try and provide more access, more candor, more insight into the day-to-day operations of a small press. So look forward to that!

In the meantime, here's a Wordle based on the entry page of this blog. Interesting what comes up as the most oft-repeated word:

Wordle:  Cormorant Books blog


We're going to be in Eden Mills on Sunday for the Eden Mills Writers Festival. Charles Pachter, Hélène Rioux, and Jonathan Kaplansky will be there.

Or if you're in the Sharon, ON area this weekend, why not check out the Words Alive Literary Festival? Jeffrey Round will be there to promote his new novel, The Honey Locust.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Valentine's Fall trailer feat. The Foggy Hogtown Boys

The above trailer for Cary Fagan's fantastic upcoming novel Valentine's Fall presents a bit of a milestone for us. It's the first (of hopefully many) trailers featuring music by awesome local artists who deserve as much of the spotlight as they can get.

The soundtrack for this video is 'Gladstone Hornpipe', off of the 2007 album Pigtown Fling by Toronto underground bluegrass legends The Foggy Hogtown Boys.

For more on the Foggys, as well as to listen to sample tracks (my personal favourite is 'Paul David' from Pigtown Fling), visit their website at

And don't forget to check out this awesome article on Valentine's Fall at, a great web resource for all things mandolin-related.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Preview: Because I Have Loved and Hidden It by Elise Moser

Thirsting for love, for sex, for connection, Julia grasps at
threads of those who have left her behind. She grapples with
the mystery of a family secret, as well as the absence of her
lover, and a second passionate affair that takes her by surprise.
Because I Have Loved and Hidden It asks where we fit
in others' lives, and where we fall through the cracks.

Read the online preview

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Preview: The Honey Locust by Jeffrey Round

War may scar the globe, but home will break your heart.

Globe-trotting photojournalist Angela Thomas is sent to cover the civil war in Bosnia. While there, she makes unexpected attachments that open her eyes and cast her old life and old problems in a completely different light.

Read the online preview
Visit Jeffrey Round's website

Friday, August 28, 2009

June Hutton at the Sunshine Coast Festival

June Hutton, author of Underground, made an appearance at the Sunshine Coast Festival in Sechelt, BC from August 12-15. She was gracious enough to report back to us on all that went down.

June Hutton (Underground) and Andrew Davidson (The Gargoyle) dish up dessert at the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts salmon dinner. It’s an annual tradition at the festival that writers don aprons and serve readers.

Underground is my first novel, so I arrive at the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts not sure what to expect. It’s my first public reading and no one knows who I am. So I’m nervous. Armed with work, I prepare to hide out in my hotel room.

It is an unseasonably cold first day, lashed with rain. Before I can reach the safety of my room, Wayson Choy kindly offers to buy Anthony De Sa and me hot Thai soup to warm us up. It seems that Anthony, whom I first met while waiting for the ferry, could be the one person who has heard of me. Over bowls of soup he says that Cormorant Books has designed a wonderful trailer for my novel, and that he has shown it several times to his high school students. My fear dissipates a little.

Joseph Boyden is the opening night act and later, over a beverage, we chat about rifles. I had forgotten until then that he and I met last year at a Vancouver International Writers Festival reception and that he had looked around the room and said, Hey, it’s you, me and Nino Ricci! It turns out that each of us has been published by Cormorant Books.

Next day I attend several events, and I meet more writers. An interesting discovery: many admit to being nervous. One even claims that nerves give his performance the necessary edge. At one point, I meet Marina Endicott who has read my book! The stage fright recedes a bit.

Later, a group of writers plans to go star-gazing on the beach until the wee hours, a ritual started, I believe, by Steven Galloway. But my first festival reading is the next day, and I want to be fresh. I doubt Hal Wake will be at the beach, either, but he notes pointedly: You’re not reading until 3 in the afternoon.

True, I counter, but I don’t want a raw throat. It’s nearing midnight. And it’s cold. True as well: the fear is back and I don’t want anyone to see it.

The next day, I show up early for my sound check, as was suggested in my author package. You’re early, one of the crew says. I nod and smile confidently. No, he says, I mean really early. He holds up his watch. It’s only 2 p.m. I’m on at 3. Oops.

I kill time until it really is my turn to read, noting anxiously that an audience isn’t exactly flooding into the theatre. Andrew Davidson comes by to encourage me. I’ll be terrific, he says. What a nice thing to do!

Suddenly, I hear my name. Applause booms from a large crowd (when did they arrive?). I leap onto the stage prepared to march to the microphone. Instead, John Cleese-like, I slam my toe into the wooden block set up before the podium for shorties like me. Before my nerves can completely take over, though, I slap my book onto the lectern and launch into my talk.

There’s laughter, sympathetic moans, more applause. Some familiar faces in the audience, including Gil Adamson, Andreas Schroeder and M.A.C. Farrant, add to Andrew’s beaming encouragement.

My God, it’s working. I love it.

By the end of my hour on stage I’m hooked. Now a veteran of the reading circuit (meaning I survived), I’m ready for a fall season of festival readings.

That night, with my reading over, I throw caution to the wind, of which there is plenty, and join the gang on the beach.

June Hutton (Underground) and Anthony De Sa (Barnacle Love) join the gang at the beach to discuss the writing life. Photo by Steven Galloway (Cellist of Sarajevo)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Previews are great!

Dear Summer,

I just want you to know, first off, that I do love you. However, I think there are a couple of things we need to talk about.

There's this thing called 'punctuality'. I was hoping you'd heard of it, but I guess they don't teach good manners at season school. See, it's not such a big deal if you show up a little late. We understand. You're in a very difficult situation, what with global warming mucking up your schedule and all. But still, it would be nice if you stop in for your fully allotted time, and not just for brief visits.

Speaking of which: the whole 'not-staying-long-enough-for-morning-coffee' act is getting a little old. I may not be as exotic as my cousin Sydney or as slick as my friend Miami, but I have my qualities and I think I deserve a bit of respect. That's all.

I miss you, I really do. And I hope to see you soon.



So we've got a couple of sneak peeks for you today.

First off is the preview for Cary Fagan's Valentine's Fall: a wicked awesome novel about, in brief, how leaving high school doesn't guarantee that high school will leave you. Check it out!

Next - and I'm breaking the news here first - we've got an online catalogue coming out for our Fall list. Excited? You better be. Here's a look at the cover:

The image is a photograph from our upcoming book City of Words - and believe me when I say there are even more breathtaking shots featured inside. It's a must-have for any fan of photography AND literature.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Review of The Heart Specialist in Ottawa Xpress

Here's great review of Claire Holden Rothman's The Heart Specialist from Ottawa Xpress:

"The Heart Specialist is a thoroughly enjoyable fiction that carries the reader away with its graceful prose while simultaneously casting light on a remarkable woman and truly amazing Montreal doctor."

Read the full review

Review for The Heart Specialist @ Ottawa Xpress

"The Heart Specialist is a thoroughly enjoyable fiction that carries the reader away with its graceful prose while simultaneously casting light on a remarkable woman and truly amazing Montreal doctor."

Read the full review

Monday, July 20, 2009

Where Claire Writes

Here's a cute little article by Montréal book personality Ms. Julie, featuring Claire Holden Rothman's workspace.

Here's a taste:

I am not particularly sensitive to space and my work room is functional rather than beautiful, with a shelf of books on one side and a window overlooking the garden on the other. It’s just off the kitchen, so I can stir soups for my sons on breaks.

Have a peek, won't you?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Postmodern Monsters

One of our favourite hidden gems here at the old birdhouse is Kathlyn Bradshaw's The Frankenstein Murders, a novel that takes place three years after the events of Mary Shelley's original classic. Read a preview here.

Seeing it on the bookshelf next to me just now reminds me that there's been a glut of movies, books, and other media inspired by Frankenstein in the 150-plus years since it was first published. And I figured, well, this is the Internet, let's do what's all the rage and MAKE A LIST.

To make things more interesting, our list isn't made up of direct adaptations of the original story, but rather characters that adopt thematic elements or incorporate obvious references to Frankenstein's Monster. That opens the field up significantly, because it's pretty safe to say that the entire genre of modern science fiction was invented the day young Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin took up Lord Byron's drunken writing challenge.

So without further ado, here are our four favourite characters inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein:

4) The Incredible Hulk

First appearing in 1962 and created by the legendary duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for Marvel Comics, Hulk was originally conceived as a hybrid of Frankenstein's monster and the pro/antagonist of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Several television series, multiple movies, numerous video games, and countless comics later, the character has gone on to become a pop culture icon in his own right: THE symbol of repressed emotion and uncontrollable rage. But the Angriest Man Alive hasn't strayed too far from his literary roots. His appearance - especially in the early comics - is obviously inspired by the Frankenstein monster's as portrayed Boris Karloff, and his origin at the testing site of a "gamma bomb" is a clear riff on the dangers-of-science theme that Shelley first established.

3) Gojira (Godzilla)

I really, really wanted to put Jurassic Park on this list. But let's be honest - there's only one film featuring a giant reptile that deserves to be here. Ishiro Honda's Gojira, released in 1954, was a smash hit that spawned 27 sequels of varying quality. But it was the original movie that best follows in Frankenstein's footsteps, embodying the sheer horror of science gone wrong (or in this case, terribly terribly right) in the form of a destructive being.

Because of the intentionally terrible voiceover work and giant monster kung fu that characterizes most of the later movies, people tend to forget that the original Gojira was actually a serious meditation on the effect the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the firebomings of Tokyo, had on the mindset of the Japanese people. The focus was less on giant monster action and more on the human consequences of science divorced from morality.

2) Edward Scissorhands

However, Frankenstein wasn't all gloom and doom. The monster wasn't born a soulless killing machine - in fact, he began good and only turned to evil after being spurned by his "father". What if Dr. Frankenstein, instead of being horrified, actually loved his creation?

Enter Edward Scissorhands, star of Tim Burton's 1990 film titled, shockingly, Edward Scissorhands. Edward was built by an inventor (Vincent Price!) and raised as his son. Thrust into the outside world after the tragic death of his father, Ed is increasingly exposed to human cruelty, but - thanks to strength provided by the love of a select few individuals (including a very young Winona Ryder) - he never betrays his gentle spirit.

Edward Scissorhands unearths and expands on optimism buried within the text of Frankenstein: that even the most unnatural-seeming evils can be prevented with ample doses of human affection. I'd say this is why Edward - and The Monster before him - continue to strike a chord with audiences.

1) Roy Batty

Anyone with a passing knowledge of science fiction history will argue that robots are the spiritual successors of Frankenstein's monster - and it's hard not to agree when almost every story involving automatons ends with them wreaking on their flesh-and-blood creators.

But as number two on our list helps demonstrate, The Monster was never so one-dimensional as the majority of his malevolent mechanical brethren. And a few SF authors (most notably, the late great Isaac Asimov) have tried to depict artificial beings as complex characters. But it is Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner (based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick) that best captures one of the most fundamental messages of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: that what we create shows us exactly who we are.

Roy Batty (the role that defines Rutger Hauer's career) is a "replicant", one of many human-like machines built to operate in the harshness of space. Furious at the way his kind are treated as slaves, Batty goes rogue, fighting not just against his makers but what they have made of him.

All in all that sounds like (and is) your typical SF story. But What sets Blade Runner apart from others of its ilk is the way it blurs the lines between man and machine - between "man" and "monster", so to speak - and questions the qualities that we use to define ourselves as human beings. While both Roy Batty and The Monster both commit acts of evil, they also reveal flashes of compassion, honour, curiousity, and wonderment. These "monsters" are no better or worse than we are. To "own" the goodness displayed by these characters is to also "own" their ugliness. Once you move past the convenient excuse of their unnatural origins, it's hard not to see their humanity - and to be troubled by it.

This idea of mirroring, by the way, is one of the overarching themes of The Frankenstein Murders, and one of the reasons why it resonates so deeply with us. Keep that in mind the next time you're looking for a pithy read.


Well folks, that does it with this list. I hope you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it. Please let us know what you think - and go check out the preview of The Frankenstein Murders already!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Death in Key West reviewed by NOW Magazine

Check out this fantastic review of Jeffrey Round's Death in Key West in NOW Magazine!

5 Books to take Pride in

Cormorant is proud to support Canadian LGBT literature, and even prouder to have published fantastic books by queer authors. Here's a list of some of our favourite LGBT-themed titles:

1) Still Life With June by Darren Greer - Funny, scathing, poignant, pretty much perfect.

2) Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall - Catcher in the Rye for a more inclusive era. A must-read.

3) Other Men's Sons by Michael Rowe - A collection of powerful essays by a wonderful writer, journalist, and HuffPo blogger.

4) Death in Key West by Jeffrey Round - Fun, fascinating, and fulfilling. What more do you want from a murder-mystery? Now with 150% more opera.

5) And Beauty Answers by Elspeth Cameron - A profile of two of Toronto's most influential, colourful, and underappreciated artists from the first half of the 20th century.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Arty launch for Death in Key West

Last night we threw a fantastic launch for Jeffrey Round's fun gay murder-mystery Death in Key West. The party took place at Charles Pachter's home/studio/gallery, The Moose Factory, featured music by the jazz duo of Omel Masalunga and Jeri Aniceto, and soprano Lilac Caña, and sold books from Glad Day Bookstore.

The launch was also a fundraiser for the Writers Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Award for young LGBT writers. They're lovely people working for a good cause, and you should donate to them.

Unfortunately, we forgot to bring a camera (my fault - BI), but that's okay - we were way too busy and having way too much fun to take pictures.

Thanks to everyone who showed up!

Monday, June 22, 2009

2009 Libris Awards

Cormorant Books was in attendance at the 2009 Libris Award presentation that took place at Toronto's Radisson Admiral Hotel on Saturday June 20.

We're proud, pleased, and humbled to announce that Cormorant won two Libris awards: Editor of the Year - Marc Côté, and Small Press Publisher of the Year. Cormorant was also a finalist for a third award, Children's Illustrator of the Year - Charles Pachter.

We would like to extend our thanks to all members of the Cormorant family, including authors, sales reps, freelancers, UTP, booksellers, and of course our wonderful readers.

Friday, June 12, 2009

After the Red Night reviewed at Quill & Quire

Here's a review of GG winner Christiane Frenette's new novel After the Red Night, from the good people at the Quill & Quire:
After the Red Night is a stylistic treat. It offers a subtle rendering of the self’s paradoxical mysteries and of our attempts to escape the things that make us who we are.

Read the rest of the review

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Young Rascal's Guide to Publishing: Pushing Buttons

Go here for other installments of The Guide

One of the fun things the fledglings at Cormorant Books like to do to promote our books is come up with freebies (or swag, or loot, or what have you).

Freebies are great. Everybody loves freebies. Making stuff is fun too. But in order to justify the expense, you better darn well make sure that there's a speci
fic purpose behind them. And you better make sure people want them in the first place.

Here we'll talk a bit about one of the things we've become known for at events: buttons.

Buttons are awesome. They're small, easy to carry, relatively inexpensive to produce, and infinitely customizable. So it's very easy to fall into the trap of "Oh, hey, everyone loves buttons, we can put any old junk on them and people will wear them and everyone will talk about how great we are."

Nope. Sorry. Doesn't work that way.

Thanks to a stroke of genius by our fabulous Duchess of Production, we've been making buttons for a couple of years now, and have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't. Here's a crazy-short list of observations I've compiled in that time:

1. Nobody cares about your colophon

Unless your colophon is an exquisite work of art, instantly identifiable and perennially fashionable, nobody is going to pick up that button. Even then, it's a longshot. Ever see anyone wearing a Nike swoosh button? Me neither.

Buttons, like everything promotional, only work if they're either ubiquitous, or have a hook. We can't afford to make a million buttons, and if we walked around trying to pin them on random strangers we'd end up in jail, so the hook is the way to go.

Our hook is The Sassy Slogan. Observe:

As mentioned above, free isn't enough - especially when you're working an event where free catalogues, free bookmarks, free books, free candy, and all manner of swag is being hurled about like confetti. People can only carry so much. You have to provide value if you want them to take your stuff. With an item like a button, the value is in design. So design is the most important thing to consider.

2. Buttons aren't magical

I can't repeat enough the point that buttons will not grant you instant fame and bestselling books. We've found that they're most useful at events like festivals or book fairs, in driving foot traffic your way. Word spreads pretty quickly at places like these, so as long as you're offering something that people can be excited about (like scandalous buttons), you're guaranteed a bit of attention.

Here's the catch: the people who are drawn to your booth by the buttons ... will for the most part only be looking for buttons. And that's it. Swag, as useful as it is in bringing people to you, only accomplishes half the job. And while fun freebies help to engage people, it's still up to you figure out what they want and what you can offer them - to form a rapport, in other words. Which is something you should be doing anyways.

I hope everyone found this helpful. Next time, we'll be talking about something we're still trying to figure out: online trailers!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


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Monday, June 8, 2009

Jeffrey Round reviews Coureurs De Bois

Jeff Round: Gentleman. Scholar. All-around good guy.

Jeff: On seeing a smiling face crossing the Steam Whistle Brewery parking lot with a case of beer in hand, I said to myself, "There goes one happy fellow." Five minutes later, the happy fellow popped into the green room where I sat waiting to read for an audience of brewery tourists. Lucky me. Grabbing a beer from the cooler, Bruce MacDonald sat and introduced himself as the previous reader. Lucky him.

"Butterflies?" he asked, giving me a shrewd look.

"No," I said. "Death In Key West," thinking he'd mistaken the title of my book.

"No, I meant do you get butterflies in your stomach before you read?" he replied.

"No, not usually," I said, not realizing I was smack dab in the middle of what could easily have passed for a scene in Bruce's debut novel, Coureurs de Bois.

Bruce nodded carefully. He explained how he'd had to read over a whirling child whose parents seemed to think it perfectly natural for their son to be spinning up a storm in front of the makeshift stage. "Sorry," he shrugged. "I don't mean to make you nervous."

Too late. But like Bruce, I, too, survived the whirling dervish, the adolescents munching Pringles and the mobs waiting thirstily for their brewery tour to begin. One to remember.

A few days later, I began reading Bruce's novel: Cobb, aka Randall Seymour, is a First Nations Indian. Recently released from prison, Cobb dreams he is about to be hanged. At the last minute, however, he's rescued by Crow. Crow has a mission for him. About the same time, a naïve young Ottawa man named William Tobe has a vision while fasting. The vision sends him to Toronto, rather than to law school as his family had planned.

Both men end up in Parkdale, Toronto's gritty west end that mirrors the upscale, mostly-white east end enclave known as "The Beach" like an evil twin. In Parkdale, crooked cops, crack whores, pimps, and practitioners of magic exist comfortably alongside diner waiters, bank managers, convenience store owners, and residents of the nearby mental health centre. In Parkdale, the insane are misunderstood geniuses and miracles happen amid the dirt and debris of everyday living.

It's here that Will and Cobb find their destinies as twenty-first century equivalents of the renegade coureurs de bois, running not furs but cigarettes. The visionary Seymour, who "sees more", joins forces with William Tobe and his "will to become." Cobb, of course, understands Will's vision, but can't tell him what it means. As with any vision quest, he can only guide Will and help him to find out for himself, as Will eventually does, while making Cobb rich along the way.

Coureurs de Bois is a book of highly subversive humour. It carries depth charges with each subtle, laid-back observation about our social system and why and how we mistreat our social cast-offs. It's satire of a very high order, with the most unlikely mismatching of characters since Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude. I read it with that rare sense of joy at discovering something refreshingly unique and occasionally startling.

One night, a few days after the brewery reading, I dreamed Bruce came to my house and left a frozen hamburger patty in my freezer. Then he went away again without speaking. I woke thinking of Cob and Will and their quests. "Hmmm," I thought. This book has strong medicine. If it's a vision quest, however, I have yet to learn what it means. Maybe Bruce will know. Though of course he won't be allowed to tell me.