I really love to read (uh, duh). But I think I actually get more excited talking about books than I do actually reading them. Is that weird? Anyway, there are some books coming out this year that I am pretty damn excited about. Let’s have a look at them.
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (1 April) I had the great pleasure and luck to be at a talk by Emma Donoghue where she discussed doing the research for this book, which is an historical crime thriller set in 1870s San Fransisco. Based on a real-life character named Jenny Bonnet who was arrested multiple times for cross-dressing (there’s evidence in newspapers—apparently they wrote up that kind of stuff in the crime section!), Frog Music actually starts with Jenny’s death. Surviving her is a French burlesque dancer who is determined to find her friend’s (more than friend??) murderer. This books sounds deliciously sultry, thrilling, and strange. It’s called Frog Music because Jenny makes a living catching frogs and selling them to French restaurants. Probably one of the occupations that was available to a woman who wanted to wear pants?
On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin (18 February) I’m ashamed to say I had never heard of Quebecoise Francophone animator Diane Obomsawin until I got an email offering me a review copy of this book! Apparently she’s done work for the National Film Board, as well as other graphic work in French and English. On Loving Women is a graphic collection of stories about coming out, first love, and sexual identity. Fellow graphic artist and memoirist Ellen Forney says that this book is “in turns wistful, sexy, goofy, bittersweet, frank, and adorable.” Obomsawin’s graphic style looks clean and simple, and the ‘people’ in the comics appear to be drawn as animals. With boobs. Could that be any more awesome? I love it. (Update: I’ve reviewed it here).
Prairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi (4 March) Another writer I had never heard of until being made aware of this book! Sometimes people ask me if I’m going to run out of authors to talk about on my blog. I’m wondering if I’m going to have enough time in my lifetime to read all the books that qualify for this blog. Toronto-based Japanese-Canadian Kobayashi has already published a few short story collections but this is her first novel, endorsed by Larissa Lai of When Fox Was a Thousand fame. Prairie Ostrich follows a pair of sisters living with her family on an ostrich farm in the mid-70s. The older sister, Kathy, is a solace for her younger sister in the wake of their brother’s death. Kathy, though, has her own struggle: she’s in love with her best friend. Whose name is Stacey. (Update: I’ve reviewed it here).
100 Crushes by Elisha Lim (10 June) I just finished reading an adorable yet gut-punching zine about dating by Elisha Lim—including a heartbreakingly funny panel on the stages of text despair. Review to come soon! You might have also heard of Lim because they convinced Xtra! magazine of something a queer media shouldn’t have needed to be convinced of: to use gender neutral pronouns. Lim is a Toronto-based artist, who, to quote their website “celebrates the dignity and power of being neither straight, nor white, nor cisgendered.” 100 Crushes is a compilation of five years’ worth of comics and some new material about queer dating, travel, gender non-conformity, and other such fun stuff. I hope this book garners the praise Lim’s work deserves!
Gender Failure by Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon (15 April) If you missed Ivan and Rae’s show of the same name that toured in 2012, here’s your chance to catch up. Both neither fitting the narratives for hetero and cisnormative gender or for dominant ideas about trans identities, Ivan and Rae are calling themselves gender failures. But, it turns out, Gender Failure tells us that gender is never really a success for anyone. And that’s a good thing. Combining personal essays, song lyrics, and images, Gender Failure refuses to be put in the genre box as much as these two writers defy the gender binary. This book is yet another awesome offering from Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press. I’m a big fan of both of these artists’ work and can’t wait to see what they can come up with together!