As the temperature cools, now is the moment to stock up on new reads for the under-blanket weather. We’ve gathered some highlights of not-to-be missed literary events where you can find these titles and mingle with their authors.
The Original Face by Guillaume Morissette (Esplanade)
Guillaume Morissette is quickly ascending in the local lit scene. He has published work in both official languages, and his latest effort will speak to under-employed millennials everywhere. The Original Face follows the life of Daniel, a digital artist in Montreal, as he struggles to make it in the gig economy. There is something detached about the narrative voice, instilling the felling that, despite everything the Internet has to offer in terms of hyper-connectedness, the protagonist remains lost in the mistiness of an endless chat history. A perfect allegory for modern life.
Guillaume Morissette’s The Original Face, out now.
Cheer Up, Jay Ritchie by Jay Ritchie (Coach House)
In his first full-length collection of poetry, Montreal poet Jay Ritchie’s snapshot of life under late capitalism is uplifting. These works are about travelling and place, eating and retail experiences. Through a life-altering yellow coat or a Dragon Bowl recipe, Ritchie finds the feels in everything. Dotted with mentions of Jarry Park, rue St-Zotique and a shout-out to Grimes, his work is clever and direct, while painting an image of Montreal with astonishing sensory detail.
Coach House Montreal Fall Poetry Launch with Sina Queyras, Jeramy Dodds and Jay Ritchie at la Vitrola (4602 St-Laurent) on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 7–11 p.m., free
Slow War by Benjamin Hertwig (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
Exploring heavy issues brought forth by the legacy of war in Afghanistan, this collection of poetry from former Montrealer Benjamin Hertwig opens a necessary conversation. Through themes of violence, trauma and loss, Slow War acts as a reminder of the spiritual and political cost of war via the eyes of a writer. Hertwig will be joined in conversation by local poet Klara du Plessis, who curates the Resonance Reading Series.
Benjamin Hertwig launches Slow War with Klara du Plessis at Librairie Drawn & Quarterly (211 Bernard W.) on Friday, Oct. 13, 7–9 p.m., free
Tropico by Marcela Huerta (Metatron)
Our Lady of Perpetual Realness by Cason Sharpe (Metatron)
This season’s releases from local press Metatron features two Montreal authors (and a third from Toronto). Montreal’s Marcela Huerta releases Tropico, a deeply intimate and powerful collection of poetry that touches on grief, memory and intergenerational trauma. Passionate and gut-wrenching, the images presented by Huerta, the daughter of political refugees from Chile, will make you think. At the other end of the literary spectrum is Cason Sharpe’s Our Lady of Perpetual Realness: six personal short stories set in both Toronto and Montreal that examine the experience of being a young, gay man of colour. Pool-hopping, being broke, riding diversity quotas, shitty jobs and getting stoned all inform the grave lightness of Sharpe’s world view. Sharpe is an astute storyteller, capable of capturing a reader with open arms and holding them close, until they either laugh or weep at the perpetual realness of life.
Montreal Metatron Fall Launch, with Marcela Huerta, Cason Sharpe and Senna Yee, at Notman House (51 Sherbrooke W.) on Friday, Oct. 27, 8–9:30 p.m., free
You Are Alice in Wonderland’s Mum! by Sherwin Tija (Conundrum Press)
The fourth installment in local impresario Sherwin Tija’s Pick-a-Plot series departs from the cat protagonist theme. Set in London (U.K.) in 1862, the reader is invited to take on the role of the mother of Alice, who has mysteriously disappeared in Hyde Park. But this isn’t some playful adventure written by monkeys at typewriters in the Scholastic factory: the reader must decide how deep to get in with the dark and seamy underworld, while both you and your daughter’s lives hang in the balance. As fun to read, I hope, as it was to write.
Conundrum Press Fall Book Launch, featuring original artwork by Sherwin Tija and Alexander Forbes, at Monastiraki (5478 St-Laurent) on Thursday, Nov. 23, 5–9 p.m., free