Tuesday, September 26, 2006

October 11

Alison Bechdel - Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Thomas Allen Publishers)
Ivan E. Coyote - Bow Grip (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St W,, Toronto.
Wed, Oct 11, 7:30-10pm (doors 7pm), free

Pages Books & Magazines, Thomas Allen Publishers, Arsenal Pulp, The Gladstone Hotel and NOW present a This Is Not A Reading Series double book event: ALISON BECHDEL and IVAN E. COYOTE in conversation with Toronto writer and performer ZOE WHITTALL. Join Alison Bechdel for a rare Toronto visit to celebrate the success of her breakout book FUN HOME: A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC (Thomas Allen Publishers). Joining her is one of North America's most captivating storytellers: First-time novelist Ivan E. Coyote launches her much anticipated book BOW GRIP (Arsenal Pulp Press) with an exclusive Toronto performance.

FUN HOME: A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC (Thomas Allen Publishers) is a breakout book by Alison Bechdel that easily takes its place alongside the unnerving, memorable, darkly funny family memoirs of Augusten Burroughs and Mary Karr. It's a father-daughter tale pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel's sweetly gothic drawings and — like Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis — a story exhilaratingly suited to the graphic memoir form.

Meet Alison's father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family's Victorian house, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter's complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned "fun home," as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescence, the denouement is swift...graphic...and redemptive.

ALISON BECHDEL has been a careful archivist of her own life and kept a journal since she was ten. Since 1983 she has been chronicling the lives of various characters in the fictionalized "Dykes to Watch Out For" strip, "one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period" (Ms.). The strip is syndicated in 50 alternative newspapers, translated into multiple languages, and collected into a book series with a quarter of a million copies in print. Utne magazine has listed DTWOF as "one of the greatest hits of the twentieth century."

BOW GRIP (Arsenal Pulp Press) is a breathtaking story about love and loneliness, and the long road one must travel between them. Joey is a good-hearted, fortysomething mechanic from small-town Alberta whose wife has recently left him for another woman. When a stranger named James approaches his shop and agrees to purchase a beat-up blue Volvo in exchange for a beautiful, hand-crafted cello, Joey sees it as an opportunity to finally make some overdue changes in his life.

But some troubling suspicions about James, and a desire to close the door on his failed marriage, compels Joey to hit the road and travel to Calgary, the big city by the Bow River. He stations himself at a rundown motel, where he struggles to learn how to play the cello, and strangers with their own complicated pasts - an older gay man, a single mother - become confidants. With quiet authority, Bow Grip is about one man's real rite of passage - trying to keep the ghosts of personal history at bay with a heart that's as big as the endless prairie sky.

IVAN E. COYOTE is acclaimed as one of North America's most beguiling storytellers; Ivan's honest, down-to-earth tales, many of which are based on personal experience, are compelling for their simple human truths. Her 2005 story collection, Loose End, was recently shortlisted in the US for the prestigious Ferro-Grumley Award for Women's Fiction.

ZOE WHITTALL is the author of The Emily Valentine Poems (2006) and The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (2001). In 2003, she edited a collection of short fiction called Geeks, Misfits & Outlaws. Her first novel, Bottle Rocket Hearts is forthcoming with Cormorant Books in spring 2007. Her fiction and poetry appear in many anthologies including Baby Remember My Name edited by Michelle Tea, Breathing Fire 2: Canada's New Poets edited by Lorna Crozier & Patrick Lane, Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity edited by Chloe Brushwood-Rose & Anna Camilleri, Bent: On Writing edited by Elizabeth Ruth, Girls Who Bite Back edited by Emily Pohl-Weary and Ribsauce edited by Taien Ng-Chan and several others. She currently writes cultural criticism for a variety of Canadian newspapers and magazines. Originally from South Durham, Quebec, she has lived in Toronto for the last ten years.

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