Spring Books roundup: Alicia Elliott, Matt Rader, Anakana Schofield, Peter Wohlleben

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      Here are four provocative titles to keep in mind while you go about celebrating the fact that we're (probably) done with ice and snow for another year.

      A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

      By Alicia Elliott (Doubleday Canada)  

      The title of this meditation by acclaimed Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott is an incisive Mohawk phrase describing the human struggle with depression. And Elliott is fearless here in revealing her own encounters with mental illness and family trauma. But these are not chapters of autobiography. They’re meant as lenses that author and reader can use to view what would otherwise be too vast to take in at once: the ongoing cultural catastrophe Indigenous people have experienced under colonialism, stretching across continents and generations, and persisting in racism so ingrained that it’s easily ignored by most who are not its targets. There are ways out of this brutal old arrangement, Elliott suggests, but not without confronting it on an individual level.

      Visual Inspection

      By Matt Rader (Nightwood Editions) 

      Poetry is always a test of limits, but this new blend of essay, memoir, and verse is out to test the boundaries of the genre itself. How we frame art is, like all experience, determined by the state of our bodies, says renowned Kelowna poet and author Matt Rader here, and on this point he’s speaking from intimate knowledge: Rader wrote Visual Inspection while in the grip of deep chronic illness. Turning for evidence to the work of other disabled artists—the blind poets Milton and Borges among them—he reflects on the powers of pain, community, and strength. “I want to make invitations,” Rader stated in a recent interview, “invitations to imagine, to be in relationship, to see what is there even when we can’t see.” Due out April 27.

      Bina: A Novel in Warnings

      By Anakana Schofield (Alfred A. Knopf Canada)  

      The Vancouver author of the celebrated novels Malarky and Martin John returns with another extraordinary character able to drive a story with her voice. “For every woman who has had enough,” declares the dedication in Bina, and our narrator certainly counts herself as one. “Don’t arrive at the end of this tale insisting it was too long or too wide or too unlike you,” she tells the reader early on. “I am not interested in appealing to you. I am not you. I am only here to warn you.” Many of these warnings, along with much of the story, are delivered in short bursts that fall somewhere between poem and aphorism. As always with Schofield’s work, the outcome is stark, funny, and blood-warm. Due out May 18.

      The Secret Wisdom of Nature

      By Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Books)  

      With this, the former German forest ranger and now bestselling author completes his trilogy on the unseen wonders of the nonhuman world, which began with The Hidden Life of Trees and The Inner Life of Animals. Wohlleben wants to offer a sense of the dizzyingly marvellous web that connects and balances all living forms on the planet (Chapter 10 is titled “How Earthworms Control Wild Boar”), and so he writes in a wholly readable tone, and with infectious curiosity. With reports of environmental chaos constantly in the news, you may be surprised that you can bring a sense of delight and gobsmacked reverence, rather than fear or numbness, to the idea that “we’d do better to keep our hands off everything in nature that we do not absolutely have to touch.”