Lovely weather we’re having! Seriously, if you’re feeling like this spring has been little more than a dank grey off-ramp from a miserably frigid winter, you can always take shelter in one of the fine books coming out now. Here are just a few of the many options.
Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition
By Paul Watson (McClelland & Stewart)
Pulitzer-winning war reporter Paul Watson has seen much of the world, along with many of our species’ murkiest motives, while writing about conflicts everywhere from the Balkans to Iraq and Angola. Here, he recounts an Arctic drama older than Canada itself, unfolding in “one of the last places left on our planet that holds out, as long as it can, refusing to bow to human will”. The Coquitlam-based Watson was the only journalist aboard the Canadian icebreaker that solved a 169-year-old mystery in 2014, when it located the wreck of the Erebus, one of two ships that vanished during the famously ill-fated Franklin Expedition of 1845 to chart the Northwest Passage. It’s a tale with a dozen fascinating strands, among them the long, strange history of searches for the lost ships, as well as the combination of science and indigenous knowledge that led to the discovery. Not to mention the attempt by then prime minister Stephen Harper to use the event for political ends—a turn that eventually convinced Watson to resign from his long-held post at the Toronto Star.
Gutenberg's Fingerprint: Paper, Pixels and the Lasting Impression of Books
By Merilyn Simonds (ECW)
“Words are the constant,” Merilyn Simonds observes of the present revolutionary moment in reading, “with paper on one shore, pixels on the other.” As a self-identified member of one of the “last generations to grow up in an entirely paper world”, the Kingston author of the celebrated 1996 novel The Convict Lover sets out to test the waters in between, with a multifaceted memoir about creating two versions of the same book: one a volume made by hand-operated letter press, the other a digital edition. “Technologies come and go,” she writes. “What is eternal, it seems, is the human craving for story.” I say read this one in hardcover. But that’s just me. Due out April 11.
By Omar El Akkad (McClelland & Stewart)
If you think our southern neighbours are at each other’s throats now… Omar El Akkad’s unnerving debut novel describes the Second American Civil War of 2074, just a couple of short decades after “the planet turned on the country and the country turned on itself.” Drones fill the skies and political boundaries shift with a turbulence equal to the environmental chaos that has recast the coastlines, sinking them under rising oceans. El Akkad—who was born in Cairo and now lives in Portland, and who spent years based in Canada as an acclaimed journalist covering the Arab Spring, Guantanamo, and the Black Lives Matter movement—engages in the time-honoured novelists’ practice of projecting a dark future to reflect light back onto the present. Due out April 4.
Where It Hurts
By Sarah De Leeuw (NeWest)
This collection of personal essays flickers back and forth between memory and experience, as the award-winning B.C. writer and poet traces vanishings of many kinds: the fading of industrial-town streets, the shifting recollections of distant childhood, the death of a friend, the disappearance of women along the infamous Highway of Tears. “You are in northern British Columbia,” De Leeuw writes at one point of the landscape where she lives. “Nowhere most of the world will ever go. A land bordering on the lost. An unseen. A beyond cities, a far outside the imaginings of most.” The breadth of the insight and language here is unsurprising: before becoming a professor and health researcher at UNBC, De Leeuw was a tugboat driver and a logging-camp cook. Due out April 1.
Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy
By Doug Savage (Amp! Comics)
These are perilous times, for sure. What to do when faced with sword-wielding aliens? Or, worse, a mutant bear coated in fish scales, or a diabolically powerful mechanical squirrel? To find out, read the stirring adventures in this truly funny debut graphic novel by Vancouver’s Doug Savage, creator of the long-running online comic Savage Chickens. The superhero team of Laser Moose (ever vigilant, able and far too ready to shoot slicing red beams from his eyes) and diminutive sidekick Rabbit Boy (ever fluffy, wielding the superpower of—well, of just a really positive outlook on life) makes sure that all is right in the forest at the end. Big-hearted, dotty fun for kids from eight to 11 and pretty much everyone else.