Established in 1966, Argo Bookshop is Montreal's oldest independent Anglophone retail bookstore. With only 200 square feet to stock 6000 titles, we take great care in keeping a choice selection. We have something for everyone, and if you don't find what you are looking for, we will gladly order it for you.

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Opening hours:

Mon-Fri 10h-19h
Saturday 12h-17h

Location:

1915 Ste Catherine W.
Montreal, Quebec
Tel: 514-931-3442

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Events:

Monthly: Argo Open Mics & Featured Reading Series!

Keep yourself posted through our website for all upcoming events! Check us out on Facebook or Twitter.

Feel free to check out recordings from past events either here on the site, or on our MixCloud account.


Blog and Book Reviews

Top Ten Books of 2014

…well, our Top Ten Books of 2014 are more like the Top Five Books of 2014, times two. Here are our lists, in no particular hierarchical order whatsoever. Enjoy!

 

Meg’s Top Five Books of 2014

 

Insel by Mina Loy
A Dying Colonialism by Frantz Fanon
Stag's Leap by Sharon Olds
The Outward Room by Millen Brand
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
 

JP’s Top Five Books of 2014

 

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Tenth of December by George Saunders
Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle
Gunslinger by Ed Dorn
The Tutu by Léon Genonceaux
 

‘IN THE 2000S, THERE WILL BE ONLY ANSWERS’

Some writers we know write about the future: William Gibson, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guin. We expect them to find insights about how humans might live. But what about someone like Marguerite Duras, an influential post-war French novelist and filmmaker? She had important things to say about the 20th century. What might she say about the future?

Photonics researcher Antoine Wojdyla stumbled across an interview with Duras from September 1985 in the French magazine Les Inrocks. Struck by Duras’ perspective on technology and deception, he translated the article out of the goodness of his heart and sent it to me. It’s strange and remarkable, an uncanny interpretation of our present.

I read her statement as a kind of pre-answer to Google and wearables and the quantified self. When former Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal in 2010, “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” That’s what Duras means when she says, “In the 2000s, there will only be answers.”

In any case, here’s Duras as translated by Wojdyla:

“In the 2000s, there will be only answers. The demand will be such that there will only be answers. All texts will be answers, in fact. I believe that man will be literally drowned in information, in constant information. About his body, his corporeal future, his health, his family life, his salary, his leisure.

It’s not far from a nightmare. There will be nobody reading anymore.

They will see television. We will have screens everywhere, in the kitchen, in the restrooms, in the office, in the streets.

Where will we be? When we watch television, where are we? We’re not alone.

We will no longer travel, it will no longer be necessary to travel. When you can travel around the world in eight days or a fortnight, why would you?

In traveling, there is the time of the travel. Traveling is not seeing things in a rapid succession, it’s seeing and living in the same instant. Living from the travel, that will no longer be possible.

Everything will be clogged, everything will have been already invested.

The seas will remain, nevertheless, and the oceans.

And reading. People will rediscover that. A man, one day, will read. And everything will start again. We’ll encounter a time where everything will be free. Meaning that answers, at that time, will be granted less consideration. It will start like this, with indiscipline, a risk taken by a human against himself. The day where he will be left alone again with his misfortunes, and his happiness, only that those will depend on himself.

Maybe those who will get over this misstep will be the heroes of the future.

It’s very likely, let’s hope there will be some left…”

 

(reposted from a Fusion.net article entitled “In the 2000s, There Will Only be Answers” by Alexis C. Madrigal)

January Newsletter + New & Latest Arrivals (01/04/2014)

 

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s textbook season again here at the shop, so priority’s going to bringing boxes upon boxes upon boxes of textbooks throughout the month. Don’t fret, though! Special orders for customers on a individual basis are more than welcome and we will announce new arrivals as they come in on our website, twitter feed and Facebook page.

You’ll find a short list of our new arrivals below, as well as the following: January’s Book of the Month is Jenny Erpenbeck‘s The End of Days (20% off), a Hans Fallada Prize-winning novel, this month’s Book Club title is Roberto Bolano‘s By Night in Chile (15% off) with a meeting on January 21st, and this month marks our restarting the monthly Argo Open Mic, which will be taking place on January 28th.

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Book of the Month: 20% off

End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck

 


reading Erpenbeck always produces a shiver of metaphysical vertigo. Her wisdom feels uncannily ancient and, like the earlier work, The End of Days is shot through with an insight that almost blinds.” (Kapka Kassabova, “The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck review”, The Guardian)

Winner of the Hans Fallada prize for fiction and a bestseller in Europe, The End of Days “consists essentially of five “books,” each leading to a different death of the same unnamed woman protagonist. How could it all have gone differently? the narrator asks in the intermezzos. The first chapter begins with the death of a baby in the early twentieth-century Hapsburg Empire. In the next chapter, the same girl grows up in Vienna, but her strange relationship with a boy leads to death. In the next scenario, she survives adolescence and moves to Russia with her husband. Both are dedicated Communists, yet our heroine ends up in a labor camp. But her fate does not end there…”  (New Directions)

 

New & Latest Arrivals


 

 

Our Next Book Club Title

 

Our next read will be By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño:

 

“By Night in Chile‘s single night-long rant provides — as through a crack in the wall — a terrifying, clandestine view of the strange bedfellows of Church and State in Chile. This wild, eerily compact novel — Roberto Bolaño‘s first work available in English––recounts the tale of a poor boy who wanted to be a poet, but ends up a Jesuit priest and a conservative literary critic, a lap dog to Chile’s rich and powerful cultural elite, by whose (favours) he meets Pablo Neruda and Ernst Jünger. Father Urrutia is offered a tour of Europe by agents of Opus Dei (to study “the disintegration of the churches,” a journey into realms of the surreal); and ensnared by this plum, he is next assigned — after the destruction of Allende — a secret, never-to-be-disclosed nighttime job involving Pinochet. Soon, searingly, Father Urrutia’s memories go from bad to worse.” (New Directions)

On January 21st, we’ll get together to discuss the book over some drinks. Everyone’s welcome, and anyone partaking receives a 15% discount off the book. If you would like to join in for our monthly discussions, send an email to argobookshop@gmail.com in order to receive regular updates.

 

 

Behold: Our First Featured Author!

 

 

The first vote is over, and the ‘winner’ is the author George Orwell. All throughout the month of January, if you purchase any titles by this author, whether it’s Burmese Days, Homage to Catalonia, 1984, Animal Farm… it’s 15% off! Take this opportunity to stock up on this amazing author’s work and reap the benefits.

 

Keep an eye on our Facebook page or our website to see the next Featured Author poll!

 

January’s Events

 

The Argo Open Mic! (#31)
Wednesday, January 28th
Argo Bookshop
Doors @ 7PM, Reading @ 7:30PM

 

Grab those poems, stories, anecdotes, songs and opinions you wrote over the holidays and come on by to read for 5 to 10 minutes. Emerging and established authors alike are encouraged to participate. Join us for a drink and a jazz session at Grumpy’s Bar (1242 Rue Bishop) afterwards. You can find the Facebook event page for this event here.

 

Holiday Hours – X-Mas 2014

Our holiday hours from the 24th of December to the 2nd of January are as follows:

December 24th

OPEN: 10AM to 7PM

December 25th

CLOSED

December 26th

CLOSED

December 27th

CLOSED

December 28th

CLOSED

December 29th

OPEN: 10AM to 7PM

December 30th

OPEN: 10AM to 7PM

December 31st

CLOSED

January 1st

CLOSED

January 2nd

OPEN: 10AM to 7PM

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Published December 22nd, 2014 in Announcements

It Changes Nothing: Clarice Lispector’s First and Only TV Interview

If you’ve never seen it, watch Clarice Lispector’s first and only TV interview, from February 1977, when she appeared on TV Cultura in São Paulo. She’d arrived intending to appear in a program about film, apparently, when the station’s director summoned his nerve and asked for an interview. She died later that year.
Lispector is restless, and charmingly curt, throughout the interview—it seems as if she really, really doesn’t want to be there. Even under duress, though, she gives stronger, more meaningful answers than many writers give at their most accessible. “I write without the hope that what I write can change anything at all. It changes nothing … Because at the end of the day we’re not trying to change things. We’re trying to open up somehow.”
At one point, the interlocutor asks, “What, in your opinion, is the role of the Brazilian writer today?”
“To speak as little as possible,” she says, her head tilted, her thumb half-massaging her temple, a cigarette between her fingers.”

(from Penguin Books UK and The Paris Review)

 

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Published December 12th, 2014 in Recommendations

December Newsletter + New & Latest Arrivals (12/02/2014)

Happy Non-Denominational Non-Sectarian Inter-Faith (or not) Winter Holidays, everyone! In preparation for the season of giving, we’ve accumulated a lot of really. Awesome. Books. Literature, philosophy, social sciences, women’s studies, art… With a humongous amount of bargain books to boot. As for the newsletter synopsis: The Book of the Month is Jonathan Crary‘s 24/7 (20% off), a searing critique on late capitalism’s effect on our circadian rhythms, the Book Club title is Roberto Bolano‘s By Night in Chile (15% off), a night-long rant on the intertwining of church and state in Chile, and finally (breath) we hope you’ll consider voting on our upcoming Monthly Featured Author deal (link’s at the bottom of this newsletter). There’s no events this month as we’ll be heading home for the holidays soon enough, with the shop closing from the 23rd of December to the 2nd of January, so drop by while the getting’s good.

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Book of the Month: 20% off

24/7 by Jonathan Crary

 

Jonathan Crary’s 24/7 is a polemic as finely concentrated as a line of pure cocaine. If you’re wondering what Crary’s position is on late-stage capitalism: he’s against it. How much? A lot.” (Benjamin Reiss, “Sleep’s Hidden Histories”, LA Times)

All too often we North Americans like to discuss our sleep patterns, with ‘less is more’ acting as a badge of honour. So you still worked your eight-hour shift on only three hours of sleep? Man, you look tired, what did you get up to last night? Must have been a crazy adventure in sleep deprivation.

Let’s face it: Late capitalism demands that the engine keeps moving at every hour of the day. New York is no longer the city that never sleeps. In this book, “Jonathan Crary examines how this interminable non-time blurs any separation between an intensified, ubiquitous consumerism and emerging strategies of control and surveillance. He describes the ongoing management of individual attentiveness and the impairment of perception within the compulsory routines of contemporary technological culture. At the same time, he shows that human sleep, as a restorative withdrawal that is intrinsically incompatible with 24/7 capitalism, points to other more formidable and collective refusals of world-destroying patterns of growth and accumulation.” (Verso Books)

 

New & Latest Arrivals

There’s just so many great books here that it’s hard to know where to begin: Frederic Gros’ A Philosophy of Walking? The 2014 Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano‘s Suspended Sentences? New selected poetry from John Berryman? Margaret Atwood‘s Stone Mattress? The first-hand account and poetry of one of Kim Jong-il favoured poets and known defector Jang Jin-sung? Bargain books from J.G. Ballard, Roddy Doyle, Amy Hempel, Lydia Davis and more? And we’ve got copies of Humans of New York for only $10?!?

These titles may be great, but they’re going fast since going on display a few days ago. If you see anything you like, or something you think would make a good gift for someone, feel free to give us a call or send us an email to reserve something.

Click the title of a book to view information on or a review of that title, or just search for them in our catalogue (recommended for price checks).

 

LITERATURE & POETRY

  • The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
  • The Thief’s Journal by Jean Genet
  • The Complete Short Prose of Samuel Beckett (1929-1989)

 

PHILOSOPHY, SOCIAL STUDIES & WOMEN’S STUDIES

 

KIDS

 

BARGAIN BOOKS

  • Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes
  • Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman
  • Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max
  • Volunteer Slavery by Jill Nelson
  • An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus by William Todd Schultz
  • Invisible by Paul Auster
  • The Iliad by Homer (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

  • A History of the Present Illness by Louise Aronson
  • The End of the Story by Lydia Davis
  • Tumble Home by Amy Hempel
  • Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
  • The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller
  • Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
  • The Conundrum by David Owen
  • See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid
  • Born to Buy by Juliet B. Schor
  • Hunger by Knut Hamsun

  • From a Crooked Rib by Nurddin Farah
  • Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
  • Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson
  • Beyond Innocence: An Autobiography in Letters, The Later Years by Jane Goodall
  • The Great Divergence by Timothy Noah
  • Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
  • The City Cook by Kate McDonough

 

Our Next Book Club Title

 

Our next read will be By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño:

 

“By Night in Chile‘s single night-long rant provides — as through a crack in the wall — a terrifying, clandestine view of the strange bedfellows of Church and State in Chile. This wild, eerily compact novel — Roberto Bolaño‘s first work available in English––recounts the tale of a poor boy who wanted to be a poet, but ends up a Jesuit priest and a conservative literary critic, a lap dog to Chile’s rich and powerful cultural elite, by whose (favours) he meets Pablo Neruda and Ernst Jünger. Father Urrutia is offered a tour of Europe by agents of Opus Dei (to study “the disintegration of the churches,” a journey into realms of the surreal); and ensnared by this plum, he is next assigned — after the destruction of Allende — a secret, never-to-be-disclosed nighttime job involving Pinochet. Soon, searingly, Father Urrutia’s memories go from bad to worse.” (New Directions)

On January 21st, we’ll get together to discuss the book over some drinks. Everyone’s welcome, and anyone partaking receives a 15% discount off the book. If you would like to join in for our monthly discussions, send an email to argobookshop@gmail.com in order to receive regular updates.

 

 

Vote on our First Monthly Featured Author!

 

Come January, we’ll be introducing our Featured Author deal: Any work by the selected author will be 15% off! Whether the work is in store or special-ordered by you, the deal applies. The thing is, we’re not sure which author to start with:
Simone Weil?
Hélène Cixous?
Alistair McLeod?
Rebecca Solnit?
George Orwell?
Jacques Ellul?
Hubert Aquin?
E.M. Cioran?
Violette Leduc?
Marshall McLuhan?
You’ll find a link below to the ongoing vote, and the deadline is December 31st.  So, which author do you think we should start with?

CLICK HERE TO VOTE!

 

 

Happy Non-Denominational Non-Sectarian Inter-Faith (or not) Winter Holidays, Everyone!

 

 

Poll: Monthly Featured Authors

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Published November 19th, 2014 in Announcements

November Newsletter + New & Latest Arrivals (11/03/2014)

Now’s the time to head out and stockpile your literature, just as the city starts its first steps towards a deep freeze! We’ve got plenty to pick from, with (as always) more on the way. Be sure to check out the new arrivals and Bargain Book selections we’ve posted during October (the links can be found in the New Arrivals section of this post). As for events, we’ll be holding our last Argo Open Mic of this year on November 18th, and for books in our spotlight this month, consider picking up a copy of our Book of the Month (20% off!), Jesse Ball‘s Silence Once Begun and/or joining us for our Book Club in November: We’ll be reading Satantango by László Krasznahorkai, winner of the 2013 Best Translated Book Award.

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Book of the Month: 20% off

Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball

 

Jesse Ball‘s Silence Once Begun resists the standard narrative tropes of contemporary novels. It pushes against them with antique, gentlemanly language, a conflicting set of stories that clearly reference “Rashomon,” and a structure like a funnel that starts at the wide open end. ” (Carolyn Kellogg, “Jesse Ball’s slippery ‘Silence Once Begun’ built on false confessiom”, LA Times)

In Jesse Ball’s absorbing, finely wrought fourth novel, “Silence Once Begun,” a journalist also named Jesse Ball tells the story of a thread salesman who makes a wager with two people in a bar. Upon losing that wager, he signs an extremely detailed confession to a crime he didn’t commit — the kidnapping of eight people from a Japanese town called Narito over the course of four months. The kidnappings, known to the populace as the “Narito Disappearances,” have spurred a moral panic that demands a scapegoat. A man who would offer himself up as that scapegoat is taking the most desperate of chances, asking all his fellow men for some proof that he should continue to live. (Helen Oyeyemi, “Deathly Quiet”, NY Times)

 

New & Latest Arrivals

It’s great to see so many folks interested in our reinstated Bargain Books section! If you’ve missed out on the batches ‘o books that have been arriving in the shop since October, you can click on the following links to view books lists from October 16th, October 22nd and October 23rd (or the photos below).

Click the title of a book to view information on or a review of that title, or just search for them in our catalogue (recommended for price checks).

 

LITERATURE & POETRY

LITERARY CRITICISM & ESSAYS

  • Barolo by Matthew Gavin Frank

 

POETRY

 

KIDS

  • Son by Lois Lowry

 

BARGAIN BOOKS

  • The Theory of Everything: Love by H.M. Person ($7)
  • The Unpossessed by Tess Slesinger ($7)
  • Self Condemned by Wyndham Lewis (Black Sparrow Press edition, $10)
  • Where I’m Calling From by Raymond Carver ($7.50)
  • The Canal by Lee Rourke ($9)


 

Our Next Book Club Title

 

Our next read will be Satantango by László Krasznahorkai:

Known as the inspiration for the filmmaker Béla Tarr’s six-hour masterpiece of the same name, Satantango is a “spellbinding, bleak, and hauntingly beautiful book”, a testimony that it’s the devil who “has all the good times.” Winner of the 2013 Best Translated Book Award from the online literary periodical Three Percent, the story of Satantango is told over the course of several rainy days in an unnamed hamlet, with readers following its scant inhabitants in their misery of being stuck in the middle of nowehere. “Schemes, crimes, infidelities, hopes of escape, and above all trust and its constant betrayal are Krasznahorkai’s meat.” (New Directions)

On November 19th, we’ll get together to discuss the book over some drinks. Everyone’s welcome, and anyone partaking receives a 15% discount off the book. If you would like to join in for our monthly discussions, send an email to argobookshop@gmail.com in order to receive regular updates.

 

 

Events for the Month of October

#1

The Argo Open Mic (#30)

Tuesday, November 18th

@ Argo Bookshop

Doors @ 7PM, Reading @ 7:30PM

Featured in Canadian Notes and Queries‘ Montreal issue (#89) and online reviews and mentions by websites like LikeaLocalGuide and MTLBlog, the Argo Open Mic has been running since November 2011 as an open platform for Montrealers to read their work to a like-minded public.

Grab all those poems, stories, anecdotes, songs and opinions you penned over the summer and come on by to read for 5 to 10 minutes. Emerging and established authors alike are encouraged to participate. Join us for a drink and a jazz session at Grumpy’s Bar (1242 Rue Bishop) afterwards.

 

 

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Published November 3rd, 2014 in Events, New & Latest Arrivals

New & Latest Arrivals: Bargain Books – (10/23/2014)

As promised, here’s the second batch of bargain books! We’ve accumulated so much, we’ve decided to post a list of select titles, complete with links to reviews and overviews from The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Washington Post, authors’ websites and the New York Times. Come by when you can, these titles are going fast!

NEW & LATEST BARGAIN ARRIVALS: A SELECTION

 

  • Organic Crops in Pots by Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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Published October 23rd, 2014 in New & Latest Arrivals

New & Latest Arrivals (Bargain Books) – 10/22/2014

The levee’s broken, and another flood of bargain books has been released! Many thanks to all of you who have come by the shop to peruse and pick up the new titles that have been coming in through our door. You’ll find a list of new bargain titles below, and we wish to note one thing: Some of these books have since sold since the time the photos were taken! While we’ve marked down which of these titles have sold, we wish to remind you that reservations for anything you see below are more than welcome. Just give us a call or send us an email specifying which titles you’d like to pick up.

 

 

  • Reality Sandwiches by Allen Ginsberg (sold)
  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (sold)
  • One Hundred Poems from the Japanese by Kenneth Rexroth ($5)
  • The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings ($5)
  • Pictures from Brueghel by William Carlos Williams ($2)
  • Selected Poems of Ezra Pound (sold)
  • The Gate by Natsume Soseki (NYRB edition, $6)
  • Three Tragedies by Frederico Garcia Lorca ($7)
  • 100 Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings (sold)
  • The Selected Poems of Li Po ($5)
  • The Spirit Level by Seamus Heaney ($2)
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (sold)
  • Handwriting by Michael Ondaatje ($8)
  • The Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg ($5)

 

 

  • Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson ($6)
  • 1984 by George Orwell (sold)
  • On Writing by Stephen King (hardcover, $5)
  • Dylan Thomas: Collected Poems, 1934-1953 ($5)
  • Opening a Mountain: Koans of the Zen Masters ($6)
  • Nightwood by Djuna Barnes ($8)
  • Falling Man by Don DeLillo ($5)
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer ($7)
  • Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney ($9)
  • The Klondike by Zach Worton ($6)
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Published October 22nd, 2014 in New & Latest Arrivals