“From Behind an Ancient Cash Register” by Meaghan Acosta, Argo Co-Owner

 

Again. Again, today, I was asked if I read. Considering I sit behind the cash register of a small independent book store, day in and day out, surrounded with literature, poetry and philosophy, this question baffles me. It’s baffling but also incredibly insulting. I congratulate these folks on their courage to ask what might be the most absurd and demeaning question available to them while in the book store. I also congratulate them on their grace as their jaws drop when I answer in the positive, adding that I am also an owner of the place.

On several days out of a given week, customers walking in may find themselves face-to-face with a woman sitting behind the cash register of our little shop. When she’s not researching titles to add to the shop’s distilled collection, she can give you great recommendations based out of experience, intuition and intelligence. Her name is Meaghan Acosta, a co-owner and indelible member of the partnership since November 2011, when the Argo entered its fourth generation of ownership.

Recently, the online journal of general literary excitement Encore Magazine published an incisive article written by Meaghan Acosta about her experience as both a female bookseller and business owner in lieu of the original author Norm Sibum‘s current hiatus (whose posts are also a recommended read).

But enough with any further digression: This fantastic article is culled together from experiences as a book retailer in the past three years, and it offers numerous revelations not only on the treatment of women in the ‘workplace’ (bookselling and abroad), but also in the world of literature at large:

 

I am forced, for the sake of stocking shelves, to sift through many catalogues put out by publishers. I say forced because rarely am I satisfied with what I find there. Random House is perhaps the best example of what I detest about the publishing industry at the moment. If one were to go through their front list simply by looking at the covers of the books, one would surely notice the fact that almost every book written by a woman is packaged in a rigid and formulaic manner. Generally, there is an image of a woman, or parts of a woman, composed in such a way as to evoke feelings of forlornness, helplessness/brokenness, melancholy and/or loss. The font is almost always cursive and ‘pretty’ and the blurbs, more often than not, contain at least one review from a women’s magazine such as Elle,Vogue or Vanity Fair. These magazines are filled with trite, mostly fashion and beauty-related articles. Following a brief stint in high school during which I read these things, I have never since gone to them, particularly for my reading list, lest I contract illiteracy while stuck in that purgatorial region that births articles with titles like:Panty trade: women who sell their underwear to men. Seriously.””

 

The article as a whole is at once supplementary to oft-shared articles by writers like Roxane Gay and websites like Everyday Sexism, but also stands apart as a two-tiered perspective on the experience of disseminating and digesting the literary in a gender-stilted world. As much as we will tell ourselves, and go so far as to establish in ‘official’ capacities, it’s important to remind ourselves that the preconceptions and pitfalls are still there, however dwindling or omnipresent we consider them to be.

 

R E A D   T H E   F U L L   A R T I C L E   H E R E

 

Small Press Arrivals & Hey, What’re You Doing This Saturday?

Always a pleasure to have the shop house local small presses. That said, we want to take a moment to announce two arrivals and an upcoming event this Saturday you should seriously be considering making time for:

#1

M E T A T R O N

We’ve just acquired the complete first (and limited!) print run of the new Montreal-based publisher Metatron‘s six choice chapbooks. Headed by a fantastic, savvy editorial staff, the saddle-stitched and perfect-bound selection of authors includes (in alphabetic order):

1. Interviews by Laura Broadbent, author of the poetry collection Oh There You Are I Can’t See You Is It Raining? from Invisible Publishing in 2012. “Interviews consists of three posthumous interviews with authors beyond the grave: Clarice Lispector, W.G Sebald, and Jean Rhys. Subjects include history, time, decay, the elusive ‘I’, the tyranny of men, fish, obscurity, the you-me, the IT, constellations, etc.”

2. les œuvres se;ected by Matthew E. Duffy, local artist cum mystic cum writer. les œuvres se;ected is a “selection of poetry is composed of six sections that were emailed to (Metatron) editor (in chief) Ashley Opheim in various stages of completion over the span of three years. Upon going over old emails, Opheim discovered this wealth of work she had originally overlooked.”

3. I Am Here by Ashley E. Opheim, founder and co-director of This Is Happening Whether You Like It Or Not, a reading series in Montréal curated with author Guillaume MorrisetteI Am Here “navigates the vast, internal realms of the human mind. Using both stream-of-consciousness and the confessional mode, this collection of poetry offers a fresh perspective, wrought with a depth of feeling that is honest and curious. Tracing the thoughts and feelings of a girl on the verge of womanhood, perils and triumphs are expressed.”

4. Magnetic Days by Roland “Rollie” Pemberton, aka the musician Cadence Weapon, who served as Edmonton’s Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2011.  Magnetic Days is “an abstract rendering of contemporary Canadian youth culture, ‘Magnetic Days’ is a collection of poems and stories about love, class, race, drugs and religion.” It is his first published book of poetry.

5. Tampion by Ali Pinkey. Her first collection of poetry, Tampion is “a collection of disembodied elegies, ‘Tampion’ explores the psychological anatomies of the 21st Century damsel as gun.”

6. How to Appear Perfectly Indifferent While Crying on the Inside by Jay Winston Ritchie,  author of Something You Were, Might Have Been, or Have Come to Represent from Insomniac Press in 2014. How to Appear Perfectly Indifferent While Crying on the Inside features “24-hour diners, swimming pools, haunted McDonald’s, reincarnation and fame in remote East Africa: (poems that follow) a young 20-something as he navigates break-ups, adulthood, technology, and loneliness.”

 

#2

Hey, What’re You Doing This Saturday?

Don Dream And I Dream by Leah Umansky (Kattywompus Press)

…Just thought we’d ask, because, you know, I mean, there’s this reading coming up on Saturday that poetry lovers and fans of the show Mad Men could really sink their teeth into. Leah Umansky will be reading in our shop on April 12th @ 7PM, primarily from her new chapbook Don Dreams and I Dream, published by the Ohio-based Kattywompus Press. Amy Silbergeld from the online literary review HTML Giant had this to say: “Don Dreams and I Dream is compulsively readable, but it is far from a light collection of poems. Most hold the weight of women’s struggles for recognition as human beings over much of the past century. The poems are at once political and confessional, feisty and giddy, aggressive and playfully submissive. The poems are nothing if not sexy, and sensuality is key to their power—just as it is, in large part, the key to Don’s.” You can read the full review here, or this one from Sabotage Reviews.

This will be Umansky’s first reading in Canada.

Ever.

We are stoked.

New & Latest Arrivals – 17/02/2014

Despite the cold, the month of February has been such a pleasure so far. Readings from the terrific writers  Kevin Barry, Christine Miscione and Stuart Ross have come and gone, with more on the way: David McGimpsey and Jason Camlot will be gracing the podium of the Atwater Poetry Project soon enough and we’ll be there with books in tow.

Here are the newest and latest arrivals for the halfway point through February: Books for our Literature, Philosophy, Social Sciences and  Criticism & Theory sections, plus one excellent title for the kids. Points of interest include work from Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (whose sci-fi work Roadside Picnic was adapted by Tarkovsky for the film Stalker), new paperback editions of great 2013 titles, great criticism and theory from Umberto Eco and Canadian poet Zachariah Wells, and a new book of historical essays out from Open Letter BooksEurope in Sepia by Dubravka Ugresic.

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).

NEW & LATEST ARRIVALS

 

FICTION

 

POETRY

 

PHILOSOPHY, SOCIAL SCIENCES & HISTORY

 

CRITICISM & THEORY

 

KIDS

 

What are we reading these days? We’ve all been enjoying some die-hard and not-so-die-hard-but-should-be classics at the shop. Gap Boo’s enjoying the poetry of Charles Bukowski with the collection You Get So Alone At Times That It Makes Sense, a great example of “Bukowski writing the same thing over and over, and you just don’t get tired of it.” Eric is reading the first book of the Illuminatus! Trilogy: “It’s just wild. It’s fantastic, man, so crazy… every chapter just keeps topping itself. What started as a bizarre mystery tale is, by the end of the first book, a scifi novel about people fighting sea monsters.” Meg is adding to her list of the Steinbeck novels she’s read with a beautiful Penguin Modern Classics edition of East of Eden, and JP is is being driven slightly mad by The Tutu by Léon Genonceaux, a book (as mentioned when it came in) seldomly purported as the strangest novel of the 19th century.

 

Best Books We Read in 2013 – The Third Chapter

Here’s the third of four posts detailing the Best Books We Read in 2013 (you can view the previous lists here and there). Today’s list comes from our shop’s wonderful aide Eric Bennett, served up in no particular order whatsoever. As it stands, Mary MacLane‘s I Await the Devil’s Coming and Chris Ware‘s Building Stories are taking the lead (that is if you hadn’t already got a sense of our passion for that book). If you haven’t read them yet, you are definitely missing out… unless, respectively speaking, you’re not into damningly reflexive journals or heart-breaking graphic novels. Then you’re fine.

If you would like to know the title and author of a book, just run your mouse over the cover of a book to view the info. Enjoy!

 

Eric’s Best Books of 2013

 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

Best Books We Read in 2013 – The Second Chapter

Greetings! Again!

Now for the second of (now) four posts on the Best Books We Read in 2013. Once again, this is a list of books in no particular order whatsoever. Unfortunately, one of the books this time around isn’t available through bookshops, but it should be! If you would like to know the title and author of a book as you browse, just run your mouse over the cover to view the info. Enjoy!

 

JP’s Best Books of 2013