After a much needed and extended hiatus, we’re finally back!

Wanderlust has subsided, weather-induced melancholy is slowly lifting and the chaos of the winter semester has finally ended. With such calm comes new life into the shop. We have lots of new titles this week with more on their way, we will be resuming the reading series next month, our hours will once again be extended, and we’re re-instating the book of the month.

March’s book of the month is Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts/The Day of the Locust compendium from New Directions.


These two novellas are a classic favourite at the Argo, and this feels like the perfect time to return to it. Set in New York, at around this time of year, this black comedy is perfect company for anyone feeling the malaise of grey slush and frostbite. Miss Lonelyhearts is the tale about a man who writes for the agony column of a newspaper under the pseudonym Miss Lonelyhearts. We never learn his real name as he pulls us through the grind of anonymity in New York, where he alternates between sitting at his typewriter, unable to provide genuine advice for his readers (real excerpts from a newspaper), and bouts at a speakeasy with his cynical editor Shrike where nothing is sacred and everything is turned inside-out.

As usual, the BOM is 20% off until March 31st (or until we run out).



New Arrivals snyder book

Garments Against Women, Anne Boyer
Diana’s Tree
, Alejandra Pizarnik
This Present Moment, Gary Snyder
And: Phenomenology of the End, Franco Bifo Barardi
Bibliodiversity: A Manifesto for Independent Publishing, Susan Hawthorne
Interaction of Color, Josef Albers
Heartsnatcher, Boris Vian
In Praise of Shadows, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki
This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein (now paperback)
And more!


Forthcoming Titles we’re looking forward to later this month and in April
(call or email to pre-order!)

Extracting the Stone of Madness, Alejandra Pizarnik
A Little Lumpen Novelita, Roberto Bolano
State and Politics: Deleuze and Guattari on Marx, Guillaume Sibertin-Blanc

bolano book

My Struggle, Book 5, Karl Ove Knausgaard
Houses, Boris Pekic
The Last Interview of Jane Jacobs

Our hours have changed for Spring and will be longer:
Tues-Friday, 10-7PM
Saturday, 12-6PM
Sunday & Monday, closed

Updates on the reading series to come!


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 article entitled “In the 2000s, There Will Only be Answers” by Alexis C. Madrigal)

An Astute Rant on the Book Market from Nick Thran


A big thanks to poet Nick Thran for allowing us to share this. Re-posted in its raw form, this essentially sums it up for us in so many ways:




“Dear bookish purveyors of ‘the new market realities,’ ‘the new way people receive information,’ the ‘new competition for our attention spans,’ etc, if you’ve honestly found the net, Amazon, ebooks, bargain barns et al. as adequate-to-better replacements for the indie brick-and-mortar, hey, X, I want to show you this book we got in the store, come back on your lunch break kind of social/literary transactions–congrats on your adaptiveness. I’m happy for you. I’ve been trying to figure this new reality out for a few years now too. I personally still vastly prefer the slow browse and the cover fondling and the discussions with the tellers who care deeply about things I might not yet care about better than the click and surf for what first catches my eye. I still need to sit with an actual newspaper to actually feel like I’m retaining the news. Why, in a ‘new market reality’ that has frankly done shit for our abilities’ to buy homes, keep our environment sustainable, find decent jobs with healthcare and pension plans; wouldn’t I mourn some of the last few places where it seemed eyes-on-the-spine possible to find our way into different realities and possibilities? Why wouldn’t I be pissed off that 14 people are looking for work soon, maybe in whatever economically viable, global purveyor of luxury goods that replaces the bookstore? Why wouldn’t I be a little suspicious that maybe these ‘new realities’ don’t really have my best interests in mind? Maybe instead of adapt, adapt, adapt I want to just sit beside a cash register for 30 minutes and let someone else tell me I’m a fool for not knowing anything about Thomas Bernhard, sweat forming on their brow as they gesticulate, because I sometimes need that sort of thing more than “you might also like…” in order to be convinced to hand over my twenty dollar bill. Maybe that sort of ‘competition’ makes me a more informed ‘consumer,’ and perhaps it also makes the bookseller him/herself feel a bit more like an actual human. Ok, I’m done yelling.”


Nick Thran has published two collections of poetry, Every Inadequate Name (nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award) and Earworm (Nightwood, 2011). He has been a Goldwater Teaching Fellow and MFA candidate at New York University, and is currently living in Montreal, where his wife poet Sue Sinclair was the CWILA‘s Critic-in Residence in 2013.