Abandoning her career as a writer of potboiler romances in Barcelona, Lola Benveniste reacts to her father's sudden death by travelling to Vancouver, the city where he spent a secret year in the 1950s. How are John Miller, a scion of old Vancouver money trying to crack the New Economy, and his sidekick Neil Simpson, in mourning over being deserted by his wife-turned-fashion-model, involved in Lola's father's death? And what is their connection to Herman Rossman, poet of the old downtown, who published brilliant work in the 1940s before vanishing? Lola's entanglement with these characters takes her to Manhattan, where Rossman is leading a second life as an East Village “spoken-word” ranter. Will the questions of the past and the yearnings of the present finally be satisfied? Lola by Night is rich in atmosphere, ironic comedy, and shaggy-dog mystery – an entrancing work from an award-winning author with a truly original voice.
“ ... slick, quirky, subtly humorous ... style as unique as a fingerprint ...” – The Canadian Jewish News
“Following these narrative lines as they meander across continents is worth the trip. Ravvin has a talent for exposing the quirky characters that inhabit the hidden recesses of society ... romp and wit ... fast-paced ...” – The Montreal Gazette
“A juicy comic novel set in Barcelona, Vancouver and Manhattan, and featuring eccentric rifts on the old themes of love, art and death.” – The Globe and Mail
ISBN 0-9680457-5-8 / 169 pp / $12+ $2 S/HRead an excerpt
Sex, Skyscrapers, and Standard Yiddish, a collection of short stories by Norman Ravvin, received an Emerging Artists Award from the K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation and was warmly reviewed.
“It's not always the case that when a writer assembles stories under one cover they feel like a collection, but with Sex, Skyscrapers, and Standard Yiddish there's a strong sense of a whole rather than just parts. These are stories of the lost: lost paintings, lost fathers, lost minds, lost pasts, lost birthplaces.” – Stephen Smith, Quill & Quire
“Norman Ravvin's Sex, Skyscrapers, and Standard Yiddish – isn't that a drop-dead delicious title? – will leave readers drooling for more. [...] Most of the stories ... drip with absurdly gorgeous fictional delights ....” – Judith Fitzgerald, The Toronto Star
“Norman Ravvin's collection ... has a quirkiness and skittishness that engages and tweaks the reader. [...] These stories are brief moments of disjuncture and disruption. They present the small cataclysms that compose our days. [...] Within this tumult of words are many sharp and eccentric twists.” – Peter O'Brien, The Globe and Mail
Absurdist, funny, tragic – Norman Ravvin's short stories are exhilarating in their originality. The result of a startling alchemy, they combine old-fashioned fictional values with an off-kilter modernist technique, bringing together the dark old world of Europe and the bright new world of America.
In the title story, a Yiddish typewriter salesman and would-be writer finds unwanted inspiration in the voluptuous Lola. In “Expatriate,” a businessman wanders through Moscow in search of a painting stolen from his family during the war. And in “Doomed Cinema,” two New York agents try to buy a historic movie house and move it to an American theme park. The other stories in this remarkable collection are equally surprising and eerily delightful.
ISBN 0-9680457-1-5 / 80 pp / $10 plus $2 S/HRead an excerpt
In the late 1930s, a young boy named Josef is given shelter in the house of a Jewish doctor in Warsaw. Entranced by the doctor's teenaged daughter, Josef lives a charmed existence there – until the arrival of a cousin from America disrupts all their lives.
“Very well written ... authentic ... very rich.” – The Arts Tonight (CBC Stereo)
"No longer than many a short story but with full novelistic range, the artfully compressed Doctor’s House is a striking recasting of form, pleasingly packaged. It’s a promising debut from a new Toronto publishing house.” – Ted Mumford, Now Magazine
“Nobody who knows Fagan’s writing will be surprised at the compelling narrative pace of his ‘miniature’ or at the poetry of his language and imagery. There is nothing superfluous here, nothing flashy or self-conscious — only the writing of someone to whom the act of writing seems as natural as the act of breathing.” – Roger Burford Mason, Quill & Quire
“The Doctor’s House by award-winning Toronto writer Cary Fagan is a slim novel containing a powerful story. One night in pre-war Poland, a Rabbi and his family are murdered, along with their gentile housekeeper. Fagan follows the housekeeper's surviving son, Josef, who then lives with a Jewish doctor and his family in Warsaw in the late 1930s.” – Judy Saul, The Jewish Tribune
"The Doctor’s House is a trim, elliptical work. [...] The story [...] is pared down to key incidents and it has a cool, grim power. [...] The Doctor’s House ends with a strange, fantastic event, a release from the grotesque, sudden start of the war. This soaring ending is breathtaking, a flight from both the circumstance of the story and the restrained style in which it is told. Precise, painful and painstaking, The Doctor’s House deserves a better description than ‘a miniature novel’ – it radiates from its small canvas.” – John Doyle, The Globe and Mail
ISBN 0-9680457-0-7 / 76 pp / $7.50 plus $2 S/HRead an excerpt
In Dreaming Home, editor Bethany Gibson gathered together nine Canadian writers who, at the time of publication, were rapidly making a name for themselves here and abroad. By choosing the best of their published short fiction, she created an ideal introduction to a very fresh and talented group.
As Ms. Gibson writes: “These stories come from first collections, published by ‘emerging’ writers – those whose names have begun to seep into our consciousness, whose writing we have begun to recognize as well worth reading.” In her search for the best stories, Ms. Gibson rejected merely flashy or sensational work in favour of genuine emotional depth. Rather than impose a theme, she allowed the stories themselves to suggest one: “These nine stories are about home, whether that home is a place, a person, or a sense of security or belonging. Home is both a real and a psychic place which we leave behind again and again, which we create and then recreate ... .” The writers included are: Judith Kalman, Antanas Sileika, Michael Crummey, Joanne Gerber, Andrew Pyper, Elizabeth Hay, Mark Sinnett, Shauna Singh Baldwin, and Struan Sinclair.
“Dreaming Home is another little book stuffed full of great stories
– nine of them, all by emerging writers. My favourites were ‘Personal Effects’
by Judith Kalman, about a father leaving his home in Hungary, ‘Going Native’
by Antanas Sileika, about a family of 'DPs' trying to fit into a Canadian
suburb in the fifties, ‘Serendipity’ by Michael Crummey, about what happens
when your father is too lucky in Newfoundland, and ‘Devika’ by Shauna Singh
Baldwin, about a young Indian couple who find their own way to accommodate
the expectations of Indian culture into the reality of a new home in Canada.
Even with all this good writing,
Dreaming Home weighs in at only 5 oz (150 g) – another great bus
– Geist [Patty Osborne]
ISBN 0-9680457-2-3 / 160 pp / $5 plus $2 S/HRead the introduction
Norman Ravvin’s story collection Sex, Skyscrapers, and Standard Yiddish won the K.M. Hunter Emerging Artist Award. His novel Café des Westens won the Alberta Multiculturalism New Fiction Award. He is also the author of Hidden Canada: An Intimate Travelogue and the editor of Not Quite Mainstream: Canadian Jewish Short Stories. His latest novel is The Joyful Child (Gaspereau Press). He lives with his wife and son in Montreal, where he teaches and writes.
Cary Fagan is the author of four novels and three collections of stories. (For e-book versions of several of these, see: www.mydigitalrightsinc.com.) He has won the Toronto Book Award and the Jewish Committee Prize for fiction and has received many honours for his children’s books. His fiction has been published in Canada, the United States, and Germany, and his short stories have appeared in Best Canadian Stories; Not Quite Mainstream: Canadian Jewish Short Stories; and numerous journals. He has reviewed for the Montreal Gazette, the Toronto Star, and The Globe & Mail. His most recent adult novel is A Bird’s Eye, which was a finalist for the Rogers Trust Fiction Prize; his most recent story collection is My Life Among the Apes, which was a Giller nominee. Cary Fagan was born and raised in Toronto, where he lives with his family.