East Coast Christmas Gift Guide 2017: For Book Lovers

It’s Christmas. Or at least it’s close enough that not only have we broken out the toques, but also a near panic has set it to find the right gift for the right people in your life. Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you and some of your immediate friends and family are fans of literacy and literacy byproducts. Here are some great local options for the bookworms in your life.

Collected Poems of Alden Nowlan

Alden Nowlan
(Fredericton, New Brunswick)

Alden Nowlan (1933-1983) once wrote of a desire to leave behind “one poem, one story / that will tell what it was like / to be alive.” In an abundance of memorable poems, he fulfilled this desire with candour and subtlety, emotion, and humour, sympathy and truth-telling. For many years, Nowlan has been one of Canada’s most-read and -beloved poets, but only now is the true range of his poetic achievement finally available between two covers, with the publication of Collected Poems of Alden Nowlan.

Nowlan takes us from nightmarish precincts of fear and solitude to the embrace of friendship and family. Delving into experiences of violence and gentleness, of alienation and love, his poetry reveals our shared humanity as well as our perplexing and sometimes entertaining differences. Nowlan’s childhood and adult years are colourfully reflected in his poetry. These autobiographical threads are interwoven with fantasies, an astute historical consciousness, and a keen awareness of the shiftings and transformations of selfhood.

Nowlan wrote with formal variety, visually shaping his poems with a dexterity that complicates impressions that he was primarily a “plainspoken” poet. His varied uses of the poetic line — his handling of line-lengths and -breaks, stanzas, and pauses — show him to be a writer who skilfully uses the page to suggest and embody the rhythms of speech. This long-awaited volume enables readers to experience his poetic genius in its fullness and uniqueness.


Christmas With Maud Lewis

Lance Woolaver & Bob Brooks
(Nova Scotia)

20 years after its first publication, the book that charmed them all is back in print in a hardcover gift edition.

Maud Lewis has become one of Canada’s favourite folk artists, and her buoyant winter pictures of nature, pets, farm animals, and people at work and play are among her most charming. Her hands were twisted with arthritis, but Maud earned her living by painting Christmas cards and pictures and selling them from her tiny, gaily painted one-room house beside the highway near Digby, Nova Scotia.

Originally issued in 1997 and now available in this updated edition, Christmas with Maud Lewis paints a portrait of how this spirited woman celebrated the season in her life and art. Maud’s vision of Christmas embraces skaters sliding every which way, passengers leaning over the box of a horse-drawn sleigh, smiling oxen in their best harness, and bluebirds beside their snow-covered house. The paintings in Christmas with Maud Lewis are from the large collection of the Woolaver family.


A New Song for Herman

Paul McAllister & Emily Brown
(Fredericton, New Brunswick)

Herman loves to entertain his Street Monster pals at Sarah’s Cafe, making their favourite hot beverage – the DOUBLE TROUBLE CHOCOLATE BUBBLE VANILLA TRUFFLE MOCCACHINO with SPRINKLES!

But they soon notice that all is not well with Herman. Spooky sounds coming from the attic have been keeping him up at night, and his drinks aren’t as delicious these days!

Could it be the mythical Attic Monster keeping him up at night? The only way to find out is for Herman and his little pal Carpet to go up to the attic and face their fears!


Minds Of My Own

Brian Conoley & Melissa Vienneau
(Fredericton, New Brunswick)

The jury had their facts right when they found Jeremy Kane guilty of murder and sentenced him to death by lethal injection. What the people watching him die from the gallery don’t realize as they see the liquid drain into the blood of this cold and stoic killer is that there is another voice, screaming inside of Jeremy’s head: “I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY! I’m sorry.” It’s a voice that’s been helpless and unheard since the monster it shares a body with took control.

Jeremy was a normal child being raised by two loving parents. In his early adolescence, after bearing witness to a horrific event, Jeremy develops Dissociative Identity Disorder, more commonly and archaically referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder.

Jeremy’s additional personality, a symptom of his disorder, is a psychopath with a strong sense of survival. This second personality takes over Jeremy’s life, suppressing his former self to the confines of his subconscious.

Jeremy’s life is controlled by the dark force inside of him and ultimately lands him a death sentence; lethal injection.


No Greater Agony

Todd Allen
(Quispamsis, New Brunswick)

Famed poet Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Who would know this better than Jack Bishop? The Struggling author has seen his share of pain—a failed marriage, separation from his kids, and now, a crippling writer’s block. In a last-ditch effort to finish his overdue manuscript he travels to Wabasso Lake—an exclusive retreat for critically acclaimed authors. But when he plans to steal a complete manuscript and pass it off as his own, he learns the hard way that some stories are better left untold.


The Decline

Christopher Jessulat
(Saint John, New Brunswick)

It has been weeks since the First Wave broke, and a woefully unprepared mankind has steadily lost ground to the tide of infected. Overwhelmed by the sheer number and ferocity of the afflicted, the official response has abandoned its inland posts and collapsed back to the last line of defensible terrain. Cut off from rescue and resupply, a desperate pocket of survivors cling to the notion of humanity while faced with a grim decision — is it worth it to be the last survivors of the human race, if you lose your humanity in the process?

Thoughtful and tense, The Decline is a gripping, atmospheric exploration of loss, isolation and the bleak realities of survival in a post-apocalyptic world.