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A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place, Or, All My Simple Pleasures Are Apparently Bookish Ones

I moved about eight months ago and I’m still unpacking.

Yes, I can hear your gasps of horror and dismay from here, but I defy you to tell me that you don’t have even a single box of miscellaneous stuff from your last move mouldering in the basement or cluttering up a closet.

In my case, I’ve been staring for months at three pesky boxes of categorized office-related stuff taking up floor space in the spare room. The items therein had a purpose but no permanent home. All I needed were suitable furnishings to contain the treasures therein.

bookshelves

Unveiling the Most Gorgeous Bookcase of Life, AKA, how I spent my Sunday night.

Lo and behold, this weekend I acquired the perfect piece to complete my office space. My best friend’s father has been downsizing, and had no further use for what I’ve come to consider the Most Gorgeous Bookcase of Life™. This weekend, a couple of strapping friends packed it up in a pickup truck and brought it to its new home in my little office—“PQL South” as I like to call it.

Of course I couldn’t resist filling said bookcase immediately. Most of my books have a home upstairs in the library, so this little gem was earmarked for bulky items like my printer as well as a whole bunch of work-related notebooks, binders and folders that had been packed away.

It is almost sad, the absurd amount of pleasure I derived from organizing this bookcase. In fact, organizing any bookcase is, for me, among the top ten ways to spend a weekend afternoon. (I’m very much an alphabetical-by-author’s-last-name kind of person, but you do you.)

detail of bookshelf with stuffed hedgehog/porcupine and PQL sign

Detail of the Most Gorgeous Bookcase of Life. (Yes, that is a hedgehog, but people keep giving me hedgehog things thinking they’re porcupine things, so I play along. This one is named Winston Churchquill.)

I think it’s because it gives me an opportunity to appreciate not only have, but where I’ve been. In organizing my bookshelves, I get to to revisit beloved works and read a page or two of my favourite passages. But more, my books are like time machines. I can time-travel back to remember where I was when I discovered and bought and read each one. A friend of mine put me on to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in high school. I read Things Fall Apart as an undergrad and learned that required reading doesn’t have to be boring. I purchased Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore on my first trip to The Strand in New York. I gobbled up The Shadow of the Wind over winter break one year, cozied up under a blanket by the Christmas tree. For a minute or two, I’m brought back to what I was thinking and feeling when I first experienced a given book.

art prints

Found in boxes: art prints to frame and hang. What a score!

It’s not just novels that inspire this effect. In unpacking my office boxes I found relics of PQL seasons past—preparation for sales conference, editorial notes, sales sheets and catalogues. I paged through my first impressions of an early draft of Barbara Sibbald’s The Museum of Possibilities, and one-sheets featuring backlist PQL titles like Sailor Girl and Beasts of New York. I discovered a trove of artwork that I’d forgotten about, just waiting to be framed and hung. I found magazines full of inspiring print designs and a notebook full of observations on conferences I’d attended, like BookExpo, ALA and AWP. Those boxes were something of a time capsule, and in organizing the contents, in finding each item a home, I was able to experience a nice little vacation to the past.

So go unpack a box. Open an old book. Reorganize your shelves. Memories await!
 

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I hope you weren’t too bored by my blathering about the simple pleasure of organizing a bookcase. What can I say? My passions are bookish ones. If you’ve had a similar experience organizing your bookshelves, leave a comment and share your story!

Cheers,Steph


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 05 Jul 2019

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Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.

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Glad you stopped by to check out our best bookish links of the week. Have a wonderful weekend!

Cheers,
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Going to Bookish Extremes and Other News for July at the Porcupine’s Quill

There’s something about summertime that makes me feel a little extreme. Think about it. The sweltering heat and humidity of a Southwestern Ontario summer juxtaposed with the simple pleasure of a frosty iced coffee. The long, sunny days practically beg you to keep busy and fill your day with activities, whether they be out in nature, or inside, in air-conditioned comfort. But then again, the short, quiet nights are a perfect chance for calm recuperation.

Theatre masks, one sad, one happy.

If this isn’t a graphic representation of the kind of extreme reading mood swings I’m talking about, I don’t know what is.

Is it any wonder that my reading finds itself going to extremes also? I find myself yearning to delve into a long, juicy read—a doorstop of a book full of complex characters and rich descriptions. Maybe it’s a remnant of those school-free summers of childhood, where I devoured library books at a rate that I’m sure alarmed my parents. But with all that time on my hands, what could be better than immersing myself in a time-consuming read that might otherwise feel rushed or unappreciated? Tackling a weighty tome from the to-read list is definitely a necessary summer pastime.

On the other hand, I’ve also been craving the quick thrill of a short read. Something that I could consume in small sips should I choose, but equally something I could down in a gulp if the mood strikes. A novella perhaps, or a collection of short stories would fit the bill. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of turning the last page of a book and indulging in that moment of quiet reflection. With the often hectic pace of summer, sometimes crossing an item off your to-read list is exactly the form of productive satisfaction needed to keep summer lassitude from setting in.

Perhaps going to bookish extremes isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps I’ll take a page out of Mother Nature’s book and enjoy in my reading life some of those wildly divergent juxtapositions so evident during the summer months.

 

What’s happening this month?

At PQL…

Summertime is catch up time. After a month of administrative drudgery (thankfully not so much on my part!) a lot of the paperwork is out of the way for the next while, which means we’re back to doing the fun stuff of building lists and printing books. Rerouted is still on the docket, and we might even make it to Margin of Interest in the coming weeks.

In Toronto.

Don’t miss an exhibition of the art of the late poet and visual artist Joe Rosenblatt (whose book Bite Me! we recently published), on display at yumart July 6-27.

In Detroit.

Detroit Bookfest

If you’re down in my neck of the woods and are looking for something bookish to do on a Sunday in July, stop on by Detroit’s famed Eastern Market for the 3rd Annual Detroit Bookfest. Stop by Shed 3 and visit the PQL table for some new releases and a few old favourites.

In the world.

Don’t forget to pick up a few extra hours on July 5th. How else would you celebrate Work-a-holics Day?

😮 Did you know that July 17 is World Emoji Day? The 🌎 world is full of people who ❤️ emoji, so of course they’ll 🎉🎊🎈 all day long.

And June 26 is System Administrator Appreciation Day. Given the way everything seems to just grind to a halt when technology stops doing our bidding, this holiday needs more recognition!

 

From the porcupette’s corner.

Quill fans, I feel like I’ve caught a peek into the future. In a way I have. Last week, I devoted almost all my time to reading submissions and beginning to sketch out what the next few seasons will look like. There are still a few question marks here and there, but honestly, there’s so much to be excited about! Can’t wait to share them with you in the coming weeks and months.

Me, peeking into my magical telescope (my email inbox) and seeing the future (in terms of books to be published by PQL in the next short while). It’s a very narrow range, so please don’t ask me for lotto tips.

This week, it’s back to my regularly scheduled programming—which is to say I’m once again attending to all the editing tasks that seem to pile up on my desk this time of year. Wish me luck!

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Thanks for stopping by to see what’s in store for the coming month. We hope you’re enjoying your summer so far, and that you’re finding lots of time to tackle your summer reads—be they long short and steamy or long and literary!

Cheers,Steph


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PQ Weekly Roundup: 28 Jun 2019

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Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.

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Hope you stay cool this long weekend—and that you find time for a little literary fulfillment!

All the best,
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PQ Weekly Roundup: 21 Jun 2019

pqroundup2
Every Friday, the PQ Weekly Roundup collects the most shared links in our social media network—bookish articles, reviews, quizzes, recommendations and more—in convenient digest form.

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Happy Friday, Quill friends! Be sure to take advantage of the official start of summer by doing a little outdoor reading.

Cheers,
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Pulled from the Pages: Rerouted by Daniel Bryant

ReroutedDaniel Bryant’s Rerouted is a debut short story collection in which supernatural and mythic elements meet darkly comedic mayhem. In this book you’ll meet a not-so-average mailman, a shapeshifter or two, a few hapless would-be thieves, a group of brothers touring their less-than-impressive rock band, and more.

Here at PQL, we’re hard at work on printing this new title, but for those of you who just can’t wait, the ebook version of Rerouted is now available and ready for download over at the Porcupine’s Quill’s eStore.

Want to whet your appetite before you buy? Read on for an exclusive excerpt of the story “Deadwalk”…

* * *

From “Deadwalk”

The pub was crowded with fellow posties: fat, skinny, male, female, white, black, olive, ochre, blue.

‘That walk is cursed,’ Matt, the blue one, said cheerfully. He puckered his purple lips and guzzled down half his pint. Foam flecked his red beard. ‘I knew Lester Keane, the station supervisor, who did it a long time ago. I tell you, something happened to him on that walk. No one’s lasted on it for more than a month. They get all angsty and bugger out.’

Joel nodded and sipped his rum and coke. He was numb. After watching Evelyn’s life ebb away on the sidewalk, he needed something stronger than a beer for his afternoon buzz.

‘Yeah, I heard. He seems tightly wound,’ Joel said.

‘Tight ain’t the half of it. The story goes, they found him one morning, under his sortation case, stabbing his palm with scissors … safety scissors, mind you. Apparently, he’d been there all night. He became a supervisor soon after.’

Joel thought about Lester Keane. Lester was in his sixties—spindly, stooped, spittle mouthed—a flesh-and-blood Ichabod Crane.

Good honest work could do that to a person, thought Joel.

A few more letter carriers drifted in, and the noise level amped up. The Quill and Quotidian was the hangout for the Brothers and Sisters of Station Y. It was central to most of the routes and a short bus ride away from all the others. News of the death drew everyone today. The dark wood interior jostled with mugs of beer, sweat-stained blue-striped shirts, and bright red satchels. It was late afternoon.

Matt got up and staggered away. Lenora slid in.

‘I’ve been meaning to ask.’ Joel lowered his voice and tilted his head slightly toward Lenora. A delicate floral scent hung about her like an aura.

Joel inhaled again.

Joel asked, ‘Why is Matt blue? You’ve been at the station for a long time. I’m embarrassed to ask anyone else, and I certainly don’t want to ask him.’

‘It’s silver poisoning. He grew up downstream from a silver mine in Ten- nessee. Contaminated ground water, constant exposure—causes blue skin apparently.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah, there might be some recessive gene lurking somewhere too. Just don’t call him Papa Smurf.’ Lenora giggled.

Joel watched Matt sit down with the two Trevors. Both Trevors were over six feet tall, lean, and wore wire-rim glasses. One was white. The other black. So as not to cause confusion, and more importantly, to avoid being labelled racist, everyone referred to them by their sexual orientation. White Trevor was gay, so everyone called him Gay Trevor—behind his back. Black Trevor was straight, so everyone called him Regular Trevor, or sometimes just Trev.

There were quite a few doppelgängers at the station—two Bobs, three Lauras, four Ians, another Joel. Everyone got diderentiated according to some peculiar physical or social trait: Bob with the Lazy Eye, Laura with the Big Tits, Lesbian Laura, Tall Laura, Bald Ian, Young Ian, Italian Ian, Funny Joel.

Joel Wozzeck was not Funny Joel. That pissed him od no end.

Gay Trevor and Regular Trevor looked over at Unfunny Joel and nodded. Joel nodded back and raised his glass. The Trevors raised theirs. Joel winked for no particular reason other than to punctuate the exchange with a silent full stop. He returned to looking at his drink.

 

PortraitHope you enjoyed this peek inside PQL’s latest fiction offering! Don’t forget to check out the Rerouted page on our website for more details about the book.

Happy Reading!Steph

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.