22 April 2010

More Spring Books

The spring rush seems to be quieting down a bit as the last of the new titles finally shipped yesterday – George Sipos’ memoir The Geography of Arrival. George is the former the owner of Mosquito Books in Prince George, British Columbia. His memoir tells of his experience immigrating to Canada from Hungary in 1957 and of growing up in London, Ontario, in the 1960s. It's a lovely, smart book.

Memoirs written by ‘ordinary’ people, people who are not household names, can be tricky books to sell, especially if they don’t have a grand thematic angle involving heroism, extraordinary achievement or whatnot and simply recount everyday experiences. When I first read George’s book, however, I knew that I wanted to publish it regardless of the financial risks because it was insightful and well written. It was exactly the kind of book I felt that people should be reading. A publisher who merely follows the demands of the market is not really a publisher at all, not in the humanist sense anyway. There is a sense in which a book publisher must help direct the culture as well as reflect it.

George’s memoir fits well with the other memoirs Gaspereau Press has published over the years in that it transcends local and personal interest and becomes literary thanks to the craftsmanship, sensibility, insight and skill of the author. Harrison Wright’s Probing Minds, Salamander Girls and a Dog Named Sally is an example of another memoir that does this, as are John Terpstra’s Skin Boat, The Boys, and Falling Into Place.

As usual, we had a little bit of fun with the inside cover. Illustrator Sydney Smith of Halifax (brother of the poet Alison Smith) did the artwork for George’s book jacket. Before we settled on the streetscape, Syd sketched out a number of other objects which appear in the book, including a row of glass eyeballs. While we decided not to use them on the jacket itself, we snuck the eyeballs inside, printing them in silver on the black cover stock. I think they look like fried eggs.


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