Concordia University Magazine
Words and Music

Heartbreaks, fiddles and sad piano

Love & Death by Max Wallace and Ian Halperin

In Gus Van Sant’s new film Last Days, a rock star closely resembling former Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain drifts inexorably towards his suicide. That’s the popular (and official) perception of Cobain’s demise in 1994. But in Love & Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain — now in paperback (Atria, 2004, $14) — Max Wallace, BA (journ.) 90, and Ian Halperin, BA (journ.) 90, present shocking and conclusive evidence that the 27-year-old was murdered and that his wife, Courtney Love, was likely involved in the killing and cover-up. Wallace and Halperin are both award-winning investigative journalists who have worked separately and together on books, films, TV and publications.

Guests of Chance by Colleen Curran

Colleen Curran, BA (Eng) 76, is a former playwright-in-residence at Montreal’s Centaur Theatre and is now co-artistic director of the Triumvirate Theatre Company in Montreal. Her first novel, Something Drastic (1995), was a finalist for the first Prix Parizeau, and her second, Overnight Sensation (2000, both University of Toronto Press), continued the story of Lenore Rutland, a former singing waitress who owns a theme restaurant in Montreal. Guests of Chance (Goose Lane Press, 2005, $29.95) completes the trilogy in high fashion, following Lenore’s comedic adventures at home and in England, still populated by Curran’s eccentric, endearing characters and brisk writing.

Selling Your Private Company by Howard E. Johnson

Howard E. Johnson, BComm 88, earned an MBA from McMaster University, and holds several professional designations. He is president of Veracap Corporate Finance Limited, which specializes in shareholder value enhancement, and is an in-demand speaker. Johnson’s new book, Selling Your Private Company: the Value Enhancement Framework for Business Owners (Veracap Corporate Finance Limited, 2005, $39.50), is intended for owners of mid-size, privately held Canadian companies looking to sell, regardless of which industry a company operates in or whether its revenues are $5 million or $200 million.

Ouche! La douche! by Marie-France Landry

Ouche! la douche! (Les 400 Coups, 2004, $9.95) by Nathalie Ferraris, is sure to cause a splash, and a laugh. This colourful, comical French children’s book, illustrated by Marie-France Landry, BA (comm. studies) 92, depicts the story of a young teenage boy who becomes quite frustrated because his little brother always bothers him when he takes a shower.

A Short History of Country Music by Marie-Helene Mainville

Frédéric is about to take revenge on little Alex, and show him how to really take a shower. Caution, don’t try this at home! Although her dad was a fiddler in a country band, Marie-Hélène Mainville, Cert (ed.) 95, GrDip (trad.) 00, was not all that familiar with the genre of music that’s really taken off here in Quebec. She shares some of what she rediscovered about country music in A Short History of Country Music / La Petite Histoire De La Musique Country (ViséeSanté, 2005, $20). This bilingual account of the origins and evolution of the music covers the past century, describes the instruments used in country music, looks at different American, Canadian and Quebec artists, and also explores the various sub-genres, such as hillbilly, honkytonk, Western Swing and alternative country. The book includes an audio CD.

Satie's Sad Piano by Carolyn Marie Souaid

Americans wonder, “Where were you the day JFK died?” We Canadians, instead, will forever ask, “Where were you when Trudeau died?” Set in Montreal, Satie’s Sad Piano (Signature Editions, 2005, $14.95) is a long poem dealing with the convergent deaths of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a love affair and a fetus, through the overlapping voices of an improbable group of characters. Carolyn Marie Souaid, MA (Eng.) 95, is author of three previous collections of poetry, Swimming into the Light (1995), October (1999) and Snow Formations (2002), all from Signature Editions, and has had her poetry produced on CBC Radio.

Faraway from Home by Marci Denesiuk

In our search for inner peace or happiness, we travel the cities, the countryside and even the depths of our own souls, longing for more than just home, but a sense of belonging. Marci Denesiuk, BA (Eng. & cr. writ.) 96, MA (Eng.) 00, is no stranger to the journey that many find themselves on. Born and raised in Edmonton, she has crossed this country several times by train, and has travelled the continent by motorcycle. In her collection of short stories, The Far Away Home (NeWest Press, 2005, $18.95), Denesiuk peels away the surface layers of the everyday to reveal the hidden lives of women who are wrestling with their inner demons. The dark and beautiful characters who inhabit the pages of this collection are the isolated, displaced and unnoticed, united by their simple and desperate quest for home.

Nellcott is My Darling by Golda Fried

Moving out to live on one’s own for the first time can be tricky, even for the most savvy of young adults, but imagine being a 19-year-old who’s never had a boyfriend, and doesn’t even know how to do laundry. Nellcott Is My Darling (Coach House Books, 2005, $17.95) is the heartwarming story of Alice Charles, who has just entered her first year at McGill University. Golda Fried, MA (cr. writ.) 96, in her follow-up to Darkness Then a Blown Kiss (Gutter Press, 1998), tells the tale of Alice’s unlikely romance with guitar-playing, black-eye-makeup-wearing Nellcott Ragland. Set in Montreal against a backdrop of cold nights in unheated apartments and turbulent undergraduate life, this honest and compelling story sheds a light on freshman relationships in flux and the way lives can so easily be hitched and unhitched without warning.

The World is a Heartbreaker by Sherwin Tija

Sherwin Tija, MFA (studio arts) 03, is a Montreal-based poet and painter who has exhibited widely and works as a medical illustrator for McGill University. He previously published the comic novel Pedigree Girls (2002) and Gentle Fictions (2002), a book of poetry, both from Insomniac Press. His latest literary offering comes in the way of a small poetry collection, The World Is a Heartbreaker (Coach House Books, 2005, $15.95), in which Sherwin reinvents the traditional haiku and inaugurates a new literary sub-genre: imposter poetry. Rather than the conventional 5-7-5 syllable haiku form, he creates bite-sized chunks of poetic goodness. The collection of more than 1,600 pseudo-haikus was penned over a five-year period, and the pieces are aimed at the busy, distracted masses. The poems, when read sequentially, leave an impressive cumulative effect. Concerned with the fleeting, often overlooked moments of life, they are observant, sly and often seductive.

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September 2005

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