The moody, atmospheric stories are delectable, if richly dark and shadowy (as in 1940s Hollywood: think Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice). They’d nestle comfortably on a shelf of literary depictions of the West and hardscrabble rural existence laden with American heavyweights like Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (not to mention works by Guy Vanderhaeghe, early Alice Munro, and Sinclair Ross).   —Brett Josef Grubisic, The Winnipeg Review


Reading in Charlottetown, PEI
Saturday July 26 at 2PM
Confederation Centre Public Library


The Western Home, stories by Catherine Cooper

May 5, 2014 · News · (No comments) ·


Souvankham Thammavongsa lays her words out in a variety of shapes and forms, though her signature style includes lyric compactness and austere line placements complemented by ample white space. The spaces are given as much thought and weight as the words themselves. Her style is a refreshing contrast to the dense, baroque imagery of current poetic styles. Other work can feel hyperbolic and verbose after reading Thammavongsa’s lean verse. The poems in Light are neither superficial nor undemanding, creating instead a space of quiet discomfort.






A heap of treasure perfectly describes Susan Downe’s intriguing tale, Juanita Wildrose: My True Life. Downe delves not only into her mother’s life, but into lives of an earlier generation caught up in the fraught years of the American Civil War. The photos, letters and family documents Downe uses were found safely stored in the “ancestor’s drawer” of Juanita Wildrose’s desk. This material, combined with skeins of history and snippets of poetry, run like a rich vein through Downe’s account of her mother’s unusual life.

Downe’s book is episodic, shifting, with aplomb, between life on a primitive, turn-of-the-century farm in Texas County, Missouri, where the family settled in l906, to a glance-back at the heartbreak and grim tutelage of the war between the states. It is a generational story told in the voice of Juanita, the second of six children of Mallie and George Malcolm Emack, who left Witchita, Kansas for the fresh air of a Missouri farm.



The Outside World, a novel by Barry Dempster


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April 27, 2014 · News · (No comments) ·

Press Releases

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Quill & Quire Selects Finalists for First Novel Award

Five finalists for the 2013 First Novel Award announced – winner to be unveiled at awards ceremony on April 30

SEATTLE—March 5, 2014— and Quill & Quire today announced the finalists for the 38th Annual First Novel Award which recognizes the outstanding achievement of Canadian first-time novelists.

“We’re thrilled to again be a part of a program that supports and cultivates Canadian authors,” said Alexandre Gagnon, country manager for “The First Novel Award program has an incredible history honouring Canada’s beloved novelists and we look forward to seeing these finalists’ careers flourish and inspire new writers as they join the ranks of First Novel Award success stories.”

Selected by head judge and editor of Quill & Quire, Stuart Woods, the five nominees for the 2013 First Novel Award, listed alphabetically by author, are:

“The finalists for the First Novel Award are at diverse stages in their careers as writers, but they share a bold vision for the novel in Canada,” said Woods. “I hope this shortlist will serve as another reminder of the vibrancy of Canadian fiction.”

Since 1976, the First Novel Award has helped launch the careers of some of Canada’s most beloved novelists. Previous winners include Michael Ondaatje (1976), Joan Barfoot (1978), Joy Kogawa (1981), W.P. Kinsella (1982), Nino Ricci (1990), Rohinton Mistry (1991), Shyam Selvadurai (1994), Anne Michaels (1996), Margaret Gibson (1997), Andre Alexis (1998), Alan R. Wilson and David Macfarlane (co-winners, 1999), Eva Stachniak (2000), Michael Redhill (2001), Mary Lawson (2002), Michel Basilières (2003), Colin McAdam (2004), Joseph Boyden (2005), Madeleine Thien (2006), Gil Adamson (2007), Joan Thomas (2008), Jessica Grant (2009), Eleanor Catton (2010), David Bezmozgis (2011) and Anakana Schofield (2012).

March 6, 2014 · News · (No comments) ·

The word nostalgia comes from two Greek roots—nostos, meaning the return home, and algos, meaning pain or longing. The Western Home tells the story of the folk song “Home on the Range” through characters seeking to integrate their experiences of upheaval and alienation into meaning and identity—to transform their longing into belonging, their pain into understanding—by retreat to the safety of an ideal. “Home on the Range” is the protagonist of The Western Home, and the supporting characters are the people who helped shape the song’s destiny by writing, rewriting, singing, recording, claiming and disowning it. Each story in the collection takes place in a different decade following the year of the song’s composition as a poem, in 1872. Beginning with the lonely, alcoholic pioneer, Brewster Higley, who wrote the poem, and concluding with a disaffected teenager who works in a rural Kansas tourist kiosk near the original site of the poem’s composition, this collection explores themes of collective memory, collective forgetting and the loss that is implied in both. Whether they are seeking out ideal landscapes, or pursuing invincible beliefs, or trying to make meaning out of chaos, the characters in these stories are all trying find a way home.


Catherine Cooper’s The Western Home is a tour de force that evokes, re-invents and brings vividly to life the many stories of the song that came to be known as “Home on the Range.” Each story is an utterly engrossing revelation of character and of era, as well as of the American West. Cooper has performed a bit of magic here, choosing a simple song as point of entry into her fictional world and conjuring wonders from it. —Terence Byrnes



Purchase from your Local Independent Bookseller or from Amazon.

The Western Home, stories by Catherine Cooper

February 15, 2014 · News · (No comments) ·




A new volume of poetry, Light, by the award-winning Canadian poet Souvankham Thammavongsa, was published in September 2013 by Pedlar Press, with Catharine Nicholson’s picture ‘The Viable’ as the design for the front cover. Light contains forty-two poems, just as ‘The Viable’ shows forty-two acorns.

Souvankham Thammavongsa’s glorious new collection has won the 2013 CBC Bookie.

“Each Souvankham Thammavongsa poem feels like an event, which makes a new collection akin to a small riot. In Light, she does what only very good poets do: sees the things others miss. This is the work of a poet at the top of her game.”  — Kevin Connolly
“Thammavongsa’s range is impressive, and much of the book’s power lies in its ability to shift gears entirely, moving between spacious meditations that find words sprinkled like ashes across the page (“A volcano / is / what happens / when you try / to take / the sun down / from where it is”) to moments of concrete and visceral experience, as in the unforgettable At the Farm: “I heard a gunshot by the barn and thought nothing of it / We were at a farm / I saw a cow come charging forward with its head half gone.” This new collection confirms Thammavongsa’s place as one of the most interesting younger poets at work in the country.”  – Jared Bland
The publisher of Pedlar Press, Beth Follett, gives a full account of the Thammavongsa-Nicholson connection:

*For more information about Catharine Nicholson, acclaimed botany artist, visit:



December 18, 2013 · News · 1 comment ·