Friday, 20 July 2007

Stand up and cheer

There’s been a great deal of chatter (both online and off) about CNQ’s latest number. We'd like to confirm that all the talk is dead right: the new issue, 71, is superb.

So much so, in fact, that its publication closes yet another stage in the accelerated and astonishing maturation of one of Canada's newest small presses: Biblioasis. Both as publisher and editor, Dan Wells’ horse sense (photo to the left) has become, it seems, damn near faultless. Design-wise, the magazine has never looked sharper. There are authoritative and adventurous essays by heavy-hitters Zach Wells, Shane Neilson and Alex Good. But there’s lots of new faces as well: Patricia Robertson, Matthew Fox, Asa Boxer, and Mark Callanan. All of whom contribute lively, sly, deeply considered pieces. Craig Poile has a wonderful quartet of new poems. David Balzer—who survived a brief stint as marketing manager here at Vehicule in the late 90s—pens a provocative essay (“Ugly is ugly”) on the crisis facing Canadian art criticism. And Gaspereau publisher Andrew Steeves writes a fascinating manifesto on the importance of “house type” (Simon Dardick’s eye for design comes in for some high praise).

“We don’t want boring.” That’s the gauntlet Canada Council director, Robert Sirman, threw down last year to Canadian publishers and writers. But readers also have a responsibility in ensuring that successful risk-taking thrives in this country. They can encourage such ambition the only way that counts: cold hard cash. Buy this issue.

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