The first issue of a new year always brings with it an intense anticipation of what is to come and a little nostalgia for what has passed.
If this issue is a promise of what to expect in 2015, it is indeed time to get excited. With experimentation both in the books reviewed here and the reviews themselves, this is the most formally diverse issue in our history. Let us give you some highlights. Kailin Wright warmly reviews Once More, With Feeling: Five Affecting Plays, Erin Hurley’s “powerful collection [… of] five plays that demonstrate the emotive intensity that theatre has to offer.” This meditation on the power of affect in art resonates with books by Sina Queyras and Diane Schoemperlen. Sarah Bezan points to the way Schoemperlen uses “late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century sourcebooks” to create “an ode to the profound materiality of re-discovered textual and artistic objects” in By the Book: Stories and Pictures. Jessi MacEachern contemplates the affect of and in Queyras’s new book, MxT, which “startles” its reader with “the immense grief inside its flagrantly pink cover.”
Experimentation with form, material, and affect appears in other ways in books like those by rob mclennan and Douglas Coupland, both of whom meditate on the ways in which our digital lives permeate and define our reality. Ryan Porter attends to mclennan’s critique of the “new media’s shucking off of the obligation to actually confirm what they transmit” in his collection of microfiction, The Un Certainty Principle. Christopher Doody introduces Douglas Coupland’s exploration of Alcatel-Lucent (in Coupland’s words, “the plumbers of the Internet world”) in Kitten Clone. Whereas in earlier works Coupland’s persona belongs to the generation and the world he writes about, here he is an outsider left to think about how the internet has become our reality. For The Bull Calf, which never existed in print, Coupland’s meditation reveals an undeniable truth.
A remarkable inclusion in this issue is an affectionate letter (a delightfully unconventional review) from Joel Deshaye. He wrote to tell us about Nick Bradley’s collection of Al Purdy and Earle Birney’s correspondence, which he read “with enjoyment and even nostalgia.” Deshaye's thoughtful review moved us and called our attention back to the affective power of art and the ways in which mixed media might communicate that power.
Welcome to The Bull Calf 5.1.
Warmly yours, from Montreal and Halifax,
Jeff and Kait