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Read an Excerpt of MAID, a moving memoir about a single-mother's struggle to provide for her family

What this book does well is illuminate the struggles of poverty and single-motherhood, the unrelenting frustration of having no safety net, the ways in which our society is systemically designed to keep impoverished people mired in poverty, the indignity of poverty by way of unmovable bureaucracy, and people’s lousy attitudes toward poor people... Land’s prose is vivid and engaging... [A] tightly-focused, well-written memoir... an incredibly worthwhile read.
— Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger: A Memoir
9780316505116

9780316505116

Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land's memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

At 28, Stephanie Land's plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly.

She wrote the true stories that weren't being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn't feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.

Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. "I'd become a nameless ghost," Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients' lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path.

Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the "servant" worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie's story, but it's not her alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit

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Fantastic Early Reviews for MAID: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land. @HBGCanada #books

Stephanie Land’s heartrending book, Maid, provides a trenchant reminder that something is amiss with the American Dream and gives voice to the millions of ‘working poor’ toiling in a country that needs them but doesn’t want to see them. A sad and hopeful tale of being on the outside looking in, the author makes us wonder how’d we fare scrubbing and vacuuming away the detritus of an affluence that always seems beyond reach.
— Steve Dublanica, New York Times bestselling author of Waiter Rant
What this book does well is illuminate the struggles of poverty and single-motherhood, the unrelenting frustration of having no safety net, the ways in which our society is systemically designed to keep impoverished people mired in poverty, the indignity of poverty by way of unmovable bureaucracy, and people’s lousy attitudes toward poor people… Land’s prose is vivid and engaging… [A] tightly-focused, well-written memoir… an incredibly worthwhile read.
— Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger: A Memoir
Marry the evocative first person narrative of Educated with the kind of social criticism seen in Nickel and Dimed and you’ll get a sense of the remarkable book you hold in your hands. In Maid, Stephanie Land, a gifted storyteller with an eye for details you’ll never forget, exposes what it’s like to exist in America as a single mother, working herself sick cleaning our dirty toilets, one missed paycheck away from destitution. It’s a perspective we seldom see represented firsthand—and one we so desperately need right now. Timely, urgent, and unforgettable, this is memoir at its very best.
— Susannah Cahalan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
On-sale date: January 22, 2019 | 9780316505116 | CAN $29.99

On-sale date: January 22, 2019 | 9780316505116 | CAN $29.99

 

 

 

  

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LIVING WITH A WILD GOD: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth About Everything

LIVING WITH A WILD GOD has officially been released and whether you’re contemplating wearing shorts in Toronto or cursing flurries in Calgary, this is a book we can all enjoy with a cup of tea. If you’re wondering what LIVING WITH A WILD GOD is about—it’s a memoir/spiritural inquiry (sort of) that explores the notion of God in a secular, rationalist world. Now, if you’re wondering why Barbara Ehrenreich, the brilliant author of over 20 books, including  NICKEL AND DIMED, and a well known atheist, would dare write a book about god and divinity then you should read her wonderful interviews with THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE and THE ATLANTIC. Here's an excerpt from THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE:

"I realized that whatever I experienced was not anything like a deity that I knew of. It certainly was not a good, caring God of Christianity. On the other hand, I knew it was way out of the reach of science, and I did feel uneasy. My younger sister was distressed that I wrote a book with “God” in the title. We are hard-line atheists, and I had to re-establish my credibility with her or I’d get booted out of the family."

There will be more fantastic press for LIVING WITH A WILD GOD, including an interview with Barbara in the Focus sectionof The Globe and Mail!Barbara Ehrenreich will also tour to Toronto on May 5 for an event at the Appel Salon. More details coming soon!

BOOK SYNOPSIS In middle age, Ehrenreich came across the journal she had kept during her tumultuous adolescence and set out to reconstruct that quest, which had taken her to the study of science and through a cataclysmic series of uncanny-or as she later learned to call them, "mystical"-experiences. A staunch atheist and rationalist, she is profoundly shaken by the implications of her life-long search.

Part memoir, part philosophical and spiritual inquiry, LIVING WITH A WILD GOD brings an older woman's wry and erudite perspective to a young girl's uninhibited musings on the questions that, at one point or another, torment us all. Ehrenreich's most personal book ever will spark a lively and heated conversation about religion and spirituality, science and morality, and the "meaning of life."

Certain to be a classic, LIVING WITH A WILD GOD combines intellectual rigor with a frank account of the inexplicable, in Ehrenreich's singular voice, to produce a true literary achievement.

David Sedaris on the Big Screen?

cogSo many jokes start ... so a guy walked into a bar. images (1)

This one starts ... so David Sedaris walked into our Manda office. It was a few months ago while on his book tour for Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls. I was so ready to be disappointed; his books and New Yorker short stories always made me laugh so hard I cried and I just couldn't fathom of a writer being as funny in the flesh as they were on the page. Luckily, I was crying the entire time he was here - whether due to his insults or his dry humor even I'm not entirely sure.

He threatened to make one of the straight men in our office cut his meat. Then he complained that he hadn't brought his lunch and didn't see any straight men.

He did his go to - asking if any of us were smokers so he could reward those of us who were with priority signing. He explained this strange behavior by noting that the smokers among us were going to die sooner so their time should be seen as more precious.

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Then he proceeded to sign our books, each one customized.  What you should know is that David Sedaris likes to draw - there was a line drawing of a fetus for our pregnant coworker, and a picture of a bloody dagger for Mark ... Enough said.

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The man is FUNNY.

And so, when I discovered that one of David Sedaris' stories, C.O.G. from his book Naked was going to become a feature film I was elated. Then I discovered that David Sedaris would be played by none other then the same actor who plays Jesse Saint James, the singing & dancing sensation from Glee. I'm curious to see if Jonathan Groff can do justice to the ever effervescent, sometimes self-deprecating and always sarcastic David Sedaris! Perhaps Jonathan can graduate from Gleekdom, and draw on his Broadway roots to become the precocious teenage Sedaris and maybe he can't.  Either way it'll be something worth watching! If it were the other way around and David Sedaris was playing the triple threat Groff, then there really would be something to laugh about - David in Broadway tights and David singing love songs to Rachel on Glee both seem equally ridiculous and hilarious.

Either way, this means I'm off to the movies for the premiere folks! But until then, I leave you with the movie trailer:

http://youtu.be/FUMWeeyDafA

 

MY FRIEND DAHMER is killing it!

Congrats are in order for Derf Backderf, whose graphic novel My Friend Dahmer (Abrams ComicArts, 1-4197-0216-5) made it to number 4 on Time Entertainment's prestigious Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2012. It's highly unusual for a graphic novel to garner such buzz, but My Friend Dahmer is racking up quite the reader body count. In fact, Ibid Filmworks picked up the rights to make it into a movie! In this captivating autobiographical account of Backderf's middle and high school years, he pieces together an almost sympathetic portrait of Dahmer as a disturbed young man who devolved into a notorious serial killer.

Through his quirky cartoons, we are told Dahmer's haunting story in an unobtrusive way: we see him as a loner, as a victim of a troubled home, as a self-medicating alcoholic, as a budding sociopath in the indifferent world of 1970s suburbia. Backderf's unique vantage point elicits profound insight and some serious queries: Were the existence of Dahmer demons already an indication of an inevitable sinister outcome, or could this troubled youth's life have turned out differently if someone had noticed the red-flags and just reached out to help?

Deeply unsettling and frighteningly tragic!

 

National Book Award Finalists

Kevin Powers’ THE YELLOW BIRDS (9780316219365/Little, Brown and Company) and Domingo Martinez’s THE BOY KINGS OF TEXAS (9780762779192/Globe Pequot Press) are 2012 National Book Award Finalists. THE YELLOW BIRDS has been nominated as one of the five finalists for fiction and THE BOY KINGS OF TEXAS has been nominated as one of the five finalists for non-fiction.  The National Book Awards ceremony is November 14, 2012. For a full list of the National Book Award finalists, click here - http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2012.html#.UHcfS65418F. Congratulations to both nominees!

THE YELLOW BIRDS By KEVIN POWERS 9780316219365 $27.99 Little, Brown and Company

About the Book

"The war tried to kill us in the spring." So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year-old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.

THE BOY KINGS OF TEXAS by Domingo Martinez 9780762779192 $18.95 Globe Pequot Press

About the Book

Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving, in a Texas border town in the 1980s. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author’s boyhood spent in his sister’s hand-me-down clothes, The Boy Kings of Texas delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed but fiercely protective older brother, Daniel, and features a cast of memorable characters. Charming, painful and enlightening, this book examines the traumas and pleasures of growing up in South Texas and the often terrible consequences when two very different cultures collide on the banks of a dying river.

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This Crazy Time - Tzeporah Berman

We should all be thankful for Tzeporah Berman, and we should all know her name.  Tzeporah is one of the world's leading environmental activists and Greenpeace lead on their attack against governments and industry fighting desparately to control climate change around the world.  She has written an important memoir of her time thus far as an environmental activist, and along the way discusses and offers prescriptive advice on how to make a difference, and the urgency that is required to fight climate change in particular. For me, one of the more interesting parts of the book is the disection of the radical ways in which she has managed to bring industry and goverment to the table with Greenpeace to reach common goals through negotiation.  However, one of the more depressing reminders from the book is the Canadian government's lack of leadership and responsiblity on environmental issues, and the reminder that Canada has become an International environmental pariah.  As a proud Canadian, this is a source of serious embarrasment.

The work she is doing is crucial and thankless, so I hope that somehow this praise gets to Tzeporah to remind her that there are loads of people who are eternally grateful for her leadership, passion and uncompromising committment to combat climate change.  I would recommend that anyone who has an interest in environmental issues and celebrating an amazing Canadian woman should read this book and talk about her work everyday and to everyone. 

(This book is not sold by Canadian Manda, so this is simply unadulterated praise for Tzeporah Berman and her book, This Crazy Time.)

 

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Canada Reads and You Should Too!

CBC's Canada Reads has revealed their Top 40 True Stories nominees and Too Close to the Falls, a gem from ECW Press made the list!

In this book, author Catherine Gildiner tells of her childhood growing up in Lewiston, NY - very close to Niagara Falls. Gildiner recalls stories of working at her father's pharmacy, which allowed her to meet some fascinating characters along the way.

If you haven't yet read this book - do so now. If you have and you loved it as much as we do - vote here to get it in the Canada Reads Top 10 True Stories nominees!

Too Close to the Falls is available now from ECW Press (ISBN 9781550223965)

Townie. By Andre Dubus III

This is a memoir of the hardscrabble youth of writer Andre Dubus III, growing up dirt poor and tough.  I should point out it is not a book from a publisher that Manda represents so this is unadulterated and unbiased praise for this amazingly written and brutally honest memoir.  It was recommended to me by Sebastian Hanna from Indigo, who always recommends amazing books to me. It is a story that is gripping and brutally honest in his ultimate compulsion for violence for the sake of violence and for the sake of vengeful justice.  It is a justice that he acknowledges which will never truly bring justice, only more violence.

The writing was remarkable in its ability to draw me in to both Andre and the people who played large roles in his youth.   The story is remarkable for a great many reasons, but it is ultimately the love and forgiveness which he extends to his father which moved me most.  His strength to pull himself up and to fight on physical and emotional levels is remarkable, and his fight for what is right is admirable.  But his willingness to acknowledge where his anger and violence come from and its ultimate senselessness is what makes his admissions and his story so compellling.  Even more so perhaps was the strength of his mother who managed to keep the family together despite such difficult odds.

This is a beautifully written memoir of a remarkable life led growing up poor and tough and coming through the other side.

 

AUGUST GALE

A Father and Daughter’s Journey into the Storm

In her new memoir, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Barbara Walsh—who has interviewed killers, bad cops, and crooked politicians in the course of her career—faces the most challenging story of her lifetime: asking her father about his childhood pain. In the process, she takes us on two heartrending odysseys: one into a deadly Newfoundland hurricane and the lives of schooner fishermen who relied on God and the wind to carry them home; the other, into a squall stirred by a man with many secrets: a grandfather who remained a mystery until long after his death.

Sixty-eight years after the hurricane that claimed several of her ancestors, Walsh searches for memories of the August gale and the grandfather who abandoned her dad as a young boy. Together, she and her father journey to Newfoundland to learn about the 1935 storm, and along the way her dad begins to talk about the man he cannot forgive. As she recreates the scenes of the violent hurricane and a small boy's tender past, she holds onto a hidden desire: to heal her father and redeem the grandfather she has never met.

Pub date: October 18, 2011

August Gale: A Father and Daughter’s Journey into the Storm, By Barbara Walsh, ISBN 978-0-7627-6146-3, $27.50 CAN  Hardcover

Author Tour:

Saint John, NB - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 | 12:00pm Saint John Free Public Library

Fredericton, NB - Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011 | 7:00pm Fredericton Public Library

Moncton, NB - Thursday, October 27, 2011 | 12:00pm Moncton Public Library

St. John’s NL - Friday, October 28, 2011 | 12:00pm A.C. Hunter Public Library

Marystown, NL - Saturday, October 29, 2011 | 7:00pm St. Gabriel’s Hall

St. John’s NL - Sunday, October 30, 2011 | 7:00pm The Ship Pub

Halifax, NS - Tuesday, November 1, 2011 | 7:00pm Keshen Goodman Public Library

 

LOOK OUT VANCOUVER!

The Vancouver International Writers Festival is hosting Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker and best selling author Michael Moore at The Stanley Theatre (2750 Granville Street) on Sunday, September 18th.  Moore will be reading from his new memoirs Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life and signing books to a sold out crowd! Present in said crowd will be myself along with west coasters Iolanda Millar and Jennifer Fyffe (all on our very best behaviour) who will fill you in on the experience next week with pics and maybe even a signed copy giveaway! Unfortunately the show is sold out, however the book is available in bookstores so go get it y'all!  And if you're interested in learning more about Moore and the book, and to hear what the critics are saying, I've made it easy for you by compiling a list of links below.  You're welcome.

New York Times, CBC-Q (Sept 21), Colbert Report, Huff Post Canada, Globe and Mail, USA Today, Washington Post, Newsweek, New York Post

Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life by Michael Moore

ISBN: 9780446532242 / Hardcover, $29.99/ Grand Central Publishing

 

 

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Bob Mould: See a Little Light

Bob Mould has just released his autobiography, See A Little Light.  Mould was the singer of Husker Du and Sugar, and has continued to record and tour under his own name.  I was a huge Husker Du fan and a pretty big fan of Sugar and his solo efforts as well.  If you grew up a fan of Husker Du, you are going to love reading his memoir.  It is honest, fast paced and intersects with tons of musical icons that likely played a big role in your coming of age.  I will ruin one surprise for you.  Where does the name Husker Du come from anyway?  From a board game contested between adults and kids, where the kids usually win. 

 

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An American Demon.

I just finished reading this amazing memoir.  It is not due to publish until May, 2011, but this post has two objectives.  One is to succintly tell you to read this book if you have the stomach for a brutally honest and amazingly well written memoir.  The other is to air my own personal experience of reading the book and the consideration of how the reading experience and the impact of the book would have been vastly different had it been an enhanced e-book.

  Jack Grisham, former lead singer of California hardcore punk band TSOL, has written an incredibly honest, disturbring and beautifully written memoir of his very troubled youth.

It is hard to put my finger on why it resonated so strongly with me as I moved from despising him to feeling sympathy for him, but I don't think that I have ever read anything so honest, and in the end it is this honesty that makes this such a moving autobiography of a seriously troubled young man.  Given the alcohol and drug fueled life he led, many of the details are probably a bit hazy, but for him to put pen to paper to recount this part of his life, it is certainly not to boast of any of these feats.  This amazing memor is not for the faint of heart, and it is much, much more than a document about life as the lead singer of TSOL.

The other reason for this post is related to the reading experience, which for me was by reading a printed galley.  Throughout my reading of the book, I knew that when I finished I would go to youtube to see footage of a TSOL show and to see what the author, Jack Grisham, actually looks like, (since he regularly refers to himself as gorgeous and big - 6'3" in the book).  I intentionally did not do this until I was done as I knew that it would influence the way in which I read the book and understood the author.  Had it been an enhanced e-book on an ipad for instance, there would likely have been the same videos embedded into the narrative which I would have absolutely watched while reading the book.  Having finished the book and created in my mind's eye an image of what Jack looks like and an impression of what kind of person he is, seeing the videos after the fact surprised me in terms of what he looks like, and they softened the impression I have of what kind of a person he is.  My point is that the experience and the intensity of emotion that I had in reading the book without any video images or video interruption for me was clearly more impactful, despite the fact that I wanted to see the video images as soon as I finished the book.  I am sure for others having an enhanced e-book experience will be preferrable, but for me the linear book was completely immersive and I can only guess, much more impactful.  Had I bounced back and forth between interviews, live concert footage, etc, I am sure I would have finished the book with a different and less intense sense of the tragic and brutal youth that Jack lived and imposed on many others. 

If I haven't bored you yet, had I been given the choice in reading this book between the book format and the nature of how that narrative unfolds, and the ehnaced multi-media book that a book like this might also evole into, I would hands down choose the linear unfolding of the traditional paper book narrative for maximum impact.

An American Demon.  By Jack Grisham.  Published by ECW Press - May, 2011.  9781550229561.

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