I t’s been a mad spring and early summer. While launching my own new book, the story collection Buying Cigarettes for the Dog (Freehand Books), in Vancouver, the Kootenays, Calgary, Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, Red Deer, and Edmonton, I’ve been working, mostly remotely, with fall Mansfield authors Robert Earl Stewart, Jim Smith, and Tom Walmsley.

After a few back-and-forth rounds with first-time poet Robert Earl Stewart, who lives in Windsor, I sent Something Burned Along the Southern Border in for typesetting. It was a great editing process, and the result is a great book by a very committed writer, one of the most thoughtful I’ve ever worked with. And, man, he gives a good reading!

Another great process is the ongoing assembly of Jim Smith’s return to the poetry world with Back Off, Assassin: New & Selected Poems, his first book since 1998’s Leonel/Roque (Coteau). It’s been exciting to discover that the best of Jim’s new work surpasses anything he’s done, even after his decade-long holiday from poetry.

I’ve only seen early chunks of Tom Walmsley’s new novel, Dog Eat Rat, but these passages have left me wide-eyed and breathless. I expect to see a complete finished draft this month, and then Tom and I will work fast on what I expect to be a very light edit. Tom’s always worked quickly: his first novel, Doctor Tin, was the first winner of Pulp Press’s 3-Day Novel Contest back in 1978. And some years ago, when Tom was given only 18 months to live (the gift of a colleague’s liver has added many years to that), he wrote a 300-page novel, the first half of another novel, two poetry collections, a play, and a screenplay.

A poetry selection by Pier Giorgio di Cicco and a work of creative non-fiction from Amy Lavender Harris will round off the fall list. And already I’m getting giddy thinking of the great possibilities for 2010.

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