Friday, November 11, 2022

essays in the face of uncertainties : now available!

My suite of pandemic essays, essays in the face of uncertainties, is now available from Mansfield Press! I am extremely pleased to see publication of this wee book. Do you remember when I was posting weekly excerpts of the then-work-in-progress across those first few months of original Covid-19 lockdown? Huge thanks to Denis De Klerck (this is my second Mansfield title, by the by, after my 2019 poetry collection A halt, which is empty, which I still have copies of, as well), and to Stuart Ross, who worked on the manuscript as my editor (I would recommend him highly for any and all of your editorial needs). And of course, thanks to Sir Stephen Brockwell for permission to use his photograph on the cover. As the press release for the book offers:

This suite of pandemic essays exist within those first one hundred days of original lockdown, marking time through moments, anxieties and the elasticity of time itself. What are days, weeks, months? In this stunning collection of deeply personal essays, Ottawa writer rob mclennan wanders through literature, parenting, family, the constant barrage of cable news and the slow loss of his widower father across the swirling, simultaneous anxieties and uncertainties of an increasing sense of isolation.

I have a stack of copies on-hand, if anyone is interested
; if such appeals, send $18 (via email or paypal to rob_mclennan (at) ; obviously adding $5 for postage for Canadian orders; for orders to the United States, add $11 (for anything beyond that, send me an email and we can figure out postage); for current above/ground press subscribers, I’m basically already mailing you envelopes regularly, so I would only charge Canadians $3 for postage, and Americans $6 (that make sense?)

Or: if you live close enough, I could simply drop a copy off in your mailbox (or you come by here, I suppose); naturally, I’ll certainly have copies this weekend at the ottawa small press book fair (Saturday from noon to 5pm, Jack Purcell Community Centre, 2nd floor; Elgin Street). I also have copies, still, of my spring poetry title, the book of smaller (University of Calgary Press, 2022) for $20 (same postal rates as above), although if you might be open to ordering both (and/or my other Mansfield title, as well), I think I could knock $5 off the total price. Otherwise, either send myself or the publisher a note for a media/review copy, and be aware that I’m rather good at answering interview questions.

The book even has some lovely blurbs! Really, I couldn’t ask for much better than this.

mclennan’s writing is clear and haunting. This is a book that will stay with you for years to come.

Anne Thériault

The short lyric essays that comprise this book in one long meditative stream are indeed written in the face of uncertainties: not knowing where the pandemic of 2020 and on will lead us or how it will change us. The narrator/author stays home with his wife and two daughters while the map of the fallen to Covid expands and the numbers mount. In the face of the terrifying reality of death and political neglect, we are ensconced in the peaceful home of a small family that continues to work and play in isolation. mclennan writes with great elegance and compassion, and his expansive reading of books and authors from all over the world is brought into his narrative with great skill and ease. As a result, we find ourselves at the centre of a very large world of writers talking to each other across the globe and we see clearly that in this lockdown we are not alone. We never were alone. This book is a beautiful companion for our time and a very absorbing narrative that is hard to put down once you begin. 

                        Kristjana Gunnars


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