Maidenhead, The Lease make Maisonneuve's Best of 2012 list

During the last week in 2012, Maisonneuve published their 'Maisy's Best Books of 2012' list, and not only did Coach House titles like Mathew Henderson's The Lease and Tamara Faith Berger's Maidenhead appear on the list, Maidenhead actually appeared twice (!).

The list works as follows: Maisonneuve asked anyone who wrote for them in 2012 to send us a write-up of the best books they read this past year. Most of the books were published in 2012; a few weren’t. As they note, 'the result is a highly incomplete portrait of a year of reading.'

Firstly, Maidenhead was selected as one of the year's best and reviewed by Stacey May Fowles (Fear of Fighting:

Maidenhead is a unique female coming-of-age novel from an author known for her unsurpassed skill in creating intelligent smut. Focused on the burgeoning yearnings and sexual exploration of Myra, its teenage-girl protagonist, the novel deftly explores privilege, morality, dominance and submission, in a way that is both thoughtful and arousing. Despite the fact that Myra is seduced by an older man and manipulated by his female partner, she is not cast as a pawnish victim of aggressive desire. Her wants, her needs and her voice are central to the narrative, and a singular picture of teenage lust emerges that is both difficult to look at and away from. The novel is boundary-pushing in the best ways — its ideas are complex, always thought-provoking and profoundly innovative.

It's refreshing to encounter something so unselfconscious and so ripe with new ideas. Berger is a master of finding and refining that rare space where the literary meets the pornographic, leaving the reader alone to answer difficult questions about her own morality. Sometimes books pull the rug out from beneath your belief systems, and Maidenhead is certainly one of them.

Then, paragraphs later, Tamara Faith Berger's novel was again selected as one of the year's best and reviewed by Pasha Malla (People Park):

The word "ambitious" gets thrown around a little carelessly in conversations about books, but few novels in 2012 felt as ambitious, or as necessary, as Maidenhead. In under two hundred pages, Tamara Faith Berger guts and reinvents literary erotica, provocatively tackles themes of race, class and pornography, and offers philosophical insights rare in contemporary fiction—all tucked inside a sensitive, artful and disturbing parody of the "coming-of-age story.' But Maidenhead also — somehow — spirals outward, into an intensive investigation of how sexual power pervades all our interactions and relationships, be they between a young girl and an older guy she meets at the beach, or betweem the privileged classes of the metropolitan West and the supposed silent subaltern. A truly remarkable, haunting, important book.

And one of the few poetry titles on the list was Mathew Henderson's debut book The Lease, chosen and reviewed by Anna Maxymiw:

I felt guilty making dog-ears all throughout the thing, but I couldn’t help myself. Henderson twists his hands into our collars and yanks us readers — willing or not — straight into the prairie oilfields, into a world of eerie work hours, hard-ons, shots of alcohol taken from between women’s legs in loud bars. This is not easy poetry. It disturbs and distresses, made me — especially as a female reader — almost queasy. We’re given casual glimpses into easy violence, duck-hunting, women-hunting. But at the same time, Henderson shows us moments of beauty in unexpected places — a dying salamander plucked from the guts of a freshly-filleted fish, a moment of laying rig pipe compared to the "muscle lust" of unthinking sex. When I finished The Lease, I didn’t feel good or comfortable — and I wasn't meant to. I think that's what a book is supposed to do.

See the full list of 'Maisy's Best Books of 2012' at the Maisonneuve website.

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