A funny French wine tour memoir from a new Canadian writer and the dark sophomore novel by an Australian singer are among Metro’s literary must-haves for this holiday season.

Whether you’re trekking old-fashioned to the bookstore or stuffing stockings with a click, consider these top publishing picks of 2009.

Kathryn Borel Jr.
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Price: $29.95 (hardcover)

The road to hell is paved with grapevines in this comic breakout memoir by Toronto radio producer and writer Kathryn Borel Jr. Despite growing up with regular tasting lessons from her wine connoisseur father Philippe, Kathryn’s vintage vocabulary hasn’t quite fermented. Aiming to connect with often-headstrong Philippe, she initiates a father-daughter wine quest through France. But the well-intentioned trip soon turns sour as she struggles to reconcile her father’s outrageous behaviour with her own strenuous past. Written in Borel’s sharp-witted, self-assured voice, Corked marks the introduction of an expressive, honest writer whose rich, vivacious voyage proves to be compassionate as it is, itself, corked.

Generation A
Douglas Coupland
Publisher: Random House Canada
Price: $32.95 (hardcover)

Eighteen years after the release of his breakout novel Generation X, Vancouver-based Douglas Coupland follows the narrative style and theme that brought him to recognition in Generation A. In the near future, bees have all gone extinct. But when five strangers from Canada, the United States, France, New Zealand and Sri Lanka are each stung, they become embroiled in mass media attention, studies and eventual capture by a scientist determined to discover their connection in his own way. Blending sentiments of optimism with catastrophe, Coupland continues his astute reflection on popular culture and technology, always coloured by his distinctive brand of humour.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames
David Sedaris
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
Price: $17.99 (paperback)

In this sixth collection of personal essays by matter-of-fact American humorist and storyteller David Sedaris, the writer continues to mine the seemingly mundane, turning his daily experiences into wonderfully wry accounts of personal discovery. In more than
22 short accounts, Sedaris probes his boyfriend Hugh’s quick-paced walk, sharing a boarding house with some unexpectedly less-than-refined roommates, and how it took a trip halfway around the world for him to quit smoking cigarettes. Equal parts absurd and upstanding, When You Are Engulfed In Flames propels Sedaris’ frank storytelling prowess. Fans of Sedaris’ contributions to NPR radio show This American Life will enjoy the author-narrated audiobook edition, now available in stores and online.

The Death of Bunny Munro
Nick Cave
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Price: $29.99 (hardcover)

Don’t let the ironically adorable fluffy bunny costume on this book’s cover fool you. The Death of Bunny Munro fits nicely in the dark thematic vein established by Australian bands The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds, both fronted by its author Nick Cave. Bunny is a door-to-door beauty salesman in England, but his sex addiction finds him aiming to get into more than the just the wallets of his prospective customers.

After his wife commits suicide, Bunny escapes the apartment they shared, hitting the open road to teach his son the selling art. The book’s morbidly humorous tone turns grim when Bunny, still plagued by his habit and harrowed by loss, encounters the unforgiving skeletons in his closet.

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