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Launchpad: FOUR UMBRELLAS, by June Hutton and Tony Wanless

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Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.

LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.

Today Janie Chang is recommending the new memoir from Jane Hutton and Tony Wanless, Four Umbrellas: A Couple's Journey Into Young-Onset Alzheimer's. Chang writes, "June Hutton and her husband Tony Wanless have written Four Umbrellas which is about their experience with Tony’s early-onset Alzheimer's. It’s unusual in that generally such memoirs are by the caregiver. In this case, because Tony is a journalist, they made the decision to document their journey together, so you also get first-person accounts from Tony about how it feels, what it’s like, as well as the challenges of working with a healthcare system that doesn’t assume Alzheimer's for younger patients. I feel this is a valuable memoir because the demographics of our aging population will make this a familiar story to many."

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We think we know them, but we have no idea

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Sure, we think we know them. Sarah Leavitt, author of the graphic memoir Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother and Me. She’s the curly-haired cartoon narrator of her own book, which documents her mother’s decline and death from Alzheimer’s Disease. And then there’s Andrew Westoll, primatologist-turned-animal-rights-activist. Though his book The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, he’s brought the world the story of his experiences at Quebec’s Fauna Sanctuary, where traumatized chimpanzee victims of medical experiments receive rehabilitation.

But of course, readers have no idea, a reality addressed by both writers in a conversation at Ben McNally Books in Toronto on July 19th. “You Think You Know Me, But You Have No Idea” was presented by Freehand Books, our own Bookmadam, and also Canadian Bookshelf. (A similar event was held on July 20 in Kingston with Leavitt and essayist Susan Olding.) Leavitt and Westoll told the stories of their stories, compared notes, discussed the ethics of memoir and nonfiction, and shattered some illusions about the nonfiction writer’s adherence to truth above all.

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