Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Doctrine of Affections

A poverty-stricken guitar virtuoso navigates the political landscape of nineteenth-century Parisian society as he comes out of retirement for one final concert. A sessional instructor competing for the prestigious Interdisciplinary Chair in Aretha Franklin studies gets sidetracked by her obsession with a mysterious student in a yellow hat. A dying doo-wop DJ and his wife try to bridge the estrangement wrought by illness as they travel in search of the horns, drums, and vocals of highlife.

In the eleven stories that make up The Doctrine of Affections, Paul Headrick takes us on a fascinating journey into the heart of music. From the perfectly honed decrescendo of a symphony’s string section to the down-home chord progressions at a late-night kitchen party, Headrick’s stories question the subtle differences between hearing and listening, and communicating and understanding. The subjects of this collection are soloists, ensemble players, scholars, collectors, and lovers of music, but their experiences with risk, religion, relief, and often regret make their stories resonate for readers who are hearing their songs for the first time.

April 2010
5.5 x 8.5, paper, 208 pp
ISBN 978-1-55111-978-6
US $23.95 | C $23.95 | UK £11.99 | A $29.95

Praise for The Doctrine of Affections

“With only two books to his name, Paul Headrick has already established himself as a subtle and charming writer with a great subject, which is music in all its manifestations—Sinatra and Crosby, opera, highlife, baroque, a single mother singing her child to sleep with jazz standards, a traveller comforting his mule on a long, all-night trek. Through his characters, Headrick shows us just how much music may move us, even to the point of altering our lives. Musicians and music lovers, I recommend this book to you. To the tone-deaf and the tin-eared (pity us!), I prescribe it.”
—Caroline Adderson, author of Bad Imaginings and Pleased to Meet You

"The stories in Paul Headrick's The Doctrine of Affections deal with how and why music matters to us and why it can express feeling so movingly. Whether the music in question is classical, jazz, soul, or rock, Headrick's stories always sound the right note: pathos, humour, irony, wistfulness, absurdity, joy. These stories express music from the inside out, with feeling, like the music Headrick so clearly admires and knows so well."
—Bruce Baugh, Professor of Philosophy, Thomson Rivers University, author of "The Aesthetics of Rock Music"

The Doctrine of Affections is available at independent bookstores, Chapters,, and directly from the publisher:

Freehand Books

Thursday, September 18, 2008

That Tune Clutches My Heart
by Paul Headrick

September 2008 | Fiction | $24.95 CAN | $24.95 US
1554470641 | 9781554470648 | Trade Paper

Gaspereau Press

On the eve of her first day of senior high, May Sutherland’s mother gives her a diary in which to record her experiences. It’s 1948 and the entire student body at Magee High in Vancouver is divided according to their preference for Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra. After losing her two best friends overnight, May struggles between her disdain for the debate and her loneliness as one of only a handful of neutrals.

At home her parents, both university professors, are absorbed in their own work while maintaining the semblance of a happy household. Parked in front of the living-room console, May conducts an extensive comparison of the two singers, only to find her questions one day answered by a different kind of music altogether.

The diary entries reveal May’s commitment to being genuine and truthful, and her attempts to match her parents’ poise while passing for a normal teenager in the process. In the often hilariously rigid turns of phrase with which May records her misunderstandings and attempts at maturity, Headrick captures the inner life of a good girl coming of age.


Heather Burt, Paul Headrick's partner, is the author of the novel _Adam's Peak_.

"Burt fits naturally and beautifully into that group of writers who have given Canadian literature its reputation for creating compelling psychological landscapes peopled by wonderfully wise and complex characters." Winnipeg Free Press
Heather Burt's Home Page

_That Tune Clutches My Heart_ is available at many independent book stores. It can also be ordered from the publisher, Gaspereau Press:

Gaspereau Press