Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People

It begins with something extraordinary.

“Almost a decade earlier, a man with a .45-70 Marlin hunting rifle walked through the front doors of Avalon Hills prep school. He didn’t know that he was about to become a living symbol of the age of white men shooting into crowds.”

House of Anansi. 2016

Readers are […]

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August 2016, In My Bookbag

In which I discuss some of the skinny volumes, which have nestled into my bookbag.

(Meanwhile longer works, like Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber and Greg Iles’ The Bone Tree, were left at home.)

Patricia and Fredrick McKissack’s Best Shot in the West tells the story of Nat Love, who was born into slavery in 1854 and became […]

The Inseparables, Tobacco Wars, I’m Still Here

Having stories narrated by – or assembled via – a number of voices is a popular way of  world-building. Each of the following books plays with this technique, allowing different perspectives to combine and create a more credible space for readers to inhabit.

Just as in Meg Wolitzer’s The Position, the matriarch in Stuart Nadler’s The Inseparables […]

Maisie Hurley and “The Native Voice”

One woman, one newspaper: The Native Voice is a story with relevance far beyond any existing borders, as well as a work of importance for local historians in what is now called British Columbia, Canada.

Caitlin Press, 2016

Eric Jamieson’s book is of fundamental interest to any reader concerned with the interplay between aboriginal […]

Jay Hosking’s Three Years with the Rat (2016)

If a story’s beginning looks at its reflection in a room made of mirrors, does it see its own beginning-self reflected back? Or is the reflection actually the story’s ending?

Hamish Hamilton, 2016

This is the kind of question that I can imagine keeps Jay Hosking up late at night. The characters in Three […]

Robert Arthur Alexie’s Porcupines and China Dolls (2002)

Sometimes I buy books for the stories on their pages; sometimes I buy them for the stories between the pages.

My copy of Porcupines and China Dolls was purchased second-hand at the Trinity College booksale more than ten years ago.

Because of a handful of folded sheets tucked inside the back cover (although, yes, I was […]

Canadian Book Challenge (10th Edition): Indigenous Writers

Even though the challenge officially begins on July 1 — and ends on the last day of the following June — it’s not too late to join The Book Mine Set’s Canadian Books Challenge.

This year is the tenth event, and John has calculated thousands of books reviewed for past challenges he’s hosted. This time, […]

“Wasn’t my life supposed to be rock and roll?”

Rockstar or not, Nicola Harwood’s Flight Instructions for the Commitment Impaired is a bold and absorbing memoir. At times her style is plain and functional, at other times it is poetic and intricate – even captivating, her voice consistently displayed centre-stage.

Caitlin Press, 2016

“No such thing as one true love, just the one sent hurtling against […]

Crazy for CanLit: Making MORE Lists (2016)

All published in the season which would make them eligible for this year’s Giller Prize, the kaleidoscope of covers for 2016 is now available on Pinterest, a text-based collection here.

They had me at list-making, but also there are prizes, for lucky list-makers (rules, here). The URLs below link to my review […]

Stephen King’s End of Watch (2016)

In the final volume of the Bill Hodges trilogy, the timeline briefly veers back to the opening scene of Mr. Mercedes. This time, a few minutes after the scene which opens the series. (Then it returns to a contemporary setting, a few years after Finders Keepers.)

Scribner – S&S, 2016

This kind of attention-to-detail, […]