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

December 2014: In My Reading Log

Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods (2014)

Comprised of five long and two short works, these tales are peopled with losses and lonelinesses. Hues of red, black and white dominate the volume, with other colours used sparingly for contrast. Panel use is unpredictable, with images sometimes boxed but often sprawling and dripping across pages, so that […]


Telling Father’s Story: A Novel and a Memoir

Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed and Maurice Mierau’s Detachment: An Adoption Memoir are a perfect pair.

Penguin Random House, 2014

And the Mountains Echoed begins with a story, told by a father to his son and his daughter.

“Father never felt more present to Abdullah, more vibrant, revealed, more truthful, than when […]

Barry Dempster’s The Outside World (2014)

The Tedley family is at the centre of the world for the teenage narrator of Barry Dempster’s novel.

“How easy for a bungalow and a Texaco station to become the entire world.”

This is Scarborough. This is 1966. But this is […]

Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling (2013) and The Silkworm (2014)

Readers are introduced to Cormoran Strike in a moment of need. His.

“A double fee. Strike’s conscience, once firm and inelastic, had been weakened by repeated blows of fate; this was the knockout punch. His baser self was already gamboling off into […]

Mark Lavorato’s Serafim and Claire (2014)      

Mark Lavorato’s debut novel is aptly titled as the novel is equally divided between these two characters, a young woman who dances on stage and a young man who takes photographs on the streets. Through them, readers experience Montreal of the 1920s, from vaudeville to fascism, and women’s rights to French/English tensions.

House of […]

Khanh Ha’s The Demon Who Peddled Longing (2014)

The Demon Who Peddled Longing is rich with the kind of sensory experience that translates into a reader’s complete immersion into another time and place, allowing them to fully inhabit a 19-year-old boy’s experience in Vietnam.

Khanh Ha’s Flesh, a visceral and harrowing read, serves as a brilliant companion for his new novel. The phrase ‘body of […]

Diane Cook’s Man V. Nature (2014)

As readers will guess from the title, Diane Cook’s collection of stories has an archetypal reach.

HarperCollins, 2014

These are stories that one can imagine discussing at length in creative writing classes, stories that could nestle into the curricula of English courses which study contemporary American fiction.

But there is no nestling in these stories; […]

In Cainsville: A Giveaway

The second volume in Kelley Armstrong’s Cainsville series is an enticing follow-up to Omens.

Random House Canada, 2014

Those who have read the Otherworld series will recall that the earliest novels concentrated on Elena’s character and here, too, in her return to Cainsville, the main character remains consistent.

Olivia Taylor-Jones is now seeing both […]

Literary Kismet: The Tin Flute and Man in the Shadows

Once a week when he was in Montreal, Conor walked along St. Catherine Street to dine at the St. Lawrence Hotel. In a freshly pressed suit, starched shirt and perfectly tied cravat, he was the picture of sophistication. He even sported a new walking stick. He would often bring a newspaper to give […]

Daughters, Mothers: Half-Formed and Otherwise

Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing (2014)


Then Not.

Simon & Schuster, 2014

Sharp sentences.

Jabbing thoughts.

Unkindnesses bearing down.

Book, set aside.


And here is where the experience of reading A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing may end for many readers.

Some, however, will lick their wounds and pick […]