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

The Fourth Nina Borg Mystery: The Considerate Killer

“’What the hell makes you think,’ she said, in her most glacial voice, ‘that I am anybody’s victim?’”

Soho Press, 2016

Nina’s question, in an earlier volume of the series, is ironic in this context: The Considerate Killer begins with two blows to the back of Nina’s head and a lingering state of unconsciousness, […]


July 2016, In My Bookbag

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

(Meanwhile longer works, like Timothy Findley’s The Piano Man’s Daughter and Greg Iles’ Natchez Burning, were left at home.)

Stephen Thomas’ The Jokes is not funny-haha, but funny-hmmm. It’s not meant to be funny-haha either, although many of the stories are designed […]

Jane Hamilton’s The Excellent Lombards (2016)

Excerpt from my reading journal:

Having read all of Jane Hamilton’s novels, and having waited since 2009 for another, I was pretty psyched for The Excellent Lombards.

Grand Central Publishing, 2016

My favourites were The Short History of a Prince and The Book of Ruth, which I read very quickly, but perhaps not as […]

Bloody Summer 2016, In My Reading Log

Massacre, killer, murder: when these words appear on a novel’s first page, readers are fore-warned.

And, yet, the first third of Sara Taylor’s Boring Girls (2015) is a coming-of-age story.

“It was becoming more and more apparent that I had been right all along. No one could truly understand me, unless they got me.” Despite the ominous introductory pages, […]

Quarterly Stories: Summer 2016

Jill Sexsmith’s Somewhere a Long and Happy Life Probably Awaits You (ARP Books, 2016)

  “Tulip stopped at the doorway. She had grown up with the whir of a mitre saw in the background, always cutting her thoughts and sentences and songs in half. Still, the sound of the blade tearing through wood […]

Tracy Barone’s Happy Family (2016)

As a screenwriter and a playwright, it’s not surprising that Tracy Barone’s debut novel, Happy Family, reads like a series of scenes.

Little, Brown and Company, 2016

The first unfolds on August 5, 1962. “The pregnant girl enters the Trenton Family Clinic, looking like she parted the Red Sea to get there.”

She is as adept at sneaking […]

Rhoda Rabinowitz Green’s Aspects of Nature (2016)

This debut collection is filled with sensory detail. From brisket and chicken soup to gefilte fish and borscht.

From paint-by-number clowns to lacy pillow-slips. From red-striped deck chairs to weathered shutters.

Inanna Publications, 2016

Whether it’s Debussy or lyrics from “Oklahoma”, the details matter. But Aspects of Nature is actually preoccupied with broad and expansive themes.

More […]

Karen Molson’s The Company of Crows (2016)

It might seem to be, at first glance, a quintessential CanLit passage, a poetic description of the natural world.

Linda Leith Publishing, 2016

But the opening passage of The Company of Crows reveals more about Karen Molson’s debut novel, than one might think.

“Thin grey lines fan out across the earthscape like a gigantic, tattered spiderweb. […]

Jessi Klein’s You’ll Grow Out of It (2016)

“My main career goal has been to get to go to work every day on something that I’m proud of, with a bunch of people I really like and respect, who make me laugh.”

Grand Central Publishing – Hachette, 2016

This is Jessi Klein, interviewed by Cosmo, for its “Get That Life” series, which […]

Malcolm Sutton’s Job Shadowing (2016)

If it’s true, that “new thoughts only happen at the edge of what we already know”, then Malcolm Sutton’s Job Shadowing has provided me with plenty of new thoughts.

Book Thug, 2016

Job Shadowing is a novel which pools at the edges of the shape that I recognize as fiction. It would be difficult to fill out the answers […]