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 Promise Falls Trilogy

Promise Falls has a history. You might not think so, but it matters.

“Are we too insignificant up here: A couple of hours away from New York? Is that what we’re foolish enough to think? Let me tell you something, my friend. You want to strike fear into the hearts of Americans? Then go to […]

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Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing (2016): Third Variation

This is the third of three posts spiralling around the notes made while reading Do Not Say We Have Nothing. Each with ten parts. Thirty segments. As though my post is the aria and the thirty segments are the variations. In recognition of the importance which Bach’s Goldberg Variations holds in relationship to the novel.

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December 2016, In My Bookbag

In which I discuss some of the skinny volumes which have kept me company while on the move, while heavier volumes (like Connie Willis’ Crosstalk and Steven King’s 11/22/1963) stayed home.

Warsan Shire’s chapbook is my skinniest book of the year. I finished reading it on a single commute, but rather than read another volume […]

Riel Nason’s The Town that Drowned (2011)

Nothing really happens. Here, the “main event is simply a view of the water”. So Ruby’s story should not be a page-turner. But, in fact, The Town that Drowned is a coming-of-age story with a curious momentum.

No single element is responsible: character and voice, setting and structure, all work in concert in this debut, […]

Steven Price’s By Gaslight (2016)

Steven Price began as a poet, so the hype surrounding his new novel, By Gaslight, must have been disconcerting. But that’s appropriate, because it is intended to be a disconcerting story.

McClelland & Stewart – PRH, 2016

The majority of readers probably won’t be interested in either the rumours surrounding its acquisition (apparently a six-figure sum) […]

Soraya Peerbaye’s Tell (2015)

Poems for a Girlhood, it’s subtitled. But it’s actually for girlhoods. For the author’s. And Reena Virk’s.

At least, for what of Reena Virk’s girlhood is known and what can be imagined. She was murdered on November 14, 1997 when she was fourteen years old.

At least eight teenagers participated in her death (two were charged and sentenced), […]

Darren Greer’s Advocate (2016)

“The past presses so hard on the present, the present is badly bruised, blood brims under the skin.”

These lines from Brenda Shaughnessy’s poem “Nachträglichkeit”* fit beautifully with Darren Greer’s new novel, Advocate:

Not only because much of Advocate is preoccupied with memory, with what the characters carry with them everyday which belongs to another […]

Page-turners and other gripping reads

What’s interesting about each of these novels is that none fits a traditional model in the suspense genre. Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door is the closest to a conventional thriller. But even her novel spends more time on characterization and atmosphere than many loyal genre readers would tolerate.

Nonetheless, she does rely on tropes to […]

Prizelist-Season Reading 2016

Prizelists make me feel like I do when I watch the Olympics. Because just when I am feeling most thrilled about one person’s winning performance, I am reminded of all the other participants’ losses.

So the prizelists, for me, are as much about what is not listed as what is listed and even when part of […]

Quarterly Stories: Autumn 2016

Only ten this year, so far. Without my Alice Munro project to steer me, I am not reading as many short story collections now.

Over the summer, I read Cherie Dimaline’s A Gentle Habit (2015) as part of All Lit Up’s summer bookclub. Dimaline is a member of the Georgian Bay Métis community and her […]