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 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 […]

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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 […]

Tricia Dower’s Becoming Lin (2016)

Reading Becoming Lin reminded me of discovering Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room and Marge Piercy’s Small Changes. Two unapologetically feminist novels which I felt had poured out of my own heart into some other writer’s story. I inhaled these books, and I felt the same sense of intense recognition and kindred-spirit-ness in Tricia Dower’s newest […]

Crazy for CanLit: Making 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 images link to the publisher’s […]