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

Kyo Maclear’s The Good Little Book (2015)

I returned to picture books when a face-to-face bookclub read Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Books without pictures still outnumber the illustrated volumes in my stacks, but I am working to adjust the balance.

The Good Little Book, written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Marion Arbona, will suit booklovers of all ages, and likely […]


I Spy with My CanLit Eye: Two Classics

Our young separatist narrator is imagining his own future and the future of Quebec, and both man and nation are struggling with matters of expression and independence, in Hubert Aquin’s Next Episode (published in 1965, translated by Sheila Fischman in 2001).

“I am the fragmented symbol of Quebec’s revolution, its fractured reflection and its suicidal […]

Pauline Holdstock’s The Hunter and the Wild Girl (2015)

Despite its sedate and unassuming cover, Pauline Holdstock’s The Hunter and the Wild Girl begins in a rush.

Goose Lane, 2015

“With a shriek of splintering boards, the girl breaks into daylight and stands blinded, panting, sucking air as if it were a great hot soup, her chest heaving.”

This sentence and the following pages […]

Ian Williams: Not Anyone’s Anything (2011) and Personals (2012)

If the idea of experimental or innovative short stories makes you squirm, even though you are simultaneously bored with more traditional structure, Not Anyone’s Anything belongs on your bookshelf.

Ian Williams puts relationships at the core of his work and this fiction collection exhibits this tendency as well.

I also wholly enjoyed his poetry collection […]

Austin Clarke’s The Meeting Point (1967)

The first volume of his Toronto trilogy introduces readers to Bernice Leach, who has left Barbados to work in Toronto as a housekeeper in an upscale neighbourhood in the 1960s.

She has left behind a son and his father, as well as a mother and a sister, and she is preoccupied by the adjustments required […]

The intersection between pictures and stories

From my discovery of Neil Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine books, I have sought out books that play with form. (Even earlier, I fell hard for Anastasia Krupnik’s To-Do lists which appeared as handwritten notes on lined paper in Lois Lowry’s books.)

Recently, Kim Belair’s and Ariadne MacGillivray’s Pure Steele (2013) struck my fancy. Each of its pages […]

BIP’s Snips: Abbreviated Bookishness

Penguin-Razorbill, 2012

Mariko Tamaki’s (You) Set Me On Fire (2012)

Read: At the hair salon, on the TTC, standing in line: everywhere. Allison’s voice is strong and compelling. I could pick up this story and immediately fall into step with her, even if I only had a very short time to read. Warning: Bad […]

A Voice of One’s Own: Jon Chan Simpson and Marion Milner

Jon Chan Simpson invites readers into a world of “abductions, gunshots, commando dads, street-poet moms”, a world populated by gangs and kidnapping conspiracies.

“‘This thing – chinksta.’ She stumbled over the word, at first but pulled herself through it. ‘You’re worried this is all you got,’ she said. ‘This is all you got, and you’re […]

Weekend ReLit Sampler: On a Bookish Plate

The ReLit Awards, founded by Kenneth J. Harvey, are considered Canada’s “pre-eminent literary prize recognizing independent presses” (taken from the prize’s website, where you will also find longlists and shortlists: lots of good reading). 

Serving today, a plateful of the 2013 Short Fiction winner (Ian Rogers’ Every House Is Haunted) with side-servings of Alex Leslie’s […]

How Much Happiness, Really

Is it too much? Or, just enough. What am I to make of this final story in my Alice Munro reading project. (I read her last collection, Dear Life, in 2012.)

While rereading Too Much Happiness, I was constantly aware of the references to being happy, to happiness, in the stories.

Straight away, in the […]