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 Creative Life on the Page (Five Books)

Because I forgot my key one day, I had to wait in the neighbourhood library for Mister BIP to finish work, before I could go home. I suppose I could have waited in the subway station. But it was only a 20-minute walk. Of course I walked: wouldn’t you?

One of the books I brought […]

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestRedditEmailShare

Mavis Gallant’s “Poor Franzi”

At one table, we have the Wrights, on the crowded hotel terrace, with the Austrian mountains playing picture-postcard for the family, who has journeyed from Baltimore.

They’re a cranky lot, with daughters Coralie and Joan having had a different set of expectations for their travels, which neither their mother nor their brother Charlie shared.

Margaret Millar’s The Listening Walls (1959; 2016)

Although some of the characters in the Margaret Millar mysteries I have read answer their own phones, many answer other people’s phones instead: the telephones of older or more privileged relatives or those of their bosses. There’s even a switchboard operator in the mix, along with a woman better known for not answering calls at […]

The First Jalna Story: Meeting Adeline

In 1944, Mazo de la Roche published The Building of Jalna, nearly twenty years after she began to work with the Whiteoak family on the page. The beginning grew out of the middle, you might say.

Jalna was actually written first, begun in 1925 and published in 1927: the fifth in the sequence of the […]

Mavis Gallant’s “Autumn Day” (1955)

I laid in with this story, while on a brief holiday in a small town outside Toronto. Outside, the sound of other people’s everyday morning scurried past, but I was not required to be anywhere in particular that day.

Salzburg Austria, Prison overlooking town [Piotr Bozyk, Click for credit]

This open-ended kind of feeling suited […]

Margaret Millar’s An Air that Kills (1957; 2016)

Because so many of Margaret Millar’s novels consider married couples – often at the point in which the relationship is strained, if not fractured – one wonders about her relationship with Ken Millar (better known as Ross MacDonald, who also wrote mysteries).

Did they squabble like Esther and Ron do at the beginning of An […]

In My Bookbag, Winter 2017

My reading year began with Marina Endicott’s New Year’s Eve (2011), written with literacy front-of-mind; its vocabulary, structure and tone are meant to ease the passage for readers with varying degrees of ease reading in English.

It begins simply: “The snow started before we left home.” Despite its brevity , there is going to be […]

Mavis Gallant’s “The Other Paris” (1956)

There is, about an hour’s drive from Toronto, a small town called Paris, on the Grand River. I’ve visited it a couple of times and I have travelled through it, by train, countless times.

Rarely, on one of those rail journeys, did I miss that broad curve of the tracks, the glorious view of the river […]

Margaret Millar’s A Beast in View (1955; 2016)

She won the Edgar for it in 1956: Best Novel. (If you are looking for new reading lists, the Edgar Award’s site is filled with temptations.)

And it was the first of three, later awards being given for The Fiend in 1965 and Beyond This Point Are Monsters in 1971. (She would receive The Grand Master Award […]

In My Stacks, March 2017

February was a relatively light reading month for me, so there are some nearly-done books in the stack at the beginning of this month, along with new additions.

Naomi Novik’s Black Powder War, N.K. Jemisin’s The Kingdom of the Gods, Baratunde Thurston’s How to be Black and the Margaret Millar omnibus have been keeping company […]