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

Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future (2015)

The Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is essential reading.

TRC, 2015

As a component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the TRC’s “mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools (IRS).”

The report is intended “to document the truth of survivors, families, communities […]

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Telling Stories: Five 2016 Novels

It’s not all “Reader, I married him” but plenty of contemporary novels are preoccupied by the idea of storytelling, and often one voice does speak to us directly even now.

Periscope Books, 2016

In Tabish Khair’s Just Another Jihadi Jane, the storyteller’s direct address appears regularly and spiritedly.

“Yes, well, if you insist, I […]

Ami McKay: The Moth Stories

It’s the book which Moth discovers in Mr. Wentworth’s study in Ami McKay’s second novel, The Virgin Cure (2011): “The Witches of New York was the book I’ found most intriguing.”

“Listing addresses from Broome to Nineteenth Street, it claimed to be a reliable guide to the soothsayers of the city. I put it on […]

Tracey Lindberg’s Birdie (2016)

Even when Bernice is liked, she’s not necessarily liked for the person she is, but for the person someone believes her to be.  This is largely why she leaves herself, why she learns to fly.

“I wonder how fascinated she’d be if she knew that I’d been fucked before I was eleven, Bernice thinks. That I smoked […]

Robert Arthur Alexie’s Porcupines and China Dolls (2002)

Sometimes I buy books for the stories on their pages; sometimes I buy them for the stories between the pages.

My copy of Porcupines and China Dolls was purchased second-hand at the Trinity College booksale more than ten years ago.

Because of a handful of folded sheets tucked inside the back cover (although, yes, I was […]

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, […]

Nadia Bozak’s Thirteen Shells (2016)

It’s with a subtle touch, but Nadia Bozak solidly roots the reader in time and place.

House of Anansi, 2016

This is not an easy task, because Shell only grows to the age of seventeen in Thirteen Shells — across thirteen stories, and childhood is inherently rootless.

So the details noted must be those within a child’s […]

Ian Colford’s Perfect World (2016)

Ian Colford’s work has been shortlisted for the Journey Prize, and his first published work was a collection of stories. It’s no surprise that he can write succinctly and put a short form to work.

Freehand Books, 2016

In 2012, he published his first novel, The Crimes of Hector Tomás, which honed his skill with […]

Janet Ellis’ The Butcher’s Hook (2016)

It’s clear from the beginning: one might long for escape from this narrative, might opt for a bloody end rather than endure more misery.

House of Anansi, 2016

“No one but a fool could look so happy in a miserable house, could they? The mice here probably throw themselves on the traps for a […]

October 2015, In My Reading Log

I pulled André Alexis’ Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa (1994) off my shelf when Fifteen Dogs was nominated for the Toronto Book Award (since then, FD has also been nominated for the Giller Prize and the Rogers’ Writers’ Trust Fiction Award). There aren’t any notable four-legged characters, but the collection is fascinating.

In speaking of his dreams, […]