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 […]


Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Harmless Like You (2016)

At the “Modern Families” roundtable at this year’s IFOA, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan explained that it only felt natural to build her characters with the seemingly endless details that comprise their lives, their selves.

Identity is clearly at the heart of her much-lauded debut, Harmless Like You, and a good part of that settles in the miasma of […]

Lisa Moore’s Flannery (2016)

Lisa Moore builds folks from the ink up: she is standout at characterization.

Groundwood Books, 2016

One of the elements that makes her characters so convincing is the echo effect, the reverberations off seemingly extraneous details (in images, in descriptions, in settings) to construct multi-faceted individuals.

Readers who have come to admire this quality in […]

In My Reading Log

The majority of my reading time this year has been devoted to the books which have been living for years, though neglected, on my own bookshelves. In May and June, I had a planned rebellion, and I enjoyed a great number of new books. But now I have returned to my own shelves once more.


Young Love, Complicated Love: Walking on Trampolines

For weeks after reading Frances Whiting’s Walking on Trampolines, my vocabulary was peppered with LuluBelle-isms.

That’s how I thought of the habit that young Lulu and Annabelle had, of mashing-up synonyms to intensify the meaning of each individual word.

Gallery BooksSimon & Schuster, 2015 (2013)

“I’m starmished,” I would say at dinner. Or, “It’s […]

Young Love, Complicated Love: Nothing Like Love

Reading about Sabrina Ramnanan’s love of Anne of Green Gables made me really want to read the debut novelist’s Nothing Like Love.

And it’s a good thing that I understood this about her reading past, because it prepared me perfectly for her prose style.

Random House CanadaDoubleday Canada, 2015

“Thinking back on […]

Sally Mann’s Hold Still (2015)

Sally Mann’s Hold Still is a photographer’s memoir; although she has kept a journal since she was a girl, her love of imagery is deeply rooted, and it’s hard to imagine her memoir taking any other form.

Currently represented by the Gagosian Gallery, her CV is impressive and extensive, but even those who have never […]

Jane Harris’ Gillespie and I (2012)

No need to wonder whether you fit in this novel: Harriet Baxter is speaking directly to you, Reader.

Even before the novel has properly begun, she is saying “Reader, if you wonder — as I suspect you may…”

Even though you weren’t wondering yet.

And, on the next page, she suggests that you “may also […]

Elizabeth Taylor: Palladian (A Virago Modern Classic)

If it had only been made into a film, I’m convinced that Elizabeth Taylor’s Palladian would enjoy the same public flourishes of devotion that Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm can claim.

Both novels are so bookishly satirical that we bookish folks have to squint to see the satire.

But where Stella Gibbons was casting glances […]