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

Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People

It begins with something extraordinary.

“Almost a decade earlier, a man with a .45-70 Marlin hunting rifle walked through the front doors of Avalon Hills prep school. He didn’t know that he was about to become a living symbol of the age of white men shooting into crowds.”

House of Anansi. 2016

Readers are […]

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Maisie Hurley and “The Native Voice”

One woman, one newspaper: The Native Voice is a story with relevance far beyond any existing borders, as well as a work of importance for local historians in what is now called British Columbia, Canada.

Caitlin Press, 2016

Eric Jamieson’s book is of fundamental interest to any reader concerned with the interplay between aboriginal […]

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 […]

“Wasn’t my life supposed to be rock and roll?”

Rockstar or not, Nicola Harwood’s Flight Instructions for the Commitment Impaired is a bold and absorbing memoir. At times her style is plain and functional, at other times it is poetic and intricate – even captivating, her voice consistently displayed centre-stage.

Caitlin Press, 2016

“No such thing as one true love, just the one sent hurtling against […]

Storytelling or Chicanery: Trust in words

Sometimes, it’s clear who the bad guys are. Sometimes they’re clearly drawn, not only unsavoury, but also unprincipled.

Like the misogynists who people the Signy Shepherd series by Susan Philpott, in which women are rescued from life-threatening situations by other women working a type of Underground Railroad, called The Line. (Blown Red, 2015 and Dark Territory, […]

Jane Ozkowski’s Watching Traffic (2016)

What Jane Ozkowski captures beautifully in Watching Traffic is the very sensation embodied in the debut novel’s title: Emily is overwhelmed by motion even while in a state of stillness.

Groundwood Books, 2016

It’s the summer after high-school gradulation, and Emily is working at a catering company, making egg-salad sandwiches and butter tarts, so that other people […]

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 […]

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, […]

Quarterly Stories: Summer 2016

Jill Sexsmith’s Somewhere a Long and Happy Life Probably Awaits You (ARP Books, 2016)

  “Tulip stopped at the doorway. She had grown up with the whir of a mitre saw in the background, always cutting her thoughts and sentences and songs in half. Still, the sound of the blade tearing through wood […]

Rhoda Rabinowitz Green’s Aspects of Nature (2016)

This debut collection is filled with sensory detail. From brisket and chicken soup to gefilte fish and borscht.

From paint-by-number clowns to lacy pillow-slips. From red-striped deck chairs to weathered shutters.

Inanna Publications, 2016

Whether it’s Debussy or lyrics from “Oklahoma”, the details matter. But Aspects of Nature is actually preoccupied with broad and expansive themes.

More […]