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

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 […]

On Two Pieces by Tomson Highway

“I’ve always conceived of language as music,” says Tomson Highway: musician, playwright, novelist. “I play Chopin still, but in Cree,” he continues.

Then, more than a decade later, it is as though he continues this conversation, in A Tale of Monstrous Extravagance.

This slim volume is subtitled on “Imagining Multilingualism”, which might strike you as a […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

In the Wake: Books which Suit RIP X

In the past, I’ve made large stacks of creepy reading with the RIP challenges in mind, but I  have a habit of stacking up many lovely possibilities but then choosing different books altogether later on.

Perhaps this is partly because books can surprise you and take you in unexpected directions. Many of the books in […]

Goose Lane, over 60 and still counting

In the autumn of 2014, the press release celebrating Goose Lane’s 60th birthday landed in my mailbox.

It arrived when I was in a nostalgic mood, and I wandered around the house, randomly pulling their publications from the shelves.

Some I could distinctly remember purchasing and others I have picked up on a whim, trusting in the quality […]