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

Broken: Careers, Contracts, Society

Each of these novels considers a shattered state of being, whether the devastation plays out through the cycle of addiction or societal breakdown or international conflicts. The characters employ a variety of coping mechanisms and the authors’ styles are diverse; Elizabeth Renzetti’s Based on a True Story, Edan Lepucki’s California and Audrey Magee’s The Undertaking make for [...]

Nadia Bozak’s Borders

Excerpt from reading journal:

Nadia Bozak is the reason that I have copies of the three books in Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy on my shelves. Books that I never planned to read, but I came across the idea that the works were somehow connected with her novels Orphan Love and El Niño. And, so, the [...]

Heather O’Neill’s The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (2014)

When a passage on page two is just breathtakingly powerful, readers’ expectations soar. It seems impossible to imagine reading beyond this passage without stopping to reread, or not reading it aloud to a friend sitting alongside, or not tapping the stranger sitting next to you, pointing and saying “Check this out”.

HarperCollins, 2014

Debra Komar’s The Lynching of Peter Wheeler (2014)

Debra Komar creates a narrative which manages to straddle the line between scholarly analysis and page-turner, relying upon court records, newspapers, and other historical documentation to gather evidence surrounding the murder of 14-year-old Annie Kempton in Bear River, Nova Scotia in 1896.

Goose Lane Editions, 2014

“This book looks back so we can see [...]

Alexi Zentner’s The Lobster Kings (2014)

Like his first novel, Touch, The Lobster Kings showcases Alexi Zentner’s penchant for storytelling.

Knopf Canada, 2014

Readers who learn that this novel is a retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy “King Lear” might expect the tale to distance readers, with the original story centuries old and memories of stilted readings in school or black-and-white films [...]

Miriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows (2014)

Excerpt from Reading Journal:

Knopf Canada, 2014

Last night I finished reading All My Puny Sorrows, and when I woke up this morning, I was weeping.

This doesn’t reveal how the book ended, because I read more than half of it last night, half-skimming the first half that I’d read on in other sittings. [...]

Tamai Kobayashi’s Prairie Ostrich (2014)

You might be tempted to call eight-year-old Egg Murakami enchanting or winsome. Even plucky or spirited.

Goose Lane Editions, 2014

Each of these terms does reflect Egg in some sense. But such descriptions suggest something young-Oprah-heroine-esque about her.

Egg’s character is too fully rounded to simply select the glossy, desirable qualities. (Rounded or ovalled? [...]

Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab (2014)

Shani Mootoo sidles up to her story.

Random House Canada, 2014

A novel like Padma Viswanathan’s The Ever After of Ashwin Rao is more openly preoccupied with questions of grief and loss.

One like Shyam Selvadurai’s The Hungry Ghosts explores family relationships and the passage of time in a familiar then/now rhythm.

In Moving [...]

Jonathan Bennett’s The Colonial Hotel (2014)

Readers might expect a retelling of the ancient Greek tale of Paris and Helen to be a bulky, wordy novel as useful for propping up a window on a hot summer day as for entertainment; but Jonatham Bennett’s contemporary version of the story is a slim, polished novel that one would need to lie flat to allow only [...]

David Adams Richards’ Crimes against My Brother (2014)

David Adams Richards has set many works in the Miramichi, beginning with his classic trilogy (Nights Below Station Street, Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace, and For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down), so that the landscape of New Brunswick has become a character in its own right in his fiction.

Doubleday – Random [...]