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

December 2016, In My Bookbag

In which I discuss some of the skinny volumes which have kept me company while on the move, while heavier volumes (like Connie Willis’ Crosstalk and Steven King’s 11/22/1963) stayed home.

Warsan Shire’s chapbook is my skinniest book of the year. I finished reading it on a single commute, but rather than read another volume […]

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November 2016, In My Reading Log

In the wake of my IFOA reading list and the literary prizelists of the season, my November reading felt relatively whimsical. Without duedates attached to the majority of my reading, it was a pleasure to slip into volumes which had sat untouched in recent weeks.

Each of these three volumes covers, in one way or another, […]

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 […]

Riel Nason’s All the Things We Leave Behind (2016)

The title of her second novel might well have been a discarded option for her debut; Riel Nason is back in familiar territory: the intersection between memory and identity, the line between mysticism and madness, and sibling bonds in a coming-of-age tale.

Goose Lane, 2016

Now it is 1977 and readers are introduced to Violet, […]

Riel Nason’s The Town that Drowned (2011)

Nothing really happens. Here, the “main event is simply a view of the water”. So Ruby’s story should not be a page-turner. But, in fact, The Town that Drowned is a coming-of-age story with a curious momentum.

No single element is responsible: character and voice, setting and structure, all work in concert in this debut, […]

Steven Price’s By Gaslight (2016)

Steven Price began as a poet, so the hype surrounding his new novel, By Gaslight, must have been disconcerting. But that’s appropriate, because it is intended to be a disconcerting story.

McClelland & Stewart – PRH, 2016

The majority of readers probably won’t be interested in either the rumours surrounding its acquisition (apparently a six-figure sum) […]

Soraya Peerbaye’s Tell (2015)

Poems for a Girlhood, it’s subtitled. But it’s actually for girlhoods. For the author’s. And Reena Virk’s.

At least, for what of Reena Virk’s girlhood is known and what can be imagined. She was murdered on November 14, 1997 when she was fourteen years old.

At least eight teenagers participated in her death (two were charged and sentenced), […]

Prizelist-Season Reading 2016

Prizelists make me feel like I do when I watch the Olympics. Because just when I am feeling most thrilled about one person’s winning performance, I am reminded of all the other participants’ losses.

So the prizelists, for me, are as much about what is not listed as what is listed and even when part of […]

Quarterly Stories: Autumn 2016

Only ten this year, so far. Without my Alice Munro project to steer me, I am not reading as many short story collections now.

Over the summer, I read Cherie Dimaline’s A Gentle Habit (2015) as part of All Lit Up’s summer bookclub. Dimaline is a member of the Georgian Bay Métis community and her […]

Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed (2016)

If you’re a fan of Margaret Atwood’s retelling,of The Odyssey, The Penelopiad, you’ve probably already got a copy of Hag-Seed on your stack.

Knopf – PRH, 2016

Ditto if you’re following the Hogarth Shakespeare retellings. Already published this year are Jeanette Winterson’s The Gap of Time (The Winter’s Tale), Howard Jacobson’s Shylock Is My Name (The […]