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 2014: In My Reading Log

Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods (2014)

Comprised of five long and two short works, these tales are peopled with losses and lonelinesses. Hues of red, black and white dominate the volume, with other colours used sparingly for contrast. Panel use is unpredictable, with images sometimes boxed but often sprawling and dripping across pages, so that […]

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Telling Father’s Story: A Novel and a Memoir

Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed and Maurice Mierau’s Detachment: An Adoption Memoir are a perfect pair.

Penguin Random House, 2014

And the Mountains Echoed begins with a story, told by a father to his son and his daughter.

“Father never felt more present to Abdullah, more vibrant, revealed, more truthful, than when […]

Mark Lavorato’s Serafim and Claire (2014)      

Mark Lavorato’s debut novel is aptly titled as the novel is equally divided between these two characters, a young woman who dances on stage and a young man who takes photographs on the streets. Through them, readers experience Montreal of the 1920s, from vaudeville to fascism, and women’s rights to French/English tensions.

House of […]

In Cainsville: A Giveaway

The second volume in Kelley Armstrong’s Cainsville series is an enticing follow-up to Omens.

Random House Canada, 2014

Those who have read the Otherworld series will recall that the earliest novels concentrated on Elena’s character and here, too, in her return to Cainsville, the main character remains consistent.

Olivia Taylor-Jones is now seeing both […]

Between Generations: Two Novels and a Memoir

Cristina Henriquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans (2014)

Bond Street Books – Random House, 2014

It’s risky, fragmenting narration into a large number of voices, but it’s the perfect format for a novel about the experiences of newcomers to the United States, who can have an astonishing variety of experiences.

Readers might expect to […]

Theresa Kishkan’s Mnemonic: A Book of Trees (2011)

Like Sharon Butala in Perfection of the Morning (1994) and Candace Savage in The Geography of Blood (2012), Theresa Kishkan explores the relationship between landscape and memory.

Goose Lane Editions, 2011

The essays in Mnemonic are titled in two ways, first with the Latin name for a tree and, second, with a reference to […]

Dissenting Voices: Three Novels

Knopf, 2013

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland (2013)

“Naxalbari is an inspiration. It’s an impetus for change.”

One brother in Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel is a member of the Naxalbari movement, Udayan. His involvement with the far-left radical Communist group in Calcutta vitally impacts the entire family, even Subhash, who leaves for the United States in […]

Quarterly Stories: Autumn 2014

“Bad coffee can only keep you company for so long at four a.m. in a bus depot.”

Caitlin Press, 2014

All of the characters in Janine Alyson Young’s debut collection seem as though they would immediately recognize the truth of that. They all seem to have a spot of the drifter in them, even […]

September 2014: In My Reading Log

Among other books enjoyed in September were some standout novels that will be featured later this month, including Michael Crummey’s Sweetland and Magie Dominic’s Street Angel. There was also Diversiverse and the launch of RIP IX, and much musing on future Read-a-Thon choices. Award longlists began appearing (including the Toronto Book Award and the Giller Prize) […]

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 […]