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

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 […]

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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 […]

Susan Philpott’s Blown Red (2015)

It begins with a body. And with short chapters, told from a variety of perspectives, guaranteed to create strong pacing.

Blown Red is the first in the Signy Shepherd mysteries ,and it introduces readers to the series’ star, as well as some of the other key personnel working on the Line.

One stop on the Line is relatively visible […]

June 2016, In My Bookbag

In which I discuss some of the skinny volumes, which have nestled into my bookbag (while longer works, like Marge Piercy’s Gone to Soldiers and Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, were left at home.

Vivek Shraya’s God Loves Hair is illustrated by Juliana Neufeld, a full-page image introducing each of the short pieces.

The collection […]

Catherine Cooper’s White Elephant (2016)

A white elephant was historically bestowed as a burden which had the outward appearance of a gift; a courtier charged with its care and upkeep would have a beautiful creature to display, but the weight of the responsibility undeniable.

Freehand Books, 2016

In Catherine Cooper’s debut novel, the question of gifts and burdens permeates the […]

Joni Murphy’s Double Teenage (2016)

Celine and Julie are negotating the borders of girlhood, wandering back and forth across dotted lines and territories both more and less available to them as the years pass.

They trade L.M. Montgomery’s girlhood classics for “Law and Order” and Our Bodies, Ourselves, while readers follow in their footsteps in narratives which alternately focus on one girl, then […]

Nadia Bozak’s Thirteen Shells (2016)

It’s with a subtle touch, but Nadia Bozak solidly roots the reader in time and place.

House of Anansi, 2016

This is not an easy task, because Shell only grows to the age of seventeen in Thirteen Shells — across thirteen stories, and childhood is inherently rootless.

So the details noted must be those within a child’s […]

Ian Colford’s Perfect World (2016)

Ian Colford’s work has been shortlisted for the Journey Prize, and his first published work was a collection of stories. It’s no surprise that he can write succinctly and put a short form to work.

Freehand Books, 2016

In 2012, he published his first novel, The Crimes of Hector Tomás, which honed his skill with […]