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

Summer Reading To-Do List for Sunny Days (1 of 4)

Such good reading this summer, so far. In other respects, perhaps mine has not been the most productive summer. But it all depends what one puts on a to-do list, doesn’t it! What if your to-do list was all about the books in your stacks?

Doubleday Canada – Penguin Random House, 2015

For satire junkies: 

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“Free Radicals” Alice Munro

As one of the shorter stories in this volume, I was inclined, at first pass, to presume it was a simpler story. Its ending seemed to underscore this impression.

Without going into detail, the story has the kind of resolution which could serve as the sole focus of discussion, in terms of what Nita actually concealed […]

“Deep-Holes” Alice Munro

So many of the risks in “Deep-Holes” are either averted or declared meaningless.

“Sally packed devilled eggs—something she hated to take on a picnic, because they were so messy.”

Nobody ate the devilled eggs anyway, so it didn’t matter how messy they were.

“Ham sandwiches, crab salad, lemon tarts—also a packing problem.”

The tarts […]

Young Love, Complicated Love: Nothing Like Love

Reading about Sabrina Ramnanan’s love of Anne of Green Gables made me really want to read the debut novelist’s Nothing Like Love.

And it’s a good thing that I understood this about her reading past, because it prepared me perfectly for her prose style.

Random House CanadaDoubleday Canada, 2015

“Thinking back on […]

Young Love, Complicated Love: Where Did You Sleep Last Night

“A man could do a lot for you, he added. I mean, like bulldozing and roofing, heavy lifting, he said. Maybe more.”

House of Anansi, 2015

So says a character in Lynn Crosbie’s Life is about Losing Everything (2012).

It might not be the kind of statement that leads one to expect a passionate […]

“Wenlock Edge” Alice Munro

1648 Henfryn Street and 363 Carlisle Street: “Wenlock Edge” feels so vivid that one can hardly resist keying in the significant addresses to see what appears on the digital map.

These addresses do not actually exist in London, Ontario. But there is a Henfryn Line which runs north-south, just east of Clinton, Ontario. And there is a town called Carlisle, […]

Three Novels that Made Me Smile

It’s not impossible to find them, but if you read a lot of literary fiction, the novels which contain humour are outnumbered. Each of these books actually addresses a serious issue (or touches upon it, for Susan Juby’s novel doesn’t delve very deeply): global warming and habitat erosion, family farm sustainability in an age of […]

Tessa McWatt’s Higher Ed (2015)

The story of how the cover for Higher Ed evolved provides readers with clues as to the novel’s preoccupation with perspective; from a close-up of a clown fish to a human hand, Tessa McWatt’s story covers the gamut.

Random House Canada, 2015

It begins with a cast of characters, five primary (the administrator, the film […]

“Fiction” Alice Munro

Is it something like a triangle? With happiness, unhappiness and love arranged with an equal distance between each point?

Perhaps. Certainly there are triangles in “Fiction”, shifting alliances and fractures.

Love triangles. Happiness triangles.

Just enough. Too much.

The kind of happiness discussed in “Fiction” is different from that which Doree/Fleur muses upon in “Dimensions”.

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Mark Anthony Jarman’s Knife Party at the Hotel Europa (2015)

A book-length demonstration of propulsive prose.

This is the word that I wrote in capital letters, in the margins of my reading diary about Mark Anthony Jarman’s Knife Party at the Hotel Europa (2015), but then I wondered if I had subconsciously (deliberately, even!) lifted it from the cover.

It sounds like a word one might see […]