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

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 […]

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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 […]

Kingdoms of the Dead

Lynda Barry says a “happy ending is hardly important, though we may be glad it’s there”.

But there’s more to it, she says: “The real joy is knowing that if you felt the trouble in the story, your kingdom isn’t dead.”*

Doubleday Canada, 2015

If one reads a lot of literary fiction, ambiguity in […]

John Bart’s Middenrammers (2016)

Although Middenrammers is set in 1970s England, it is not the England of English literature which Helene Hanff discovered in 84 Charing Cross Road.

Freehand Books, 2016

Nonetheless, the hospital which lies at the heart of the story does have a familiar air to it, for narrator and reader alike.

“Sweport Maternity had the same […]

Michelle Butler Hallett’s This Marlowe (2016)

Christopher Marlowe’s story begins and ends with a brawl, in the hands of Michelle Butler Hallett.

Goose Lane Editions, 2016

This Marlowe focuses on the final months of the playwright’s life, with his death registered as May 30, 1593.

His patron, Thomas Walsingham, openly supported his plays and verses, but they were indeed controversial, in […]

Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Café (1990)

“Do you remember, Big Sister, all those good times? In Cousin Chan’s abandoned house right in the middle of our neighbourhood, a dozen or so girls lying together, cooking together, working the fields, laughing and gissipping the entire day.”

The excerpt from this letter, from Fong Mei in March 1919, in her report […]

February 2016, In My Bookbag

My reading resolutions for this year revolve around a set of too-long-unread books. Many of which were too-long-unread because they are long and complicated. Like Marge Piercy’s Gone to Soldiers and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Gardens in the Dunes, which I have been leaving at home, while these slimmer volumes have been travelling with me.

Jeremy Love’s […]

February 2016, In My Stacks

It’s a bright sunny day, when I snap this photo. I’m even more optimistic when I think of a month’s reading, when the sun shines. More hours with good reading light. And, in February. What could be better.

You can see the sheen of it in the image, the veil of sun in the room […]