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

Vickie Gendreau’s Testament (2012; 2016)

Originally written after the author had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, Testament is a response to the news that Vickie Gendreau would have little time left to live: about a year.

2012; Book Thug, 2016

The novel’s translator, Aimee Wall, writes about the work, a few months after its author died, in Lemon […]

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In My Reading Log

The majority of my reading time this year has been devoted to the books which have been living for years, though neglected, on my own bookshelves. In May and June, I had a planned rebellion, and I enjoyed a great number of new books. But now I have returned to my own shelves once more.

[…]

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Quarterly Stories: Summer 2015

This year I have read some stand-out collections, but for the most part I neglected to take notes from them:

Joy Williams’ Honored Guests, Kathleen Winter’s The Freedom in American Songs, Jessica Grant’s Making Light of Tragedy, Shawn Syms’ Nothing Looks Familiar, Elaine McCluskey’s Hello, Sweetheart, Julia Leggett’s Gone South and Other Ways to Disappear, Mark Anthony […]

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“Child’s Play” Alice Munro

On the list of 10 Perfect Alice Munro sentences, recently selected by CBC, this is the first: “Every year, when you’re a child, you become a different person.”

It begs the question, “When does one stop becoming somebody new every year?”

Perhaps after an event like the incident described in this story, which isn’t shared with […]

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Summer Reading To-Do List for Stormy Days (4 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?

House of Anansi, 2015

For off-the-land adventure: 

Gather nuts and […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Neil Smith’s Boo (2015)

There are “ways of making people into ghosts”. So Atticus say, to Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird, about Boo (Arthur) Radley.

Alfred A. Knopf, 2015

Neil Smith turned Oliver Dalrymple into a ghost in Boo. And, then, he named him Boo and gave him a Casper the Friendly Ghost wrist watch.

Whether or not Arthur […]

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Sally Mann’s Hold Still (2015)

Sally Mann’s Hold Still is a photographer’s memoir; although she has kept a journal since she was a girl, her love of imagery is deeply rooted, and it’s hard to imagine her memoir taking any other form.

Currently represented by the Gagosian Gallery, her CV is impressive and extensive, but even those who have never […]

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Hollie Adams’ Things You’ve Inherited From Your Mother (2015)

Carrie’s mother died on Tuesday. The loss has fragmented her view of the world, dulled her senses (or is that the alcohol?) and sharpened her wit.

NeWest Press, 2015

Given the circumstances, the novel’s narrative tone is a quick slap to the face, heightened colour left behind in the shape of what has struck […]

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