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

Mavis Gallant’s “The Picnic” (1952)

The weight of the brooch pulls the fabric of young Margaret Marshall’s picnic frock. It always hangs just fine off her navy blue shorts, but the light-weight dress doesn’t provide a suitable backdrop.

How disappointing for young Margaret, who so treasures this gift from Madame Pégorin, the photo of the woman’s beloved poodle encircled by seed […]

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December 2015, In My Reading Log

Three of these books were inspired by the conjunction between my own shelves and this year’s Random House Bingo, which has a CanLit theme.

The Tiger Claw filled my Nominated-for-the-Giller square, Evan Munday’s second October Schwartz for the Mystery-or-Thriller square, and Elaine Lui’s book about her relationship with her mother perfectly suits the celebrity-memoir square.

Have you […]

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.

[…]

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: 

[…]

Belonging: M.G. Vassanji, Michael Winter and Alan Doyle

It’s a familar theme in the Canadian landscape of letters, and it was also the topic of Adrienne Clarkson’s recent Massey Lecture. “What does it mean to belong? And how do we belong? Who do we belong to?” These are the central ideas discussed in the series and they are at the heart of these […]

Shifting Powers: Three Novels

Gordon Henderson’s Man in the Shadows (2014)

HarperCollins, 2014

“As he helped her into the carriage, Agnes Macdonald whispered demurely, “I can lean on no other arm like yours.” Macdonald sat back contentedly and called out to the driver, “Buckley, take us to the office.”

It would have been simple, the man across the […]

Lissa M. Cowan’s Milk Fever (2013)

You might not guess from the cover of this debut novel that the epigraph would be drawn from Olympe de Gouges’ “Declaration of the Rights of Women”.

Demeter Press, 2013

But one can be dressed in satin and lace and be a revolutionary, of course.

As was Olympe de Gouges, although her portrait was […]

Mary-Rose MacColl’s In Falling Snow (2012)

It begins with a short but vividly drawn scene: two lovers alone in a room in Paris in 1917.

Sensorily rich and broadly sketched: the reader is immediately engaged.

Not only by the substance, but by a couple of unexpected phrases therein: questions arise.

Those questions are soon set aside however, for the narrative moves […]

Two French Novels, In Translation: One Old, One New

Nathacha Appanah’s The Last Brother Translator Geoffrey Strachan (French) Graywolf Press, 2011

A Graywolf Press publication, a contender for The Tournament of Books, with a gorgeous and haunting cover image: all excellent reasons for picking up a copy of The Last Brother without reading a single word.

And then you meet Raj. It’s clear that he […]

Roopa Farooki’s The Flying Man (2012)

Headline – Review, 2012

The Flying Man opens in 2012, in France; our hero is preparing to die, looking back on his life.

He’s in Biarritz, but wouldn’t it sound better to say that he was in Paris?

And wouldn’t it sound better to say that he is marvelling at his life, rather than […]