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

Riel Nason’s All the Things We Leave Behind (2016)

The title of her second novel might well have been a discarded option for her debut; Riel Nason is back in familiar territory: the intersection between memory and identity, the line between mysticism and madness, and sibling bonds in a coming-of-age tale.

Goose Lane, 2016

Now it is 1977 and readers are introduced to Violet, […]

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Riel Nason’s The Town that Drowned (2011)

Nothing really happens. Here, the “main event is simply a view of the water”. So Ruby’s story should not be a page-turner. But, in fact, The Town that Drowned is a coming-of-age story with a curious momentum.

No single element is responsible: character and voice, setting and structure, all work in concert in this debut, […]

Darren Greer’s Advocate (2016)

“The past presses so hard on the present, the present is badly bruised, blood brims under the skin.”

These lines from Brenda Shaughnessy’s poem “Nachträglichkeit”* fit beautifully with Darren Greer’s new novel, Advocate:

Not only because much of Advocate is preoccupied with memory, with what the characters carry with them everyday which belongs to another […]

Quarterly Stories: Autumn 2016

Only ten this year, so far. Without my Alice Munro project to steer me, I am not reading as many short story collections now.

Over the summer, I read Cherie Dimaline’s A Gentle Habit (2015) as part of All Lit Up’s summer bookclub. Dimaline is a member of the Georgian Bay Métis community and her […]

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI (RIPXI): Novels 2016

When I picked up Cherie Priest’s I Am Princess X, it was on the advice of a trusted bookseller for a (then) thirteen-year-old friend of mine. Then an older reading friend raved about it too. At last, I picked it up, and was pleased to find it was my first RIP read.

There is a […]

Lisa Moore’s Flannery (2016)

Lisa Moore builds folks from the ink up: she is standout at characterization.

Groundwood Books, 2016

One of the elements that makes her characters so convincing is the echo effect, the reverberations off seemingly extraneous details (in images, in descriptions, in settings) to construct multi-faceted individuals.

Readers who have come to admire this quality in […]

Summer Reading To-Do List for Sunny Days (2 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?

Little, Brown and Company, 2015

For memoir readers:

Remember the […]

In My Reading Log

At the beginning of March, I was determined to keep my nose in a stack of backlisted books. Books like these are the kind that to keep my focus on my own shelves in this reading year.

Chad Pelley’s Every Little Thing (2013) “Every day, every hour, really, it was a new name and a new […]

Countdown: Magie Dominic and Ann-Marie MacDonald

With chapters named for the days of the week in Street Angel and with specific dates in a given week in Adult Onset, these two novels seem to make ideal reading companions.

Ultimately, much of literary fiction is preoccupied with time. Whether it is Molly Bloom’s day in James Joyce’s classic Ulysses or the week […]

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 […]