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 Deceptions of Marie-Blanche”

If the story were titled “Les Deceptions de Marie-Blanche”, it might be translated as “The Disappointments of Marie-Blanche”: an apt choice.

San Francisco Earthquake, 1907 – Click for source details

And, yet, as it stands, there is the added implication that Marie-Blanche has not only been disappointed by her love affairs, but that the […]

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Late-Summer Reading: When and Where

For the past couple of weeks, I have been listening to Joseph Boyden’s Through Black Spruce on my daily walks.

I was walking in full summer, listening to descriptions of winter in Moose Factory in Northern Ontario.

The clusters of cloud in the story were from the exhaust of snowmobiles in February; the clusters I was […]

Sigal Samuel’s The Mystics of Mile End (2015)

There are five windows on the cover of Sigal Samuel’s debut novel; in only one of them does a pair of people appear.

Freehand Books, 2015

In three of the windows there is a solitary silhouette, and in the window at the top, the blind is nearly pulled to the bottom of the sill.

The […]

Summer Reading To-Do List for Stormy Days (3 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?

Cormorant Books, 2015

For coming-of-age devotees: 

Accompany Lawrence Nolan on […]

TGIF: In the workplace, on the page (1 of 4)

A new Friday fugue, running through this month, considering the ways in which our working lives appear on the pages of novels and short stories.

Some of my favourite novels spend a good amount of time considering the good amount of time that we spend in our workplaces.

Joshua Ferris’ And Then We Came to […]

Emerging and Established: The Journey Prize Stories 26 and Margaret Atwood

Just as the jury enjoyed reading the stories submitted for tthe 2014 Journey Prize, other readers can also value the “exposure to a new generation of writers who are extending the tradition of Canadian short fiction well into the twenty-first century”.

McClelland & Stewart, 2014.

Edited by Steven W. Beattie, Craig Davidson and Saleema […]

Mireille Silcoff’s Chez L’Arabe (2014)

Weeks after reading these stories, a glance at the table of contents brings back their characters and arcs in a moment. (With “Flower Watching” and “Eskimos” I also required the aid of the characters’ names I’d noted.)

These stories stood out, not only as independent narratives but, simultaneously, for the connections between them; as with […]

Kim Thúy’s Mãn (2013)

In discussing the different kinds of love which the Vietnamese language distinguishes between, Kim Thúy’s Ru lists thích, which means “to love by taste”.

Random House Canada, 2014

(One may also love without being in love (thuong), love passionately (yêu), love ecstatically (mê), love blindly (mù quáng), or love gratefully (tình nghīa) and it’s impossible “quite simply to […]

Mark Lavorato’s Serafim and Claire (2014)      

Mark Lavorato’s debut novel is aptly titled as the novel is equally divided between these two characters, a young woman who dances on stage and a young man who takes photographs on the streets. Through them, readers experience Montreal of the 1920s, from vaudeville to fascism, and women’s rights to French/English tensions.

House of […]

Daughters, Mothers: Half-Formed and Otherwise

Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing (2014)

Reading.

Then Not.

Simon & Schuster, 2014

Sharp sentences.

Jabbing thoughts.

Unkindnesses bearing down.

Book, set aside.

Pause.

And here is where the experience of reading A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing may end for many readers.

Some, however, will lick their wounds and pick […]