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 “Going Ashore” (1954)

For the first time, twelve-year-old Emma Ellinger feels truly connected to her mother. They are finally “doing something together, alone, with no man, no Uncle Anyone, to interfere”.

Tangier, Moracco 1887 Click for source data

It’s true that the cruise hasn’t gone entirely as planned; they have packed the wrong clothes (all summer dresses, […]

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The Promise Falls Trilogy

Promise Falls has a history. You might not think so, but it matters.

“Are we too insignificant up here: A couple of hours away from New York? Is that what we’re foolish enough to think? Let me tell you something, my friend. You want to strike fear into the hearts of Americans? Then go to […]

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November 2016, In My Bookbag

In which I discuss some of the skinny volumes which have kept me company while on the move, while heavier volumes (like Steven Price’s By Gaslight and Ami McKay’s The Witches of New York) stayed home.

The Selected Poetry of Ryszard Kapuściński is the first in the International Translation Series from Biblioasis.

It’s translated from […]

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Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am (2016)

In interview with Mark Medley in September, Jonathan Safran Foer discusses his new book, Here I Am, in such a way that it’s clear it feels distinct from his other writing for him.

Hamish Hamilton – PRH, 2016

Many of the attendees are carrying copies of his earlier books, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely […]

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Page-turners and other gripping reads

What’s interesting about each of these novels is that none fits a traditional model in the suspense genre. Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door is the closest to a conventional thriller. But even her novel spends more time on characterization and atmosphere than many loyal genre readers would tolerate.

Nonetheless, she does rely on tropes to […]

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Difficult Stories, Difficult Narrators: Five Novels

Conflicted: that describes my first impressions after meeting Pillow in Andrew Battershill’s Giller-nominated novel of the same name,and it also describes his perspective on the world.

It’s hard to be Pillow, to see all the angles which converge and diverge simultaneously on any single thought he has. For instance: “Pillow was of the mind that […]

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Auđur Ava Ólafsdóttir’s Butterflies in November (2003; 2014)

Almost ten years after its original publication, Butterflies in November was translated into English from the Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon. (This was in 2013, by Pushkin Press, though the edition which appears below was published in 2014 by Grove/Atlantic.)

2003; Translated Brian FitzGibbon, 2013

It gained substantial attention with its listing for the Independent […]

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Kate Taylor’s Serial Monogamy (2016)

“My books aren’t romances per se; they don’t even necessarily feature happy endings any more, they just conclude with hopeful moments that allow the reader to decide whether widows have the strength to go on or divorced dads find love for a second time.”

And there is nothing romantic about the idea of serial monogamy. One cannot […]

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Susan Philpott’s Dark Territory (2016)

Henriette has just met her, but Dark Territory is actually the second Signy Shepherd novel.

Simon & Schuster, 2016

“So wonderful to finally meet you, honey. We’ve all heard so much about you. […] Look at you, such a skinny little thing. From what Maitland said, I expected a giant killer, fourteen feet tall and swinging a mighty […]

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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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