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

Kingdoms of the Dead

Lynda Barry says a “happy ending is hardly important, though we may be glad it’s there”.

But there’s more to it, she says: “The real joy is knowing that if you felt the trouble in the story, your kingdom isn’t dead.”*

Doubleday Canada, 2015

If one reads a lot of literary fiction, ambiguity in […]


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 […]


Michael Crummey’s Sweetland (2014)

It begins in fog. With Matthew Sweetland hearing voices “so indistinct he thought they might be imaginary”.

Doubleday Canada, 2014

This scene from the past alerts readers that they should be concerned with the line between the real and the invented, and even more to the point, with how Sweetland views these states.

For readers […]


Memory, regret, dying, avalanches: quintessential Canlit

Dundurn, 2012

The ReLit shortlist was announced earlier this week, but I’m still reading from the longlist.

Farzana Doctor’s Six Metres of Pavement (Dundurn) was also nominated for the Toronto Book Award.

That’s fitting because the setting plays an important role in this story, but much of the drama is interior, unfolding in geography defined by […]


Orange January: The Lovely Bones (2002)

Striking cover, no?

Alice Sebold’s novel was longlisted for the Orange Prize in 2003, the year that Valerie Martin’s Property won the prize.

A friend of mine was so excited about The Lovely Bones, that she bought it as soon as it was available in paperback, and I’ve had my copy ever since.

Because […]


Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (1868)

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (1868)

When I first read Little Women, it was my mother’s copy from when she was a girl. It contained both Little Women and Good Wives, though I didn’t understand that until this summer.

Here’s a picture of the copy I spent time with this summer; I’ve had it since […]