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

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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


Lisa Moore’s Caught (2013/2014)

Lisa Moore has pulled from the headlines to create fiction before, and this is not the first time she has pulled readers into painful territory by the heart.

Grove Press, 2014

“I learned to graft bits and pieces of true-life experiences together to form fiction. I learned not to worry about what the story […]


Michael Winter’s Minister Without Portfolio (2013)

Readers familiar with Michael Winter’s fiction will immediately recognize the contrast between stark prose and emotional intensity; in the gap between, the reader resides.

For it’s not as though Henry Hayward does not feel, but it’s as though he has raised a hand to protect himself from the heat of the blaze; the reader is […]


Wayne Johnston’s The Son of a Certain Woman (2013)

“The Son of A Certain Woman. You don’t have to have read Joyce to ‘get’ it. But it’s a touch more fun if you have.”

And that is because it is Wayne Johnston’s “Joyce book”.

Which one might take to mean that it’s about the Joyce family. (Primarily about Percy and his mother, Penelope, but […]


Michael Winter’s One Last Good Look (1999)

Dear Gabriel English,

House of Anansi, 1999

You don’t know me, but I’m usually quite obsessive about reading things in the proper order, so I’m surprised that I read This All Happened a couple of years ago, having somehow missed the fact that you are also at the heart of this collection of short […]


Lisa Moore’s Alligator (2004)

When readers look into the eye of Lisa Moore’s fiction, they are changed.

House of Anansi, 2004

“I knelt down near the fence and looked into the eye of a giant alligator that was very near the fence. The alligator did not move and did not move. I saw myself kneeling in its eye […]