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 Other Paris” (1956)

There is, about an hour’s drive from Toronto, a small town called Paris, on the Grand River. I’ve visited it a couple of times and I have travelled through it, by train, countless times.

Rarely, on one of those rail journeys, did I miss that broad curve of the tracks, the glorious view of the river […]


Listening for What’s Missing: Notes and novels, pages and spaces

“I do know that missing is a feeling,” Ruby announces, in Riel Nason’s debut, The Town that Drowned. Is it? It’s true for Ruby, and her story is preoccupied with what is being lost, a chronological tale rooted in the moments of losing.

At first glance, it seems as though Lydia Perović’s All That Sang echoes Ruby’s belief. […]


In My Reading Log

The majority of my reading time this year has been devoted to the books which have been living for years, though neglected, on my own bookshelves. In May and June, I had a planned rebellion, and I enjoyed a great number of new books. But now I have returned to my own shelves once more.



September 2014: In My Reading Log

Among other books enjoyed in September were some standout novels that will be featured later this month, including Michael Crummey’s Sweetland and Magie Dominic’s Street Angel. There was also Diversiverse and the launch of RIP IX, and much musing on future Read-a-Thon choices. Award longlists began appearing (including the Toronto Book Award and the Giller Prize) […]


Paul Headrick’s The Doctrine of Affections (2010)

Consider this Baroque idea, the Doctrine of Affections. That a single movement of music should arouse a single emotion.

Freehand Books, 2010

It’s the perfect title for this collection, for readers can expect a series of intense and diverse emotional responses to each of Paul Headrick’s twelve stories.

The first is set in 19th-Century Paris […]


Benjamin Constable’s Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa (2013)

Imagine the Griffin and Sabine stories.

Gallery Books – Simon & Schuster, 2013

But take away the artwork.

And substitute notebooks for postcards.

Now, combine that with the bizarre otherworldliness of Banana Yoshimoto’s novels.

Take their spirited heroines, and the matter-of-fact acceptance of a thin veil between the worlds.

Finally, consider the strange cats that […]


Rawi Hage’s De Niro’s Game (2006)

Rawi Hage has said that De Niro’s Game began as a short story.

1996; House of Anansi, 2012

A short story that continued to grow.

“I finally, out of nowhere, had a novel on my hands and I sent it to a few places and I got a few responses.”

The scenic construction does […]


Rising: The Emperor of Paris

One might think that writers of bookish books would go on and on, produce vast treatises on their love of books and literature, but many bookish books are slim volumes.

Consider Carlos Maria Dominguez’s The House of Paper (2004), Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953), and Bohumil Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude (1976; Trans. Michael Henry Heim): slim bookish […]


BIP’s Snips: Thoughts on three books

Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie’s Aya de Yopougon 4 Gallimard, 2008

Read: At the table, because I said that I would use my dictionary to look up all the French words that I don’t know (of course I always say that, but I never do) Warning: As the fourth book in the series, I can’t imagine […]


Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies (2011)

It’s 1952, in the hottest summer that Paris has had since before the war.

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2012

Beatrice writes to her brother, Marvin, saying “Paris was terrible”, and she has little else to report.

She has travelled there, at Marvin’s request, to look for Marvin’s son, Julian.

But although there were […]