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

Margaret Millar’s A Beast in View (1955; 2016)

She won the Edgar for it in 1956: Best Novel. (If you are looking for new reading lists, the Edgar Award’s site is filled with temptations.)

And it was the first of three, later awards being given for The Fiend in 1965 and Beyond This Point Are Monsters in 1971. (She would receive The Grand Master Award […]

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Tricia Dower’s Becoming Lin (2016)

Reading Becoming Lin reminded me of discovering Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room and Marge Piercy’s Small Changes. Two unapologetically feminist novels which I felt had poured out of my own heart into some other writer’s story. I inhaled these books, and I felt the same sense of intense recognition and kindred-spirit-ness in Tricia Dower’s newest […]

Karen Molson’s The Company of Crows (2016)

It might seem to be, at first glance, a quintessential CanLit passage, a poetic description of the natural world.

Linda Leith Publishing, 2016

But the opening passage of The Company of Crows reveals more about Karen Molson’s debut novel, than one might think.

“Thin grey lines fan out across the earthscape like a gigantic, tattered spiderweb. […]

December 2015, In My Bookbag

What I was not carrying in my bookbag this month: David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten, Shauna Singh Baldwin’s The Tiger Claw and the third volume in G.R.R. Martin’s Ice and Fire series.

These hefty volumes stayied at home, but these slimmer books were travelling this month. And there was more to-ing and fro-ing this month than usual: nice to have […]

Pauline Holdstock’s The Hunter and the Wild Girl (2015)

Despite its sedate and unassuming cover, Pauline Holdstock’s The Hunter and the Wild Girl begins in a rush.

Goose Lane, 2015

“With a shriek of splintering boards, the girl breaks into daylight and stands blinded, panting, sucking air as if it were a great hot soup, her chest heaving.”

This sentence and the following pages […]

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.

[…]

Nick Cutter’s The Deep (2015)

Nick Cutter’s debut, The Troop, was one of those books about which I was truly ambivalent, literally thunking the book down after a haunting and visceral scene and snatching it up again because I simply had to know what was going to happen next. I recommended it widely to friends (it’s possible that I think […]

Padma Viswanathan’s The Ever After of Ashwin Rao (2014)

The dedication to Padma Viswanathan’s second novel: For the lost, and for the living.

Random House of Canada, 2014

Therein, the reader haa a clue, for The Ever After of Ashwin Rao is equally preoccupied with losing and living.

The novel opens in 2004, on the precipice of the trial which was to address the 1985 fatal bombing […]

Page-turners: sometimes mysterious

Nothing like a good mystery. Some serial fun, with Giles Blunt, Ian Hamilton, Louise Penny, or my most recent discovery, the Nina Borg series by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis.

But one can find a good page-turner in the standalone novels on the fiction shelves too.

Take Claire Cameron’s freshly published The Bear, longlisted for the Bailey’s Prize and […]

Jowita Bydlowska’s Drunk Mom (2013)

“It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us… discover our soul.” (Desmond Tutu)

Doubleday Canada – Random House, 2013

If you take Desmond Tutu’s statement as truth, Jowita Bydlowska’s Drunk Mom is arguably the ultimate discovery.

Her to-the-bare-walls description of her alcoholism displays every weakness. It is a visceral story; the storyteller’s […]