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

The intersection between pictures and stories

From my discovery of Neil Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine books, I have sought out books that play with form. (Even earlier, I fell hard for Anastasia Krupnik’s To-Do lists which appeared as handwritten notes on lined paper in Lois Lowry’s books.)

Recently, Kim Belair’s and Ariadne MacGillivray’s Pure Steele (2013) struck my fancy. Each of its pages […]

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BIP’s Snips: Abbreviated Bookishness

Penguin-Razorbill, 2012

Mariko Tamaki’s (You) Set Me On Fire (2012)

Read: At the hair salon, on the TTC, standing in line: everywhere. Allison’s voice is strong and compelling. I could pick up this story and immediately fall into step with her, even if I only had a very short time to read. Warning: Bad […]

Michelle Cliff’s Free Enterprise (1993)

This isn’t necessarily a story that you will know.

Penguin Books, 1993

And nor are you expected to.

“We all know how history comes down to us, which stories, which versions tend to be passed on.”

But here, in Free Enterprise, in a novel, we might find another version of truth.

As Jessamyn West […]

TGIF: In the workplace, on the page (3 of 4)

A new Friday fugue, running through this month, considering the ways in which our working lives appear on the pages of novels and short stories. The first two weeks appear here and here.)

Tightrope Books, 2011

Kathryn Mockler’s Onion Man (2011) “The first night, time went by fast because it was new, but since […]

TGIF: In the workplace, on the page (1 of 4)

A new Friday fugue, running through this month, considering the ways in which our working lives appear on the pages of novels and short stories.

Some of my favourite novels spend a good amount of time considering the good amount of time that we spend in our workplaces.

Joshua Ferris’ And Then We Came to […]

“The Bear Came Over the Mountain” Alice Munro

A good ways into the story, readers meet this proclamation: “You never quite knew how such things would turn out. You almost knew, but you could never be sure.”

It is perhaps as true about “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” as it is about Grant’s predictions about his relationships with women.

But this story […]

“Queenie” Alice Munro

Unsurprisingly, a story named for a main character is going to be preoccupied with names and identity.

It’s also the first thing readers observe Queenie saying to Chrissy, when she arrives in Toronto and is met at Union Station.

Her husband thinks it sounds like an animal’s name, so Chrissy is asked not to […]

“What Is Remembered” Alice Munro

It’s inescapable, this sense of “What Is Remembered” being an alternate version of “Tricks”. (If you want to avoid general spoilers, best not to click on that link, for you will intuit the sort of ending which that story has and thus the contrasting tone herein.)

Once again, our narrator is reflecting upon the events of the […]

“Post and Beam” Alice Munro

The details in “Post and Bean” matter. The specific itty-bitty matters of surprising consequence. Not necessarily what one sees at first glance, but what one uncovers, what the broader whole can be understood to mean.

Take the group of people in the church office. At first, a stranger to the office might think, “Oh, what […]

“Nettles” Alice Munro

Sometimes, when I begin reading an Alice Munro story, I am overwhelmed by a sense of “there it is”. It’s a feeling of immediate and undeniable recognition of familiar elements.

Like the beginning of “Nettles”, which begins with firmly rooting the reader in a time and place.

It is summer. It is 1979. The narrator […]