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

In My Reading Log, Summer 2017

In which there is talk of novels which were read too quickly to allow for extensive note-taking and snapshots: good reading.

Yewande Omotoso’s The Woman Next Door (2017) Longlisted for the Women’s Fiction Prize this year, this story about two women in their eighties, neighbours in South Africa, is quietly mesmerizing. The prose is straightforward, […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “The Moabitess”

Miss Horeham seems to have walked straight out of a Barbara Pym novel: an older woman with standards which are disappointed with some regularity.

She has lived in this pension for long enough to see families come and go, long enough to recognise the rhythms of the seasons there, and to feel justified in complaining when […]

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Chinese Girls: In Fiction, In Photos

Bette Bao Lord’s In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (1984) opens when Bandit is living in China in her grandparents’ home. She is ten years old (nine in Western birthdays) and she is about to learn that she will be going to live in the United States.

  “Holding Precious […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “Bernadette”

Alice Munro’s hired girls like to read too.In “Sunday Afternoon”, Alva asks Mr. Gannett if she could borrow “King Lear” and, also, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black.

Mr. Gannett agrees to share his books with Alva, just as Mr. Montjoy gifts the young Alice with his copy of Seven Gothic Tales at the end of the summer in “Hired Girl”, […]

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Mazo de la Roche’s Mary Wakefield (1949)

There were “few openings for women in the nineties” and, so, Mary Wakefield is forced to consider work as a governess in the 1890s.

She is fortunate, in fact, that Ernest Whiteoak is seeking a governess for his brother’s young son (nine years old) and daughter (seven years old).

Their mother died seven years ago and […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “Acceptance of Their Ways”

As is fitting for the opening story of Mavis Gallant’s second published collection, My Heart is Broken, many themes feel familiar.

The question of what constitutes a “good” woman, particularly when she is not a wife.

The dilemma of trying to live an interesting life while maintaining a sheen of “goodness”.

What bonds can be […]

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June 2017, In My Bookbag

In which I discuss the skinny volumes which accompany me on my travels, while the heavier volumes (like Margaret Millar’s omnibus of mysteries, like Elizabeth von Arnim’s Christopher and Columbus) remain at home.

Tiphanie Yanique’s Wife appeared from Peepal Press in 2015, after a collection of stories and a novel: time for poetry. It is […]

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Oh, the Saga-ness of it all

Rereading the Saga comics is definitely worthwhile. On first-reading, I was a little off-kilter, so engrossed in some panels that I missed others completely, only occasionally remembering to retrace my steps. Discovering wings or horns on characters who appeared humanoid at first glance was delightfully but consistently distracting.

Readers are aware almost immediately that the story […]

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Margaret Millar’s How Like an Angel (1962)

Exploring in the back country of Santa Barbara County California, Margaret Millar discovered a group of abandoned buildings on top of a ridge of the Santa Ynez mountains. The view was incredible: the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Ynez valley, Lake Cachuma, and the San Rafael mountains, along with a main lodge, out-buildings, and a tower.

[…]

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Life on Mars, Again and Again

When you’ve looked up a book title, have you ever been tempted by the other books you’ve found with the same title as the book for which you were searching?

In adding Lori McNulty’s debut short story collection to my online TBR list, I discovered several other books with the same title, including Tracy K. Smith’s […]

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