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

Nadia Bozak’s Thirteen Shells (2016)

It’s with a subtle touch, but Nadia Bozak solidly roots the reader in time and place.

House of Anansi, 2016

This is not an easy task, because Shell only grows to the age of seventeen in Thirteen Shells — across thirteen stories, and childhood is inherently rootless.

So the details noted must be those within a child’s […]

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February 2016, In My Stacks

It’s a bright sunny day, when I snap this photo. I’m even more optimistic when I think of a month’s reading, when the sun shines. More hours with good reading light. And, in February. What could be better.

You can see the sheen of it in the image, the veil of sun in the room […]

Ian Williams: Not Anyone’s Anything (2011) and Personals (2012)

If the idea of experimental or innovative short stories makes you squirm, even though you are simultaneously bored with more traditional structure, Not Anyone’s Anything belongs on your bookshelf.

Ian Williams puts relationships at the core of his work and this fiction collection exhibits this tendency as well.

I also wholly enjoyed his poetry collection […]

October 2015, In My Reading Log

I pulled André Alexis’ Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa (1994) off my shelf when Fifteen Dogs was nominated for the Toronto Book Award (since then, FD has also been nominated for the Giller Prize and the Rogers’ Writers’ Trust Fiction Award). There aren’t any notable four-legged characters, but the collection is fascinating.

In speaking of his dreams, […]

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 […]

Infinite Riches: Virago Modern Classics

And what will you find in this collection of short stories, edited by Lynne Knight and published under this title (and under The Secret Woman) in 1993?

Thoughts and ideas about many things.

About marriage:

“If she had never, from the first, regarded her marriage as a full cancelling of her claims upon life, she […]

Late-Summer Reading: When and Where

For the past couple of weeks, I have been listening to Joseph Boyden’s Through Black Spruce on my daily walks.

I was walking in full summer, listening to descriptions of winter in Moose Factory in Northern Ontario.

The clusters of cloud in the story were from the exhaust of snowmobiles in February; the clusters I was […]

How Much Happiness, Really

Is it too much? Or, just enough. What am I to make of this final story in my Alice Munro reading project. (I read her last collection, Dear Life, in 2012.)

While rereading Too Much Happiness, I was constantly aware of the references to being happy, to happiness, in the stories.

Straight away, in the […]

“Wood” Alice Munro

Strangely enough, although I read this story twice earlier this year as well, when I scanned the table of contents I could not place it.

Planning to reread for a third time this morning, I had no idea; it wasn’t until the talk of the truck and Roy’s need to gather the wood sooner than expected, that I […]

“Child’s Play” Alice Munro

On the list of 10 Perfect Alice Munro sentences, recently selected by CBC, this is the first: “Every year, when you’re a child, you become a different person.”

It begs the question, “When does one stop becoming somebody new every year?”

Perhaps after an event like the incident described in this story, which isn’t shared with […]