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

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 […]

Edna O’Brien’s The Love Object

In interview with Harriet Gilbert, when meeting to discuss her landmark work The Country Girls as part of the BBC’s World Book Club, Edna O’Brien speaks about the relationship in that novel between a young woman and a married man referred to as Mr. Gentleman.

Little, Brown and Company, 2015

Given the autobiographical nature of […]

“Some Women” Alice Munro

Unsurprisingly, “Some Women” offers readers a panoply of images of womanhood.

It begins by hearkening back to an earlier time, when “girls wore waist cinches and crinolines that could stand up by themselves”.

But then locates the narrator as being so old that even she is amazed by the number of years that have passed, […]

“Face” Alice Munro

“You think that would have changed things?” “The answer is of course, and for a while, and never.”

In interview with Eleanor Wachtel, Nick Hornby discusses the “problem of being divided being two worlds” saying that many of us have a version of this in our own lives.

This is true for the narrator of this […]