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

Theresa Kishkan’s Mnemonic: A Book of Trees (2011)

Like Sharon Butala in Perfection of the Morning (1994) and Candace Savage in The Geography of Blood (2012), Theresa Kishkan explores the relationship between landscape and memory.

Goose Lane Editions, 2011

The essays in Mnemonic are titled in two ways, first with the Latin name for a tree and, second, with a reference to [...]

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September 2014: In My Reading Log

Among other books enjoyed in September were some standout novels that will be featured later this month, including Michael Crummey’s Sweetland and Magie Dominic’s Street Angel. There was also Diversiverse and the launch of RIP IX, and much musing on future Read-a-Thon choices. Award longlists began appearing (including the Toronto Book Award and the Giller Prize) [...]

Debra Komar’s The Lynching of Peter Wheeler (2014)

Debra Komar creates a narrative which manages to straddle the line between scholarly analysis and page-turner, relying upon court records, newspapers, and other historical documentation to gather evidence surrounding the murder of 14-year-old Annie Kempton in Bear River, Nova Scotia in 1896.

Goose Lane Editions, 2014

“This book looks back so we can see [...]

My mini-Canlit-read-a-thon on Canada Day, 2014 (II)

Choosing a stack based on whimsy rather than duty urged me to binge on these books with enthusiasm. The afternoon heat was held at bay by good stories and an assortment of drinks (often rum with some sort of fruit juice, from tangerine to strawberry, lemon to cherry). And without any pressing engagements, it was [...]

Candace Savage’s A Geography of Blood (2012)

“The ‘geography’ in question is the Cypress Hills, a broken rise of land that straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, just north of Havre, Montana,” the author explains.* 

“The country is a complete knockout for anyone who enjoys the romance of the Earth’s history or who is susceptible to the wild, windblown beauty of natural prairie.  I was [...]

May 2014, In My Bookbag

Are you still there? If so, many thanks.

It’s been quiet around here; I realized that my database had tripled its allotted storage and was refusing to hold even one more byte sometime in March, and the oh-so-smart-coder-types have only recently gotten things back in working order. Many thanks to these tech-minded folks. The up-side [...]

Elspeth Cameron’s Aunt Winnie (2013)

Which aunt of yours would inspire you to write a biography? After writing about Hugh MacLennan, Irving Layton, Earle Birney and The Girls, Elspeth Cameron turned to her Aunt Winnie.

Cormorant Books, 2013

“Aunt Winnie was born twelve days after the death of Queen Victoria, on 2 February 1901. Mother used to say that [...]

Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch (2014)

Within pages, the bookish will find a niche to inhabit in Rebecca Mead’s book, in much the same way that the author has inhabited the pages of Middlemarch.

Bond Street Books – Doubleday, 2014

Perhaps not in exactly the same way, for as the author posits, that particularly profound experience might be rooted for [...]

Priscila Uppal’s Projection (2013)

At twenty-eight years old, Priscila Uppal meets her mother in Brazil, twenty years after her mother has abandoned daughter-son-husband.

Two decades later, their relationship is a complicated one between near-strangers.

They spend twelve days together and the experience is shared in Projection within a framework of movie titles.

This organizing principle reveals the tangible and [...]

My Bloody Valentine: On Lawrence Hill’s 2013 Massey Lecture

This year’s Massey Lecture text begins with passion and grandiose declarations.

“I have had a lifelong obsession with blood, and I’m not the only one. As both substance and symbol, blood reveals us, divides us, and unites us. We care about blood, because it spills literally and figuratively into every significant corner of [...]