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Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

Latest Blog Posts
Between Gods

Alison Pick's Memoir List

[September 2, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Alison Pick, author of new book, Between Gods, shares a list of Canadian memoirs. 

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Book Cover Interference

On Our Radar

[August 28, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

New books by Michelle Berry, Alicia Priest, Laisha Rosnau, and Dave Atkinson

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Dazzling Debuts, As Picked by Mark Medley, Jared Bland, Steven W. Beattie, and Kerry Clare

Dazzling Debuts, As Picked by Mark Medley, Jared Bland, Steven W. Beattie, and Kerry Clare

[August 27, 2014] | By [Kiley Turner]

Not all first novels are assured enough to hold their own among titles from more established names, but those that are a …

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Aislinn Hunter's Red Letter Day

Aislinn Hunter's Red Letter Day

[August 26, 2014] | By [Kiley Turner]

Aislinn Hunter's first novel, Stay, was made into a feature film starring Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) and …

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Book Cover Mr Frank

Most Anticipated: Fall 2014 Kids' Books

[August 25, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Canadian children's literature is avowedly world-class, and the selection this season is up to the usual standard.

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Book Cover Stuck in the Middle

Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg

[August 21, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Desired and reviled, adulated and condemned, Winnipeg inspires intense and contradictory emotions.

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Book Cover Bugs Up Close

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Wild Summer Fun

[August 20, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Sky and earth, large scale to small, these books cover the gamut of wild summer fun.

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The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Kim Werker

The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Kim Werker

[August 18, 2014] | By [Sean Cranbury]

What's the opposite of pretty? Ugly. But ugly has its merits, among them a license to create because by allowing ourselv …

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Janey's Arcadia

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2014 Poetry Preview

[August 18, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Our Most Anticipated Series continues with this look at forthcoming Canadian poetry in Fall 2014.

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5 Elephants

The Story of Lucy, Canada's Last Northern Elephant

[August 14, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Learn about the remarkable lives of these magnificent creatures in 5 Elephants by Rob Laidlaw. 

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Alison Pick's Memoir List

Between Gods

From the Man Booker-nominated author of the novel Far to Go comes an unflinching, moving and unforgettable memoir about family secrets and the rediscovered past. 

Alison Pick was born in the 1970s and raised in a supportive, loving family. Then as a teenager, Alison made a discovery that instantly changed her understanding of her family, and her vision for her own life, forever. She learned that her Pick grandparents, who had escaped from the Czech Republic during WWII, were Jewish—and that most of this side of the family had died in concentration camps. She also discovered that her own father had not known of this history until his twenties and then he, too, had kept the secret from Alison and her sister.

In her early thirties, engaged to be married to her longtime boyfriend but struggling with a crippling depression, Alison slowly but doggedly began to research and uncover her Jewish heritage. Eventually she came to realize that her true path forward was to reclaim her history and indentity as a Jew. But even then, one seemingly insurmountable problem remained: her mother wasn't Jewish, so technically Alison wasn't either.

In her memoir, Between Gods, published today, Alison recounts her struggle with the meaning of her faith, her journey to convert to Judaism, he …

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On Our Radar

tagged : on our radar

"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.

*****

Interference, by Michelle Berry

From Julianne Isaacs' review at The Winnipeg Review

"My friend, this is the book for you. Ominous as its themes may be, Interference is tightly plotted and neatly executed, very nearly perfectly paced, and satisfyingly complex—but it is also escapism in its purest form, and a sheer delight to read.

The inhabitants of Parkville’s Edgewood Drive are normal, familiar. Ralph and Claire are coping with the demands of chemotherapy on Claire’s cancer-stricken body; their teenage children are attempting to cope. Tom and Maria are occupied with worry over their obsessive-compulsive daughter, Becky, and ignoring the problems in their marriage. Across the street, Trish, a busy mother and small-business owner, cleans up after her kids and screens all her calls when she’s finally alone in the house. Next door to Trish lives Dayton, fresh off the plane from California with a new baby—and no sign of a husband. A few streets away live peripheral characters—Michael, a disfigured car-wash employee, and Leah, the mother of a disabled …

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Dazzling Debuts, As Picked by Mark Medley, Jared Bland, Steven W. Beattie, and Kerry Clare

tagged : debut, fiction, 2014, novel

First novels, as a lot, are exciting phenomena because they carry so much of an author's energy and ambition. The best of them are electric, marked with a confidence and uniqueness that sets them apart from the rest.

In today's post, Mark Medley, who's just moved from the National Post to the Globe and Mail as books editor; Jared Bland, arts editor at the Globe; Steven W. Beattie, review editor at Quill & Quire and author of the blog, That Shakespearean Rag; and our own Kerry Clare, editor here and author of the popular lit blog, Pickle Me This, choose their favourite Canadian debuts so far of 2014.

*****

Mark Medley's Picks

troop
throughthewoods

"Reading Nick Cutter's debut horror novel, The Troop, is just about the most fun I've had this year. Okay, I know Cutter is actually Giller Prize-nominated author Craig Davidson, but this is his first novel under the pen name. A violent yet surprisingly tender portrait of boyhood—forget Richard Linklater! I was also blown away by Emily Carroll's debut collection of illustrated stories, Through the Woods. These are old-school, slow-burn …

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Aislinn Hunter's Red Letter Day

theworldbeforeus
redletter

Red Letter Day is the 49th Shelf series where Canadian authors tell us about a dream day where all pleasures are possible, thanks to a combination of extraordinary talent and mad cash. Today that day is envisioned by Aislinn Hunter, author of The World Before Us, a novel Helen Humphreys calls "a brilliant work of humanity and imagination." Aislinn's previous works have also earned her nominations for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, the Pat Lowther Award, The Danuta Gleed Award, The ReLit Prize, and the Amazon.ca First Novel award. Her poetry collection Into the Early Hours won the Gerald Lampert Award.

Here is the premise: It’s been a good year. Things are looking up. You’ve sold your book, some lucrative foreign rights, and won a few prizes. AND it’s your birthday. It’s time to treat yourself. For once, money is no object. It’s time to go live a little.

And so ...

*****

49th Shelf: You walk (or fly!) to your favourite bookstore (AH: Ben McNally in Toronto—so my bestie can meet up with me) and browse the shelves for three books you’ve been me …

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Most Anticipated: Fall 2014 Kids' Books

Canadian children's literature is avowedly world-class, and the selection this season is up to the usual standard. Our Fall Preview offers hours and hours of bedtime reading for lit-lovers of all ages. And don't miss the rest of our Fall Previews: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry.

Picture Books

Book Cover Winter Moon Song

With Good Morning, Canada (September), Andrea Lynn Beck follows up her celebrated Goodnight, Canada, as children across the country welcome a brand new day. You probably know and love Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman's A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, so get ready for their latest, Dashing Through the Snow: A Canadian Jingle Bells (October), which begins with Sasquatch upsetting Santa's sleigh and everyone getting the wrong presents. Sangeeta Bhadra's debut is Sam's Pet Temper (September), an amusing story about a boy who eventually learns to control his troublesome "pet," illustrated by Marian Arbona. In Winter Moon Song (August), award-winning writer Martha Brooks tells her own version of the "Rabbit in the Moon" story, which is shared by many cultures, her tender tale complemented by Leticia Ruifernández's illustrations. 

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