Off the Page
A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between
Books by Sigal Samuel, Rachel Wyatt, Michael V. Smith, Patti Laboucane Benson, Karen Connelly, Karen Bass, and Maureen F …
Series by Vehicule Press brings hard boiled detective novels of the '40s and '50s back into print.
What can urban history teach us about the cities we live in right now?
Because houses have many more sides than just four walls.
The first in a series of Interruptions with Griffin Poetry Prize finalists!
In which writers use a mysterious hole as a starting point for a mystery. The results are wildly diverse, a lot of fun, …
Kelley Powell, author of YA novel The Merit Birds, on novels that inhabit multiple points of view.
Fiction and poetry, adult books and a kids book, this installment of Shelf Talkers is a veritable bouquet of spring bloo …
"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.
The Mystics of Mile End, by Sigal Samuel
Reviewed by Rory McCluckie in YULBuzz:
"It's this blend of mystery and Montreal life that is one of Samuel's most effective achievements but it's by no means the only way that The Mystics of Mile End succeeds. As the author told the crowd at D&Q, she has tried to work the Jewish textual tradition within which she grew up into the narrative while keeping it accessible; the way in which references to Kabbalah are sprinkled throughout the text is a wonderful complement to the mystical element that courses through the characters' lives. She's also done a good job of painting a portrait of Mile End that is vivid, personal and sure to be of interest to anyone who has known the area, past or present. The book abounds in descriptive detail of streets and people that will be immediately familiar to Montrealers despite being glazed with Samuel's particular blend of the mundane and the magical."
Richochet Books is CanLit like you've never seen it before. An imprint of Montreal's Vehicule Press and edited by Brian Busby, the series brings hard-boiled noir detective novels of the 1940s and 1950s back into print. The latest title is Hot Freeze, by Douglas Sanderson, which is forthcoming this fall.
We asked Simon Dardick, Co-Publisher of Vehicule Press, to tell us more about Ricochet and its origins, and just how they come up with the series' incredibly distinctive cover art.
49th Shelf: How did the Ricochet Books series come to be (and get their name)?
Simon Dardick: Collecting Canadian noir myst …
There is so much good stuff on 49th Shelf that we sometimes compile our favourites to keep them close at hand via this series, Top Shelf. If there's not a book for you here—nay, ten!—well, we guess there isn't but it would be very, very strange. Enjoy!
Sometimes cities pulse with energy and optimism. And sometimes they crush. Urban Grit is about the crush, with characters struggling to survive and even thrive in the face of it.
Check out Suzanne Allyssa Andrew's blog post along these lines, as well: Messes and Meltdowns in the City.
Whether or not you believe that "short is the new long" when it comes to fiction, you'd be hard-pressed to turn down a book or two on this list of hot short story collections that came out in Spring 2015. Another hugely popular list among members in this same area is Canadian Short Stories, The New Generation, a crowdsourced list of writers who may be heirs-apparent to Munro and Gallant, and who are most definitely compelling Canadian voices in the twenty-first century.
Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.
John Lorinc is a Toronto urban affairs journalist and co-editor, with Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg and Tatum Taylor, of The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto’s First Immigrant Neighbourhood.
When I was growing up, in North Toronto in the early 1970s, I loved to thumb through a picture book that my parents had acquired as part of a small collection of titles about the city’s history. They had fled Hungary during the 1956 revolution, settled in Toronto and set to work becoming Canadians, and, as the presence of those books suggested, Torontonians as well.
Some of these volumes documented a time that seemed impossibly remote. They contained (to my eye) dust-dry tales of stern Anglicans and colonial superintendents presiding over a town depicted in engravings that bore no discernible similarity to the city I was com …
Our next stop for Mystery Month is Safe as Houses by Susan Glickman. It's the story of a quiet Toronto neighbourhood disturbed by a murder in its midst, a book that portrays the uncanniness of discovering that our safe places have hidden dangers after all. And it's true that houses have many more sides than just four walls. In this list—whose expansiveness is fitting for an author who has written for a children and adults—Glickman shares ten stories with a house at their centres.
My new novel, Safe as Houses, is a murder mystery that plays with the assumption that a house is always a safe place. Home can be a refuge; family (another meaning of “house”, as in the house of Windsor) can be those who love you best. But home can also be a prison, and those you live with your greatest torment. Here are some other Canadian books, for both adults and kids, which ask whether a house is always a home—or even whether a home need be an actual house.
Something from Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman
A beautiful picture book that parents and children will both e …