Off the Page
A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between
Nature enslaved no longer elicits wonder. Yet Bacon calls wonder 'the seed of knowledge.' Without seed, what can we expe …
Sean Cranbury chats with Carrie Snyder, whose novel, Girl Runner, has just been shortlisted for the 2014 Rogers Trust Fi …
We've made some great pairings of recent Canadian books of note, creating ideal cross-genre literary companions.…
In Quick Hits, a new 49th Shelf series, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, el …
Want to know more about the books and authors making waves this season? Just dive in to this great selection from 49th S …
The struggle for control of the narrative keeps history a contemporary subject.
Sometimes we need a different kind of world-building in YA.
History is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world in 2014.
Robert J. Wiersema is back with indie booksellers reports on what the hot books are in their stores right now, from new …
Throughout National Science and Technology Week (October 17–26), we're celebrating new Canadian books on science and technology. Today, we bring you a chapter from Bold Scientists: Dispatches From the Battle for Honest Science, by Michael Riordon. In his book, Riordon asks deep questions of bold scientists who defy the status quo including:
- An Indigenous biologist who integrates traditional knowledge and a trickster’s wit;
- An engineering professor who exposes the myths and dangers of fracking;
- A forensic geneticist who traces children stolen by the military in El Salvador;
- A sociologist who investigates the lure and threat of mass surveillance;
- A radical psychologist who confronts psychiatry’s dangerous power;
- A young marine biologist who risks her career to defend science and democracy.
In this short chapter, Riordon poses the paradox of science: "Nature enslaved no longer elicits wonder. Yet Bacon calls wonder 'the seed of knowledge.' Without seed, what can we expect to grow?"
Human responses to a spider’s web:
- Eeew, call the exterminator!
- Make metaphors: “O, what a tangled web we weave, / When first we practice to deceive!” (Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, 1808)
- Make sense: “Given the presumed metabolic effort required by …
Welcome to The Interruption, a 49th Shelf–Books on the Radio collaboration in which I interview Canadian writers about the surprising things that inform, inspire, and even interrupt their creative process.
The Interruption is generously sponsored by The UBC Creative Writing Program, celebrating 50 years of excellence in creative writing. Programs include undergraduate minor and major degrees, Masters of Fine Arts in Vancouver or by distance education from anywhere in the world! For more information visit creativewriting.ubc.ca.
Today, I chat with Carrie Snyder, whose novel, Girl Runner, has just been shortlisted for the 2014 Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Carrie discusses the true story fuelling her book: the 1929 Olympics in which elite Canadian women runners were allowed to compete in the 800-metre race—as well as the subsequent historical forces squeezing women athletes out of competition. Carrie also talks about the weirdness accompanying the wonderfulness of being nominated for a major lit award.
In the second podcast, Carrie reads from Girl Runner. …
As fascinating as books themselves (and oh, are books ever fascinating) are the connections between books, the curious ways in which books inform and echo each other, creating strange synergies completely outside of their authors' purview. In celebration of these connections, we've made great pairings of recent Canadian books of note, creating ideal cross-genre literary companions.
Girl Runner, by Carrie Snyder, and Older, Faster, Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All About Living Younger, Longer, by Margaret Webb
As one reads Carrie Snyder's new novel, Girl Runner, her protagonist's feet kicking up dust through the decades, the reader gets the sense that Aganetha would have made an excellent interview subject for Older, Faster, Stronger, Margaret Webb's new non-fiction book about women runners competing long into their later years.
About Girl Runner: Girl Runner is the story of Aganetha Smart, a former Olympic athlete who was famous in the 1920s, but who now, at age 104, lives in a nursing home, alone and forgotten by history. For Aganetha, a competitive and ambitious woman, her life remains present and unfinished in her mind.
When her quiet life is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of two young strangers, Aganetha begins to reflect on her chil …
In Quick Hits, a new 49th Shelf series, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.
19 Knives, by Mark Jarman
Genre: Short stories
Publisher: House of Anansi
What It's About
Quill & Quire described it like this—"Jarman’s work is .... fade-resistant. Each of 19 Knives’ 14 stories (all first-person narratives) integrates sparkling linguistic kinetics and honey-like narrative stickiness. Rejecting postmodern cynicism, Jarman celebrates life’s ecstatic mysteries. Religious in their own way – finding meaning in music and everyday life, not empty theology – these stories shake like Muddy Waters riding a riff into the dark recesses of the night."
What People Say
"It is very irritating to discover a wonderful book published too long ago to be an official 'book of the year.' Jarman's collection is ... brilliant. The writing is extraordinary, the stories are gripping, it is something new." —A.S. Byatt
"The best of many highlights in Jarman's new collection, 19 Knives, is 'Burn Man on a Texas Porch.' It …
While the seemingly never-ending roll-out of longlists and shortlists throughout the fall literary season can be exhausting, these lists really are a fantastic way to discover new books, and they've never been more various than they are this year. Want to know more about the books and authors making waves this season? Just dive in to this great selection from 49th Shelf's archives.
Waiting for the Man, by Arjun Basu, nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize
In December, Arjun Basu shared with us his Lit Wish List, which included, "some poetry, some imperfection, and some Coupland." Watch the video here.
Every Happy Family, by Dede Crane, nominated for a City of Victoria Book Award
"Once you are a mother, you are a mother for the rest of your life. A perpetual contract, there is no such thing as time off. Your heart has been peeled back, your instinct turned on...." Read the rest of Crane's beautiful essay on motherhood, which we featured on the blog in June 2013.