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Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Zsuzsi Gartner

The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Zsuzsi Gartner

[July 21, 2014] | By [Sean Cranbury]

Today's The Interruption is with Zsuzsi Gartner, author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives and All the Anxious …

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Book Cover A Siege of Bitterns

Steve Burrows on Birds and Books: The Stuff of Life

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

There aren’t many things you can do for free while sitting in a chair that will transport you to another world. Readin …

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Book Cover Hoopla

Chilling With Cool DIY Culture

[July 17, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Want to get crafty? Hook a rug? Whittle a whistle? Build a canoe? Here are some books to show you how. 

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Book Cover This One Summer

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Graphic Novels for Summer

[July 16, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Bliss is a hammock in summer and a stack of graphic novels.

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The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Avi Silberstein

The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Avi Silberstein

[July 15, 2014] | By [Sean Cranbury]

Today's The Interruption is with Avi Silberstein, author of the political thriller Human Solutions. Avi talks about bask …

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Behind the Scenes: How We Discover Great Canadian Books

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

Understanding how we find books at 49th Shelf can better help you understand how to make our site work for you.

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Mussel Watermelon Salad from Mussels Cookbook

Summer Eats: Greek-Style Mussel and Watermelon Salad

[July 10, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Is there anything more refreshing than a cool slice of watermelon on a hot summer’s day? A delicious recipe from the n …

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The Recommend for July

The Recommend for July

[July 9, 2014] | By [Kiley Turner]

This week we're pleased to present the picks of author Bill Gaston (The World); writer and speculative fiction blogger, …

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Mapping Meat, Doughnuts, and Erotic Canada: The Geist Atlas of Canada

Mapping Meat, Doughnuts, and Erotic Canada: The Geist Atlas of Canada

[July 8, 2014] | By [Kiley Turner]

Today, Melissa Edwards and Arsenal Pulp Press allow us to share a few of the great maps from The Geist Atlas of Canada: …

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Book Cover Dying for Murder

What’s So Relaxing About Murder Anyway?

[July 7, 2014] | By [Kerry Clare]

Crime novelist Suzanne Kingsmill on the merits of curling up with a mystery book while relaxing in your hammock. 

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The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Zsuzsi Gartner

betterlivingthroughplasticexplosives

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 Zsuzsi Gartner, the author of the short fiction collections Better Living Through Plastic Explosives and All the Anxious Girls on Earth, and the editor of Darwin’s Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow. Her stories have been widely anthologized, and broadcast on CBC and NPR’s Selected Shorts. Better Living Through Plastic Explosives was shortlisted for the 2011 Giller Prize.

In the first podcast, Sean and Zsuzsi explore the idea of what can be a productive interruption in a writer's life, as well as the questions Zsuzsi thinks are essential to ask when considering what book one wants to put out in the world. In the second podcast, Zsuzsi reads from a new, unfinished short story, "The Secret Life of Plants."

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Steve Burrows on Birds and Books: The Stuff of Life

Book Cover A Siege of Bitterns

Steve Burrows' first book in the Birder Murder Mystery series is A Siege of Bitterns, which was published this spring to terrific reviews. It's the story of Inspector Domenic Jejeune, whose birding skills come in handy while solving crimes on England's Norfolk coast. Outside of murder mysteries, birds have played a big role in Burrows' life, through his nature writing and also as a hobby. In this guest post, he shares the pleasures of birding right in one's own backyard, and suggests that birds and literature are a natural fit. 

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When you think about it, there aren’t many things you can do for free while sitting in a chair that will transport you to another world. Reading fiction is one. Watching birds is another. To sit and watch the activity at backyard feeders is to enter a realm in which there will be much that is familiar to readers of great fiction. There are triumphs and tragedies, feuds and collaborations, rewards and injustice. In short, the stuff of life—all played out against a backdrop of suet and seed. But other story elements exist at the bird feeders, too, those that make us question, as all good fiction does, what we think we know, and what we hold dear.

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Chilling With Cool DIY Culture

Throughout this month, we've been thinking about chilling, about cold beverages, summer breezes, and all the best ways to relax. And one of these best ways to relax is, oddly, by keeping our hands busy, by making stuff, pursuing hobbies and craft. Such pastimes no longer come with a stodgy air. Partly thanks to books like these, DIY culture has never been so cool. 

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Book Cover Yarn Bombing

Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Leanne Prain and Mandy Moore

Vancouver's Leanne Prain really is the Canadian Queen of Cool DIY. She made waves with her first book, Yarn Bombing, which she created with Mandy Moore. The book came around at just the right time, when yarn bombing was just beginning to be acknowledged as part of an international activist movement. Yarn Bombing received wide attention, notably in the New York Times with a feature that summed the book up just right: "It is part coffee-table book, with color photographs of creative bombs, and part tutorial, with tips like wearing "ninja" black to avoid capture. The book borrows from the vernacular of street graffiti and half-jokingly positions yarn bombing as an illicit alternative for knitters bored making yet another Christmas sweater. It asks readers to get off their rocking chairs and 'take back the knit.'" 

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Graphic Novels for Summer

Each month, our children's librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks. 

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Bliss is a hammock in summer and a stack of graphic novels. Right on top of the pile should be This One Summer, by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. It’s the story of Rose and her family’s annual trip to Awago Beach—a summer spent eavesdropping on a grownup world; the cute guy at the variety store who’s rumoured to have gotten a girl pregnant; Rose’s arguing parents; her mother’s confession of a miscarriage. Cottage life is captured in the graphic details: handmade cottagers’ road signs hammered onto a pole, a shampoo bottle floating in a bucket whilst washing hair in the lake. The plot is punctuated with poetic moments, particularly of Rose swimming and there’s a wonderfully playful scene of pudgy cottage best friend Windy, aka HipHop, showing off her “krunk moves.”

The Tamaki’s first book, Skim, is similarly brilliant. Its quiet, insightful narrator, Skim, is a little on the heavy side, the kind of girl who shows up to a Halloween part …

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The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Avi Silberstein

BOTR_MARCH_2014_SQUARE

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 Avi Silberstein, author of Human Solutions, a 1980s-Chile-based political thriller that Carmen Aguirre calls "gripping, disturbing, darkly funny, and impossible to put down."

Avi was born in Chile, and he is a librarian in British Columbia, Canada. His short stories have appeared in publications including The New Quarterly and Grain. Human Solutions is his first novel.

The first segment is the interview, while in the second, Avi reads from Human Solutions.

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