Off the Page
A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between
The author of new novel Every Happy Family with a special guest-post for Mother's Day.
"Past and present—images and memories of people and places—the trees and water and a light wind—each one coming ou …
Tell us about the Canadian poem that has done something powerful to the way you experience the world.
"Most of my favourite poetry books are written by Canadian women. Narrowing the list down to a reasonable number was dif …
Sandra Djwa talks about her Charles Taylor Prize shortlisted biography of poet P.K. Page.
Our coast-to-coast guide of literary festivals to look forward to this spring.
All the best books for teens and young readers in Spring 2013.
A selection of exciting new books on the horizon. Which ones are you looking forward to?
"It’s about having the right guys to watch your back. In no particular order, these writers and their books might just …
Our new Children's Librarian columnist Julie Booker shares the magic of the oral tale.
Kathleen Winter is the author of Annabel (House of Anansi Press), the debut novel shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and the Orange Prize for Fiction, and winner of the Thomas Head Raddall Award.
Kathleen agreed to invite us into her private library, now devoid of over 1,000 books she's shed over the years. Yet, there remains more than enough to work with and reveals a vastly-read and curious thinker.
Shelf Exposure invites writers to take a closer look at their bookshelves and to present us with a short list of titles based on a theme of their choosing. Kathleen's theme? Late bloomers.
And once we're done being thoughtful, we enter the lightning round, a chance for us to have some fun with the writers, presenting them with a list of random requests. Books with a vehicle on the cover! Books that begin with "S!" Show us your most self-conscious book! A book you borrowed and have yet to return!
Bring out your books. Show us your goods. Expose your shelf!
Kerry Clare, our tireless, brilliant, and somehow both sweet and trenchant editor is taking a leave from 49th Shelf next week … FOR THE SUMMER. Just for the summer, thanks to god. She’s having a baby. Baby #2, a sister for Harriet. We are very excited for her, and thought the perfect gesture with which to send her away would be to republish a little something she wrote a few years back about her initial adjustment to motherhood.
The piece is called “Love is a Let-Down,” published in the Fall 2010 issue of The New Quarterly, and Kerry has declined to let us post it here. “49th Shelf is not about me or my writing!” she said. To which we said, “Fine. Be like that, all upstanding and decent and non-whorish.”
But. I can write a little about my recollection of reading “Love is a Let-Down.” Ha!
When I first came across “Love is a Let-Down,” I was having one of those days as a mother (at the time, of just one thrilling but challenging toddler) when I could not do one thing right. I was feeling fuzzy-minded about work and feeble according to every checklist I had yet consulted about what constitutes good parenting. Thank goodness time, experience, and candid conversation with other parents has given me more confidence (and humour), but then … I felt frighteningly ine …
The authors of The Wolves of St. Peter's on the Vatican's dramatic appeal.
As the recent papal conclave showed, the Vatican knows how to put on a good show. The suspense was nail-biting, and not just for Catholics. It seemed like everyone was glued to their TV sets and computer screens. The secrecy: Turn off those twitter feeds! The ancient rituals: White smoke or black? The speculation: Canadian, African, or Italian? But as much as we wanted to know who the next Pope would be, we didn’t want the show to end. It was Survivor Vatican and we were hooked.
The outgoing Pope Benedict XVI insisted he timed his departure so we’d have a new Pope for Easter—but we have to wonder if the Vatican made a deal with Showtime to fit the conclave in before the start of the third season of their hit series The Borgias. It would have been a terrible dilemma to have to choose between these two shows: “Tonight should we watch The Borgias—Season 3 or The Vatican—Season 266?” Maybe we would confuse the two as the sets and costumes (and some of the attitudes) haven’t changed much in 500 years.
Is this what continues to fascinate us and so many others about the Vatican? This sense of it as not-quite real, a theatre piece or historical drama up there with the best cable has to offer?
Our addict …
Drawing on over three decades of experience, one of Canada's leading literary journalists asks the question: Do we want a public broadcaster? In Saving the CBC: Balancing Profit and Public Service (Linda Leith Publishing, 2013) Wade Rowland points to years of chronic underfunding and the potential loss of broadcast rights for Hockey Night in Canada as signals that it's time for reform. Rowland argues that not since the Great Depression has there been such opportunity for public service broadcasting in Canada to compete on the world stage. But, he says, this will require radical change.
We asked Wade Rowland to talk about the CBC of his youth, today's younger audience demographic, and what vision he holds for the CBC of the future.
Julie Wilson: Tell us about your earliest memories of the CBC. How has a national broadcaster kept you connected to your regional roots and national identity?
Wade Rowland: In my childhood homes in Regina and Winnipeg, the CBC was always on the radio. More than any other influence, it shaped my sense of what it means to be Canadian. Listening to network broadcasts gave you the feeling that you were part of a larger, transcontinental audience that shared some essential values. It has always been the role of public broadcasting to foster that kind of value co …
A guest post by the author of new novel The Miracles of Ordinary Men.
Confession: for most of my twenties, I wasn’t that much of an Atwood fan. Or, really, of Mordecai Richler. Or Rohinton Mistry. Or Michael Ondaatje. Nor was I, truth be told, all that much in love with Alice Munro, perfect storyteller though she might be. In my late teens and early twenties, I was all about the international read—I wanted books that were about far away. Books that would teach me about the Literature of the World. (Or something. It sounds silly now. It made perfect sense back then.) Books that would open me. Books that would make the world feel so much bigger than my tiny little one-intersection hometown.
Or so I told myself. What I really wanted, I think now, were books that would tell me about magic. Books like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, or The Time Traveller’s Wife, or The God of Small Things—different magical books all, and none of them Canadian, but books that I loved so much I took them to the UK and back, multiple times, and who cared about that extra weight in the suitcase. Books like The Night Circus, which I discovered only last year, peeling open its pages with the wonderful thrill of the booklover: oh yes. You. I’ve been waiting forever for you.
I felt this way, I think, b …