Off the Page

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

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The Chat with GGs Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

The Chat with GGs Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

By Trevor Corkum

Today we are pleased to kick off our special coverage of the 2020 Governor General's Award winners (English-language) wi …

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Book Cover Cattail Skyline

The World Up Close

By Joanne Epp

A recommended reading list by author of new book CATTAIL SKYLINE on paying close attention to the small and particular.

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Book Cover What's In It For Me

The Keepers on My Bookshelf

By LS Stone

Depth and humour are themes in this great recommended reading list by the author of the new middle grade novel What's in …

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Book Cover the Girl from Dream City

How Does a Woman Become a Writer?

By Linda Leith

"The writers who interest me most, always, are women who write about themselves in ways that a male writer never could." …

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Book Cover Big Reader

11 Essay Collections to Revisit Now

By Susan Olding

"The bestselling novel of a decade ago will sometimes seem stale or irrelevant today, but that’s rarely true of an ess …

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The Chat Special Coverage: Griffin Poetry Prize Roundtable 2021

The Chat Special Coverage: Griffin Poetry Prize Roundtable 2021

By Trevor Corkum

We’re so pleased to be partnering once again with our friends at the Griffin Poetry Prize to profile this year’s thr …

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Book Cover Run Riot

Poetry Feels Like Memory to Me

By Ash Winters

"Something of the intensity of feeling, sparseness of narrative and intricacy of images in poetry feels like memory itse …

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Book Cover Lost Immunity

Tackling the Big Themes

By Daniel Kalla

"I am drawn to fiction writers who highlight vital social and scientific themes through their novels. And fortunately, t …

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Book Cover The List of Last Chances

On the Road Again: Literary Road Trips

By Christina Myers

"I’m still fascinated by the possibilities that road trips present and perpetually curious about the unique and divers …

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Book Cover Maggie's Chopsticks

Note From a Children's Librarian: Stories for Asian Heritage Month

By Julie Booker

Great picture books celebrating Asian heritage.

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The Chat with GGs Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

MichelleGoodAuthor-4996

Today we are pleased to kick off our special coverage of the 2020 Governor General's Award winners (English-language) with an interview with Michelle Good, whose Five Little Indians (Harper Perennial/HarperCollins) won the fiction prize.

Enter for a chance to win Five Little Indians as well and don't miss the excerpt at the end of this post!

“Intimate and ambitious, Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians is a heart-breaking account of lives shaped and destroyed by the residential school system. Here is powerful testimony, expertly crafted and wisely observed, tragic yet full of redemptive moments. An unflinching, compassionate and moving novel about the struggle to live and love in the wake of deep trauma.”—2020 Governor General’s Award Peer Assessment Committee

Michelle Good is a Cree writer and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. After working for Indigenous organizations for twenty-five years, she obtained a law degree and advocated for residential school survivors for over fourteen years. Good earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia while still practising law and managing her own law firm. Her poems, short stories, and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies across Cana …

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The World Up Close

Book Cover Cattail Skyline

Joanne Epp's latest collection is Cattail Skyline, which is up for giveaway right now—don't miss your chance to win.

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I come from a landscape best known for open spaces and wide skies. While I love that about the prairies, when I go out walking I’m just as likely to be attracted by small things: wildflowers, most often, but also birds, butterflies, and interesting twigs.

Likewise, when I write a poem, the starting point is inevitably something small and specific.

All these books share the quality of paying close attention to the small and particular, whether that’s a plot of land with all its seasonal changes or the distinction between one kind of wood-warbler and another.

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Manitoba Butterflies, by Simone Hébert Allard

This beautiful field guide contains life-sized photos of every butterfly found in Manitoba, arranged in order from largest (Monarch) to smallest (Least Skipper), along with enlarged photos of their eggs, larvae, and pupae. The book begins with a few chapters of general information, which I confess I have never read. I go straight to …

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The Keepers on My Bookshelf

LS Stone's debut novel is the middle grade novel What's in It for Me?, which is up for giveaway on our site this week.

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I have several  favourite Canadian middle-grade/YA novels that have inspired my own writing—these four are superbly written novels with interesting/likeable characters and believable dialogue, and contain a common thread of humour:

We Are All Made of Molecules, and No Fixed Address, by Susin Nielsen

Getting the Girl, by Susan Juby

Saying Goodbye to London, by Julie Burtinshaw

No one writes humour for kids/teens quite like Susan Juby and Susin Nielsen, while at the same time tackling tough topics like bullying in high school (Getting the Girl), homelessness (No Fixed Address), a parent coming out and the relatable tribulations of blended families (We Are All Made of Molecules).

Book Cover Saying Good-bye to London

Along with Juby and Nielsen, Julie Burtins …

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How Does a Woman Become a Writer?

I loved memoirs, autobiographies, and collections of letters as well as fiction I thought autobiographical. While my little boys were choosing the books they’d bring home from the library, I was seeking out what I myself wanted to read. I admired Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, and everything Margaret Drabble wrote.

I read and reread Drabble’s early novels—A Summer Bird-Cage, The Garrick Year, The Millstone—as though every word were not only true, but addressed to me personally. A talented and accomplished woman with a degree from Cambridge, Drabble knew all about the challenges of combining motherhood and a career. With three children to bring up, she had somehow managed to become a celebrated novelist. There was a husband, who was an actor, and I was not surprised when I learned they eventually divorced.

The writers who mattered to me were all older than I was—Margaret Drabble and Margaret Atwood are about ten years my senior—and the ones who mattered most—Muriel Spark, Doris Lessing, and Mavis Gallant— were from my mother’s generation. They all had some- thing in common with me, as well, in their familiarity with corners of the world once controlled by the British, and in t …

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11 Essay Collections to Revisit Now

Susan Olding's latest book is the essay collection Big Reader.

If the pandemic has left you feeling too distracted and foggy to concentrate for long, buy or borrow a book of essays.

Short enough to finish in a sitting, inventive enough to spark your weary brain, intimate enough to dispel some Covid loneliness, an essay is the next best thing to an hour with a smart friend.

The bestselling novel of a decade ago will sometimes seem stale or irrelevant today, but that’s rarely true of an essay. Like your smart friend, the essay has staying power.

Here, then, are eleven stellar essay collections published in Canada over the past decade or so. Most are small press books you might have missed on their first release. Revisit them now—for their continuing relevance, for the comfort or provocation they’ll offer, for the laughter they’ll kindle, for the futures they’ll help us imagine as we slog our way through this third and —let’s hope—final wave of the pandemic. 

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Book Cover Reverberations

Reverberations, by Marion Agnew

Anyone who has lost a parent to a lingering illness …

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