Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
The Chat with Richard Van Camp

The Chat with Richard Van Camp

By Trevor Corkum

Author Richard Van Camp is a celebrated and beloved storyteller who has worked across many genres. His latest offering, …

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Book Cover In Praise of Retreat

Why We All Need Breathing Space

By Kirsteen MacLeod

"Retreat is an adventure, and it involves uncertainty. Whether we go to the quiet woods to rest or make art, walk a pilg …

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Book Cover What the Kite Saw

What the Kite Saw: Stories of Children and Crisis

By Anne Laurel Carter

"Children have their own unique ways of facing a crisis. Yes, they need protecting, but they are also resilient. They ha …

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Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

By Robert J. Wiersema

One of the best pieces of news in an otherwise dark year was the word that, despite the growth of online giants during t …

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Book Cover The Shadow Life

My Drifter Reading List

By Jen Sookfong Lee

A poetry list by the author of new book The Shadow List.

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Book Cover Fuse

Persian-Canadian Writers You've Got to Read

By Hollay Ghadery

So, where were all the Persian Canadian writers? It turns out, here all along, but not as represented as one might hope; …

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Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

By Geoffrey Ruggero

Picture books are often written with young children as their intended audience. In Tough Like Mum, Lana Button provides …

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Book Cover We Jane

Aimee Wall on The Great Canadian Abortion Novel

By Kerry Clare

"I didn’t want the plot to turn on an abortion or the decision to have one. Any conflict or tension is rooted elsewher …

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Book Cover Because the Sun

Poetry That's Going to Grab You

By 49thShelf Staff

Great books to read before for National Poetry Month is out.

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The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

By Trevor Corkum

Christopher DiRaddo’s sophomore novel, The Family Way, is a dynamic and rich exploration of queer family, parenthood, …

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Great Characters in CanLit

Chances are, when you think about a book you loved, it's not the sublime descriptions of architecture that come to mind. More likely, it's the characters—fictional, but in terms of impact, not. Characters happen to us, we care about them, love them, cringe at their foibles, laugh at their antics, and cry at their defeats. We want things for them, and we often flip pages faster and faster as our investment in them deepens.

Today some avid readers—Steph VanderMeulen, Léonicka Valcius, Dee Hopkins, Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen, Vicki Ziegler, and me (Kiley Turner)—talk about the CanLit characters that have most affected us and stayed with us. We all wanted to name at least twenty more, and on Twitter over the next week we'll be asking you to name some of your favourites (please use #bestcharacters). We'll then create a nice big list, with your picks included.

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Steph VanderMuelen picks Patrick deWitt's barman and Trevor Cole's Jean Horemarsh

"Patrick deWitt’s Ablutions is chock-full of well-imagined, strange, and funny people, but the whiskey-loving barm …

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Quick Hits: Strange and Otherworldly

In Quick Hits, 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.

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fionavar

The Fionavar Tapestry Omnibus, by Guy Gavriel Kay

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: HarperCollins

In the three novels that make up the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy (The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, and The Darkest Road), five University of Toronto students find themselves transported to a magical land to do battle with the forces of evil. At a Celtic conference, Kimberley, Kevin, Jennifer, Dave, and Paul meet wizard Loren Silvercloak. Returning with him to the magical kingdom of Fionavar to attend a festival, they soon discover that they are being drawn into the conflict between the dark and the light as Unraveller Rakoth Maugrim breaks free of his mountain prison and threatens the continued existence of Fionavar. They join mages, elves, dwarves, and the forces of the High King of Brennin to do battle with Maugrim, where Kay's imaginative powers as a world-builder come to the fore. He stunningly weaves Arthurian legends into the fluid mix of Celtic, …

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Huge Savings on Six Incredible Books

How can you resist a 35% discount on acclaimed fiction by great Canadian writers? We're not the only ones to say these books are amazing, as you'll see below. Head over to the Members' Lounge to grab yourself one or all of these ridiculously priced beauties while you can.

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Pulpy and Midge, by Jessica Westhead (Coach House Books)

What It's About

Brian Lembeck – ‘Pulpy’ – takes life slow and steady. He likes his office job, and he likes his gentle, figurine-collecting boss, Al. He even likes the bitter receptionist, though he’s the only one who does. He likes his wife, Midge, too, and their ice-dancing lessons. Midge works as a candle-party hostess – she quit her office job when Al’s dog ate her pet pigeon and Al promised Pulpy a promotion.

But when Al retires and the tyrannical Dan takes over, the promotion vanishes. And then Dan’s oversexed wife, Beatrice, takes a shine to Pulpy, and Dan starts to think Midge is one hot tamale. Soon, the receptionist is smitten with Pulpy, Midge can’t get rid of Dan and Beatrice, and Pulpy’s job is in jeopardy. For once, Pulpy just might have to take a stand.

Reviews

"Westhead may have a claim to being CanLit’s Woody Allen.”—Quill & Quire

"Westhead is adept at providing caustically funny snapshots of lives tha …

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