Off the Page

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

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Introducing the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Crisis Teacher Diary

Introducing the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Crisis Teacher Diary

By Allison Hall

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a new blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping wi …

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Book Cover A Forest in the City

Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

By Andrea Curtis

When self isolation and physical distancing has got your family cooped up, the next best thing might just be reading pic …

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The Chat with Amanda Leduc

The Chat with Amanda Leduc

By Trevor Corkum

Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space (Coach House) is a brilliant and startling book of essays by Am …

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Book Cover Dead mom Walking

Five Queer Memoirs to Keep You Going

By Rachel Matlow

When you’re done watching Tiger King and taking a break from playing Animal Crossing, here are five queer memoirs to k …

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Earth Hour: Books & Activities to Spark Discussion and Environmental Action

Earth Hour: Books & Activities to Spark Discussion and Environmental Action

By Allison Hall

On Saturday March 28th millions of people around the globe will turn off their lights and spend an hour without the use …

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Book Cover Sputnik's Children

The Books I Want to Read Again

By Kerry Clare

Rereading is comfort, and indulgence. It's a voyage back to the familiar, but one that's still rich with discovery, and …

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Neon BOOKS sign

How Do We Read When Words Fail Us?

By Kerry Clare

On the value of books and reading in a dangerous time.

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Book Cover Lost in the Backyard

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Catchy Beginnings

By Julie Booker

Great books with great starts.

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Books to Keep Young People Learning During Covid-19

Books to Keep Young People Learning During Covid-19

By Kiley Turner

There's never been a better time to highlight some great posts from our resident children's librarian, Julie Booker.

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Book Cover The Birth Yard

A Sense of Place: THE BIRTH YARD Book List

By Mallory Tater

"The Birth Yard embodies a sense of place that I, as a woman, have always felt inside."

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The State of the Canadian Short Story in 2015

In 2011, a group of Canadian writers declared the Year of the Short Story (YOSS), “to bring short fiction the larger audience it deserves.” In the years since, in notable short story developments, Alice Munro has been awarded the Nobel Prize and Lynn Coady won the Scotiabank-Giller Prize for her book, Hellgoing. So we decided that now would be a very good time to take stock, to check in with some fine writers across the country to find out where Canadian stories are at.

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Book Cover Eating Habits

49thShelf: Does the short story still need defending? Championing? Does the short story even care?

Megan Coles: If the novel is CanLit King, then the short story is our second son; the sexy, irreverent Prince who is liable to get naked and fly fighter jets. Originality is always in need of defending as its merits aren’t readily understood and people are instinctively adverse to risk. The form is inherently daring and untamable. That’s what makes it so exciting and integral to innovative Canadian Literature. The short story is limitless: tight and expansive in the same breath, generous and ruthless in the same beat. The short story is its own champion. It can’t care in a pragmatic sense. Anxiety would inhibit which is totally counterintuitive to the form. Instead, the short story take …

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Kevin Hardcastle: On Endurance

Book Cover Debris

In the midst of a busy week launching his debut, the short story collection Debris, Kevin Hardcastle found the time to put together this crackerjack list of books about endurance, each title a great complement to his own book, whose stories Tamas Dobozy describes as "like the fighters he writes about: balanced, precise, knowing exactly when and where to hit you." 

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In recently discussing the stories in my book, Debris, the idea of what the characters in the stories were fighting and struggling for kept coming up. In the end, I figured the fight itself, and enduring the hard things that happen in their lives, is what drives the stories. The characters endure and sometimes that is enough. Here are some other Canadian books that might share a kinship to mine in that regard, or that I simply look up to as a reader and writer.

Lost Salt Gift of Blood, by Alistair MacLeod

This is one I always mention, and for good reason. MacLeod always managed to write stories and characters that carried real hope no matter what they endured or how long. But none of it w …

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The Recommend: July 2015

Most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Chelsea Rooney, author of the acclaimed first novel Pedal; Daniel Allen Cox, author of two Lambda Award-nominated novels and the new book Mouthquake; Kevin Hardcastle, much-published short story writer and author of the upcoming collection Debris; Chadwick Ginther, creator of the award-winning Thunder Road trilogy; and Teri Vlassopoulos, whose short story debut, Bats and Swallows, was a Danuta Gleed finalist and whose forthcoming novel is Escape Plans.

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Chelsea Rooney picks Nancy Lee’s The Age

In the 1980s myriad panics—both real and imagined—swept across North America. An untameable disease killed people by the tens of thousands. Crack cocaine flooded and ravaged the cities’ most embattled poor. Primetime television reported breathlessly on rumoured Satanic cults. And the threat of nuclear war reached its fever pitch, with WWIII imminent.

Nancy Lee’s The Age tells one story from this generation’s most vulnerable: its youth. …

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The Chat with Kevin Hardcastle

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TREVOR CORKUM cropped

This week on The Chat we’re in conversation with Kevin Hardcastle. His debut novel In the Cage—about an ex-MMA fighter named Daniel trying to do right—is receiving rave reviews across the country.

The Globe and Mail called it a “fierce and beautiful novel." The Toronto Star says that “Hardcastle has a talent for sketching believable but noir-tinged criminal types with a few quick details and gestures.

Kevin Hardcastle is a fiction writer from Simcoe County, Ontario. He studied writing at the University of Toronto and Cardiff University. He was a finalist for the 2012 Journey Prize, and his stories have been published widely in Canada and anthologized internationally. Hardcastle’s debut short story collection, Debris, won the Trillium Book Award and the ReLit Award for Short Fiction.

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THE CHAT WITH KEVIN HARDCASTLE

inthecage

Trevor Cor …

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