Off the Page

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

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Book Cover County Heirlooms

Summer Eats: Kohlrabi Slaw, from COUNTY HEIRLOOMS

By Natalie Wollenberg and Leigh Nash

"I’ve always been impressed that seeds will produce all the food you need to live. It’s miraculous."

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Book Cover Cedar and Salt

3 Great Recipes from the 2020 Taste Canada Awards Shortlist

By Kerry Clare

Foodies, take note! Great recipes from celebrated cookbooks.

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Book Cover On Nostalgia

Launchpad: On Nostalgia, by David Berry

By Kerry Clare

"Berry’s subject is a wide-ranging one, but he pulls off the impressive feat of covering plenty of ground in a concise …

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Literatures, Communities and Learnings

Literatures, Communities, and Learning

By Kerry Clare

9 conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how thei …

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The Chat with Faye Guenther

The Chat with Faye Guenther

By Trevor Corkum

Swimmers in Winter (Invisible Publishing) is Faye Guenther’s debut collection of short fiction. These six stories expl …

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Book Cover Little Secrets

Summer Reading Starts Here

By Kerry Clare

Summer is not cancelled, and summer reading isn't either. We've got thrillers, epics, drama, historical fiction, and so …

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Cover Summer Feet

Picture Book Sneak Peek: Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher

By Kerry Clare

Summer starts HERE with this glorious celebration of childhood...and filthy feet.

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Book Cover Mr. Frank

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Texts on Textiles

By Julie Booker

Exploring the art of sewing? Here are some tales to comfort and inspire.

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

By Erika MacNeil

During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, books can sometimes be our only companions as the days stretch …

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Book Cover Good Mothers Don't

Launchpad: Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best

By Kerry Clare

"An unlikely page turner replete with hushed surprises, unexpected crescendos, endless love and boundless vitality."

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Good Morning World: An Excerpt From Lauren B. Davis's New Novel The Empty Room

Book Cover The Empty Room

About The Empty Room:  Colleen Kerrigan wakes up sick and bruised, with no clear memory of the night before. It’s Monday morning, and she is late for work again. She’s shocked to see the near-empty vodka bottle on her kitchen counter. It was full at noon yesterday; surely she didn’t drink that much last night? As she struggles out the door, she fights the urge to have a sip, just to take the edge off. But no, she’s not going to drink today.

But this is the day Colleen’s demons come for her. A very bad day spirals into night as a series of flashbacks take the reader through Colleen’s past—moments of friendship and loss, fragments of peace and possibility. The single constant is the bottle, always close by, Colleen’s worst enemy and her only friend.

In this unforgettable work, acclaimed novelist Lauren B. Davis has created as searing, raw, and powerful a portrayal of the chaos and pain of alcoholism as we have encountered in fiction. Told with compassion, insight and an irresistible gallows humour, The Empty Room takes us to the depths of addiction, only to find a revelation at its heart: the importance and grace of one person reaching out to another. 

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Good Morning, World

It was Monday morning, and Colleen Kerrigan woke up wondering why she was chewi …

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Jowita Bydlowska on Writing Herself as the Villain in Her Memoir, Drunk Mom

Drunk Mom, by Jowita Bydlowska (Doubleday Canada, 2013).

Drunk Mom is bound to raise a few eyebrows. The memoir, published by Doubleday Canada (2013), recounts the time after the birth of Jowita Bydlowska's son during which she fell off the wagon, at times getting dislocated in harsh snow storms, son in stroller, the empty streets an opportunity to drink away from her family.

What follows is a brutally honest account of that "ugly" period, as well as Bydlowska's path to eventual recovery. Drunk Mom is a wake-up call—hope in a hopeless place. It is also a refreshing response to what has become a commonplace joke: that admitting your addiction is the first step ... as if that first step isn't a doozy. 

We talk with Jowita Bydlowska via Skype for this 49th Shelf podcast about what it means to cast yourself as the villain in your own story.

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Jowita Bydlowska, author of Drunk Mom (Doubleday Canada, 2013).

Jowita Bydlowska was born in Warsaw, Poland, and moved to Woodstock, Ontario, as a teenager. She eventually learned English well enough to try writing in it. She writes a popular parenting blog, and her work has appeared in an assortment of magazines, newspapers …

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Addiction Hits Home: An Excerpt from Hooked

This week is National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW) in Canada, and to mark the week we will be calling attention to books that help to bring addictions into the light, where they don't thrive as well as under cover of secrecy. This morning we are pleased to feature a chapter excerpt from Hooked: When Addiction Hits Home (Annick Press). Hooked, edited by Chloe Shantz-Hilkes and featuring an introduction from Robert Munsch, is based on interviews with people who, in their youth, lived with an addicted parent or sibling. The story we feature today—that of Pierre, who grew up with an alcoholic mother—is one of ten in Hooked.

No one in Pierre’s family ever acknowledged his mother’s alcoholism. And for a long time, the secrecy and mistrust prevented Pierre from speaking about anything—including the fact that he was gay.

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No Reason to Be Ashamed    

Surrounded by drinking

My mother is American, but my twin brother, Remy, and I grew up in France, where my father is from. We lived there until I was fifteen and my parents divorced. During our time in France, my mother drank pretty steadily. There was this whole community of mothers who stayed home during the day and drank together. My friend Thérèse’s mother was also an English-speaker, and an alcoholic. …

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The Interruption: Sean Cranbury Interviews Michael Pond and Maureen Palmer

BOTR_MARCH_2014_SQUARE

Welcome to The Interruption, a 49th Shelf–Books on the Radio podcast in which I interview Canadian writers about the surprising things that inform, inspire, and even interrupt their creative process. The Interruption is now generously sponsored by The UBC Creative Writing Program, celebrating 50 years of excellence in creative writing. For more information visit creativewriting.ubc.ca.

Today, I chat with Michael Pond and Maureen Palmer, authors of The Couch of Willingness: An Alcoholic Therapist Battles the Bottle and a Broken Recovery System, described by Michele Marko in the Vancouver Sun as "a riveting and anxiety-inducing read." It's the story of Micheal's two-year battle to regain sobriety and his encounters with a sorry state of recovery resources afforded to him.

Michael Pond is a psychotherapist practicing in West Vancouver who specializes in mental health and addictions and is now four and a half years sober. He offers individual, family, and group therapy and has become an expert in residential school abuse healing and addiction recovery. H …

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