Off the Page

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

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 The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers

By Trevor Corkum

We continue our special coverage of this year’s Governor General's Literature Award winners in conversation with the a …

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Book Cover Oy Feh So

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Jewish Heritage

By Julie Booker

Compelling stories showcasing Jewish Heritage to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

By Trevor Corkum

Check out our conversation with Madhur Anand, whose brilliant experimental memoir This Red Line Goes Straight to Your He …

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Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)

Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)

By Erika Thorkelson

Erika Thorkelson's "Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)" is one of the essays in Midlife, a new essay collection explo …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

The Chat with GG's 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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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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Tricia Dower: True Confessions of a Clandestine Summer Reader

Book Cover Stony River

By age ten, I was traipsing home each New Jersey June with a list of required reading for the summer, pretending to be as vexed about it as the other kids. In truth I was keen for an excuse to hole up in my attic room away from my mother for whom the unabated sight of me on long summer days seemed to be cruel and unusual punishment: You’ve parted your hair like a cow path. Stop twitching your nose. Don’t slouch. You can’t come to the table looking like that.

Tricia Dower with Family

While attacking the “approved” reading list, however, I was on full alert for signs said mother was outside—the squeak of the clothesline pulley, her exasperated “shoo-shoo” to rabbits in her raspberries. Then I’d steal down the stairs as furtively as Nancy Drew and into the living room where she kept novels on the top shelves of bookcases my father had built (with no help from his carpenter dad, he’d bitterly remind us). The shelves also held the Encyclopædia Britannica from Aak to Zylviec, Webster’s Unabridged with a broken spine, the Merck Manual, the Bible, kids’ books …

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Aga Maksimowska: The Weird and Wonderful World of Kid Narrators

School’s out for the summer, so why not spend the hot and sticky months of July and August with some of CanLit’s most outrageous, funny, and perceptive kid narrators? To compile this list, I have chosen eight of the most memorable and charming kid narrators that I have spent time with. These eight have made me spurt soda in fits of giggles, cry until I gave myself the hiccups, and highlight their books until the pages turned parking-ticket yellow and tacky with fluorescent ink.

It’s not only because I’m a teacher of adolescents and an author of a coming-of-age novel that I am drawn to books with kid narrators. Young people and children have a way of seeing the world that adults are missing. Our days are short, mundane, expected, frazzled, whereas children experience things for the first time much more often than we do. They are surprised, shocked, amazed, scared, bewildered, overwhelmed, and stumped infinitely more often than we are. All of this newness produces wonderfully weird and often outrageous commentary on everything from the ordinary to the extraordinary that life throws their way. Who better to learn from about the world anew than someone who is old enough to know that that over there is a bad guy, but also notice that the bad guy is vulnerable andlost himself. 

Book Cover Lullabies for Little Criminals

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Montreal's Mile End Comes of Age

Book Cover The Mystics of Mile End

"Growing up, I often wished I lived in Mile End," writes Sigal Samuel of the iconic Montreal neighbourhood that provides the setting for her first novel, The Mystics of Mile End. But part of coming-of-age is also realizing that the places we mythologize have their own fictions of their own, and that there is no ideal setting in which to live the perfect life—except maybe Brooklyn.

Mythologized places are potent settings for literature, however. In this piece, Samuel writes about her own changing relationship with Mile End, which is itself in flux, and about how the neighbourhood is earning a place in the contemporary literary canon.  

*****

If you’ve spent time in Montreal (and even if you haven’t), you’ve probably heard about Mile End. This diverse neighborhood is home to hipsters and Hasidic Jews. It’s also a great litmus test for how you feel about different cultures—religious and secular, academic and artsy—at any given moment.

Growing up, I often wished I lived in Mile End. Instead I inhabited Cote-Saint-Luc, a suburb so insularly Jewish that we nicknamed it Cote-Saint-Jew. I wanted to be a Mile Ender because that place, with its cheap rent and charming cafés, had a reputation as an artist hub (Arcade Fire, anyone?). It was a mirror for myself as …

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews Michael Christie

Mike-Christie

TREVOR CORKUM cropped

This month on The Chat we’re back with an interview with award-winning author Michael Christie, whose book If I Fall, If I Die created well-deserved buzz on both sides of the border when it was released in 2015.

If I Fall, If I Die tells the story of Will, a young boy living with his agoraphobic mother in Thunder Bay. As the novel opens, Will ventures forth outside his home for the first time. Through an artistic outsider, Will is introduced to the world of skateboarding and gradually pulled outside the confines of his small world.

The Star calls the novel “A sort of Alice in Wonderland in reverse, where a kid from a place where fantasy reigns clambers out of his rabbit hole and emerges, awestruck, into the real world.”

If I Fall, If I Die was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was selected as a New York Times Editors' Choice. Michael's previous collection of short stories, The Beggar's Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was a finalist for the Writers' Trust Prize for Fiction, and won the Vancouver Book Award. H …

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