Off the Page

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

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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with Gil Adamson

Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with Gil Adamson

By Trevor Corkum

Next on our special Giller coverage of The Chat, we speak with Gil Adamson. She’s a finalist for her second novel, Rid …

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Book Cover After Elias

Launchpad: AFTER ELIAS, by Eddy Boudel Tan

By Kerry Clare

"After Elias gifts the reader with gorgeous, economic prose and the pace of a thriller. I couldn't put it down." —Nata …

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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with David Bergen

Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with David Bergen

By Trevor Corkum

We’re thrilled to begin this year’s special Scotiabank Giller Prize coverage in conversation with David Bergen. Davi …

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Book Review: The Boy Who Moved Christmas by Eric Walters & Nicole Wellwood

Book Review: The Boy Who Moved Christmas by Eric Walters & Nicole Wellwood

By Geoffrey Ruggero

The Boy Who Moved Christmas is a beautiful story of a community coming together to grant the wish of a young boy battlin …

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Book Cover Daughter of Black Lake

Be Transported with Historical Fiction

By Cathy Marie Buchanan

A recommended reading list by Cathy Marie Buchanan, whose new novel is Daughter of Black Lake.

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Book Cover How to Lose Everything

Launchpad: HOW TO LOSE EVERYTHING, by Christa Couture

By Kerry Clare

"This might be the wisest, most delightful sad story that you've ever read in your life."

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The Chat with Jack Wang

The Chat with Jack Wang

By Trevor Corkum

This week on The Chat we’re speaking with writer Jack Wang, whose debut short story collection, We Two Alone, was rece …

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Book Cover Always Brave Sometimes Kind

Alberta, Today

By Katie Bickell

18 novels that pay homage to the contemporary stories, landmarks, events, people, and communities associated with the la …

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Your Favourite Indie Booksellers, All in One Place

Your Favourite Indie Booksellers, All in One Place

By Kiley Turner

Throughout October and November, we're going to highlight indie bookstore picks on the blog and link back every time to …

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Book Cover Happy Hour

Launchpad: HAPPY HOUR, by Marlowe Granados

By Kerry Clare

"Funny and complex, Happy Hour is not just a coming-of-age romp, but a loving exploration of young womanhood, of the way …

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Novelist Ali Bryan on Gender-Neutral Domestic Humour

Ali Bryan, author of Roost (Freehand Books).

Working in the space "hilarity and humiliation" (Todd Babiak), Roost (Freehand Books), by Ali Bryan is about family tragedy and the moments for which we hadn't planned. Roost plays with the absurd nature of forced transition, resulting in a truly laugh-out-loud debut novel, something The Toronto Star picked up on calling Bryan an "amusing writer who has mastered the voice of the self-deprecating female, amusing without being annoying."

We contacted Bryan for comment, and to ask the question, is domestic humour a many-gendered thing?

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Julie Wilson: Let's start with The Toronto Star quote. I read it and had a kind of knee-jerk reaction. Were they commenting on gender? Domestic narratives? Writers who pull from life?

First, how does humour fit into your life?

Ali Bryan: I’m fascinated by how laughter tends to evolve from a simple involuntary reaction—a baby playing peek-a-boo—to a complex coping mechanism. Charlie Chaplin said “laughter is the tonic, the relief the surcease for pain.” I love the notion of laughter as tonic. Something wet and consumable and physical. It’s hot yoga for your mental and emotional junk drawer.

Personally, I use humor as a vice to cope with the everyday. Baby spitting up milk puke on husband’s side of the bed is made funny b …

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Launchpad: The End of Me, by John Gould

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The End of Me, by John Gould, of which Bill Gaston writes, "John Gould's skill with the short form is miraculous in the way of bonsai, the grand made to bloom within the small. And who knew death could be so wise, invigorating, playful—so richly alive?"

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

A collection of 56 sudden stories—funny, sad, absurd—about mortality.

Describe your ideal reader.

Likes to wonder more than assert, and to inhabit different points of vie …

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Of Determined Rebels and Patriot Wars: Fighting for the Survival of Upper Canada

Book Cover Death of a Patriot

Don Gutteridge's latest book in the Marc Edwards Mystery series is Death of a Patriot. Here, he fills us in on the book's historical background.

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My fiction series, The Marc Edwards Mysteries, tells the story of Upper Canada in the 1830s and settlers’ struggles to make their lives there. The books depict settlers’ threats from not only annexationists in the United States, but also from within Upper Canada’s own governing party, the Family Compact.

Upper Canada’s Family Compact was composed of a handful of would-be aristocrats who controlled the Upper Chamber of the Legislature and were in thick with the Governor of the day (appointed from Britain). The Upper Chamber (Legislative Council) was appointed by the Compact-friendly Governor and held veto power over bills passed by the freely elected Assembly. This power was routinely abused to stop the Assembly’s reform legislation that would benefit the farmers and ordinary citizens of the province. In this way the Compact kept all the best appointments and sinecures for themselves and controlled the banking system, to the detriment of debt-ridden farmers.

Meanwhile, below the border, many American politicians were calling for the annexation of Upper and Lower Canada, and some of those in the Assembly were a …

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Finding the Formula: Robin Spano on the Art & Science of Mystery Writing

book cover death plays poker

If you dissected my brain (please don't), I'm pretty sure “writer” is not the career you would choose for me. My happy place is with numbers – with math, physics, chemistry, logic. Anything involving formulae and rules. This is what makes my world make sense, and it's the side of my brain that works without being pushed. Sudokus, for example, are much more intuitive for me than crossword puzzles.

But to excite me emotionally, give me a crossword over a Sudoku. It's more work, but there's way more reward. I've always loved reading, getting lost in a world of fiction with characters who parallel the real world but don't actually live in it. Writing fiction has always done the same-- I get to dive into a parallel reality, shape it in a combination of how I see the world and how I'd like to see it, and learn about real life by watching the characters move and play.

My logical university major was physics-- my high school favorite because it yielded maximum grades for minimal effort. Since I laboured long hair-pulling hours to get only decent grades in English and history. Even biology was too organic, not formulaic enough--why would I even contemplate pursuing writing as a career? Yeah, it was still a passion. But I also love snowboarding, and I'd never delude m …

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