Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
The Chat with Steven Heighton

The Chat with Steven Heighton

By Trevor Corkum

This week, we’re in conversation with author Steven Heighton. His memoir, Reaching Mithymna: Among the Volunteers and …

read more >
Book Cover knot body

Launchpad: knot body, by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch

By Kerry Clare

"Readers may sit and ruminate on the sharp and sensual inquiry offered by each individual letter, or read cover-to-cover …

read more >
book cover footlights

2020 Poetry Delights

By Pearl Pirie

A list by the author of new collection footlights. These books turn and explore, question and listen.

read more >
The Chat with Zsuzsi Gartner

The Chat with Zsuzsi Gartner

By Trevor Corkum

Zsuzsi Gartner’s debut novel, The Beguiling (Hamish Hamilton), is a stunner. It was a finalist for this year’s Write …

read more >
Book Cover Loss Lake

Launchpad: LOSS LAKE, by Amber Cowie

By Kerry Clare

"Sentence by gorgeous sentence, Cowie reveals an intricately woven, powerful plot, unveiling the depths of the character …

read more >
Hope Matters

25 Reasons to be Hopeful

By Kerry Clare

The following books are infused with hope—that what we do and who we are really matters, that second chances are possi …

read more >
Book Cover Spend It

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Money Money Money

By Julie Booker

Financial literacy is part of the new math curriculum for grades 4-6. But why not start even sooner, as young as kinderg …

read more >
Book Cover You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked.

Launchpad: YOU ARE EATING AN ORANGE. YOU ARE NAKED. by Sheung-King

By Kerry Clare

"This novel ...gives the cold shoulder to the dominant gaze and its demands to control the Asian body, carving out a thr …

read more >
Book Cover The Way Home

Books for University Press Week

By Clare Hitchens

“Raise UP” is a particularly apt theme in a time when information moves at faster speeds than ever before across a m …

read more >

Iain Reid's Memoir About Time Spent With Grandma Is Young at Heart

Iain Reid, author of One Bird's Choice and The Truth About Luck (House of Anansi Press).

Iain Reid has made an early name for himself as a writer who works best when left to the quiet observations of daily life. In One Bird's Choice, Reid's debut, he move backs home for year, onto his family's farm where he learns a thing or two about growing up while conversing with a cranky fowl. In The Truth About Luck, Reid's sophomore title, he finds a more lively conversationalist in his 92-year-old grandmother. We talk to Reid about what he learned that time he took a "staycation" with Grandma.

Enjoy an excerpt from The Truth About Luck (courtesy of House of Anansi Press) after the chat.

Julie Wilson: Your first book, One Bird's Choice (House of Anansi Press, 2010), literally introduced you to readers. From the publisher: "Meet Iain Reid an overeducated, underemployed twenty-something, living in the big city in a bug-filled basement apartment and struggling to make ends meet."

One Bird's Choice was taken under wing by independent booksellers, then became the darling of CBC's as-chosen-by-you-the-reader Bookie Award for Non Fiction (2011), so it makes sense that you would publish again with Anansi. But my first question has to be, how did you get the attention of Anansi as a young as-of-yet unknown writer—with a memoir, no less?

Iain Reid: My agent, Samantha Hay …

Continue reading >

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.

-----

 

-----

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 …

Continue reading >

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?

-----

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 …

Continue reading >

Detachment: Maurice Mierau on Family, Adoption, and Memoir

Book Cover Detachmen

November is Adoption Awareness Month, which puts the spotlight on issues facing families with adopted children. And so this month is also the perfect time for a conversation with Maurice Mierau, author of Detachment: An Adoption Memoir. Detachment tells the story of Mierau and his wife's journey to Ukraine in 2005 to adopt two small boys, and describes the joys and challenges of their early days as a family of four. With humour and honestly, Mierau writes about the process of learning to be a father, and also about how this experience affected his marriage, his relationship with his own father, and that with his son from a previous relationship. 

Maurice Mierau lives in Winnipeg, and is author of the poetry collections, Ending With Music and Fear Not

*****

49th Shelf: I love the line that comes early in the memoir, delivered by a psychologist: “So you’re writing a book about people you ignore.” It highlights the contradiction inherent for anyone writing about family life—children can be so inspiring, but they keep you away from the actual work. Detachment is very much about your evolution as a father and a husband, but can you tell me about the evolution of the book itself? What was the book that you set out to write and how did it become this one?

Maurice …

Continue reading >

Everything I Know About Life I Learned from Picture Books

Every year on January 27, Canadians celebrate Family Literacy Day, an initiative to affirm the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. And while the benefits to children of exposure to books and literacy are well-documented, less sung is just how much wisdom an adult reader can garner from children's literature. These books are not just for the kids, and they've affirm to me some of the most important lessons I've learned in my life. We all get a lot out of returning to these stories again and again. 

*****

On diversity:  

 

We all count. 

From We All Count, by Julie Flett: We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers is the 2014 board book from Native Northwest featuring the artwork of Cree/Métis artist Julie Flett. In this basic counting book from 1 to 10, this bilingual board book introduces Plains Cree (y-dialect) and Swampy Cree (n-dialect) written in Roman orthography. Artist and author has a simple graphic style using bold and clear text to introduce counting with appropriate cultural images from contemporary Cree society. An excellent introduction to counting to ten in Cree and English using authentic Cree imagery.

**

Continue reading >

The Randomizer

Load New Book >
X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...