Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover Hope Matters

Hope Matters: Turning Toward Solutions and Away From Doom

By Elin Kelsey

The tired old narrative of doom and gloom can no longer capture the changing global dynamics of life on planet Earth. Th …

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Book Cover Instructor

9 Canadian Writers Who Run with the Night

By Beth Follett

A recommended reading list by the founder and publisher of Pedlar Press, whose new novel is Instructor.

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Book Cover Trip of the Dead

Apocalypses, Quests, and Survival

By Angela Misri

A great list of books for middle-grade readers by author of new novel Trip of the Dead.

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The Chat with Eva Crocker

The Chat with Eva Crocker

By Trevor Corkum

This week we’re in conversation with author Eva Crocker. Her debut novel, All I Ask, (House of Anansi Press) was publi …

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Book Cover A Town Called Solace

Mary Lawson: A Sense of Place

By Mary Lawson

"I don’t know if it’s a Canadian thing, or if people the world over are similarly drawn to the landscape they know w …

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Book Cover: Elvis Me and the Lemonade Summer

Most Anticipated: Our Books for Young Readers Preview

By 49thShelf Staff

Looking forward to some of the books for young readers (and readers of all ages) that we're going to be falling in love …

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I Read Canadian Day is back!

I Read Canadian Day is back!

By Geoffrey Ruggero

It’s back! After a very successful first year where authors, students, educators, librarians, parents and many other C …

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Book Cover The Adventures of Miss Petitfour

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Scrumptious Stories

By Julie Booker

DELICIOUS books about food and eating.

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Book Cover Firefly

The Kids: Are They Alright?

By Philippa Dowding

What is it like for a child who lives with a parent or who knows an adult struggling with a crisis of mental health, add …

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Where It All Happened: A List of Propulsive Settings

Where It All Happened: A List of Propulsive Settings

By Kiley Turner

Anyone who's read Emma Donoghue's The Pull of the Stars knows just how much the confines of that understaffed maternity …

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Great Companions

As fascinating as books themselves (and oh, are books ever fascinating) are the connections between books, the curious ways in which books inform and echo each other, creating strange synergies completely outside of their authors' purview. In celebration of these connections, we've made great pairings of recent Canadian books of note, creating ideal literary companions. 

*****

All About Abodes

Home, by Carson Ellis, and A View from the Porch, by Avi Friedman 

Carson Ellis's smash-hit picture book explores the meaning of home as it considers all kinds of homes—a ship, a shoe, a home on the moon?—and shares the same preoccupations as Avi Friedman's new collection of essays. 

About Home: 

Influential artist Carson Ellis makes her solo picture-book debut with a whimsical tribute to the many possibilities of home.

Home might be a house in the country, an apartment in the city, or even a shoe. Home may be on the road or the sea, in the realm of myth, or in the artist’s own studio. A meditation on the concept of home and a visual treat that invites many return visits, this loving look at the places where people live marks the picture-book debut of Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator of the Wildwood series and artist for the indie band the Decemberists.

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The Chat With Michael V. Smith

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TREVOR CORKUM cropped

It’s a pleasure to be back in conversation with Michael V. Smith, author of a brand spanking new collection of poems, Bad Ideas (Nightwood Editions).

According to The Province, Bad Ideas “deals heavily in themes of family, sexuality, spirituality, life and death. Smith’s poetry is moving, beautifully written and heartfelt.”

Michael V. Smith is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, performance artist, and occasional clown. He is the author of several books including What You Can’t Have (Signature Editions, 2006), which was short-listed for the ReLit Award, and My Body Is Yours (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015), which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He is also the winner of the inaugural Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writers and was nominated for the Journey Prize. Smith currently teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna.

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THE CHAT WITH MICHAEL V. SMITH

Trevor Corkum: As someone who’s had more than a few bad ideas myself, I love and appreciate the title of the collection. How did it all co …

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Lesley Buxton: "Are You Still Married?"

Book Cover Love Me True

Love is hearts and roses, but life is complicated, and to share a life with someone else requires a bond and commitment far stronger than any verse ever penned on a Valentine. In the new anthology Love Me True, edited by Fiona Tinwei Lam and Jane Silcott, 27 creative nonfiction writers and 16 poets explore how marriage and committed relationships have challenged, shaped, supported and changed them, delving deep into the mysteries of long-term bonds. 

Lesley Buxton's essay from the collection, "Are You Still Married?" is devastating, sad, glorious and beautiful, and we're so glad to be able to share it with you. 

Please note that Love Me True is on our giveaways page until February 18.

*****

“Are you still married?” the customer asks.

I look up from her bill and glance towards my section on the patio, hoping to find an excuse to leave. Nobody needs me. I’m stuck.

This customer and I share an unwanted and one-sided intimacy. For the last months of my sixteen-year-old daughter India’s life, this customer was our social worker. Her job was to navigate us through the medical system. She was neither exceptionally good at her job nor bad. This is the first time I’ve seen her since my daughter died ten months ago and I can’t remember her name.

Finally I say, “Yes, …

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Launchpad: Dead Mom Walking, by Rachel Matlow

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 Rachel Matlow's memoir Dead Mom Walking, which we're particularly excited about after reading their recommended reading list of queer memoirs.

Zoe Whittall writes, “This book is perfect. Dead Mom Walking is a deeply funny, incredibly smart, and moving page-turner...I just can’t get over what a stunning achievement it is.”

*****

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

Dead Mom Walking is about how my amazing/beloved/hilarious mother tried to cure herself of cancer …

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Launchpad: HOW TO LOSE EVERYTHING, by Christa Couture

Launchpad Logo

Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.

LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.

Today we're launching Christa Couture's memoir, How to Lose Everything, which is being championed by... me, Kerry Clare, author and editor at 49thShelf.com. Last spring, I had the opportunity to read this book by Couture, who is an award-winning singer-songwriter, as well as a radio host and writer, and I devoured it in two days. On my phone. And I have a really crummy phone. I have almost never managed to read an entire book on a screen, let alone in two days, so voraciously. But this is a pretty special book. A book you might think would be a bit of a downer, this story that catalogues the monumental losses experienced by Couture throughout her life—she had cancer as a child; she lost her leg in curing that cancer; her first two children died; she got divorced; she got cancer again. And yet. This is a book that sparkles and sings, a memoir as rich with joy as it is with sadness, a story …

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