Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
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.

read more >
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."

read more >
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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
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 …

read more >
Book Cover Sniper Fire

Notes from a Children's Librarian: The "I Am Canadian" Series

By Julie Booker

"These first-person narratives are so compelling that a reader doesn’t even notice that they’re actually learning hi …

read more >

Robert J. Wiersema on the Springsteen songs that don't appear in his mixtape-memoir Walk Like a Man.

Book Cover

Please join Canadian Bookshelf host Julie Wilson (aka Book Madam) in conversation with her chum Robert J. Wiersema as they talk about coming of age and the soundtracks of their youths. Rob's mixtape heavily features Bruce Springsteen, the subject of his latest book Walk Like a Man (D & M Publishers); Julie realizes she has a lot of Enya on vinyl and a worn out cassette of Bronski Beat's The Age of Consent.

When: Tuesday, September 13, 7 p.m.

Where: Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St., Toronto, ON

RSVP on Facebook

And now, a few words from Rob:

I've come to realize over the past couple of books that writing is at least as much about what you cut out, and what is not written, as it is about what actually appears on the printed page. Suffice it to say, I learned this the hard way.
I don't feel so bad about writing long and editing back, though, when I remember that Bruce Springsteen wrote and recorded more than seventy songs for the Darkness on the Edge of Town album. He left sixty plus on the cutting room floor; the remaining ten songs comprise what might just be a perfect album.


With my book Walk Like a Man, I didn't overwrite. (Well, no more than normal, I suppose. After all, what's twenty thousand words between friends?) Given the nature of the book—short es …

Continue reading >

Portrait of a Young DJ: Guest Post by Sophie B. Watson

Book Cover Cadillac Couches

As soon as I got my first Sony Walkman as a late teenager I was hooked. I was a Sony WalkWoman. Headphones for every walk, no matter how small (even around the living room). Music just made the whole living thing fifty thousand times more romantic. With sunglasses on, like blinkers on a horse, I could ignore my actual world and be transported into a different dimension altogether, a much sexier one. Music was proof of another life-form in the universe…people somewhere who spoke my language.

When I was younger and weirder I loved some songs so achingly much I contemplated tying my friends up, duct taping their mouths shut and blindfolding them so they would be forced to really hear the music and love it like I did. Oddly, nobody volunteered for this. But, sometimes, I could convince a fellow listener to lie on the ground, be very still and close their eyes. I wanted my people to listen and I mean listen carefully to each sound coming out of the speakers. Or I’d drag friends to a gig and watch them like a hawk to make sure they didn’t get distracted and start talking or scoping hotties. God forbid they should order a drink during a song and miss some guttural noise that could mean oh so very much. They had to hear what I heard: every nuance, croak, rasp, moan, …

Continue reading >

Sean Kelly on Metal Music and a Quest for Freedom

Metal on Ice, by Sean Kelly (Dundurn Press).

In Metal On Ice: Tales from Canada's Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Heroes (Dundurn Press), musician Sean Kelly (Crash Kelly) interviews Helix, Anvil, Coney Hatch, Killer Dwarfs, Harem Scarem, Honeymoon Suite, and a host of VJS and industry insiders about the exciting rise, then lull, of the Canadian metal scene into the 1990s, and its resurgence in recent years.

"The road to Canadian musical glory is not lined with the palm trees and top-down convertibles of the Sunset Strip. It is a road slick with black ice, obscured by blizzards, and littered with moose and deer that could cause peril for a cube van thundering down a Canadian highway."

-----

Julie Wilson: Why do you think metal and hard rock resonate so particularly with young fans who become fans for life?

Sean Kelly: They can provide a sense of power and belonging to those who don’t necessarily feel very empowered or included in other areas of their lives, especially young people. Many fans I've spoken with have mentioned that it was through this genre of music that they experienced their first real moments of social bonding outside of their immediate families. There's also an escapist quality to the music that appeals. While they weren’t Canadian, the band Saxon said it best: "Denim and Leather brought us ALL t …

Continue reading >

Top Shelf: Recent Favourites

There is so much good stuff on 49th Shelf that we sometimes compile our favourites to keep them close at hand via this series, Top Shelf. If there's not a book for you here—nay, ten!—well, we guess there isn't but it would be very, very strange. Enjoy!

*****

Sometimes cities pulse with energy and optimism. And sometimes they crush. Urban Grit is about the crush, with characters struggling to survive and even thrive in the face of it.

Check out Suzanne Allyssa Andrew's blog post along these lines, as well: Messes and Meltdowns in the City.

*****

Whether or not you believe that "short is the new long" when it comes to fiction, you'd be hard-pressed to turn down a book or two on this list of hot short story collections that came out in Spring 2015. Another hugely popular list among members in this same area is Canadian Short Stories, The New Generation, a crowdsourced list of writers who may be heirs-apparent to Munro and Gallant, and who are most definitely compelling Canadian voices in the twenty-first century.

*****

Continue reading >

Nisha Coleman and Busker: Stories from the Streets of Paris

Book Cover Busker Nisha Coleman

There are two reasons why right now is perfect time to be telling you about Nisha Coleman's Busker: Stories from the Streets of Paris. One is that we're focusing on oddballs and misfits this month here at 49th Shelf, in this misfit month with its 29 days, and Coleman encounters so many of these characters during her time busking in Paris living on the city's cultural fringes. And the second is that Valentines Day is on the horizon, and Coleman's memoir shows the City of Love like you've never seen it before. Busker is also very much a love story in its own right—just not the kind you're probably used to.  

 *****

Kerry Clare: There are so many compelling bits of your memoir, and one of them for me is the way you write about loneliness of your life in Paris in the beginning, about your longing for just an ordinary friend. You meet so many characters in your daily life—the man with the moustache, the guy with the sex songs, Michel the kisser. Was there really such a dearth of ordinary folks? Are they just not approachable? Is normal too boring to write about? Is there such a thing as normal at all? 

Nisha Coleman: I don't believe in normal! I longed for an ordinary friend, but not a normal one. What I lacked in Paris was the kind of closeness that lets you relax i …

Continue reading >

The Randomizer

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