Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
The Chat with Richard Van Camp

The Chat with Richard Van Camp

By Trevor Corkum

Author Richard Van Camp is a celebrated and beloved storyteller who has worked across many genres. His latest offering, …

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Book Cover In Praise of Retreat

Why We All Need Breathing Space

By Kirsteen MacLeod

"Retreat is an adventure, and it involves uncertainty. Whether we go to the quiet woods to rest or make art, walk a pilg …

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Book Cover What the Kite Saw

What the Kite Saw: Stories of Children and Crisis

By Anne Laurel Carter

"Children have their own unique ways of facing a crisis. Yes, they need protecting, but they are also resilient. They ha …

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Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

By Robert J. Wiersema

One of the best pieces of news in an otherwise dark year was the word that, despite the growth of online giants during t …

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Book Cover The Shadow Life

My Drifter Reading List

By Jen Sookfong Lee

A poetry list by the author of new book The Shadow List.

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Book Cover Fuse

Persian-Canadian Writers You've Got to Read

By Hollay Ghadery

So, where were all the Persian Canadian writers? It turns out, here all along, but not as represented as one might hope; …

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Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

By Geoffrey Ruggero

Picture books are often written with young children as their intended audience. In Tough Like Mum, Lana Button provides …

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Book Cover We Jane

Aimee Wall on The Great Canadian Abortion Novel

By Kerry Clare

"I didn’t want the plot to turn on an abortion or the decision to have one. Any conflict or tension is rooted elsewher …

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Book Cover Because the Sun

Poetry That's Going to Grab You

By 49thShelf Staff

Great books to read before for National Poetry Month is out.

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The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

By Trevor Corkum

Christopher DiRaddo’s sophomore novel, The Family Way, is a dynamic and rich exploration of queer family, parenthood, …

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Jessica Westhead on Ottawa's Octopus Books

Jessica Westhead's latest book is the story collection And Also Sharks, and she is also author of the novel Pulpy & Midge. In her Canadian Bookshelf guest post, she celebrates Ottawa's Octopus Books and Lisa Greaves, the woman at its helm.

I first met Lisa Greaves in fall 2007, on a Coach House book tour stop at the Plan 99 Reading series at the Manx in Ottawa. After I read from my then-new first novel, Pulpy & Midge, a grinning blonde woman made my night by telling me how much she’d enjoyed the excerpt. She introduced herself and said she owned a bookstore in town, and would I like to read there some time? I said I’d love to.

Photo of Lisa Greaves, Octopus Books

Lisa Greaves, Octopus Books owner-of-amazingness

We hatched a plan for me to visit Octopus Books that spring, along with local author and Octo-pal Jennifer Whiteford. On Wednesday, March 19, 2008, embraced by crammed, colourful bookshelves and a small but very friendly crowd, Jennifer read from her awesome young adult novel grrrl, and I read from Pulpy. Then we launched into an impromptu Q&A session and animated literary gabfest, fuelled by Lisa’s wine and her giddy enthusiasm for both of our books.

I saw Lisa and Jennifer again at Octopus Books’ 40th birthday celebration the following year. That’s right—this independent book …

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Ottawa Writing: Light and Dark, Sepia Toned and Noir

John Delacourt—whose latest novel is Butterfly—celebrates the unique sensibility of Ottawa writers in this fantastic and wide-ranging recommended reading list. 

*****

It was more than 16 years ago, at an event celebrating the work and life of Ottawa’s John Newlove, that I first discovered the depth and diversity of Ottawa’s writing community (it was at the Manx Pub—where poet David O’Meara tends bar). I was new to the city but realized, as the readings began that night, this was truly a city where a writer could work, find readers and even, every now and then, a little inspiration. The following list is my submission of the evidence.

*

Asylum, by André Alexis

Long before his Giller-winning 15 Dogs, author André Alexis spent close to a decade writing Asylum, a novel set in late-1980s Ottawa. The novel’s main character and narrator is a bookseller who joins a group of would-be intellectuals and civil servants called The Fortnightly Club. One of its members, a high-ranking bureaucrat serving Mulroney’s cabinet, aspires to implement the best …

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Launchpad: In Veritas, by C.J. Lavigne

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 new novel In Veritas, by C.J. Lavigne, which Tanya Huff has called “The perfect mix of incandescent writing and enthralling storytelling. C.J. Lavigne has given us something we can believe in. Learn to see the dragons.”

*****

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

It’s a literary urban fantasy about an Ottawa woman whose synaesthetic senses allow her to perceive multiple worlds, and maybe save a dying reality.

Describe your ideal reader.

Someone who loves fantastic …

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Linda Svendsen's Sussex Drive: An Excerpt

Book Cover Sussex Drive

Torn from the headlines, Sussex Drive is a rollicking, cheeky, alternate history of big-ticket political items in Canada told from the perspectives of Becky Leggatt (the sublimely capable and manipulative wife of a hard-right Conservative prime minister) and just a wink away at Rideau Hall, Lise Lavoie (the wildly exotic and unlikely immigrant Governor General)—two wives and mothers living their private lives in public.

Set in recent history, when the biggest House on their turf is shuttered not once, not twice, but three times, Becky and Lise engage in a fight to the death in a battle that involves Canada’s relationship to the United States, Afghanistan and Africa. The rest of the time, the women are driving their kids.

From Linda Svendsen’s sharp and wicked imagination comes a distaff Ottawa like no other ever created by a Canadian writer, of women manoeuvring in a political world gone more than a little mad, hosting world leaders, dealing with the challenges of minority government, and worrying about teen pregnancies and their own marriages. As they juggle these competing interests, Becky and Lise are forced to question what they thought were their politics, and make difficult choices about their families and their futures—federal and otherwise.

The next …

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Ottawa Writing: Light and Dark, Sepia Toned and Noir

John Delacourt—whose latest novel is Butterfly—celebrates the unique sensibility of Ottawa writers in this fantastic and wide-ranging recommended reading list. 

*****

It was more than 16 years ago, at an event celebrating the work and life of Ottawa’s John Newlove, that I first discovered the depth and diversity of Ottawa’s writing community (it was at the Manx Pub—where poet David O’Meara tends bar). I was new to the city but realized, as the readings began that night, this was truly a city where a writer could work, find readers and even, every now and then, a little inspiration. The following list is my submission of the evidence.

*

Asylum, by André Alexis

Long before his Giller-winning 15 Dogs, author André Alexis spent close to a decade writing Asylum, a novel set in late-1980s Ottawa. The novel’s main character and narrator is a bookseller who joins a group of would-be intellectuals and civil servants called The Fortnightly Club. One of its members, a high-ranking bureaucrat serving Mulroney’s cabinet, aspires to implement the best …

Continue reading >

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