Off the Page

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

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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.

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers Get Us Through the End of the Year

Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers Get Us Through the End of the Year

By Robert J. Wiersema

To mark the passing of the year, we’ve gathered the independent booksellers of the Shelf Talkers fellowship – the st …

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Book Cover Four Umbrellas

Launchpad: FOUR UMBRELLAS, by June Hutton and Tony Wanless

By Kerry Clare

"Our goal from the outset was to write a book in which the person with Alzheimer’s has a place on the page, too."

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Book Cover The Crooked Thing

Stories that Excavate the Underworld

By Mary MacDonald

A recommended reading list by the author of new story collection The Crooked Thing.

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L. Marie Adeline Reveals the S.E.C.R.E.T. Behind The Sisterhood of the Travelling Hot Pants

L. Marie Adeline/Lisa Gabriele (Photo credit: Virginia MacDonald)

S.E.C.R.E.T. is the debut erotic novel by L. Marie Adeline. However, upon its publication, Doubleday revealed another secret, the true identity of Adeline: seasoned novelist Lisa Gabriele.

I chat with Gabriele/Adeline about the leap from CanLit to erotica, sexual bravery, and something I like to call The Sisterhood of the Travelling Hot Pants.

First, some introduction to S.E.C.R.E.T.:

The novel's protagonist, Cassie Robichaud, a waitress in New Orleans, is in a rut. She's lonely and full of regret following the death of her husband. One day, a customer leaves behind a notebook in the cafe, the pages of which detail explicit confessions, leading Cassie to an underground society of women who support and guide one another through their wildest sexual fantasies. Set free of inhibitions, having discovered new confidence, Cassie begins a transformation that leaves her satisfied and sated. (Readers also come to know a fine fella named Will, Cassie's colleague at the cafe.)

Julie Wilson: Let's being with the pseudonym. It's not a big leap to get from William Bradley "Brad" Pitt to Brad Pitt, but L. Marie Adeline is a more conscious construction. Where did she come from?

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Shree Ghatage on Thirst, Desire, and Arranged Marriages

Thirst, by Shree Ghatage (Doubleday Canada).

Set in mid-century India and England against the backdrop of WWII, Thirst, by Shree Ghatage (Doubleday), tells the story of unexpected love born out of an arranged marriage between Vasanti and Baba and how their worlds fall apart after Baba decides to study abroad in London.

49th Shelf talks with Shree Ghatage about desire—"the lynchpin that separates humans from animals"—and her story of a passionate marriage, arranged then torn apart.

Julie Wilson: Thirst is set in India and London, in the early 40s, against the backdrop of World War II. What drew you to this time period?

Shree Ghatage: Thirst is the second novel in a trilogy that began with Brahma’s Dream. There were two characters in Brahma’s Dream—Vasanti and her husband, Baba—who stayed with me even after I had finished working on the book. So when I began to write the first draft of Thirst, the character of Baba, almost unbidden, came foremost to mind, and I was quickly drawn into developing an account of his life. The fact that my first novel was set against the backdrop of India’s 1940’s independence movement meant that Baba’s story would also play out during that era. As it happens, England in World War II became a prolific setting and time period in which to explore the nuances of memory …

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Marissa Campbell's Romance (and Erotica!) Book List

Book Cover Evelyn

"What's not to love?" asks Marissa Campbell, about the romance. "We crave those delicious feelings that love inspires..." In her list for us, Campbell tells us about her debut novel, Avelynn, and shares some other romance titles that turn things up hot, and even hotter.

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My debut novel, Avelynn, set in 869 Anglo-Saxon England is a historical romance. I have a weakness for romance books, because honestly, what’s not to love? A bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolate, a love note, a picnic beneath the stars. We crave those delicious feelings that love inspires—the heart-pounding mixture of trepidation and excitement leading up to that first date, the breathless anticipation of a first kiss, the curious and delirious moments fumbling toward first base, the crashing, rolling surge of yearning culminating in that first night of wild passion. We may struggle in life, we may have to fight tooth and nail to eke out beautiful moments to hold onto and cherish, but in a romance novel, we are guaranteed a happy ending.

Avelynn has big dreams. Despite the confines of a patriarchal society, she hopes to one day oversee Wedmore, a wealthy manor in Wessex. She also refuses to give up on her pagan roots, resisting the Christian church’s increasing hold on Britain. Most of …

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Drunken Chicken Wings: from Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune

Book Cover Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune

There's so much great buzz for Roselle Lim's debut Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortuneplus, Ali Wong's Always Be My Maybe has left us hungry for more stories about food and romance with a San Francisco setting. To give you all a taste of what Lim's novel has in store for readers, we're pleased to feature an excerpt from the book, along with Natalie Tan's recipe for Drunken Chicken Wings, which are exactly what's called for to save an ailing marriage—or so Natalie hopes....

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From Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune: 

I combined five spice, black pepper, Thai chilies, and paprika into a large bowl for the seasoning. I tumbled two pounds of chicken wings out of their brown paper wrapping and into the awaiting bowl where I kneaded the pungent mixture into them, squeezing the spices into the meat like an experienced massage therapist. Another bowl full of shaoxing rice wine combined with red vinegar awaited the wings as the next step after their rigorous massage. They soaked, relaxed, basking in the pool of wine, to become drunken like their namesake. I set them aside to marinate in the fridge...

The side dish for the drunken chicken wings was a pickled slaw. This was my recipe and something I had picked up from my travels in Vietnam. I julienned carrots …

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

Book Cover 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 Thea Lim, author of An Ocean of Minutes, recommends the debut novel by Sheung-King. "You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked. is a tale of two rich and rootless people that oozes the horror and confusion of love, while staying somehow still desperately romantic, and so gloriously sad. This novel is also about something else: it gives the cold shoulder to the dominant gaze and its demands to control the Asian body, carving out a thrilling space beyond whiteness. I didn't want it to end."

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49th Shelf: What particular something have you managed to achieve with this book that you're especially proud of?

Sheung-King: You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked. is not an immigra …

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