Off the Page

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

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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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"Free fall beneath the carpet": David Rotenberg on setting The Placebo Effect in Toronto

Book Cover The Placebo Effect

I directed the first Canadian play in the People’s Republic of China in Shanghai (in Mandarin) when that country was in the massive transition from a profoundly oppressive socialist state to a basically free market economy – a thrilling time and my time there inspired me to write my first novel. I also lived in Manhattan for many years and it still forms the base for some of my work. New York knows what it is. It’s been written about, sung about and mythologized into a state of firm existence. People immigrate to New York from all over the world and become New Yorkers. You peel back the carpet and you find yesterday’s New York, you pry up the floorboards and you get yesteryear’s New York.

Toronto is different – sometimes there’s free fall beneath the carpet.

I was born and raised in Toronto, and retuned to the city in 1987 after living in the United States for the better part of sixteen years. Since I've been back, I've had nine novels published. But The Placebo Effect is the first time I’ve written about my hometown. And I didn’t find it all that easy. Toronto is a city where more than 50% of its citizens were not born in the country. Sometimes there’s “ just no there, there” – to quote Ms. Stein. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing …

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Penguin author Peggy Blair on rejection, persistence, and how Ian Rankin changed her life.

The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair (Penguin).

Peggy Blair was a lawyer for more than thirty years. A recognized expert in Aboriginal law, she also worked as a criminal defence lawyer and Crown prosecutor. Blair spent a Christmas in Old Havana, where she watched the bored young policemen on street corners along the Malecón, visited Hemingway’s favourite bars, and learned to make a perfect mojito. A former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Peggy is named in Canadian Who's Who. She currently lives in Ottawa where she works in real estate. Visit her online at www.peggyblair.com.

About The Beggar's Opera: In beautiful, crumbling Old Havana, Canadian detective Mike Ellis hopes the sun and sand will help save his troubled marriage. He doesn’t yet know that it’s dead in the water—much like the little Cuban boy last seen begging the Canadian couple for a few pesos on the world famous Malecon. For Inspector Ricardo Ramirez, head of the Major Crimes Unit of the Cuban National Revolutionary Police, finding his prime suspect isn’t a problem—Cuban law is. He has only seventy-two hours to secure an indictment and prevent a vicious killer from leaving the island. But Ramirez has his own troubles to worry about. He’s dying of the same dementia that killed his grandmother, an incurable disease that m …

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Andrew Pyper: Outsiders, Inner Demons, and Satan's Charms

Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist (Simon & Schuster, 2013).

Andrew Pyper grew up in Stratford, ON. The only student from his high school to attend university out of province, he landed at McGill, pursued English Lit, and completed a Master's degree before deciding to put academia aside for practical concerns—it was time to get a job. He turned to law and was called to the bar when for completely unpractical reasons he began to write what would become his first, highly acclaimed novel, Lost Girls. Pyper embarked on a curious though successful trajectory: he was a literary writer moving in the direction of genre fiction. Now, with The Demonologist (Simon & Schuster), Pyper makes his first unabashed leap into horror writing. But he doesn't leave his lit cred far behind.

Julie Wilson: In The Demonologist, your protagonist, Professor David Ullman, is an expert on Milton's Paradise Lost, described in your novel as "blank verse that seemed to defend the indefensible," which is great. How did you prep to become as familiar with Paradise Lost as Ullman?

Andrew Pyper: I had read Paradise Lost with great haste the night before the exam for some Intro to Literature course in first year university. In other words, I barely read it at all. But I took with me the impression left by the star of the show (intended or otherwise), namely Sa …

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The Recommend: Summer 2018

Research shows that most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Ian Hamilton (The Imam of Tawi-Wawi), Sam Wiebe (Cut You Down), Dave Butler (Full Curl), Mark Lisac (Where the Bodies Lie), and Dietrich Kalteis (Ride the Lightning).

**

Ian Hamilton recommends Paul William Roberts' The Demonic Comedy

I'm a huge fan of the travel/memoir genre. To my mind, writers like Bruce Chatwin, Eric Newby, Pico Iyer, and Norman Lewis who can weave history, personal stories, geography, politics, culture, and social mores into wonderfully complex stories are to be treasured. All of those writers have British roots, and so does another of their ilk: Paul William Roberts. But since Roberts has lived almost his entire adult life in Canada, and identifies himself as Canadian, I have no trouble claiming him as one, and I have no trouble choosing his book The Demonic Comedy as one of the best Canadian books I've ever read.

Roberts—who has a doctorate in ancient Middle Eastern history—writes about Iraq pre …

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Launchpad: LOSS LAKE, by Amber Cowie

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.

Samantha Bailey, bestselling author of Women on the Edge, is recommending Loss Lake, by Amber Cowie. She write, "Amber Cowie is a gifted storyteller. In Loss Lake she creates a stunning suspense about dangerous small-town secrets that threaten the lives of its residents, and its latest newcomer. Sentence by gorgeous sentence, Cowie reveals an intricately woven, powerful plot, unveiling the depths of the characters and their lies. A magnificent read crackling with tension."

*****

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

Amber Cowie: Loss Lake is a creepy cabin-in-the-woods story that was a true labour of lov …

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