Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Glorious and Free

Books for the Holidays

By [Kerry Clare]

Still haven't finished your shopping? Here are a few suggestions to help you cross out a couple more items on your list. …

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The Chat with Tanya Talaga

The Chat with Tanya Talaga

By [Trevor Corkum]

Today we are in conversation with Tanya Talaga. Her hard-hitting and important Seven Fallen Feathers tells the story of …

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Book Cover A Bird on Every Tree

Top Fiction of 2017

By [Kerry Clare]

With our Top Fiction of 2017, the 49thShelf.com team looks back on the highlights and the books we were most excited to …

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Book Cover As a Dog Thinketh

Books for the Holidays

By [Kerry Clare]

The holidays are coming, but we've got you covered with amazing book suggestions for all the types on your list.

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Shelf Talkers: Ideas for Christmas 2017!

Shelf Talkers: Ideas for Christmas 2017!

By [Rob Wiersema]

From brunch ideas to books for kids and teens, Canada's indie booksellers have you covered.

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Book Cover On Mockingbird Hills

Mary Theresa Kelly: Madcap Women in the Wild

By [Kerry Clare]

Wilderness stories, especially fire lookouts, have traditionally been dominating by male writers, but there are accounts …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winners David Alexander Robertson & Julie Flett

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winners David Alexander Robertson & Julie Flett

By [Trevor Corkum]

In the final installment in in our Governor General Award special edition of The Chat, we speak to David Alexander Rober …

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The Chat with 2017 Governor General's Award Winner (for Translation) Oana Avasilichioaei

The Chat with 2017 Governor General's Award Winner (for Translation) Oana Avasilichioaei

By [Trevor Corkum]

Today we’re in conversation with Oana Avasilichioaei, translator of Bertrand Laverdure’s novel Lectodôme. Her Engli …

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Book Cover Ira Crumb

Fabulous, Funny Picture Books: A List by Naseem Hrab

By [Kerry Clare]

"An exceptional horse, a dead rabbit and a big hat walk into a bookstore...."

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Our Coast-to-Coast Guide to Word on the Street 2011

Word on the Street Logo

This Sunday September 25th, Canadians coast-to-coast will take to the street for The Word on the Street National Book & Magazine Festival. This year the festival, which began in Toronto in 1990, will take place in six Candian cities: Vancouver, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto and Halifax. With its tagline, "Celebrating Reading, Advocating Literacy," WOTS is a chance for Canadians to learn about and support local literacy causes, as well as connect with some of the people behind the best books and magazines this country has to offer.

In Vancouver the festival runs for three days (September 23-25). Not to be missed is Charlotte Gill, whose book Eating Dirt has just been shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for nonfiction. Also be sure to check out poet Aisha Sasha John, Wayde Compton (whose book After Canaan is up for the Vancouver Book Award), Jen Sookfong Lee, kids writer Vikki VanSikkle, Kevin Chong, short story writer Samuel Thomas Martin, Campie author Barbara Stewart, Governor General's Award-winning writer John Vaillant, awesome poet Sachiko Murakami, and Andrew Nikiforuk,whose most recent book is Empire of the Beetle.

Angie Abdou (whose novel The Bone Cage was a 2011 Canada Reads contender) reads at the Word on the Street in Lethbr …

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Put a Bird On It

There are times that we at the Canadian Bookshelf miss the non-bookish zeitgeist boat, and so it was only quite recently that we discovered the very funny "Put a Bird on It" sketch from the television series Portlandia. The sketch is clearly onto something, however, and it's not just handbags and lampshades that have been receiving the Put a Bird Treatment lately. Many recent Canadian books have been similarly bedecked, including the usual suspects (avian guides), but also poetry books, memoirs and novels. Bird books, it turns out, aren't so rare after all, but we think they're kind of lovely.

Check out the Complete Canadian Bookshelf Put a Bird on It Books List, with some of our favourite birdish picks featured below:

Book Cover Bedside Book of Birds

The Bedside Book of Birds by Graeme Gibson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Cover The Crow's Vow

The Crow's Vow by Susan Briscoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Cover One Bird's Choice

One Bird's Choice by Iain Reid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rebecca Rosenblum and Mark Sampson on loving an author, and the momentous highs (and moronic lows) of the writer's life.

Rebecca Rosenblum and Mark Sampson, writer couple.

Writers can be dissatisfied, wistful, complex. Manic, gleeful, hyperbolic. Imagine then two writers living together, day in and out. What is it like to work and live beside someone who shares your professional aspirations? What is like to love that person? I chat with Rebecca Rosenblum and Mark Sampson, writers and romantic partners, about how they make room in their household for evolving stories and stringent writing schedules.

If you're in Toronto, please join us at the launch of Rebecca's latest short story collection, The Big Dream, published by Biblioasis. Interviewed by Canadian Bookshelf's own Kerry Clare, you'll also get to catch a glimpse of two longtime friends on stage.

When: TONIGHT. Tuesday, September, 20, 7 p.m.
Where: Dora Keogh, 141 Danforth Avenue

Julie Wilson: As partners, how does your support of one another's career manifest itself? Time? Space? Personal sacrifice? First reads?

Rebecca Rosenblum: Well, whatever it takes, I guess. It's good to be able to bring a dysfunctional story, or an impersonal rejection, or whatever writing blow I've received to Mark and know I don't have to explain why it sucks. We do first read for each other sometimes--it's a little fraught, because obviously his opinion matters a lot to me and I'm more emotional reacting t …

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How to be a good creative writing student: Guest Post by Kevin Chong

Kevin Chong Photo

If you’re in a creative writing class, you will likely find yourself in a conversation with someone who insists that “writing cannot be taught.” Don’t argue with that person. Don’t talk about Gertrude Stein tutoring Hemingway in Paris, or name the many writers who come from these programs who don’t fit any set mould.

The best thing to do would be to nod agreeably. This person can’t be helped; they live in another reality. In 2011, “Can creative writing can be taught?” is a question that’s about as relevant as “Is nuclear proliferation the best way to peaceably resolve the Cold War?” or “Should I own a refrigerator?” It would be harder for anyone seeking to publish literary writing to avoid a writing workshop than to attend a class run by a university, college, or arts centre.

With this in mind, the question should be “how can I be the best creative writing student I can be?” Well, it depends. Here is some contradictory advice:

Drink a Lot. Excess seemed to work for some writers like Hunter S. Thompson and Kingsley Amis. Socializing, and the community that can arise from elbow-tipping, might take the edge off the solitude of writing.

Don’t Drink a Lot. If you wanted to be a better golfer, would you start by sleeping with hundreds of i …

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Places and Novels: Guest Post by Peter Behrens

Peter Behrens

I need to seed a book in a place. In my mind I plant the idea of the book in one very specific patch of ground and hope it will grow from there. Until I know where that patch of ground is, I'm lost and the story, the book, that I'm trying to write does not come into focus. I can’t grasp it. I have no traction on a story until I have a place.

In my novel The Law of Dreams, which is a story of the Irish Famine, I had to wrestle with the book for quite a while before I came across the place where it could be seeded. That was--guess where?--in Ireland, on a damp mountainside, in Co. Clare. A man who knew every inch of that ground as a naturalist, as a historian, and as an Irishman, was my guide that day. I’d been in Ireland many times before. I knew the country pretty well, and I wasn’t naïve about it. Ireland has always interested me as a real place, not a mystic wonderland. I feel connected there because I often see people who look like they could be my relatives; on the other hand being in Ireland always makes me very aware of being very Canadian, not Irish. So. We were tramping up and down that beautiful, quite barren piece of Connacht on a damp morning in November. I was fighting a flu which had nailed me the day after arriving in Dublin, from Los Angeles. I …

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