Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Book Cover MY Family Tree and Me

Notes From a Children's Librarian: Heritage and Identity

By [Kerry Clare]

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

*****

How do family an …

read more >
Logo Bookstore Day

Celebrating Canadian Independent Bookstores

By [Kerry Clare]

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day is happening April 28—a day for Canadians to get out into the community and celebra …

read more >
Book Cover Between Breaths

Books for Earth Day

By [Kerry Clare]

Fantastic books for readers of all ages and across genres, about nature, ecology, and conservation. 

read more >
The Chat With Jessica Westhead

The Chat With Jessica Westhead

By [Trevor Corkum]

Jessica Westhead has an uncanny ability to combine humour and despair in her writing. In her latest collection, Things N …

read more >
Book Cover The Honey Farm

A slow, creeping madness...

By [Kerry Clare]

It seems that Canadian literature is rife with stories of isolated characters and their slow creeping madnesses. And yes …

read more >
Book Cover Yes or Nope

16 Seriously Funny Poets

By [Kerry Clare]

A totally scientific list of the funniest poets in all of Canada.

read more >
Book Cover Surfaces

Eric Schmaltz: Reading at the Intersection of Text and Image

By [Kerry Clare]

"These books highlight the intersection of text and image to create compelling explorations of linguistic meaning-making …

read more >
The Recommend: April 2018

The Recommend: April 2018

By [Kiley Turner]

This month we're pleased to present the picks of Shawna Lemay (The Flower Can Always Be Changing), Andrew Battershill (M …

read more >
Book Cover the Return of Kid Cooper

Reimagining the Old West

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by Brad Smith, who (according to Dennis Lehane) is "a writer to watch, a comet on the horizon …

read more >
The Chat With Kevin Chong

The Chat With Kevin Chong

By [Trevor Corkum]

A modern-day story of infectious disease and rising social inequality, The Plague is Kevin Chong’s take on Camus’ cl …

read more >

In Conversation With: Farzana Doctor on Queer, South Asian Identity and Being a Psychotherapist

farzana-doctor-2

Farzana Doctor, author of Six Metres of Pavement and Stealing Nasreen.

On one of the last summery days of early fall, I met up with Farzana Doctor in Trinity Bellwoods Park to record a short excerpt from her second novel, Six Metres of Pavement, and to eat soft cheeses and drink fermented grape juice. We were visited regularly by dogs and the threat of the odd softball. Enjoy the chat!

Julie Wilson: This past summer, you received the $4,000 Dayne Ogilvie Grant for Emerging LGBT Writer from the Writers' Trust of Canada. While the writing itself doesn't necessarily have to feature LBGT themes, the writer must identify as LGBT to be eligible. LGBT teen suicide has been in the news of late—I'll point to a Globe and Mail editorial by Melissa Carroll and Rick Mercer's recent video address, which calls foul on the It Gets Better campaign, saying it needs to be better now—so I want to ask you how important it is for you to identify openly as a queer woman. And how does it impact your craft as a writer?

Farzana Doctor: It’s always felt important for me to identify as an openly queer woman. Queer identities are still oppressed ones (and this explains why it still hasn’t “gotten better”, or at least not …

Continue reading >

"I Am Not At Peace": Ghosts and Haunting in Canadian Fiction

Graveyard at night

“There is a sense in which all novels are ghost stories: fictional characters are translucent phantoms, which readers believe in (or don’t); readers lurk in the presence of characters, spying on their most intimate moments, eavesdropping on their innermost thoughts. And however thoroughly the novelist establishes her characters’ motivations, however robustly she forges her chains of cause and effect everything that happens ultimately does so at the whim of the writer. Certain things have to happen for the narrative to progress… Every novel is haunted by a tyrannical poltergeist, in the form of its plot.” from “Poltergeist: The Little Stranger” by Thomas Jones, London Review of Books 9 July 2009

In Britain, a civilization so old that it’s nearly impossible not to be walking on a grave, it’s no surprise that fictional ghosts are abundant. From The Woman in White down to the The Woman in Black, the ghost story is a literary staple, and it’s taken comedy turns in novels by contemporary writers including Hilary Mantel and Nicola Barker.

In Canada, however, where bones underfoot are less common and those discovered often hearken back to colonial atrocities, our ghosts are not so playful. Something is extra-unnatural about the supernatural in Canadian …

Continue reading >

The Hard Part: Guest Post by David Whitton

Book Cover the Reverse Cowgirl Whitton

I was standing in M’s kitchen, surrounded by cardboard boxes and mouse shit and memories. M, my friend of many years, was leaning against the counter, pensive. He was telling me about a woman he’d dated five years earlier, about what had gone wrong. He’d found a letter from her that morning as he’d been packing up his stuff.

It was a late afternoon in late August. M was three days from hopping on a plane and moving to Newfoundland.

He pointed to some pages sitting on a corrugated moving box. “You can read it if you want.”

I am a writer: of course I wanted to read it. I picked up and pored over this intimate document that I had no business touching, much less reading. It was two typewritten pages; dated but not signed. The paper was yellowed, stained from one thing or another. Mistreated. Forgotten about.

The girlfriend—we’ll call her X—had noticed lately that M had seemed distant. Was this real, she wondered, or her imagination? She couldn’t say. But she blamed herself. She hadn’t been declarative enough—that was the problem—and she’d meant this letter to correct all of that. She wanted him to know, before it was too late, that the night they went to Walmart was the greatest in her memory. She wanted him to know that she was jealous of his …

Continue reading >

EXCLUSIVE PODCAST: In Conversation With Marina Endicott (The IFOA Edition)

Marina Endicott, author of Good to a Fault and The Little Shadows.

I first met Marina Endicott at the unveiling of the 2010 Canada Reads during my stint as online guest host of the CBC Book Club. We clicked immediately. She's easy with a laugh, tells a great story and is a gracious conversationalist. So, it was a pleasure to go another round with this grand dame in a hotel room overlooking the Toronto harbour while she's in town for the 2011 International Festival of Authors.

Grab a cuppa, because we yammer on for about twenty (glorious and action-packed) minutes. Topics covered include: youthful self-awareness, family theatre productions, The Partridge Family and the "matter" of literary awards. It all ends with a rousing melodramatic reading from Marina's latest novel The Little Shadows (Doubleday Canada), a particular treat because it's a passage she's never performed in front of an audience.

We begin our scene mid-conversation. Two women appear to be discussing death and dragonflies. Let's listen in, shall we?

Marina Endicott has several appearances left on her IFOA schedule. See below for all details.

Thursday, October 27, 8:00 p.m.
Fleck, A Verse Comedy
The IFOA hosts a reading of Fleck, A Verse Comedy featuring Linwood Barclay, Alan Bissett, Marina Endicott, Jim Fleck, Brian Francis, Rodge Glass, C.C. Humphreys, Helen Humph …

Continue reading >

Picture Books We Have Known and Loved (by Sara O'Leary)

Sara O'Leary

Right now I am the only one in my household who is the right age for picture books as both my boys have outgrown that stage, although the younger one does write them. But as first a mother, then a reviewer, and then a children’s writer I have spent an inordinate amount of time immersed in them.

After years and years of writing book reviews I have a personal library that is probably smaller than it was when I began. My attitude to books has shifted – the ones I don’t care about I get rid of and the ones that I particularly like I tend to pass on to someone else. But picture books are different.Our collection has been winnowed down over the years and several major moves, but the books we have loved are now part of the family and wherever we go, they go with us.

Here are a few of the picture books that stay with me (both literally and figuratively).

Yuck, a Love Story by Don Gillmor, Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay: I’m not putting this list in order but I am putting this one at the top, which may or may not be a coincidence. When I think about one o …

Continue reading >

The Randomizer

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