Off the Page

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

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Book Cover In Search of the Perfect Singing Flamingo

Get Out Of Town: 11 Literary Getaways

By [Kerry Clare]

Books that take you places. 

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Quick Hits: Circus Acts, Prison Love, Middle Age, and More

Quick Hits: Circus Acts, Prison Love, Middle Age, and More

By [Kiley Turner]

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction …

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The Chat with Pamela Mulloy

The Chat with Pamela Mulloy

By [Trevor Corkum]

What happens when a soldier goes AWOL and ends up meeting a lonely gardener at an isolated farm in small-town New Brunsw …

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Shelf Talkers: Mid-Summer 2018

Shelf Talkers: Mid-Summer 2018

By [Rob Wiersema]

For readers, the summer months have a special connotation. We remember not family trips, per se, but those books we read …

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Book Cover Bec and Call

Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2018 Poetry Preview

By [Kerry Clare]

All the new poetry coming on the scene.

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Book Cover Zolitude

8 Short Story Collections To Put on Your Summer Reading List

By [Kerry Clare]

There's still plenty of summer left, and it's not too late to add these story collections to your reading lists.

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Mystery Minute: August 2018

Mystery Minute: August 2018

By [Kiley Turner]

Our Mystery Minute series brings you acclaimed mysteries that just beg to be added to your already towering TBR pile.

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Book Cover Anna Like Thunder

Reimagining West Coast History

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list from Peggy Herring, whose new book is Anna, Like Thunder

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Book Cover The Tiny Kite of Eddie Wing

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Flight

By [Kerry Clare]

Great books to complement the Grade 6 Science and Technology Unit. 

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Book Cover All the Sweet Things

Summer Eats: Our Taste Canada Shortlist Extravaganza

By [Kerry Clare]

Try these delicious recipes excerpted from cookbooks nominated for 2018 Taste Canada Awards. 

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Anakana Schofield on literary Vancouver: "Books that made me turn off the vacuum"

Book Cover Malarky

The domestic features significantly in my debut novel Malarky. Domestic territory and behaviour are surveyed, examined and subverted within it. Lest this give the impression I am way domestic, I assert from blast off that vacuuming is the sole household task I excel at. If there was a way to vacuum and read simultaneously I would do it. I have succeeded in walking and reading.  I have almost succeeded at knitting and reading, but vacuuming and reading still evades me.

When I was frustrated writing Malarky I would turn on the vacuum. The straight lines, diagonals and heave-ho repetition improved my disposition, but inevitably my mind wandered to books I wanted to revisit. Sometimes to simply reacquaint with a sole paragraph.

Here are some, of the many, local Vancouver books that have caused me to strand the hoover in the middle of the floor and search for a paragraph or moment in them.

Taxi! by Helen Potrebenko: Taxi!, originally published in 1975, is my favourite Vancouver novel. It's a working class, feminist classic which centres on a woman taxi driver, S …

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Maggie Helwig's Girls Fall Down named 2012 One Book: Toronto [author interview]

Girls Fall Down by Maggie Helwig (Coach House Books)

Maggie Helwig's Girls Fall Down—the acclaimed novel of fear and love set in a Toronto in crisis—has been named the 2012 One Book: Toronto title. The Toronto Public Library's city-wide book club runs throughout April.

The Toronto Public Library runs the One Book: Toronto program as part of April's "Keep Toronto Reading" festivities. Torontonians are encouraged to read one book together en masse and join in a city-wide conversation. Throughout April, the Toronto Public Library will host dozens of events concerning Girls Fall Down and its themes.

Past One Book: Toronto titles include Midnight at the Dragon Cafe (Judy Fong Bates), More (Austin Clarke) and Consolation (Michael Redhill).

About Girls Fall Down:

Girls Fall Down opens with a girl fainting in the Toronto subway. Her friends are taken to the hospital with unexplained rashes. Swarms of police arrive, and then the hazmat team. Panic ripples through the city, and words like poisoning and terrorism become airborne. Alex, a medical photographer who is hoping to chronicle the Toronto he knows on film before his sight fails completely, is a witness to this first episode. During the hysteria, he encounters an old girlfriend–the one who shattered his heart in the eighties, while she was fighting for social justice a …

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2012 Canadian Literary Festivals: Guide to the Pre-Season

"Literary Festival Season starts early here in Canada," we wrote last summer when we took you on a virtural journey of 2011 literary festivals from coast to coast. And indeed it does. We're only in February, but the 2012 fests are nearly upon us after a brief winter break, the busy calendar a spring-like harbinger of packed weekends to come. Which is not to say that these early festivals are a kind of warm-up, any less exciting than those held at the height of summer. A glance through the festivals' highlights makes clear that we're in the thick of things already.

The 6th Annual African Canadian Children's Literary Festival takes place on February 18 and 19 at York Woods Library in Toronto and features writing workshops, author readings, discussion panels, and storytelling by Mutamba Rainos and Sandra Whiting.

Galiano-Island-Literary-Festival

The Galiano Island Literary Festival runs from February 24 to 26 in Galiano Island BC with a focus this year on "Books: Windows to the Past, Present and Future." Events include readings by Kit Pearson, Zsuzsi Gartner, Susan Juby, Gary Geddes, Grant Lawrence, Timothy Taylor. Also scheduled are panel discussions, writing workshops, and a Bruce Springsteen celebration on the festival's closing day featuring a reading by Robert J. Wiersema.

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Gerry Fostaty on reliving a youthful trauma in his memoir As You Were: The Tragedy at Valcartier

Julie Wilson: The tragedy of which you speak in your book, As You Were: The Tragedy at Valcartier occurred in 1974 on a Canadian Forces Base in Valcartier, Quebec. During a routine lecture on explosives safety, the pin was pulled on a grenade thought to be a dud. Six teenaged boys died and fifty-four were injured. One hundred and forty boys survived, but were left traumatized. You've noted surprise that so many people remained silent in the aftermath, some who have since come forward to talk more openly after having read your book. Can you share some anecdotes?

Gerry Fostaty: I initially thought I was the only one to remain tight lipped. I was wrong. Only a few of the boys, who are all now in their fifties, have broken the silence, and even then, only to those they feel they could trust. Most didn’t even speak to their families about the explosion for years: not their parents, siblings, nor even their spouses later in life. It was just too painful to focus on the memory, much less to recount it to someone else. So much energy was spent avoiding the memory of the trauma that it seemed counterproductive to revisit that which we would have gladly escaped.

We would all like to position ourselves as strong, and a first response is to “man up, brave it out, suck it up and walk it off.” Not many men are immune to the cultural conditioning and the media influence that promotes the image of the strong silent male. There are men with visible scars on their bodies, who still refuse …

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Five Canadian speculative fiction titles for literary readers/ Five Canadian literary titles for speculative fiction readers (by Leah Bobet)

Five Canadian speculative fiction titles for literary readers

Book Cover Someone Comes to Town Someone Leaves town

Cory Doctorow, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town: Alan’s father was a mountain and his mother a washing machine, and he lives in Kensington Market, blanketing the neighbourhood with free pirate WiFi, trying to protect Mimi, the winged girl next door, from her abusive boyfriend, and defending his youngest brother, who is a set of nesting dolls, from their dead, wicked sibling—who’s been resurrected and is coming for him.

And all this, which should feel chaotic and undisciplined and wild, fits seamlessly into one of the most sobering, moving, beautifully crafted books I’ve ever read, rawly, complicatedly emotional and luminous, with a million true and contradictory and conflicted things to say about protection, acceptance, and the past.

Book cover The New Moon's Arms

Nalo Hopkinson, The New Moon’s Arms: Hopkinson’s most recent adult novel — she’s branched into young adult for her latest — is kind of note-perfect. Calamity, who is almost the modern Caribbean equivalent of Hagar Shipley, is going through …

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