Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Nobody Cares

Anne T. Donahue Doesn't Think of You At All

By [Kerry Clare]

The author of Nobody Cares on growing up, getting it together, and why she doesn't fear cheese-loving Toni Collette fans …

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Book Cover The Cowkeeper's Wish

Tracy Kasaboski and Kristen den Hartog on Writing History

By [Kerry Clare]

Authors of new book The Cowkeeper's Wish on their writing process, and the books that inspired them along the way.

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Book Cover The Suitcase and the Jar

Becky Livingston on Endings, Courage, Uncertainty, and Surrender

By [Kerry Clare]

Book recommendations by the author of new memoir of grief and travel, The Suitcase and the Jar. 

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The Chat with Craig Davidson

The Chat with Craig Davidson

By [Trevor Corkum]

Craig Davidson has returned with his latest novel, The Saturday Night Ghost Club. It tells the tale of Jake Baker, a neu …

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Book Cover In Valhalla's Shadows

Valgardson’s Reading List

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list by the author of new book In Valhalla's Shadows

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Shelf Talkers: Women, Songs, Oceans, Freedom, and Hellfire

Shelf Talkers: Women, Songs, Oceans, Freedom, and Hellfire

By [Rob Wiersema]

These are all fiction, all novels, but it’s striking just how close these picks hew to the real world, and what is goi …

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Book Cover the Luminous Sea

The Syllabus: Back-to-School Books for Grownups

By [Kerry Clare]

Campus novels, literary homages, and historical imaginings. 

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The Recommend for September 2018

The Recommend for September 2018

By [Kiley Turner]

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Sarah Selecky, author of Radiant Shimmering Light; Jennifer Robson, auth …

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Book Cover Bus to the Badlands

Back to School Books

By [Kerry Clare]

A wealth of books for readers of all ages about school, learning, friendship, and getting along in the world.

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Logo Bookfest Windsor

Your Fall 2018 Literary Festival Guide

By [Kerry Clare]

Find out what's going on near you. 

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Freedom to Read Week: A List of Challenged Books in Canada

Freedom to Read Week Poster 2012

"Burning books is designed to intimidate people. It underestimates the intelligence of readers, stifles dialogue and insults those who cherish the freedom to read and write,” wrote Lawrence Hill in a 2011 Toronto Star op-ed piece in response to threats made against his award-winning novel The Book of Negroes. On February 22, Hill received the Writers' Union of Canada 2012 Freedom to Read Award. The prize was awarded, according to Writers' Union Chair Greg Hollingshead, "on the basis of [Hill's] reasoned and eloquent response to the threat to burn his novel," and was granted in conjunction with Freedom to Read Week, an initiative by the Book and Periodical Council that urges Canadians to affirm their commitment to intellectual freedom. Events are being held across Canada to mark the week, in particular the first Salt Spring Words Without Borders Festival.

To underline the relevance and importance of Freedom to Read Week and censorship issues, we have created a list of Canadian books that have been challenged in Canadian schools and libraries recently and in past decades. This list has been adapted from the Freedom to Read Week "List of Challenged Books and Magazines", which you can read in its entirety here.

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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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