Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Big Water

Andrea Curtis: The Weight of Water

By [Kerry Clare]

A fantastic list of books in which water features as a defining force, by the author of new novel Big Water

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The Chat with Claire Tacon

The Chat with Claire Tacon

By [Trevor Corkum]

What happens when a young woman with Williams syndrome, her doting father, and her father’s teenaged co-worker head to …

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Book Cover Gay Heritage Project

16 Books for Pride Month

By [Kerry Clare]

Time to put the spotlight on these books by LGBTQ writers and/or about LGBTQ issues, an eclectic list that includes fict …

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Book Cover the Sign for Migrant Soul

Richard Cumyn: Good Stories in Small Packages

By [Kerry Clare]

"Whenever I can, I try to shine a light on the short form in this country, to give the slim but sinewy book its due."

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Book Cover The Showrunner

All Books Are Beach Books: Get Your Summer Reads Locked In

By [Kerry Clare]

From this eclectic selection, you're sure to find a book that suits you perfectly. 

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Book Cover Pulse Point

Best Dystopian YA

By [Kerry Clare]

"My favourite part of reading dystopian books is learning the many versions of our world that authors create."

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Quick Hits: 5 Books with Awesome Reviews

Quick Hits: 5 Books with Awesome Reviews

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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Book Cover Homes

11 Life Stories To Read This Spring

By [Kerry Clare]

This assortment of memoir, biography, and autobiography brings real life to the page, and into the minds of readers. 

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The Chat: 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize Roundtable

The Chat: 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize Roundtable

By [Trevor Corkum]

In honour of all things Griffin, this week’s Chat is a conversation with the three 2018 Canadian Griffin Prize finalis …

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Book Cover The Third Person

Emily Anglin: "I like compartments in my writing"

By [Kerry Clare]

A recommended reading list from the author of The Third Person

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Stranger in a Strange Land (by Laura Boudreau)

Laura Boudreau

The economy of a life reduced to a suitcase can be as romantic as it is alienating. Being on the move, as I have been for much of the last few years, changes you. It changes you because of the newness you encounter, certainly, and this can be tremendously rewarding. But all that newness also layers itself over the past, altering it. Or at least I have found that to be a sad and liberating truth of my own experience. All lands, even the ones I know best, are strange.

I am drawn to stories about travellers, and this list celebrates writers who explore the excitement, adventure, and anguish of life in parts unknown.

Book Cover Natasha

Natasha by David Bezmozgis: What a privilege to see my hometown of Toronto through the eyes of Mark Berman, a Jewish boy whose family moves to Canada from Riga, Latvia. When we first meet Mark he is six, and these early stories are my favourites of the collection — some of Mark’s first English words are “gaylord,” “shithead,” and “mental case,” and these “germs of a new vocabulary” are both cure and disease when it comes to t …

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In Conversation With: Playwright and Novelist Kate Cayley on the Jump from Stage to Page

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Kate Cayley, author of The Hangman in the Mirror (Annick Press).

This summer, I visited poet, playwright and novelist Kate Cayley in her home beside the train tracks where we recorded her reading from The Hangman in the Mirror. It was like sitting side-by-side on stage with an actor whispering to reach the back row. I had the same experience when I recorded Marina Endicott, in town for The International Festival of Authors, reading from her latest novel The Little Shadows. Both women have a performance background, so I went back to Kate to ask her about this distinction and how she went about adapting a stage play into what would become her first novel. We also talk about growing up unschooled and its impact on her artistic pursuits. (Please do listen to Kate read from her novel at the end of our interview.)

Julie Wilson: Your play After Akhmatova, opens with two women reciting lines of a poem to one another to commit it memory. Then they burn the poem. When we met this past summer, you had some interesting thoughts on poetry and performance. Am I correct that you desire more performance in poetry, rather than something understated?

Kate Cayley: This is an interesting question, especially when I think of "Requiem," the Anna Akhmatova poem which the two women recite to each other at the beginning of the play. In that instance, they …

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The God Edit: Guest Post by Barbara Stewart

Book Cover Campie

“Did you mean Two-Fingers Bob or Alligator Bob?” By (mostly) gentle consensus, nicknames are how anonymous 12-Step program members identify one Bob from another Bob, or Sailboat Mary from Big Boobs Mary, or Blue Judy from Tom’s Judy. You don’t get to pick your own handle. I once asked about mine and was disappointed to hear I was just “Barb.” How crushing. Nothing special set me apart from other Barbs? Only years later, well into my second decade of recovery did someone finally tell me. “We’ve always called you God-Barb.”

To my way of thinking, I had earned the moniker not because I was godly, but because I’d done so badly: a divorce followed by years of court dates and single parenting, followed by more years of bankruptcy, unemployment and depression. God became my go-to-guy, a heavenly Mike Holms with spiritual duct tape to fix the demolition job I’d done on my life. Finally in 2003, broke and homeless, I was hired to work as the camp attendant (nicknamed the “campie”) at an oilrig in northern Alberta. By then, the carpenter-saviour was embedded in my vocabulary and throughout my journal notes.

Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote, “Pain was the touchstone of all spiritual growth.” Perhaps the touchstone of all my g …

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2011 Culinary Book Award Winners, plus great links and recipes

The winners of the 2011 Canadian Culinary Book Awards were announced on November 7th at Toronto's Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Book Cover Locavore

Sarah Elton's Locavore: From Farmers' Fields to Rooftop Gardens, How Canadians Are Changing the Way We Eat took the Gold for Special Interest, English Language. Earlier this year, Locavore appeared on Margaret Webb's Canadian Bookshelf Food Books Reading List, where Webb called it, "Lively, compelling and warm-hearted journalism with a generous helping of rigorous research."

Book Cover Incredible Edibles

Incredible Edibles: 43 Fun Things to Grow in the City by Sonia Day won the Silver Award. Check out Sonia Day's recent "The Real Dirt" column about growing (and taming) sorrel, and how to make it into soup.

Book Cover Flavours of Prince Edward Island

Jeff McCourt, Allan Williams and Austin Clement won Gold in Canadian Culinary Culture, English Language for Flavours of Prince Edward Island: A …

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Author Profile: Sierra McLean, Ten-Year-Old Grand Prize Winner of theToronto Roald Dahl Day Story Contest

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s classic novel, James & The Giant Peach, Small Print Toronto invited young authors between 9-12 years old to compose a short story based on the scenario: "What would happen if James discovered the Giant Peach in today’s Toronto?" The panel of judges included Kelley Armstrong, Susan Kernohan, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Mark Medley, Evan Munday, Kevin Sylvester, Vikki Vansickle and Janet Somerville. A Toronto Roald Dahl Day celebration took place on October 23rd at The Gladstone Hotel, where Sierra McLean was announced as the grand prize winner. To read her winning entry “James Goes To The R.O.M.”, please visit the online home for YA author and blogger Kat Kruger.

I had the privilege to chat with Sierra about her writing practices and the life of this burgeoning young author.

Julie Wilson: Sierra, congratulations on winning the Toronto Roald Dahl Day Story Contest! How did you come up with your idea for "James Goes to the R.O.M."?

Sierra McLean: I didn't really come up with it until I had written most of the story. In fact, that's what I do with most stories that I write. I come up with a basic idea, and then add to it as I go along. I find it a brilliant way to do things!

Before I write a story, I always …

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