Off the Page

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

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The Chat with Anthony De Sa

The Chat with Anthony De Sa

By Trevor Corkum

We continue our summer edition of The Chat in conversation with Toronto writer Anthony De Sa. His new novel, Children of …

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Book Cover The Work

Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Fiction Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

The novels, story collections, and drama that readers will be loving in the second half of 2019. 

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Shelf Talkers: Marilyn Monroe, YA Romance, Magic Basketball, and More

Shelf Talkers: Marilyn Monroe, YA Romance, Magic Basketball, and More

By Rob Wiersema

In a lot of ways, reading is the perfect summer reading project: you get to accomplish something AND you don’t have to …

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Book Cover Seaside Treasures

Books Beat Boredom: 8 Things for Your Kids to Do this Summer

By Kerry Clare

Engaging titles that also suggest amazing ways to engage with and have fun in the natural world. 

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Book Cover Simon and Louise

Super Summer Reading Guide

By Kerry Clare

20 titles that are sure to delight you. 

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Logo Read By the Sea Festival

Your 2019 Guide to Summer Literary Festivals

By Kerry Clare

Good things are happening across the country! 

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Leading Students on a Path of Self-Discovery: Sadia by Colleen Nelson

Leading Students on a Path of Self-Discovery: Sadia by Colleen Nelson

By Geoffrey Ruggero

As a fifteen-year-old adjusting to life in high school, Sadia begins to realize that growing up in Winnipeg brings many …

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The Chat with Kris Bertin

The Chat with Kris Bertin

By Trevor Corkum

Kris Bertin is back. The Halifax-based writer’s highly anticipated second collection of short fiction, Use Your Imagin …

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Book Cover The Little Hummingbird

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Text to Text

By Julie Booker

As part of the Language curriculum, primary readers are asked to make connections between books, identifying similaritie …

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"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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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In Conversation With: Cheryl Foggo on the Personal, Political and Creating Space for Characters of Colour in Children's Literature

Cheryl Foggo is the author of Dear Baobab, illustrated by Qin Leng (Second Story Press). Dear Baobab is about a young boy, Maiko, who moves to North America from his village in Tanzania. He begins to identify with—and converse with—a little spruce tree that grows too close to his house. Rather than destroyed, the tree is ultimately relocated to a forest with the care of Maiko and his new family. It's about displacement, adopted homes and familial support. This summer, Quill & Quire gave Dear Baobab its highly-coveted Starred Review.

I had a chance to correspond with Cheryl about her personal and political journey as a writer, and the absence of people of colour in children's lit.

Julie Wilson: I've been thinking a lot about conversations I've had of late with editors and authors about the over-saturated publishing marketplace. Are there too many books? What constitutes a "necessary" book? Is that a dangerous question to ask? I consider your latest book, Dear Baobab, necessary and essential, yet it clearly comes from a personal place. Do you consider yourself a political writer? For instance, when writing this book, were you consciously responding to an absence of stories about people of colour?

Cheryl Foggo: Although my impulse to write comes from a creative core …

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