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

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Eric Walters' New Book Explores the "Now Normal"

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Eric Walters' New Book Explores the "Now Normal"

By Geoffrey Ruggero

Written, published and released during a pandemic: Eric Walters defies traditional publishing norms to create a book for …

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Book Cover The Abortion Caravan

The Abortion Caravan: A Ragtag Army of the Willing

By Karin Wells

The Abortion Caravan, intent on bearding prime minister Pierre Trudeau in his den and removing abortion from the Crimina …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: A New Way to Celebrate the Forest of Reading

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: A New Way to Celebrate the Forest of Reading

By Jennifer Byrne

Forest of Reading is Canada’s largest recreational reading program, celebrating Canadian books and authors. In the eye …

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Covers of books celebrated this spring by regional awards

Big Fiction

By Kerry Clare

Fall book season is exciting with its televised ceremonies and fancy galas, but spring is just as interesting, with regi …

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Book Cover Sister Dear

10 Unapologetically Twisted Reads

By Hannah Mary McKinnon

Ten crime reads to help you discover why authors in Canada have their own hashtag (#ReadTheNorth), and deserve a place o …

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Book Cover Murmurations

Launchpad: Murmurations, by Annick MacAskill

By Kerry Clare

Populating her poems with birdsong and murmurings of the natural world, MacAskill highlights how poets and lovers share …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Time to Slow Down, with Deborah Ellis & Richard Scrimger

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Time to Slow Down, with Deborah Ellis & Richard Scrimger

By Erika MacNeil

This is the second pair in a series of interviews with a host of Forest of Reading authors interviewed by Erika MacNeil, …

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Book Cover One Earth

Launchpad: One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet, by Anuradha Rao

By Kerry Clare

This is a book to be celebrated and shared!” —Elizabeth May

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Book Cover In Veritas

Launchpad: In Veritas, by C.J. Lavigne

By Kerry Clare

“The perfect mix of incandescent writing and enthralling storytelling. C.J. Lavigne has given us something we can beli …

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Book Cover See you On the Internet

Avery Swartz on How to Win with Digital Marketing

By Kerry Clare

Avery Swartz on why digital marketing matters now, what she's learned from her own missteps, and special advice for publ …

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John Lawrence Reynolds on a Return to Fiction after Almost a Decade

Beach Strip, by John Lawrence Reynolds (HarperCollins).

Beach Strip is John Lawrence Reynolds' first foray back into fiction in almost a decade, and he steps back into the waters by placing the reader on a beach they won't leave for most of the book. I talked to Reynolds about what he's been doing in the meantime—there's been no shortage of writing—as well as which Canadian books evoke a strong sense of place for him as a reader.

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Julie Wilson: Some of your other notable titles are all non-fiction, Free Rider, which won the National Business Book Award, as well as Bubbles, Bankers & Bailouts, and Shadow People, on secret societies. Two questions on this. One, you incorporate narrative elements into your non-fiction, such as The Naked Investor, which includes real-life anecdotes in an effort to expose the dark side of the investment industry. That sense of reveal, and casting some brokers and advisers as greedy embezzlers, these are the same tools used to create fictional characters. Was that to make financial matters more relatable to the reader?

John Lawrence Reynolds: In researching and writing Free Rider, which traced the embezzlement of millions of dollars from trusting individuals, I heard tragic stories of fraud and deception, and decided to gather several in a book, which became The Naked Investor. We can …

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Kerri Cull: Summer Reads by Women Writers

Some rules were in order for this list.  I decided to exclude any titles that have won big awards (yet) as well as anything by Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, and Alice Munro.

Cloud of Bone by Bernice Morgan: Bernice Morgan, author of Random Passage and Waiting for Time, has crafted a startling and beautiful novel that shows the nature of human violence. Using Shawnadithit and WWII, Morgan’s story is entrenched in history, and the relationship she’s created to match is very intimate and perfectly drawn. It’s no surprise that Morgan is a master writer, as we’ve seen her work before, but this book is definitely my favorite of hers. It deserves to be read multiple times.

Mad Hope by Heather Birrell: Mad Hope is a collection of intricate stories with sometimes alarming subject matter. Birrell peels back the layers of a moment, a thing, a person, to reveal the essence of what's beneath. She has the skill of a seasoned writer and the voice of a modern one, the literary love child of Margaret Laurence and Douglas Coupland.

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Art Critic and Writer David Balzer believes everything needs to be made just a little bit strange.

Contrivances, by David Balzer. (Cover art: Janet Werner)

Art critic David Balzer is the author of Contrivances, a debut short story collection available through ECW's digital imprint Joyland.

The collection features a talk-show host and her talking hand, a women’s activity group that writes to prisoners, and a poncho-making nudist. The stories take inspiration from Old Hollywood, Gothic novels, art-world gossip, and "maybe a Lifetime movie or two."

Read an excerpt here.

I met last week with Balzer (@davidkbalzer) in the basement of Type Books to record a podcast I truly hope you enjoy. Balzer is an informed and eloquent speaker with a strong opinion on the nature and function of prose. He's also quite forthcoming about where he sees his place within contemporary fiction, as well as how and why he chose to write the entire collection from the perspective of women.

In this podcast (duration: 20:15), we discuss :

  • how Balzer's career as an art critic informs his prose—"You're hoping for something to be good and looking for why it means something and how it works."
  • how our culture reads acts of analysis as "acts of destruction and dissection rather than acts of curiosity and often enthusiasm and optimism."
  • the distinction between camp and melodrama—"Everything needs to be made just a little bit strange."
  • how writing …
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Tanis Rideout Roughs It: Canadian Adventure Books

Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat: It’s a Canadian classic and the kind of tale most people think of when asked about Canadian adventures. Farley Mowat travels to the frozen tundra to track and study arctic wolf populations at the behest of the Canadian Government. Alone. And while the book may or may not be factually accurate, it does paint a visceral, beautiful and, at times, hilarious picture of Canada’s far north—panicked encounters with wolves, the ritual marking of the territory, assistance from local guides and a plea to protect Canada’s resources. Mowat’s tone and characterisations might read a little dated, but his anger and grief about how the government manages our resources sure is resonant today.

Roughing it in the Bush by Susanna Moodie: Another classic and one of Canada’s first adventure books—a journal of what it was like to try and tame the wilds of Upper Canada in the 1830s when the Canadian men were boors and the Canadian women were bores. Moodie and her husband face down illness, starvation, fire, failed crops,  and stol …

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Bob Armstrong's Father's Day Books List

Dadolescence by Bob Armstrong: Stay-at-home fathers were all over the TV screen and book shelves last year, including in my debut novel, which featured a trio of them. My protagonist, forty-something Bill Angus, doesn’t think of himself as a stay-at-home father. He’s an anthropologist conducting participatory-observer studies of the phenomenon of stay-at-home fathers, and in the process asking “What is a man when he isn’t going out into a hostile environment to wrest a living for his family?”

Book Cover The Antagonist

The Antagonist by Lynn Coady: At the heart of this tragicomic story of a young man drawn into violence is a fraught but loving father-and-son relationship. Lynn Coady’s 2011 novel, shortlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize. is also an exploration of the impact of the mythology of rock-'em sock-'em hockey on Canadian masculinity.

The …

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