Off the Page

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

Latest Blog Posts
Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

Shelf Talkers: Spring 2021

By Robert J. Wiersema

One of the best pieces of news in an otherwise dark year was the word that, despite the growth of online giants during t …

read more >
Book Cover The Shadow Life

My Drifter Reading List

By Jen Sookfong Lee

A poetry list by the author of new book The Shadow List.

read more >
Book Cover Fuse

Persian-Canadian Writers You've Got to Read

By Hollay Ghadery

So, where were all the Persian Canadian writers? It turns out, here all along, but not as represented as one might hope; …

read more >
Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

By Geoffrey Ruggero

Picture books are often written with young children as their intended audience. In Tough Like Mum, Lana Button provides …

read more >
Book Cover We Jane

Aimee Wall on The Great Canadian Abortion Novel

By Kerry Clare

"I didn’t want the plot to turn on an abortion or the decision to have one. Any conflict or tension is rooted elsewher …

read more >
Book Cover Because the Sun

Poetry That's Going to Grab You

By 49thShelf Staff

Great books to read before for National Poetry Month is out.

read more >
The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

By Trevor Corkum

Christopher DiRaddo’s sophomore novel, The Family Way, is a dynamic and rich exploration of queer family, parenthood, …

read more >
Book Cover No More Plastic

Fighting for the Planet: Inspiring Books for Earth Day

By Kerry Clare

An eclectic list of inspiring books about fighting to protect the planet.

read more >
Book Cover Hour of the Crab

Other Beings, Other Minds

By Patricia Robertson

A recommended reading list by author of the new book Hour of the Crab.

read more >
Book Cover WANTED! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Life Sciences

By Julie Booker

Celebrate Earth Day with these fun and inspiring picture books.

read more >

"Free fall beneath the carpet": David Rotenberg on setting The Placebo Effect in Toronto

Book Cover The Placebo Effect

I directed the first Canadian play in the People’s Republic of China in Shanghai (in Mandarin) when that country was in the massive transition from a profoundly oppressive socialist state to a basically free market economy – a thrilling time and my time there inspired me to write my first novel. I also lived in Manhattan for many years and it still forms the base for some of my work. New York knows what it is. It’s been written about, sung about and mythologized into a state of firm existence. People immigrate to New York from all over the world and become New Yorkers. You peel back the carpet and you find yesterday’s New York, you pry up the floorboards and you get yesteryear’s New York.

Toronto is different – sometimes there’s free fall beneath the carpet.

I was born and raised in Toronto, and retuned to the city in 1987 after living in the United States for the better part of sixteen years. Since I've been back, I've had nine novels published. But The Placebo Effect is the first time I’ve written about my hometown. And I didn’t find it all that easy. Toronto is a city where more than 50% of its citizens were not born in the country. Sometimes there’s “ just no there, there” – to quote Ms. Stein. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing …

Continue reading >

Celebrate Family Literacy Day

Family Reading Together

Once again, community events are scheduled across Canada to celebrate Family Literacy Day on January 27th-- you can check out the map to find events in your area. Family Literacy Day has been an initiative since 1999 by the non-profit organization ABC Life Literacy Canada to raise awareness of the importance of families reading and engaging with literacy-related activities together. Research shows that children benefit enormously from early exposure to books and reading in the home, though most families read together because it's simply one of the very best ways to be together. And it's made even better when you're reading the very best books, so we wanted to pass on our favourite expert-curated family literacy books lists.

Canadian Railroad Trilogy

Book Centre Award Nominees: The books on this list were nominated for Canada's top children's book prizes last year, and include the literary rendering of Gordon Lightfoot's Canadian Railroad Trilogy, Kyo Maclear's Spork, and the Victorian-era detective novel A Spy in the House. The Canadian Children's Book Centre is a non-profit …

Continue reading >

In Conversation With: Liz Strange on crime fiction and developing her protagonist over a series

Author Liz Strange.

Liz Strange was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario, where she still resides. She is a massive horror fan, vampire enthusiast and self-confessed sci-fi nerd. Mythology and historical mysteries have long enthralled her, and you will often find them touched upon in her works. You can find out more about Liz at www.lizstrange.com.

Liz's novel Missing Daughter, Shattered Family has just been shortlisted for an Independent Literary Award, recommended and voted on by independent literary bloggers.

Julie Wilson: Your previous novels have been in the horror/vampire genre. Why the jump to crime fiction?

Liz Strange: I have always been a big fan of mysteries and crime fiction, right back to my childhood days of reading the Three Investigators series. I enjoy the works of authors like Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton, Michael Slade, Karen Slaughter and many others. I had a story idea that I kept coming back to so I just decided to give it a try.

I like playing with the idea that monsters aren’t just stories, or figments of people’s imagination, but that they walk among us every day. People are capable of doing some truly terrible things to other humans, and I wanted to explore that in the novel. This also weaves its way into my protagonist's personal life as well; it was a m …

Continue reading >

The Fertility Closet: Guest Post by Karleen Pendleton Jiménez

Book Cover How to Get a Girl Pregnant

Great Aunt Margaret whispered it to me once on a summer afternoon in her apartment. She was in her early nineties by then, and had been more of a grandma to us than our “real” ones. She and Uncle Milo always hugged us, told us they loved us, kept toys at their home for us to play with, cooked turkeys, baked persimmon pudding.

“You know,” she says sipping her tea, “we tried. We tried for years,” she shrugs, “But doctors didn’t know all the stuff they do now.”

I can barely pull my eyes up to make contact with hers. I always wanted to know why she didn’t have kids, given her joy at spending time with us and with the neighborhood kids. I’d asked around the family but nobody seemed to know. Nobody had ever talked about it with her.

“Of course the problems must’ve been from his side of the family, not ours” she chuckles and I see the familiar twinkle in her eyes return.

Her confession came a decade before I hit the fertility market, but her soft words stuck with me. I was sad for my Great Aunt Margaret who had been so generous to her (grand) nephews and nieces, but couldn’t have a baby, and hadn’t adopted. I was sad that it was such a secret, something others gossiped about.

I came to understand just how profoundly silence can shape the …

Continue reading >

A Shelf of Small Press Books: a list by Theresa Kishkan

Given the economics of contemporary publishing, it strikes me as something of a miracle that so many small presses continue to publish such interesting and beautiful books. Often they are books that would not be picked up by the larger houses yet they find loyal readers and contribute significantly to literary culture. Sometimes it’s hard to find them. Most small presses can’t afford full-page ads in the nation’s newspapers or publicists. But word travels by mouth, by the passing of these volumes from one hand to another. They’re worth the search.

Dragonflies, by Grant Buday: This brief novel is an account of the period during the Trojan War when Agamemnon asks the crafty Odysseus to come up with something ingenious to bring the bloody conflict to a conclusion. The reader is taken into the heat and sweat of the Greek camp outside the gates of Troy, and into the claustrophobic interior of that iconic horse as the warriors wait for their moment. Superbly written and designed.

The Nettle Spinner

The Nettle Spinner, by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer: An elegant weaving of fai …

Continue reading >

The Randomizer

Load New Book >
X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...