Off the Page

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

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Your 2018 Guide to Summer Literary Festivals

By [Kerry Clare]

Find out what's happening near you!

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Book Cover Weeds Find a Way

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Plants and Soil

By [Kerry Clare]

Great books to support the Grade 3 Plants and Soil Science Unit. 

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Book Cover The Fairy Tale Museum

Lost in the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold

By [Kerry Clare]

So by all means, Canadian authors: venture into the woods! There's still so much more there to be discovered.

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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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16 Books for Pride Month

tagged : pride, lgbtq

June is Pride Month, which is the best excuse to put the spotlight on these books by LGBTQ writers and/or about LGBTQ issues, an eclectic list that includes fiction, poetry, memoir, nonfiction, and books for young readers—not to mention books by award-winning authors and some of the most buzzed-about titles of the season.  

*****

The Unfinished Dollhouse: A Memoir of Motherhood and Identity, by Michelle Alfano

About the book: No mother is prepared for the moment when a child comes out to her as a person whose physical gender is out-of-keeping with his emotional and psychological gender-identity. In Michelle Alfano's intimate memoir, she recounts her experience as the mother of a transgender child. 

The central metaphor of The Unfinished Dollhouse tells the story: on Frankie's fourth birthday, her parents Michelle and Rob purchased a kit to create a beautiful dollhouse. Michelle imagined building the home, buying the tiny pieces of furniture and accessories to fill it and, more importantly, the times she and her daughter would spend constructing the perfect dollhouse—a fantasy of domestic and familial happiness. Frankie expressed no interest in such typically girlish pursuits because Frankie harboured a secret—a secret about gender.  

In the years to follow, Franki …

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Richard Cumyn: Good Stories in Small Packages

Richard Cumyn's latest book is The Sign for Migrant Soul, and in this list he spotlights other great story collections and novellas. 

*****

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. Canadians have always written outstanding short and long stories. Women and LGBTQ writers are leading the way, expanding the form stylistically and exploring the literary potential of a structure that demands precision, efficiency, original expression and an uncanny third eye for the way people can be complex, unpredictable beings. You have to pay attention when you’re reading a well-written short-story or novella. The effect can be long lasting and transformative.

This is by no means a best-of list or anything close to comprehensive. It’s an idiosyncratic compilation of ten recent short-story collections and novellas I think deserve attention. It’s guilty of bias, favouritism, myopia, relative illiteracy—you name it. It’s exclusive out of ignorance and serendipity rather than malice. Some of these titles are books I’ve reviewed, liked and hung on to. Some were written by friends.  We tend to find and recognize each other; it’s still a small community. 

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

Just as all bodies are beach bodies, all books are beach books—it just depends on the reader—and in compiling this list, we're assuming that readers are looking for books that are rich, enveloping, and formula-defying. From this eclectic selection, you're sure to find a book or two (or three) that fits you perfectly. 

*****

Document 1, by Francois Blais, translated by JC Sutcliffe

About the book: Tess and Jude live in small-town Quebec and spend their time travelling all across North America—using Google maps—which provides them the luxury of adventure while remaining in the comfort of their own home. But Tess and Jude are dreamers, and their online adventures eventually give rise to a desire to actually travel somewhere. They settle on Bird in Hand, Pennsylvania, and begin scheming to raise the cash they'll need for the trip. 

After a series of hilarious ideas that never pan out, they turn to a local experimental author (who has a major crush on Tess) and convince him to apply for an arts council grant on their behalf. But when they actually receive the grant money, can the pull it all together for a real adventure?

Funny, smart and wonderfully human, Document 1 is a tragicomic tale of two dreamers and their quest for adventure, as well as a satirical take on t …

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Best Dystopian YA

Award-winner Colleen Nelson's latest is the YA novel Pulse Point, written with Nancy Chappell-Pollack. In her list, Nelson shares other Canadian dystopian titles that inspired her. 

*****

Pulse Point is my first attempt at any genre other than realistic fiction. Writing about an alternate world proved to be more difficult in some ways than writing about the one we actually live in, but it also stretched my creativity and posed a lot of questions about the way we do things and why.

Pulse Point takes a "cli-sci" approach to dystopia. In the book, climate change has made our world uninhabitable so people deemed genetically desirable are allowed to live in Cities, self-sustaining domed structures. My favourite part of reading dystopian books is learning the many versions of our world that authors create. 

*

Blood Red Road, by Moira Young

Narrated by an illiterate main character as she sets out to reunite her family, this book had me hooked after the first page. The dystopian world in Blood Red Road is brutal and harsh, but the tenderness between the characters pro …

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Quick Hits: 5 Books with Awesome Reviews

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.

**

The Dark, by Claire Mulligan

Genre: Fiction/Mystery

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

What It's About

In the deep of winter 1893, a briskly practical physician named Mrs. Mellon arrives at a New York tenement and takes up her duty to care for the aged, the indigent and the dying. Her patient in the garret, she decides, fits all three categories nicely—that is, before she realizes she is in the presence of a most unusual lost soul: the charismatic Maggie Fox.

Part mystery, part ghost story, part riveting historical fiction, The Dark ushers the reader into the shadowy border between longing and belief as it unfolds the incredible story of the famous and controversial Fox Sisters, Maggie, Katie, and Leah. In their heyday, the sisters purported to communicate with ghosts and inspired the Spiritualist Movement, a quasi-religion complete with mediums and séances and millions of followers.

Now only Maggie is left alive, and Mrs. Mellon is her lifeline to the w …

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