July 2014

The lasting impact of World War One

Why had there been a war? What did it accomplish? WWI experts author Margaret MacMillan and journalist Brian Stewart answer these questions....

Reading Harry Potter influences people to be less prejudiced: researchers

"Harry has meaningful contact with characters belonging to stigmatised groups," the researchers stated in an article published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology this week....

Michael Redhill on Saving Houdini

Michael Redhill has written a new novel - but this time, it's one for kids. Saving Houdini is a classic adventure for young readers about a Toronto boy named Dashiell who is sent back in time by a magic trick gone wrong....

2014 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize: The Winner

The grand prize winner is Patti-Kay Hamilton of Fort Smith, NT. Read her story, "The Hunter and The Swan."...

10 totally awesome pop-up books

We're all for celebrating this unique art form. Here are pages from 10 pop-up books that feature some mind-blowing design....

The most life-changing books by women

Books by literary legends Harper Lee and Margaret Atwood have topped the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction's crowdsourced list of the most influential and life-changing books written by women....

Navigating truth and lies online

Internet hoaxes - intentional or not - happen all the time. And it's getting harder and harder to figure out what's true and what isn't. Author Charles Seife explains how to separate facts from fiction....

Marissa Stapley: How I wrote Mating for Life

Columnist, magazine editor and author Marissa Stapley knows a thing or two about patience. Her first novel, Mating For Life, was a long time coming—born...... Read More »

New Canadian self-publishing award to debut at INSPIRE! book fair

The Association for Art and Social Change is launching a new inaugural award for self-published Canadian authors....

Happy birthday, Beatrix Potter!

Potter has been singled out by none other than Margaret Atwood as being a inspiration. Read Atwood's great story about what Potter's stories have meant to her....

If you like Philip Roth, you'll love...

The Next Chapter columnist Treasa Levasseur says if you like The Human Stain by Philip Roth, you'll love the Canadian novel Joshua Then and Now by Mordecai Richler. Find out why....

J.K. Rowling makes live appearance as Robert Galbraith

Rowling, who as Galbraith has written two well-received mystery novels about soldier-turned-private investigator Cormoran Strike, was interviewed on-stage and released some interesting details....

Kickstarter project raises $600K to redesign the Bible

Designer Adam Lewis Greene says he wants to give people a way to experience the Bible as literary art....

Literary landmarks: Quebec City, Quebec

Headed to Quebec's capital city this summer? Be sure to add these bookish locations to your site-seeing list!...

Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin responds to young fan's 'touching' letter

The bestselling fantasy author recently received a touching letter from a young fan who wanted to donate his "pocket money" to Martin's wolf sanctuary online fundraising project....

Orphan Black to become comic book series

Chris Ryall, IDW Publishing's editor-in-chief, described the show as a "perfect premise for comics."...

Patricia Lockwood on poetry that stands out in the internet age

Patricia Lockwood's poem "Rape Joke" generated a massive online response last year. Now, Lockwood is attracting critical praise with her latest collection, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals....

Encouraging "book love" in reluctant readers

A teacher has a new innovative program that turns reluctant teenage readers into bookworms. She talked about it with CBC Radio....

Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries makes Dylan Thomas Prize longlist

Catton could be first Canadian author to win the International Dylan Thomas Prize, which was first presented in 2006....

Diana Gabaldon discusses her Outlander series

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series defies labels. Each novel blends historical fiction, science fiction, romance, mystery and more. Learn more about the latest instalment. ...

Denise Chong on bringing order to the chaos

The renowned author, Member of the Order of Canada and juror for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize explains the great powers of creative nonfiction: to make sense...... Read More »

Do fathers matter?

Author Paul Raeburn cuts through the myths and assumptions about being a dad and to learn what the latest research in neuroscience, genetics and developmental psychology says....

Our 8 favourite literary references on The Simpsons

From appearances by Thomas Pynchon to the ghost of Pippi Longstocking to author fist fights, we look at some of the most memorable literary moments on the iconic cartoon sitcom....

The first 5 steps to take to rebuild civilization

If society were to collapse, what would you need to know to survive and to rebuild? Author Lewis Dartnell explains how to do so in The Knowledge: How to Rebuild the World from Scratch....

David Macfarlane on putting the fun in creative nonfiction

The award-winning author, playwright, digital curator and juror for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize on why having fun is the best way to write great nonfiction....... Read More »

Elizabeth Renzetti's debut novel tackles drugs, booze and the pitfalls of celebrity culture

Renzetti introduces us to Augusta Price, a former British soap opera star with a penchant for overindulging in drugs and booze who desperately wishes to remain in the spotlight....

If you like Cormac McCarthy, you'll love...

If you are a fan of No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, you'll love The Outlander by Gil Adamson. Find out why....

Author Carolyn Abraham: Show, don't tell

The GG-nominated author, newspaper columnist and juror for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize explains how writing is always better when you show—and worse when you tell....... Read More »

Bryan Lee O'Malley's Seconds: Who should play Katie?

O'Malley's latest graphic novel, Seconds, has just hit bookstore shelves and we're wondering who would be a great Katie in the event of an adaptation, to match Michael Cera's kick-ass Scott Pilgrim. ...

CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize

Revealing the finalists for the 2014 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize....

Hunter S. Thompson: True or False Quiz

To mark Thompson's birthday, we present a true or false quiz that looks at the exploits of this renegade writer....

"Some Distant World" by Brandee Eubank

In this shortlisted story for the 2014 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize, a mother desperately dreams of alternate realities during her last visit with her daughter. ...... Read More »

Literary landmarks: Toronto, Ontario

Headed to Ontario's capital city this summer? Here are 10 bookish places you should visit! ...

Amazon gearing up to launch Netflix-style ebook service: report

The internet retail giant is expected to launch a Netflix-style ebook and audiobook subscription service dubbed Kindle Unlimited....

"The Hunter and the Swan" by Patti-Kay Hamilton

In Patti-Kay Hamilton's 2014 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize-winning story, a hunter observes and reflects upon an unlikely companion on the edge of outstaying her welcome....... Read More »

CBC Books 100 Bonus 10: novels that make you even prouder to be Canadian

So many readers responded to the CBC Books 100, that we had to make another list. Meet the 10 books Canadians most wanted to see on the CBC Books 100!...

Are we witnessing the death of difficult fiction?

What does the future of fiction look like? Those are the questions Jian Ghomeshi posed on a recent episode of Q....

"Where I Am From" by Sarah Habben

In this shortlisted story for the 2014 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize, a "foreign" land becomes girl's real home over years of a vibrantly lived childhood. ...... Read More »

A Downton Abbey reading list

We've come up with some reading suggestions based on the time period covered in the first four seasons of the acclaimed show. ...

2014 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction jury announced

Biographer Charles Foran, poet Priscila Uppal, and writer Merrily Weisbord will comprise this year's jury....

David Adams Richards explores the fragility of childhood trust

His latest novel, Crimes Against My Brother, is full of gossip, betrayal, violence and lying. He spoke with CBC Radio's Sunday Edition about it. ...

"Second Time Around" by Patricia Webb

In this shortlisted story for the 2014 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize, history heartbreakingly repeats itself as a diagnosis comes back for good. ...... Read More »

"February" by Jennifer Clark

In this shortlisted story for the 2014 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize, two women grapple with life in the wee hours of a frigid February night. ...... Read More »

The legacy of Northrop Frye

To honour Frye's life and contributions to Canadian literature, we've highlighted some of his most engaging and interesting CBC archival interviews and features about him....

South African author Nadine Gordimer dies at age 90

Her award-winning books frequently dealt with political, moral and racial tensions inspired by the tumult and struggle she witnessed in her home country....

Is grammar overrated?

A new book makes a case for bad grammar - or at least forgiving people who use bad grammar. ...

Singapore bans children's books that do not promote "conventional families" from libraries

The National Library Board removed the books following complaints from parents, according to officials....

Pierre Berton tribute

To mark his birthday, we'd like to highlight some the great author interviews Berton had over the years....

If you like The Kite Runner, you'll love...

Music journalist Vish Khanna says that if you like The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, you'll love Niko by Dimitri Nasrallah. Find out why....

Wattpad: A Canadian publishing success story

Wattpad is an app that allows users to publish, read, and subscribe to stories. It currently has more than 30 million users. But its founder Allen Lau believes this is only the beginning. ...

Guillaume Morissette: How I wrote New Tab

Montreal writer Guillaume Morissette has two families to thank for teaching him English: The Simpsons and the Banks family (from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, that...... Read More »

Children's author Allan Ahlberg refuses Amazon-sponsored award

When Ahlberg found out about the internet retailer's involvement in the award, he "felt obliged to refuse it," because of the company's "baleful influence on the British book trade" and its tax avoidance controversies....

New Jane Austen statue captures 'real Jane Austen' likeness

The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England has unveiled a new wax statue that captures the likeness of the celebrated author through forensic techniques and design based on eye-witness accounts....

Happy birthday, Alice Munro!

Nobel Prize-winning author and Canadian icon Alice Munro turns 83 today. CBC Books celebrates by rounding up our coverage of her accomplishments from the past few years....

Ayelet Tsabari: Why "ordinary" stories matter

Ayelet Tsabari was a reader for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize. In this writing tip, she answers the question she is often asked by her students: "'Don’t...... Read More »

Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn's debut novel to be adapted for TV

Entertainment One Television is developing a one-hour drama series based on the book, which follows troubled reporter Camille Preaker as she returns to her hometown to cover the murder and disappearance of two girls....

Chocolat author Joanne Harris says J.K. Rowling's 'Hollywood money' distorts the truth about writers' incomes

The bestselling British author has suggested that the "Hollywood money" J.K. Rowling has earned over the years has skewed the public's perception on how much professional writers actually earn....

Falling from a plane: Kate Pullinger on Landing Gear

When a young man literally falls from the sky, the life of an affluent family changes forever. Kate Pullinger discusses what drew her to this story with Shelagh Rogers. ...

Trevor Herriot on walking away from the computer

Trevor Herriot was a reader for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize. In this writing tip he reminds us how walking out the door can do wonders...... Read More »

Our 5 favourite fictional beverages

A new company is selling wines inspired by Game of Thrones. From Butterbeer to the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, we highlight some of literature's best fictional beverages. Cheers!...

Literary landmarks: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Winnipeg was, and is, home to plenty of authors, including Gabrielle Roy, Miriam Toews and Guy Gavriel Kay, which makes it the perfect place for book lovers to visit this summer....

Author Christopher Gudgeon on the lies created by writers

Christopher Gudgeon is the bestselling author of the novel Song of Kosovo. He was also a reader for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize. Here, he explains why he...... Read More »

The 9 must-read mystery books of 2014

The Next Chapter's annual mystery panel brings you the best mystery books of the year....

How to think like Sherlock Holmes

Maria Konnikova, author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, teaches Michael Enright how to think more like the famed detective....

The Imperfectionists being adapted for TV by BBC

BBC Worldwide is adapting the impressive debut novel by Canadian journalist by Tom Rachman....

Cathy Ostlere on finding (and feeling) the strength of your voice

Cathy Ostlere was a reader for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize. She shares with us some of the writing advice she has found most helpful....... Read More »

Live stream help

Tips for optimal live video streaming:On web: If you're experiencing difficulty connecting to the live feed, we suggest doing the following:Make sure your Flash players (if applicable) are......

If you like Hilary Mantel, you'll love...

Jo Saul believes if you like Hilary Mantel, you'll love another book that's based on a real-life historical figure: Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography by Chester Brown....

Who Said It: American literature edition

To mark America's 238th birthday, we'd like to highlight the words of some of the most celebrated American writers in history. Can you identify the author and book in our quiz?...

Curtis Gillespie on a story's most important bones

Curtis Gillespie was a reader for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize. In this writing tip he discusses the importance of staying the course with your primary narrative....... Read More »

Scarlett Johansson wins damages in book character lawsuit

Johansson was awarded about $3,600 Cdn. in damages after suing a French author for including a character in his novel that is described as bearing a remarkable resemblance to the Lost in Translation and The Avengers actress....

Brazil and football: a love story?

David Goldblatt has written a book about how soccer has become intertwined with Brazilian identity and culture. ...

Zarqa Nawaz on finding the funny in Islam

Zarqa Nawaz is best known for creating CBC-TV's Little Mosque on the Prairie. Now she's written a memoir about her own experience of being Muslim in Canada. ...

Gender nonconformist and author Ivan Coyote on "writing from the guts"

The gender activist and award-winning author of novel Bow Grip, and most recently the co-author of the collection of essays Gender Failure, fields questions on writerly bribes,...... Read More »

Franz Kafka: 8 interesting facts

Kafka was born on July 3, 1883. To mark what would have been his 131st birthday, we've highlighted eight interesting facts about this literary legend....

Shelagh Plunkett on jumping right into the story

Montreal author Shelagh Plunkett was a reader for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize. (She also won the prize in 2007.) In this writing tip, she explains why your high...... Read More »

London's incredible book benches

Do you remember how those really cool painted book benches inspired by British literature took over the streets of London this past summer?...

Who Said It Quiz: Seinfeld or Steinem?

The hit sitcom Seinfeld debuted 25 years ago. We'd like to raise a glass to Jerry, Kramer, George, Elaine (and even Newman) by bringing back our Who Said It: Seinfeld or Gloria Steinem quiz. ...

The return of Poirot

The Poirot torch will be passed on to bestselling British crime writer Sophie Hannah, who has written several novels including the popular Waterhouse and Zailer series....

July #canlit chat replay: Let's talk about the CBC Books 100

We discussed the CBC Books 100: 100 novels that make you proud to be Canadian during the July #canlit chat. Read the replay. ...

Taiaiake Alfred on writing with purpose

Taiaiake Alfred was a reader for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize. In the following tip, he underlines the responsibility authors have in respecting their readers and striving to connect with...... Read More »

Not Wanted on the Voyage

"In the dark that followed -- Lucy said; 'where I was born, the trees were always in the sun. And I left that place because it was intolerant of rain. Now, we are here in a place where there are no trees and there is only rain. And I intend to leave this place -- because it is intolerant of light. Somewhere -- there must be somewhere where darkness and light are reconciled. So I am starting a rumour, here and now, of yet another world. I don't know when it will present itself -- I don't know where it will be. But -- as with all those other worlds now past when it is ready, I intend to go there.'"


From: Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley ©1984. Published by Penguin Canada. ... Read More »

Oryx and Crake

"Snowman wakes before dawn. He lies unmoving, listening to the tide coming in, wave after wave sloshing over the various barricades, wish-wash, wish-wash, the rhythm of heartbeat. He would so like to believe he is still asleep.

On the eastern horizon there's a greyish haze, lit now with a rosy, deadly glow. Strange how that colour still seems tender. The offshore towers stand out in dark silhouette against it, rising improbably out of the pink and pale blue of the lagoon. The shrieks of the birds that nest out there and the distant ocean grinding against the ersatz reefs of rusted car parts and jumbled bricks and assorted rubble sound almost like holiday traffic.

Out of habit he looks at his watch -- stainless-steel case, burnished aluminum band, still shiny although it no longer works. He wears it now as his only talisman. A blank face is what it shows him: zero hour. It causes a jolt of terror to run through him, this absence of official time. Nobody nowhere knows what time it is."


From: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood © 2003. Published by Vintage Canada. ...

Flashforward

The control building for CERN's Large Hadron Collider was new: it had been authorized in A.D. 2004 and completed in 2006. The building enclosed a central courtyard, inevitably named "the nucleus." Every office had a window either facing in toward the nucleus or out toward the rest of CERN's sprawling campus. The quadrangle surrounding the nucleus was two stories tall, but the main elevators had four stops: the two above-ground levels; the basement, which housed boiler rooms and storage; and the minus-one-hundred-meter level, which exited onto a staging area for the monorail used to travel along the twenty-seven-kilometer circumference of the collider tunnel. The tunnel itself ran under farmers' fields, the outskirts of the Geneva, airport, and the foothills of the Jura mountains.


From: Flashword by Robert J. Sawyer. Copyright © Robert J. Sawyer, 1999. Published by Tor Science Fiction. ...

Never Cry Wolf

One hot summer day I was meandering aimlessly beside a little local creek when I came upon a stagnant pool. In the bottom, and only just covered with green scum, three catfish lay gasping out their lives. They interested me. I dragged them up on the bank with a stick and waited expectantly for them to die; but this they refused to do. Just when I was convinced that they were quite dead, they would open their broad ugly jaws and give another gasp. I was so impressed by their stubborn refusal to accept their fate that I found a tin can, put them in it along with some scum, and took them home.


From: Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. Copyright © Farley Mowat, 1973. Published by McClelland & Stewart. ... Read More »

As for Me and My House

It's an immense night out there, wheeling and windy. The lights on the street and in the houses are helpless against the black wetness, little unilluminating glints that might be painted on it. The town seems huddled together, cowering on a high, tiny perch, afraid to move lest it topple into the wind. Close to the parsonage is the church, black even against the darkness, towering ominously up through the night and merging with it. There's a soft steady swish of rain on the roof, and a gurgle of eavestroughs running over. Above, in the high cold night, the wind goes swinging past, indifferent, liplessly mournful. It frightens me, makes me feel lost, dropped on this little perch of town and abandoned. I wish Philip would waken.

From: As for Me and My House by Sinclair Ross. Copyright © Sinclair Ross, 1957. Published by New Canadian Library. ...

Shoeless Joe

Baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure and precious as diamonds. If only life were so simple. Within the baselines anything can happen. Tides can reverse; oceans can open. That's why they say, "the game is never over until the last man is out." Colors can change, lives can alter, anything is possible in this gentle, flawless, loving game.


From Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella ©1982. Published by Houghton Mifflin. ... Read More »

The Tin Flute

Toward noon, Florentine had taken to watching out for the young man who, yesterday, while seeming to joke around, had let her know he found her pretty. The fever of the bazaar rose in her blood, a kind of jangled nervousness mingled with the vague feeling that one day in this teeming store things would come to a halt and her life would find its goal. It never occurred to her to think she could meet her destiny anywhere but here, in the overpowering smell of caramel, before the great mirrors hung on the wall with their narrow strips of gummed paper announcing the day's menu, to the summary clacking of the cash register, the very voice of her impatience. Everything in the place summed up for her the hasty, hectic poverty of her whole life here in St. Henri.


From: The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy, translated by Alan Brown. Copyright © Gabrielle Roy, 1945. Translation Copyright © Allan Brown, 1980. Published by New Canadian Library. ...

Good to a Fault

"Fear is always with us: that we are not good enough or strong enough, and so will fail; that we will be hurt. Fear that what we love will be taken from us. Fear of dying, even fear of God, or of no God. But God surprises us by giving us strength to bear what we must; by giving us joy when we think that nothing but sadness is possible."


From: Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott ©2008. Published by Freehand Books....

Paris 1919

Guns fired salutes, crowds along the waterfront cheered, tugboats hooted and Army planes and dirigibles circled overhead. Robert Lansing, the American secretary of state, released carrier pigeons with messages to his relatives about his deep hope for a lasting peace. The ship, a former German passenger liner, slid out past the Statue of Liberty to the Atlantic, where an escort of destroyers and battleships stood by to accompany it and its cargo of heavy expectations to Europe.


From: Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan. Published by Penguin Random House Canada.... Read More »

The Diviners

The river flowed both ways. The current moved from north to south, but the wind usually came from the south, rippling the bronze-green water in the opposite direction. This apparently impossible contradiction, made apparent and possible, still fascinated Morag, even after the years of river-watching.

The dawn mist had lifted, and the morning air was filled with swallows, darting so low over the river that their wings sometimes brushed the water, then spiralling and pirouetting upward again. Morag watched, trying to avoid thought, but this ploy was not successful.

Pique had gone away. She must have left during the night. She had left a note on the kitchen table, which also served as Morag's desk, and had stuck the sheet of paper into the typewriter, where Morag would be certain to find it.


From The Diviners by Margaret Laurence ©1974. Published by New Canadian Library. ...

Who Has Seen the Wind

Here was the least common denominator of nature, the skeleton requirements simply, of land and sky - Saskatchewan prairie. It was wide around the town, stretching tan to the far line of the sky, clumped with low buck brush and wild rose bushes, shimmering under the late June sun and waiting for the unfailing visitation of wind, gentle at first, barely stroking the long grasses and giving them life; later, a long, hot gusting that would life the black top soil and pile it in barrow pits along the roads or in deep banks against the fences.


From Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell ©1947. Published by New Canadian Library. ... Read More »

Through Black Spruce

When I die, nieces, I want to be cremated, my ashes taken up in a bush plane and sprinkled onto the people in town below. Let them think my body is snowflakes, sticking in their hair and on their shoulders like dandruff.

From: Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden. Copyright ©Joseph Boyden, 2008. Published by Viking Press.

...

Malcolm Gladwell

Author Malcolm Gladwell's new book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants examines underdogs and the disadvantaged to show sometimes things aren't......

Anne of Green Gables

Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive - it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there? But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn't talk? If you say so I'll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it's difficult.


From Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery ©1908. Published by L.M. Montgomery.... Read More »

The Game

I also thought about me: a little wearied, a little worn, tormented by doubts and feelings and lifelong illusions I can no longer reconcile, yet still able to find joy in the game. It is a different game from the one I played on a driveway twenty-five years ago, grown cluttered and complicated by the life around it, but guileless at its core and still recoverable from time to time. I felt good about that as I did about a lot of things, and as the night went on, I leaned back further and further in my chair and closed my eyes, deeply content. About 5:30 a.m., as the outside turned from black to gray, the feeling got tired, and I knew it was time to go to bed.


From The Game by Ken Dryden ©1983. Published by John Wiley & Sons....

Afterlands

In 1871, nineteen men, women, and children, voyaging on the Arctic explorer USS Polaris found themselves cast adrift on an ice floe as their ship......

Cockroach

"I waited, hesitant to go out into the cold again. It was one of those days that have no mercy on your toes, that are oblivious to the suffering of your ears, that are mean and determined to take a chunk of your nose. It was a day to remind you that you can shiver all you want, sniff all you want, the universe is still oblivious. And if you ask why the inhumane temperature, the universe will answer you with tight lips and a cold tone and tell you to go back where you came from if you do not like it here."


From: Cockroach by Rawi Hage ©2008. Published by House of Anansi Press. ...

Anil's Ghost

"American movies, English books - remember how they all end?" Gamini asked that night. "The American or the Englishman gets on a plane and leaves. That's it. The camera leaves with him. He looks out of the window at Mombasa or Vietnam or Jakarta, someplace now he can look at through the clouds. The tired hero. A couple of words to the girl beside him. He's going home. So the war, to all purposes, is over. That's enough reality for the West. It's probably the history of the last two hundred years of Western political writing. Go home. Write a book. Hit the circuit."


From: Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje©2000. Published by Knopf Canada. ...

Truth and Bright Water

Soldier and I relax on the side of the coulee and watch Lum lengthen his stride as he comes to high ground. His skin glistens with sweat, but he moves as if there is no more to the run than the effort of breathing. His arms stay close to his side. His body leans in slightly at the hips.

"Come on!"

Only his legs are in motion. They stretch out across the ground in long, gliding strokes and carry him over the last rise. Soldier barks and charges over the side of the coulee as Lum slows to a lope and circles back. I look at the stopwatch.


From Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King ©1999. Published by HarperCollins.... Read More »

Unless

It happens that I am going through a period of great unhappiness and loss just now. All my life I've heard people speak of finding themselves in acute pain, bankrupt in spirit and body, but I've never understood what they meant. To lose. To have lost. I believed these visitations of darkness lasted only a few minutes or hours and that these saddened people, in between bouts, were occupied, as we all were, with the useful monotony of happiness. But happiness is not what I thought. Happiness is the lucky pane of glass you carry in your head. It takes all your cunning just to hang on to it, and once it's smashed you have to move into a different sort of life.


From Unless by Carol Shields ©2002. Published by Vintage Canada....

Prisoner of Tehran

Why doesn't anyone ask me anything about the last two years?' I asked her. 'The answer is very simple. We're afraid to ask because we're afraid of knowing... Maybe if we don't talk about it, and maybe if we pretend it never happened, it will be forgotten.


From Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat ©2007. Published by Viking/Penguin Canada. ...

The Age of Hope

"Her mother had once told her that one could run away from home, from husband, from children, from trouble, but it was impossible to run away from oneself. 'You always have to take yourself with you,' she said. And now, bending towards her mother, Hope wondered if in death you were finally able to run away from yourself. This might be death's gift. She knew that the thought wasn't terribly profound, but she was moved by the notion of completion and of escape."


From: The Age of Hope by David Bergen ©2012. Published by Harper Collins Canada. ...

Something Fierce

As my mother bit into her Big Mac, her glasses caught the reflection of a purple neon light somewhere behind me. Barry White's "Love's Theme," my favourite song, blasted from the loudspeaker. Mami looked hilarious in her new aqua eye-shadow. Her plucked eyebrows gave her a surprised expression. Then there was her frosted pink lipstick, which was smeared across her chin now, and the unfamiliar scent of Charlie. I'd helped her choose that perfume. The picture on the box showed one of Charlie's Angels doing the splits in mid-air, wearing a white pantsuit and platform shoes. In dressing for our trip that morning, my mother had followed her lead, though not the splits part, because she was four foot ten and round. Now here we were in a food court at Los Angeles International Airport, which my mother referred to as "l-a-x." She and I and my sister, Ale, had walked for ages through the terminal, looking for our gate, and the whole time she'd rubbed the palms of her hands into the small of her back, muttering, "Firing squad to the woman hater who invented heels."


From Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre ©2011. Published by Douglas & McIntyre.... Read More »

Nikolski

"In my view, fate is like intelligence, or beauty, or type z + lymphocytes -- some individuals have a greater supply than others. I, for one, suffer from a deficiency; I am a clerk in a bookstore whose life is devoid of complications or a storyline of its own. My life is governed by the attraction of books. The weak magnetic field of my fate is distorted by those thousands of fates more powerful and more interesting than my own."


From Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner, English translation by Lazer Lederhendler ©2008. Published by Vintage/Random House of Canada. ... Read More »

The Year of the Flood

"In the early morning Toby climbs up to the rooftop to watch the sunrise. She uses a mop handle for balance: the elevator stopped working some time ago and the back stairs are slick with damp, so if she slips and topples there won't be anyone to pick her up.

As the first heat hits, mist rises from among the swatch of trees between her and the derelict city. The air smells faintly of burning, a smell of caramel and tar and rancid barbecues, and the ashy but greasy smell of a garbage-dump fire after it's been raining. The abandoned towers in the distance are like the coral of an ancient reef -- bleached and colourless, devoid of life."


From The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood ©2009. Published by Vintage Publishing.... Read More »