August 2014

If you like Toni Morrison, you'll love...

If you liked Beloved and A Mercy, you'll love The Purchase by Linda Spalding. Find out why. ...

Bruce Springsteen to write illustrated book about Outlaw Pete

We are excited for Springsteen's book, but why stop at Outlaw Pete? We'd like to present a few more ideas to the Boss for books based on his most popular songs....

Literary landmarks: Halifax, Nova Scotia

If you are going to be visiting the capital of Canada's ocean playground, be sure to add these bookish stops to your list....

Florida's new bookless library

The completely digital library will give students access to more than 135,000 eBooks, digital reading materials and provides a quiet space for studying....

Kobo reveals new waterproof eReader

Afraid to take your eReader near water? Well, fear no more! You can read by the pool, by the beach, heck, even if your shower....

Richard Wagamese discusses Medicine Walk

Shelagh Rogers kicks off a new season of The Next Chapter with a conversation with Richard Wagamese about his latest novel. ...

Louise Penny sends Armand Gamache on The Long Way Home

Armand Gamache leaves retirement and his quiet life behind when a new case beckons in Louise Penny's latest novel. ...

What do you buy the children of the terrorist who tried to kill your wife?

David Harris-Gershon's life was thrown into upheaval 12 years ago in Jerusalem with the bombing of Hebrew University in July 2002. He forgave the bomber - and wrote about his journey in a recent memoir. ...

Inside the secret life of Harper Lee

For years, Marja Mills lived next door to the famously reclusive Harper Lee. She's written a controversial book about their relationship.... Read More »

Tribute to Truman Capote

Thirty years ago, the world lost one of the most intriguing, eccentric, and larger-than-life writers of the modern age. We present seven interesting facts about Truman Capote....

Will Canada continue to be an international peacekeeper and humanitarian?

Political experts Fen Hampson and Derek Burney take a look at what Canada's role in international relations should be in their compelling new book....

CBC Archives: The genius of Ray Bradbury

Happy birthday to late American writer Ray Bradbury, arguably best-known for his classic dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451....

If you like John Grisham, you'll love...

If you loved A Time to Kill, then you should read Trial of Passion by William Deverell. Find out why. ...

What's with all the buzz about Bear by Marian Engel?

A post about Bear went viral online this summer. But why all the uproar? CBC Radio's Q investigates. ...

An unlikely romance novel author

An 86-year-old woman just published her first novel: a steamy romance between a bored housewife and a honey-voiced radio host. ...

Literary landmarks: St. John's, Newfoundland

Newfoundland is one of Canada's hottest spots for literary success - so take a tour of the best bookish places to see! ...

eBook readers recall less than paper book readers, study suggests

Researchers believe that the tactile experience of reading a paper book helps readers to recall plot details and events more accurately....

A tribute to Elmore Leonard

He was a gifted writer known for his gritty tales filled with authentic, witty dialogue. To highlight his storied career, we're bringing back our quiz about the works of Elmore Leonard....

Chris Hadfield's book to become TV show pilot

The sitcom is about an astronaut re-adapting to life on Earth after his final space mission. ...

8 great one-novel wonders

With the recognition these authors have had, maybe one novel is the way to go. Check out our favourite one-novel wonders....

Author Martin Berger on the Ferguson riots

Berger is the author of Seeing through Race, a book that explores photography of the 1960s Civil Rights movement and how the interpretation influenced the event and the fallout....

The trouble with brunch

Shawn Micallef has a serious problem with eggs benedict. And fancy waffles. And artisanal bacon. Yes, he has problem with brunch - and with what is represents. He explains why in his new book. ...

Superman debut comic book sells for record shattering $3.2 million

Bidding on eBay has begun at more than $1.6 million on a superbly preserved issue of Action Comics No. 1, which featured the very first appearance of Superman....

Quiz: Do you know what these new Canadian Scrabble words mean?

A new edition of the The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary has 5,000 new words - including these terms found only in Canada. ...

Paradise and Elsewhere

"The village looks closer to the road than it is and I see them coming from a long way off, their clothes bright white against the mud and the scrub of the plain. Most often it is a man and a woman together like this; the man has a camera, and both of them wear money belts around their waists. When they reach the path I slip down from the wall. I watch them coming around the twist in the path; they see me, and I smile."


From Paradise and Elsewhere by Kathy Page ©2014. Published by Biblioasis. ...

My October

"I pick up one of the books and run my fingers over its cover. The delivery man was right. It's solid, brick-like. Which is a paradox, because its contents are the opposite of solid. But that, I am discovering, is the wonder of this enterprise. This book is made of words, insubstantial, weightless things I dreamed up and strung together to make a plot. Nothing at all really, and at the same time everything."


From My October by Claire Holden Rothman ©2014. Published by Penguin Canada. ...

Moving Forwards Sideways Like a Crab

"It amuses me how the instant the fasten-seatbelts sign is turned off during the flight from Toronto to Port of Spain, Trinidadians get up and strut about. They seem to know one another: they congregate in the aisles unabashedly airing their business, telling jokes, heckling each other or reminiscing. Their anticipation is palpable. Some begin the journey as strangers, but through conversations struck up in the interminable lineups at the airport or during the five-hour flight itself, they inevitably learn that they know someone in common, or are even related."

From Moving Forwards Sideways Like a Crab by Shani Mootoo. Copyright © 2014. Published by Doubleday Canada...

The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

All the buildings on that block were strip clubs. What on earth was their heating bill like in the winter? They were beautiful, skinny stone buildings with gargoyles above the windows. They were the same colour as the rain. There were lights blinking around the doors. You followed the light bulbs up the stairs. They were long-life light bulbs, not the name-brand kind. The music got louder and louder as you approached the entrance of the club, like the music in horror films.


From The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O'Neill ©2014. Published by HarperCollins Canada. ... Read More »

The Ever After of Ashwin Rao

"Please excuse: poetic lapse. I orient by smell. The night-scent excited me as I locked my door and ascended, then stopped, descended and re-entered the flat to check again: taps off, windows locked, no food anywhere. I don't normally second-guess this way--I have many neuroses, just not this one--but I would be away in Canada for a year. I would leave my key with a fellow resident but didn't want to leave her a reason to use it."


From The Ever After of Ashwin Rao by Padma Viswanathan ©2014. Published by Random House Canada. ...

All My Puny Sorrows

"Our house was taken away on the back of a truck one afternoon in the summer of 1979. My parents and my older sister and I stood in the middle of the street and watched it disappear, a low-slung bungalow made of wood and brick and plaster slowly making its way down First Street, past the A&W and the deluxe bowling lanes and out on the number twelve highway, where we eventually lost sight of it. I can still see it, said my sister Elfrieda repeatedly, until finally she couldn't. I can still see it, I can still see it. I can still ... Okay, nope, it's gone, she said."


... Read More »

Watch How We Walk

"When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said what everybody else said: a Full-Time Pioneer. That's what we were all supposed to be -- obedient brothers and sisters who spent all their time going from house to house, knocking on doors, spreading the Armageddon virus. The people would smile and nod in approval, at me, then at my parents, then back at me, their joyous, too-bright heads bobbing in a sea of Pharisees."


From: Watch How We Walk by Jennifer Lovegrove. Copyright © Jennifer LoveGrove, 2014. Published by ECW Press....

Tell

"She is in this room with three other women, a man and a baby. The baby, six weeks old, sleeps while nestled against her mother's arm. Papers are arranged neatly before a woman who wears a tailored jacket over a grey dress. Zel sees compassion on her face; she senses it from her manner and her voice. A brooch in the shape of a miniature sleigh, with silver slats and curved gold runners, is pinned to the woman's jacket. A tiny gold chain droops from the crossbar to represent a rope attached to the front of the sleigh. It's as if the woman, who has introduced herself as Mrs. Davis, has a playful side, though not here, not as the official who will ensure that the documents on her desk are duly signed. In other circumstances, Zel would ask Mrs. Davis about the brooch, its origins, its maker."


From Tell by Frances Itani ©2014. Published by HarperCollins Canada....

American Innovations

"I was at home, not making spaghetti. I was trying to eat a little less often, it's true. A yogurt in the morning, a yogurt at lunchtime, ginger candies in between, and a normal dinner. I don't think of myself as someone with a 'weight issue,' but I had somehow put on a number of pounds just four months into my unemployment, and when I realized that this had happened--I never weigh myself; my brother just said to me, on a visit, 'I don't recognize your legs'--I wasn't happy about it. Although maybe I was happy about it. Because at least I had something that I knew it wouldn't be a mistake to really dedicate myself to. I could be like those people who by trying to quit smoking or drinking manage to fit an accomplishment, or at least an attempt at an accomplishment, into every day. Just by aiming to not do something."


From American Inventions by Rivka Galchen. Copyright © Rivka Galchen, 2014. Published by HarperCollins Canada....

The Betrayers

A thousand kilometers away, while the next great drama of his life was unfolding and God was banging His gavel to shake the Judaean hills, Baruch Kotler sat in the lobby of a Yalta hotel and watched his young mistress berate the hotel clerk - a pretty blond girl, who endured the assault with a stiff, mulish expression. A particularly Russian sort of expression, Kotler thought. The morose, disdainful expression with which the Russians had greeted their various invaders. An expression that denoted an irrational, mortal refusal to capitulate - the pride and bane of the Russian people.


From The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis. Copyright © David Bezmozgis , 2014. Published by HarperCollins Canada. ...

Waiting For the Man

"It was as if I were floating. This was what I first noticed. The original thing. This floating business was a sign. Of something going on inside my head. I would find myself off the ground, hovering, and then moving, slowly, effortlessly, seeing my own self encumbered by the normal laws of physics, everyone and everything still governed by the rules and regulations that make things run. I was part of it and was apart. My floating self felt new and improved. Smarter. Fresher. More alive."


From Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu. Copyright © Arjun Basu, 2014. Published by ECW Press....

Literary landmarks: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

We've rounded up the best literary hotspots to check out in P.E.I.'s capital, Charlottetown....

How book-loving wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell joined an all-ladies book club

A chance encounter with another book lover at a local Barnes and Nobles led Mitchell to join another kind of team - a book club entirely made up of middle-aged women....

If you like We Need to Talk About Kevin, you'll love...

If you loved Lionel Shriver's powerful novel, you'll love The Last of the Crazy People by Timothy Findley. Find out why. ...

George Orwell estate criticizes Amazon's '1984'-style tactics against Hachette

George Orwell's estate has blasted Amazon after the internet retail giant recently cited an Orwell essay in a defence of their tactics against the publisher Hachette....

What does a bad feminist look like?

Roxane Gay explores contemporary feminism in a new book of essays and discusses troubling trends feminism is facing today....

What we got wrong about WWI

Military expert and author Gwynne Dyer says we need to rethink why we went to war 100 years ago - because it'll change how we think about military conflict today. ...

Grumpy Cat reads some of the best opening lines in literature

While we're excited for the new book and for future Grumpy Cat projects, we wondered what Grumpy Cat would look like reading the opening lines of some of literature's best known works....

The amazing art of book carver Julia Strand

Strand transforms old, forgotten books into beautiful, visually striking new works of art. ...

5 facts about H.G. Wells

The celebrated writer and political thinker died 68 years ago. Here are 5 interesting facts about the man, the myth, the legend....

Robin Williams: M. Doubtfire author pays tribute to `stunningly talented` actor

Williams played the lead role of Daniel, the cross-dressing dad, and brought his signature boundless energy to the film....

Runaway

She could not explain or quite understand that it wasn't altogether jealousy she felt, it was rage. And not because she couldn't shop like that or dress like that. It was because that was what girls were supposed to be like. That was what men - people, everybody - thought they should be like. Beautiful, treasured, spoiled, selfish, pea-brained. That was what a girl should be, to be fallen in love with. Then she would become a mother and she'd be all mushily devoted to her babies. Not selfish anymore, but just as pea-brained. Forever.

From: Runaway by Alice Munro. Copyright ©Alice Munro, 2005. Published by Vintage.

...

How being a veterinarian saved Sarah Boston's life

Vet Sarah Boston spent a career diagnosing lumps on animals, but her life took a surprising turn when she discovered a lump on her own neck. She shares her experience in a new book....

Quiz: How well do you know your Giller Prize history?

How well do you know your Giller winners from the past two decades? Take our quiz to find out!...

Ian Fleming: The brain behind Bond...James Bond

While the Bond torch has been passed to a new generation of screenwriters and authors, Fleming's life remains a fascination for the many fans of his iconic spy character....

Why are women drawn to grisly crime fiction?

More and more women are reading and writing crime fiction, and the fiction they read is getting more violent. Where does this appetite come from? And how is the role of the female victim in crime fiction changing? Day 6 investigates....

Art project plants 1,000 trees for books 100 years from now

The incredibly creative (and time consuming) endeavour will see a writer contribute a manuscript to the anthology each year until 2114, when the book will be assembled....

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall

My name is Vikram Lall. I have the distinction of having been numbered one of Africa's most corrupt men, a cheat of monstrous and reptilian cunning. To me has been attributed the emptying of a large part of my troubled country's treasury in recent years. I head my country's List of Shame. These and other descriptions actually flatter my intelligence, if not my moral sensibility. But I do not intend here to defend myself or even seek redemption through confession; I simply crave to tell my story. In this clement retreat to which I have withdrawn myself, away from the torrid current temper of my country, I find myself with all the time and seclusion I may ever need for my purpose. I have even come upon a small revelation -- and as I proceed daily to recall and reflect, and lay out on the page, it is with an increasing conviction of its truth, that if more of us told our stories to each other, where I come from, we would be a far happier and less nervous people.

I am quite an ordinary man, as you will discover, and moderate almost to a fault. How I came upon my career and my distinction is a surprise even to me. But my times were exceptional and they would leave no one unscathed.

From: The In-Between World of Vikram Lall by M. G. Vassanji. Copyright © M. G. Vassanji, 2004. Published by Anchor Canada. ...

A Good House

The magnificent houses, the three old-money brick houses, each with a small turret and a wraparound porch, had been built uptown near the churches when the town was younger and smaller, before the Great War. The wraparound porches were there to hold rainy-day children and morning tea carts and quiet late-evening conversation, cosy, discreet conversation which could not easily take place in front rooms or kitchens or bedrooms, certainly not on the street.

A Good House by Bonnie Burnard ©1999. Published by Henry Holt and Company....

The Love of a Good Woman

And the boat and the dock and the gravel on the shore, the trees sky-pointed or crouching, leaning out over the water, the complicated profile of surrounding islands and dim yet distinct mountains, seemed to exist in a natural confusion, more extravagant and yet more ordinary than anything I could dream or invent. Like a place that will go on existing whether you are there or not, and that in fact is still there.

From: The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro. Copyright © Alice Munro, 1998. Published by McClelland & Stewart.

...

Rachel Macy Stafford on how to live a "hands free" life

The blogger and author shares her tips and tricks on how to unplug in order to reconnect with what matters in her new book, Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp what Really Matters....

CBC Books' Writers to Watch: the 2014 edition

These 12 writers are ready to take the CanLit world by storm. Meet the future stars of Canadian letters....

900 authors sign letter criticizing Amazon over Hachette dispute

The letter, which contains more than 900 signatures from authors as well-known as Stephen King and Suzanne Collins, will run as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times on Sunday....

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's cover controversy

The cover for the new edition, which is part of the Penguin Modern Classics line, has been described online as "creepy" and "inappropriately sexualised."...

If you like Eat, Pray, Love, you'll love...

Rachel Harry says if you liked Elizabeth Gilbert's blockbuster novel, you'll love The Pelee Project by Jane Christmas. Find out why. ...

Lionel Shriver: The fall-out when you write your family into your fiction

When the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin fictionalized her family for a book, they really, really didn't appreciate it. Shriver discusses the fall-out with CBC Radio....

Nelson Mandela's private secretary shares her story in a new memoir

Zelda la Grange supported apartheid, until she became Nelson Mandela's private secretary. She shares her story in a new memoir and spoke about her relationship with Mandela on The Sunday Edition. ...

Frozen writer adapting classic sci-fi book A Wrinkle in Time

Jennifer Lee, who wrote the screenplay and co-directed the Oscar-winning Frozen, impressed Disney executives with her vision for the adaptation of the classic book....

J.K. Rowling pens letter to teenage shooting survivor as Dumbledore

Rowling sent a handwritten letter, written in the voice of Harry's gentle and wise Hogwarts headmaster, to Cassidy Stay, the 15-year-old sole survivor of a mass shooting that killed her family....

Literary landmarks: Fredericton, New Brunswick

Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick, but it's also known as the poetry capital of Canada, thanks to its rich literary history and famous poetic residents! So what should you see if you love literature and find yourself in Freddy? Why not start with these literary landmarks!...

Dr. Seuss's "lost" stories to be published this fall

Which Dr. Seuss book is your all-time favourite? Let us know in our survey....

Sandra Tsing Loh on why it's time to rethink menopause

Menopause isn't a popular topic of conversation - and when it does come up, the discussion rarely moves beyond horror stories about hot flashes. Sandra Tsing Loh wants to change that. And she's starting with a new book....

Test M8 2

I write the Joanne Kilbourn Shreve series. 12 Rose Street, the 15th book in the series, was published two months ago. Alistair MacLeod said,......

Test M8 1

I write the Joanne Kilbourn Shreve series. 12 Rose Street, the 15th book in the series, was published two months ago. Alistair MacLeod said,......

Ruth Reichl's fiction is Delicious!

Ruth Reichl is a renowned food writer, best known for editing the magazine Gourmet. She's written her first novel, and it is set in the foodie scene in NYC....

Michael Winter

Michael Winter is the author of several novels, including This All Happened, The Big Why, The Architects are Here, and The Death of Donna Whalen.......

Carol Shields

One of Canada's most beloved and prolific literary figures, Carol Shields influenced a generation of writers both in this country and abroad. She wrote......

Leon Rooke

Novelist and short story writer Leon Rooke was born in North Carolina in 1934 before moving to Canada in 1969. He's the author of......

Michael Ondaatje

Long considered one of Canada's finest literary talents, Michael Ondaatje is the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including In the Skin of a......

Frances Itani

Frances Itani, a member of the Order of Canada, is the author of 14 books, including novels, stories and poetry. Itani's bestselling novel Deafening......

Camilla Gibb

Camilla Gibb is the author of four novels, including The Beauty of Humanity Movement and Sweetness in the Belly. She has received the Trillium......

Shauna Singh Baldwin

Shauna Singh Baldwin was born in Montreal and grew up in India. The Tiger Claw, her second novel, was a finalist for the Giller Prize......

George Bowering

George Bowering is a distinguished novelist, poet, editor, professor, historian and tireless supporter of fellow writers. Bowering has authored more than one hundred books......

The Sentimentalists

The house my father left behind in Fargo, North Dakota, was never really a house at all. Always, instead, it was an idea of itself. A carpenter's house. A work in progress. So that even after we moved him north to Casablanca, and his Fargo home was dragged away - the lot sold to a family from Billings, Montana -- my father was always saddened and surprised if the place was remembered irreverently, as if it had been a separate and incidental thing; distinct from the rest of our lives. In this way, he remained, until the end, a house carpenter. If only in the way that he looked at things. As if all objects existed in blueprint; in different stages of design or repair.

From: The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud. Copyright © Johanna Skibsrud, 2011. Reprinted by Permission of W.W. Norton & Co....

Margaret Atwood

One of Canada's most iconic and beloved writers, Margaret Atwood has written more than 40 books -- novels, short stories, poetry, literary criticism, social......

Where the Air is Sweet

The earliest sensation Raju remembers, about the time he started attending school at age three, was an ache, a longing for something he could not yet imagine. By the time he completed primary school, this ache had been transformed into a belief that something essential was missing here in the Gujarati village of Malia, the land of his birth, the land of his ancestors. In the months before he married, before he prepared to embark on adulthood, he took to stepping outside his family's hardware shop and standing still in the middle of the gully, grains of fine, pale dust catching in the hairs inside his nose. He would look around him at the shops he could describe to their last detail, at the houses he had known since he knew anything. Then he would close his eyes. And he would see nothing.


From Where the Air is Sweet by Tasneem Jamal ©2014. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd ....

Bryan Lee O'Malley on his Scott Pilgrim follow-up Seconds

Bryan Lee O'Malley became the cool kid of Canadian comics when Scott Pilgrim became a smash success. He has a new graphic novel out and was on Q to talk about it. ...

North End Love Songs

friends


her friends sit

at her living room

window

curtain pushed

aside

to watch her brother

get into a car

they gawk in their

young girl way


they are

a lot younger than

they think they are

they giggle


she watches

indifferent


From North End Love Songs by Katherena Vermette ©2013. Published by J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing.... Read More »

Prairie Ostrich

Egg Murakami is eight years old and her feet are perfect. Not everyone can say that. She dangles her feet over the edge of the bed and clicks her tongue. The crisp autumn light spills over the ledge of her window, throwing shadows across the floor. Mornings are new, like a fresh sheet of paper. Mornings are new, without any mistakes. She can hear her mother in the kitchen, the metallic clatter of the kettle on the stove. Her big sister Kathy twists the tap in the bathroom, a squeak that runs through the pipes in the floors. It is almost peaceful. Nekoneko, her puppet Kitty with the homemade eye patch, stands guard on her bedside table, gazing over the smash and scatter of Lego and dinky cars strewn on the faded russet rug. Beneath her window lies the barrens of southern Alberta, the stunted grass that sweeps into the Badlands. To the right, the sagging barn with its long wire pens. Left, the stubble fields that roll to the horizon. She taps her heels together. The low groan of the barn gate rumbles through the air. The ostriches burst from their enclosure, shaggy feathers hovering above the ground, legs a blur of spindly angles, as if in flight after all. Across the pen, down the line of the fence, they run with a frantic energy - then stop, stiff, as if confronted by an immovable object. The ostriches spin, twirling, their wings spread as if to greet the day, heads held high in a dizzying, exuberant dance.


From Prairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi ©2014. Published by Goose Lane Editions.... Read More »

Photobooth: A biography

Now that everyone has the ability to turn their camera into a phone, photobooths are disappearing. Meags Fitzgerald became fascinated with this antique technology and......

CBC Books Reading Lists

Looking for a great read? We're all about recommending awesome literature, whether you're looking to be entertained, enlightened or both. Check back soon as frequently offer new lists and reading guides. Happy browsing!...

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

HOW TO GET INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL, PART I

Desperate stragglers arrived late for the molecular biology final examination, their feet wet from tramping through snowbanks and their faces damp from running. Some still wore coats, and rummaged in the pockets for pens. Entering the exam hall, a borrowed gymnasium, from the whipping chaos of the snowstorm was to be faced with a void. Eyeglasses fogged, xenon lamps burned their blue-tinged light, and the air was calm with its perpetual fragrance of old paint. The lamps buzzed, and their constant static was like a sheet pulled out from under the snowstorm, though low enough that the noise vanished quickly. Proctors led latecomers to vacant seats among the hundreds of desks, each evenly spaced at the University of Ottawa's minimum requisite distance.

The invigilators allowed them to sit the exam but, toward the end of the allotted period, ignored their pleas for extra time on account of the storm. Ming, who had finished early, centered her closed exam booklet in front of her. Fitzgerald was still hunched over his paper. She didn't want to wait outside for him, preferring it to be very coincidental that she would leave the room at the same time he did. Hopefully he would suggest they go for lunch together. If he did not ask, she would be forced to, perhaps using a little joke. Ming tended to stumble over humor. She could ask what he planned to do this afternoon--was that the kind of thing people said? On scrap paper, she wrote several possible ways to phrase the question, and in doing so almost failed to notice when Fitzgerald stood up, handed in his exam, and left the room. She expected to rush after him, but he stood outside the exam hall.

From: Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam. Copyright © Vincent Lam, 2006. Reprinted by Permission of Doubleday....

10 facts about Frankenstein author Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley's life was certainly full of fascinating and tragic experiences. Here are 10 facts about the writer....

Circus

It wasn't the sport I would have chosen. That's the thing about being an Olympian, or any kind of serious athlete, musician, or artist. You don't decide. Maybe your parents do, or your teachers or your coaches or your friends. One well-timed suggestion and the course of your life is set. But it's never really you who makes the call. Many people, I'm sure, can't fully explain why they do what they do for a living. Or they might have a great deal to say, but none of it gets to the heart of the matter. Maybe someone says she became a doctor to help people. But there are lots of useful jobs. Postal workers are immensely helpful, for example. That's why I find it bewildering when people ask: "Why did you become a lugist?" I just don't know how to answer that question. I embarrass myself every time. All those repetitive hours of training, those doleful looks from friends who wanted to hang out during sliding times, and I simply have no answer. I didn't even like toboggans or crazy carpets as a kid, which is a reply I've heard my teammate give. No, luge is not something that occurs to a child when he's at swimming lessons or riding his bike in endless circles in the driveway so his grandmother can keep one eye on him and one eye on Coronation Street. Hockey is the stuff of childhood fantasies. Kids dream of snowboarding, skiing, and speed skating, even. But two-man luge?


From Circus by Claire Battershill ©2014. Published by McClelland & Stewart....

Fire in the Unnameable Country

The universe is shaking. All the light enters the world in a great breath and we are asleep. What a shame.

Nearby seismologists studying earthquakes in the region record the spontaneous quiver of ground and sky with numbers to mean another inexplicable blaze, keenly located this time at a local news agency's headquarters.

Locals later on camera and microphone swear by a white bright flash and nimble flames along the walls of the building where they used to gather news stories on computer screens to tell minute-by- minute accounts of life at gunpoint in an unnameable country.

The television says a journalist's office becomes a half-dozen hot melted video cameras and tripod remains, says the odour of burning flesh though not a body in the vicinity for the previous eight hours. Reporters claim an eerie tone, single-pitch scream blue-violet to touch, voiceless, sourceless, irrepressible. Another mysterious fire somewhere far away.


From Fire in the Unnameable Country by Ghalib Islam ©2014. Published by Hamish Hamilton Canada....

Meags Fitzgerald

Meags Fitzgerald is an artist and storyteller who loves photobooths - a passion she highlights in her first book, Photobooth: A Biography. Originally intrigued......

Tamai Kobayashi

Tamai Kobayashi was born in Japan and came to Canada at a young age. She's a writer, songwriter and videomaker who published her first......

Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette was awarded the 2013 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry in English for her first collection of poems, North End Love Songs.......

Tasneem Jamal

Tasneem Jamal was a journalist for more than a decade, working for publications like the Globe and Mail and the National Post, before leaving......

Guillaume Morissette

Called "Canada's Alt Lit poster boy" by Dazed and Confused, Guillaume Morissette is making a name for himself with a curious, humorous and clever......

Leanne Simpson

Leanne Simpson is an author, scholar, storyteller and First Nations activist. She is also the inaugural winner of the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award.......

Us Conductors

I was Leon Termen before I was Dr Theremin, and before I was Leon, I was Lev Sergeyvich. The instrument that is now known as a theremin could as easily have been called a leon, a lyova, a sergeyvich. It could have been called a clara, after its greatest player. Pash liked termenvox. He liked its connotations of science and authority. But this name always made me laugh. Termenvox−the voice of Termen. As if this device replicated my own voice. As if the theremin's trembling soprano were the song of this scientist from Leningrad.

I laughed at this notion, and yet in a way I think I also believed it. Not that the theremin emulated my voice, but that with it I gave voice to something. To the invisible. To the ether. I, Lev Sergeyvich Termen, mouthpiece of the universe.


From Us Conductors by Sean Michaels ©2014. Published by Random House Canada....

Matthew Heiti

Matthew Heiti writes words for screens and stages in addition to pages. His screenplay for the film Son of the Sunshine (which we co-wrote......

Kim Fu

Kim Fu's debut novel For Today I am a Boy has been called "beautiful" and "sensitively wrought" by critics. This comes as no surprise to those......

Doretta Lau

Doretta Lau is a multi-talented writer, covering arts and culture as a journalist, and publishing fiction and poetry in publications like Event, Grain and......

Sean Michaels

Sean Michaels made a name for himself by writing about music. His website Said the Gramophone launched in 2003, making it one of the oldest music......

Ghalib Islam

Ghalib Islam came to Canada from Bangladesh when he was seven years old. He studied creative writing at the University of Toronto, where he......

Claire Battershill

In 2008, Claire Battershill won the CBC Short Story Prize for her story "Circus." At the time, the jury said that Battershill's writing had......

How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?

That fall in New York, most of my thoughts had to do with pain or grief. I was not suicidal. Rather, my grandmother had died a few months earlier and I was slowly recovering from the loss. I did not know how to talk about my pain, so I often drank until I could no longer feel my hands or feet. Insomnia took hold of me. I lay in bed and watched movies until five or six a.m., taking careful notes for the screenplay I was supposed to complete to attain my Master's degree. Though four months had passed since the end of coursework, I was still working on the first act. No matter how many hours I sat in front of my computer, I could not advance the plot of the film. My characters were flat. Each line of dialogue I wrote felt like an affront to the English language.


From How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun? by Doretta Lau ©2014. Published by Nightwood Editions....

Book recommendations

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For Today I am a Boy

On the day my sister Adele is born, my mother goes to the butcher. It is January 3, 1969. Her belly, hard as packed snow, bobs outside of her unzipped parka as she walks up to the counter. An enormous sow is laid out in the display case. In her mind, Mother replaces the pig's body with her own: her legs hanging on hooks at the back; her tiny feet encased in rounded, hoof-like leather boots; the shinbone ready to be held in a vise and shaved for charcuterie. Her torso is cut below the breast and lies flat, showing a white cross-section of vertebrae. Her head is intact, eyes clouded yellow and rolled upward. The dried-out edges of her ears let light through. Human ears probably taste similar to pig's ears, she thinks. A glutinous outer layer with crisp cartilage underneath She could stew them, char them in a skillet, watch her skin blister and pop.


From For Today I am a Boy by Kim Fu ©2014. Published by HarperCollins Canada....

The City Still Breathing

A dead body is found on the side of Highway 17 outside Sudbury. Naked, throat slashed, no identification. It disappears from the back of a police van and begins a strange odyssey, making its way, over the course of one early winter day, all around the northern Ontario town and through the lives of eleven very different people.

There's young Francie, who's determined to start a modelling career and new life in the big city with Slim, her acid-dropping boyfriend, until he steals a pair of cowboy boots - and the body. There's Martha, Slim's mother, waiting tables and waiting for her husband to come back to her. There's Gordon 'The Python' Uranium, a failed hockey enforcer and owner of the cowboy boots. And there's Jyrki Myllarinen, the local drug lord with murder on his mind.

All of them are hoping for something more out of this dying town. All they find, instead is one another, in a strange and apocalyptic moment of violence.


From The City Still Breathing by Matthew Heiti ©2013. Published by Coach House Books....

Islands of Decolonial Love

remember: to feel joy, you first have to escape.

there's an old nishnaabe story, from the beginning of time, where seven grandparents who live in the sky world, take a young child from his parents and raise him in the ways that the earth's people have forgotten. they teach him stories, songs and ceremonies and eventually he is sent back to earth to share these ways with his people. i never really liked that story, because my heart gets broken when they take the boy away from his parents, and i only ever listen to the rest in a nervous holding pattern, lost in how lonely that boy must have felt, lost in a world where he was always the only one.


From Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Simpson ©2013. Published by ARP Books.... Read More »

Clara Callan

Saturday, November 3 (8:10 p.m.)

Nora left for New York City today. I think she is taking a terrible chance going all the way down there but, of course, she wouldn't listen. You can't tell Nora anything. You never could. Then came the last-minute jitters. Tears in that huge station among strangers and loudspeaker announcements.

"I'm going to miss you, Clara."

"Yes. Well, and I'll miss you too, Nora. Do be careful down there!"

"You think I'm making a mistake, don't you? I can see it in your face."

"We've talked about this many times, Nora. You know how I feel about all this."

"You must promise to write."

"Well, of course, I'll write."

The handkerchief, smelling faintly of violets, pressed to an eye. Father used to say that Nora's entire life was a performance. Perhaps she will make something of herself down there in the radio business, but it's just as likely she'll return after Christmas. And then what will she do? I'm sure they won't take her back at the store. It's a foolish time to be taking chances like this. A final wave and a gallant little smile. But she did look pretty and someone on the train will listen. Someone is probably listening at this very moment.

From Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright ©2001. Published by HarperCollins ...

New Tab

Stalking Brent on Facebook, I saw from his profile picture that he was tall and had sloppy bed hair that randomly looked excellent and that he owned a MacBook and a t-shirt that said "RIP DJ Screw." I looked for a birth year but there was no year specified, just a month and a day. I didn't know if he was younger than me or maybe my age. I wanted him to be my age. I wanted him to be ten thousand years older than me. I wanted him to be ten thousand years older than me and still a mess and still thinking things like, "I am the shittiest person alive," on a regular basis.

That year, I kept meeting people who I thought were my age but then turned out to be younger than me. Brent was a good example. He was a fully-grown human person, looked like more of a dad than I ever would, but then somewhere in my thought process I felt the defeating certitude that Brent was, in fact, a year or two younger than me.

It was confusing information to handle.


From New Tab by Guillaume Morissette ©2013. Published by Vehicule Press....

If you like The Joy Luck Club, you'll love...

Sharon Shorty thinks that fans of The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan will love The Concubine's Children by Denise Chong. Find out why....

Hellgoing

Jane salutes you from an age where to be an aficionado is to find yourself too foolishly situated in the world. Where to care a great deal about something, no matter how implicitly interesting it may be, is to come across as a kind of freak. It's interest - inordinate interest - in something seemingly arbitrary, having little do with you or the context you inhabit. Beanie Babies, say, or Glenn Gould. Jane once a person who insisted he "was crazy about Glenn Gould," who owned all these rare and exotic recordings. Called himself a glennered, happily, smugly. Did other Gould fanatics call themselves glennerds? Jane wanted to know. The glennered shrugged, didn't care. It wasn't about other glennerds, Jane saw, it was only about this particular glennered, him and his fascination. This person was not a musician. Didn't listen to classical music, as a rule. From: Hellgoing by Lynn Coady. Copyright © Lynn Coady, 2013. Reprinted by Permission of House of Anansi Press....