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The Minerva Reader takes it to 11!

I've got ELEVEN fab treats for you but first, an invitation to the launch
of
The Occult  Persuasion and the  Anarchist’s Solution,
Inanna Publications – we really hope to see
you there! September 26!
​Inanna Toronto, Fall Book Launch No. 1 featuring 3 authors!
Queen Books, 914 Queen Street East, Toronto: 6:00-8:30pm!





















   

I thoroughly enjoyed falling into these Fall Reads!

Here, in alphabetical order by author, is the list of eleven and yes, that’s a homage to Spinal Tap! This list that goes to eleven and I highly recommend every single book! I hope you will forgive the brevity of the reviews, eleven books is a fair amount to cover!


CRIME CLUB by Melodie Campbell (Orca Book Publishers)

About the book: Sixteen-year-old Penny has moved with her mom and huge dog, Ollie, to live above a small-town pub owned by her aunt. It's a relief to start over in a place where no one knows her father is in prison.

It's summer, and the only person she knows is her nerdy cousin Simon. Soon she meets Simon's best friend, Brent, and Brent's twin sister, Tara, and their pug, Wolfgang.

When Ollie digs up a human bone in the backyard of the pub, police are called. It turns out the bone is over twenty years old. Who can the dead person be? Surely Aunt Stella can't be involved. 

Penny and Simon decide to investigate. Together with Brent and Tara, they form The Crime Club. And before long they discover one thing: if you've killed before, you can kill again.

My review: A heartwarming YA novel written by talented author Melodie Campbell. I always love reading Melodie’s work, her words are polished and smooth and she has great empathy for her characters. Perhaps Penny Capelli will get up to more adventures!

-.-

IMMIGRANT CITY by David Bezmozgis (HarperCollins)

About the book: In the title story, a father and his young daughter stumble into a bizarre version of his immigrant childhood. A mysterious tech conference brings a writer to Montreal, where he discovers new designs on the past in “How It Used to Be.” A grandfather’s Yiddish letters expose a love affair and a wartime secret in “Little Rooster.” In “Childhood,” Mark’s concern about his son’s phobias evokes a shameful incident from his own adolescence. In “Roman’s Song,” Roman’s desire to help a new immigrant brings him into contact with a sordid underworld. At his father’s request, Victor returns to Riga, the city of his birth, where his loyalties are tested by the man he might have been in “A New Gravestone for an Old Grave.” And, in the noir-inspired “The Russian Riviera,” Kostya leaves Russia to pursue a boxing career only to find himself working as a doorman in a garish nightclub in the Toronto suburbs.

In these deeply felt, slyly humorous stories, Bezmozgis pleads no special causes but presents immigrant characters with all their contradictions and complexities, their earnest and divided hearts.

My review: As an immigrant to Canada, and the child of a Hungarian immigrant father in South Africa, these stories resonated deeply. My favourite line comes from the title story, Immigrant City. The father asks his daughter if she’d like to go home or keep going (on the train). She replies “Go home and keep going.” This collection is a wonderful cross section of lives.

-.-

ONE DAY IT HAPPENS by Mary Lou Dickinson (Inanna Publications)

About the book: One Day It Happens is an eclectic collection of short stories by Mary Lou Dickinson, which deal in myriad forms with communication or lack thereof in the lives of the characters. One of the universal factors in human existence is the need to connect with one another. When these characters fail to do so, it is the result of fear, of loneliness, of violence, of impending death. Sometimes they succeed in spite of everything to reach a place of insight and understanding, usually in unexpected ways and to their own surprise. About some of the stories: Margaret, in "The Empty Chair," almost 90 and lonely after the death of her husband, has a bizarre sexual encounter with a man living in the same retirement home. In "A Country Weekend," a visit to the family cottage prompts a terrifying and almost fatal swim across the lake. A writer in "Hello, Angel," imagines and fears the sexual assault and abduction of a young girl by his next door neighbour. "From the Front" explores the typical day of a telephone crisis counsellor. Eva, in "White Sails on Lake Ontario," at last takes steps to leave an abusive relationship. In "The Train Ride," Joe, who rides the train in order to have conversations with people, fails to connect with a fellow passenger. Libby, in "One Day It Happens," visits a friend whose husband is recovering from a heart attack, making all of them feel vulnerable and close to death in a number of ways.

My review: I know this isn't a new release but I've wanted to read this bok for a while and it was such a treat. Each short story has the richness of a novel. I love Mary Lou’s insights into the human condition, be it with regard to love, loss, aging, loneliness, sex and happiness.

-.-

DIG by Terry Doyle (Breakwater)

About the book: In twelve dialed-in and exceptionally honed short stories, Terry Doyle presents an enduring assortment of characters channelled through the chain reactions of misfortune and redemption. A construction worker's future is bound to a feckless and suspicious workmate. A young woman's burgeoning social activism is constrained by hardship and the desperation of selling puppies online. A wedding guest recognizes a panhandler attending the reception. And a man crafts a concealed weapon with which to carry out his nightly circuit of paltry retribution. Through keen-eyed observation, and with an impressive economy of statement, Doyle conveys these characters over a backdrop of private absurdities and confusions--countering the overbearance of a post-tragic age with grit, irony, and infinitesimal signs of hope. 


My review: A very real and empathetic sense of the struggle of ongoing daily lives, not so much pivotal turning points but vignettes of the day-to-day, the celebrations, losses and loans, arguments, injuries, siblings and families – every strand that makes up the fabric of lives going quietly, deeply wrong. Doyle writes with enviable clean prose that cuts close to the bone.

-.-

CHASING THE BANYAN WIND by Bernadette Gabay Dyer (LMH Publishing Limited)

About the book: In the mid 1920s an English family, Jonathan and Wilemina Gunn, and their two young children, Dunstan and Eliza emigrate to the Caribbean island of Jamaica. With help from locals they build a home in a remote rural location on the island's north coast. Previous perceptions of the island do not prepare them for the reality of the island's diverse English speaking population that includes Negroes, East Indians, Chinese, Jews, Europeans and Syrians.

My review: Epic and sweeping, sensual and insightful, I fell into this read. Another country, another time, another world. I felt the wind on my skin, could taste the cuisine, feel the rain, see the flowers and countryside. Chasing The Banyan Wind will transport you like a time machine. A very good read to escape into.

-.-

THE TICKING HEART by Andrew Kaufman (Coach House Books)

About the book: In Metaphoria, everything means something, and thoughts and fears turn into objects. Charlie Waterfield finds himself there working as a detective because he can't get over the death of his wife and child. When Shirley Wythchildde hires him to find her husband's missing heart, she replaces Charlie's heart with a ticking bomb and gives him forty-eight hours to solve the case.

So begins The Ticking Heart, a novel in three connected parts. In the second, we meet Warren Templeman, a blocked writer in a psychiatric ward who claims to be a scout from an alien race, which his doctor believes is a ruse to keep from grieving his wife and daughter. The final part begins on the ninth birthday of Warren's daughter, when he runs over a dog in a Toys R Us parking lot. As he drives around town trying to find help find for the dog, he's finally forced to defuse the bomb in his own heart.

My review: What a magical book! This book should be prescribed reading for every jaded adult. Magical realism and metaphors mingle to create a marvellous mix that will make you quite giddy in the best possible way. Read this book for the chapter titles alone – but then, read the whole book for the sheer delight of it.

-.-

SIDE BY SIDE by Anita Kushwaha (Inanna Publications)

About the book: Kavita Gupta is a woman in transition. When her troubled older brother, Sunil, disappears, she does everything in her power to find him, convinced that she can save him. Ten days later, the police arrive at her door to inform her that Sunil's body has been found. Her world is devastated. She finds herself in crisis mode, trying to keep the pieces of her life from falling apart even more. As she tries to cope with her loss, the support system around her begins to unravel. Her parents' uneasy marriage seems more precarious. Her health is failing as her unprocessed trauma develops into more sinister conditions. Her marriage suffers as her husband is unable to relate to her loss. She bears her burden alone, but after hitting her lowest point, she knows she needs to find a better way of coping. Desperate for connection, she reaches out to a bereavement group, where she meets Hawthorn, a free-spirited young man with whom she discovers a deep connection through pain. After being blindsided by a devastating marital betrayal, she wonders if a fresh start is possible in the wake of tragedy. Will she escape her problems and start over? Or will she face the challenges of rebuilding the life she already has? Side by Side is a story about loss, growth and the search for meaning in the wake of tragedy, illuminated through one woman's journey from harm to care.

My review: I admit I was a little wary of reading this book because suicide is something we are all too familiar with – many of us have lost people in our lives, have had friends or family who have committed suicide and it’s true that the grief never goes away. The grief changes, and this book is a thoughtful and beautiful examination of that journey. The book is a homage to those who died too soon and to those who live in the shadow of that loss. 

-.-

I BECOME A DELIGHT TO MY ENEMIES by Sara Peters (Strange Light)

About the book: An experimental fiction, I Become a Delight to My Enemies uses many different voices and forms to tell the stories of the women who live in an uncanny Town, uncovering their experiences of shame, fear, cruelty, and transcendence. Sara Peters combines poetry and short prose vignettes to create a singular, unflinching portrait of a Town in which the lives of girls and women are shaped by the brutality meted upon them and by their acts of defiance and yearning towards places of safety and belonging. Through lucid detail, sparkling imagery and illumination, Peters' individual characters and the collective of The Town leap vividly, fully formed off the page. A hybrid in form, I Become a Delight to My Enemies is an awe-inspiring example of the exquisite force of words to shock and to move, from a writer of exceptional talent and potential.

My review: Compelling, astounding, incredible and utterly brilliant.
This work necessitates at least three reads the first time and more thereafter
Incredible perceptions of body and space. This book blew me away. I can’t wait to read it again.

-.-

MOTEL OF THE OPPOSABLE THUMBS by Stuart Ross (Anvil)

About the book: In Motel of the Opposable Thumbs, Stuart Ross continues to ignore trends in Canadian poetry, and further follow the journey he began over four decades ago with his discoveries of the works of Stephen Crane, E. E. Cummings, Nelson Ball, Ron Padgett, Victor Coleman, Tom Clark, Nicanor Parra, Joe Rosenblatt, and David McFadden. In this eclectic, pleasurable gathering of poems and sequences, Mr. Ross unapologetically leaps from howls of grief and despair to zany incursions into surrealism and the absurd. He embraces this panoply of approaches to respond to our cantankerous existential dilemma. All that, and it’s structured after Bela Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4! Get a room and enjoy.

My review: I just love Stuart Ross’s brain! Here are some excerpts from the collection and all I can say is, treat yourself to this book!

Ovation :
the egg stood up
for itself
(from Grey Notes)

… When
we become old, after so much
wine and so much shouting
insects, we gaze into the stars,
newsprint straining our eyes,
scurrying between A and B,
until the streetscape shares
with us its freshly
unwrapped secrets
(from Pencil Shavings)

… The best way
to avoid a root canal is to replace
your head with a sparrow.
(from Important Information For Your Dental Health)

and…

Do you know how many small dogs you can fit into a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? Do you know where I buried my lunch?
(from Efforts)

-.-

GIRLS NEED NOT APPLY by Kelly S. Thompson (McClelland & Stuart / Penguin Random House Canada)

About the book: At eighteen years old, Kelly Thompson enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces. Despite growing up in a military family -- she would, in fact, be a fourth-generation soldier -- she couldn't shake the feeling that she didn't belong. From the moment she arrives for basic training at a Quebec military base, a young woman more interested in writing than weaponry, she quickly realizes that her conception of what being a soldier means, forged from a desire to serve her country after the 9/11 attacks, isn't entirely accurate. A career as a female officer will involve navigating a masculinized culture and coming to grips with her burgeoning feminism.
In this compulsively readable memoir, Thompson writes with wit and honesty about her own development as a woman and a soldier, unsparingly highlighting truths about her time in the military. In sharply crafted prose, she chronicles the frequent sexism and misogyny she encounters both in training and later in the workplace, and explores her own feelings of pride and loyalty to the Forces, and a family legacy of PTSD, all while searching for an artistic identity in a career that demands conformity. When she sustains a career-altering injury, Thompson fearlessly re-examines her identity as a soldier. Girls Need Not Apply is a refreshingly honest story of conviction, determination, and empowerment, and a bit of a love story, too.

My review: What a compelling read! The sheer determination in the book keeps you captivated and the prose is so convincing that you feel every blister and broken bone. But more than the physical hardships, it’s the insidious, vicious workplace bullying that is appalling. Hopefully this book will shine a spotlight on areas that still need so much work (and not just in the army). Thompson’s love/hate relationship with her first career is wonderfully portrayed, as is the loss of that job which left her bereft. This book speaks to a specific situation (of Thompson’s army career) but more than that, it speaks to life and the challenges one faces, trying to not only survive but also thrive, in a cutthroat world.

-.-

SEND MORE TOURISTS… THE LAST ONES WERE DELICOUS by Tracey Waddleton (Breakwater)

About the book: With birth, death, contemplation, and close calls, Send More Tourists... the Last Ones Were Delicious explores how we respond to the weight of social expectations. From the hidden pressures of wall paint and tarot card predictions, to the burden of phone numbers and the dismembering of saints, Waddleton takes us on a surrealist road trip through the missteps of her vivid characters with honesty and compassion. These are stories of survival. Unafraid, dreamy, and downright weird, these stories cross boundaries of geography, gender, and generation with an eye to the transient nature of human life

My review: I love the sharp originality of this collection! I’m going to dub it kickboxer grit lit - and make no mistake, this is lit – very fine lit – lit that will scour your sensibilities and tickle your funny bone at the same time. There’s joy as the upper cut of the stories catches you off guard and you fall to the mat laughing so hard that you wouldn’t have it any other way. The sheer energy is marvelous  and there’s so much poignancy too. Yep, I love these stories!


    
And, in case you missed them, please check out these three gems!

CROW by Amy Spurway, Goose Lane Editions
ABOUT THE BOOK: When Stacey Fortune is diagnosed with three highly unpredictable — and inoperable — brain tumours, she abandons the crumbling glamour of her life in Toronto for her mother Effie's scruffy trailer in rural Cape Breton. Back home, she's known as Crow, and everybody suspects that her family is cursed.

With her future all but sealed, Crow decides to go down in a blaze of unforgettable glory by writing a memoir that will raise eyebrows and drop jaws. She'll dig up "the dirt" on her family tree, including the supposed curse, and uncover the truth about her mysterious father, who disappeared a month before she was born.

But first, Crow must contend with an eclectic assortment of characters, including her gossipy Aunt Peggy, hedonistic party-pal Char, homebound best friend Allie, and high-school flame Willy. She'll also have to figure out how to live with her mother and how to muddle through the unsettling visual disturbances that are becoming more and more vivid each day.

Witty, energetic, and crackling with sharp Cape Breton humour, Crow is a story of big twists, big personalities, big drama, and even bigger heart. 

MY REVIEW: What a delightful blend of Cape Breton magic and marvellous, salt-tang, tack-sharp writing! The characters and the story make this such a joyful, powerful, tragic, uplifting worthy read. Here’s to trees, books, family, friends, eccentricities and all such things that make life worthwhile – and I loved the way the book exposed the hypocrisy behind modern-day faux-mystical infused materialism which is really no more than a mask for rampant consumerism.

-.-

WHERE I RISE, SHE FALLS by Dean Serravalle, Inanna Publications
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Where I Fall, Where She Rises is a novel that follows two women on opposite ends of a terrorist kidnapping. While one woman suffers and falls at the hands of her captors, the other exploits the fame of such a publicized event to secure a future for her unborn child.

Lea Ironstone is a Canadian freelance journalist who recalls her time spent in the very dangerous red zone of Baghdad, after the 2003 U.S. invasion. A self-destructive addict, she refuses to relegate herself to the safer green zone, where most mainstream news journalists like Paul Shell are protected. Desperately seeking a more controversial story to re-establish his fame as a television journalist for GNN, Paul Shell contacts Lea and agrees to meet her in the red zone for a recent finding.

They are kidnapped by an insurgent terrorist sect and tortured repeatedly. Carol Shell, Paul Shell's wife lives in New York. Eight months pregnant, Carol is approached by Timothy Abel, her husband's agent. Timothy wishes to represent her "victimhood," which he sees as a very marketable and exploitable asset. Her appetite for fame and celebrity eclipses her familial priorities and she is coerced into a lifestyle that hinges on personal promotion. Lea and Paul find themselves incarcerated in a basement dungeon expecting their next, "artistic" torture, while Carol makes her next public appearance to further her star. Lea and Paul's relationship evolves into a mutual understanding of their united fate, while Carol, on the other side of the world, rises in public stature. The novel evolves into an emotional satire, which depicts two strong women who attack the consequences of war on two different fronts. 

MY REVIEW: At first, I didn’t understand the title but then it was perfect. An enthralling story about two women on opposite ends of the social spectrum, yet bound by a single incident. What a brilliant (and yes, at times brutal but necessarily so) depiction of our troubled, complicated and conflicted world.

Also fascinating is the depiction of the lies we’ll tell ourselves and others, simply to achieve fame – and the depths to which we will sink – and the speed with which we will sink – in order to stay on the top rung of the Karshadian ladder of influencer fame and fortune. Selling our souls for celebrity status is the new evil: the desire to be the trending Google search is the apple in our Garden of Eden. Which, if you consider, is truly ironic, since Apple and Steve Jobs were indeed the poisoned fruit of our times. And yes, while so many levels of learning and communication have been opened up by their presence, the price for those gains has been steep.

There is the price of fanatics  pretending to eschew the allure of the new fame  and insist that they are the antithesis of it, but they eagerly buy into it by kidnapping and torturing fellow humans on live feed all while insisting they are ‘torture artists’ not terrorists and that their cause is pure. No longer is Andy Warhol’s ridiculously short-lived fifteen minutes of fame the prize, we are brainwashed into craving the enduring glory of the internet, even if it is all a lie, smoke and mirrors.

The book is unflinching in its examination of the tortures endured by ancient saints, and indeed, by the marriage of Heaven and Hell (and the Blake poem in this regard).  This book is also fascinating in the examining the relationship between pain and saintliness, pain and Godliness.

“Where there has been no story, you have told one. Where there has been nothing, you have created life. Death is the destruction of the story. Life is the creation of one. Conscience is the remembering. Guilt is the regret of destruction. Redemption is the rewriting. Suffering inspires it. Suffering is the quill.”

And:

“If we managed to tell our story, it might destroy the marriage. I had always believed in the contraries. Hell needed a Heaven to corrupt, and Heaven needed an enemy to destroy. Could one story do anything but state what everybody already knew? The two needed each other to exist. Without the marriage, there would be no stories worth remembering. There would be nothing to create.”

And:

“I have always loved the scent of roses. I don’t know why. It’s like it comes from the thorns instead of the flower.”

-.-

WORRY by Jessica Westhead, Harper Perennial

ABOUT THE BOOK: Jessica Westhead's WORRY, pitched as a novel for readers of LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE and TRULY MADLY GUILTY, about an anxious, overprotective mother who brings her four-year-old daughter to the remote family cottage of the woman who has been her best friend - and her husband's best friend - for years, and where over forty-eight tension-filled hours, old and new resentments surface alongside a mother's constant worry for her child and the appearance of a mysterious neighbor.

MY REVIEW: Worry gave me goosebumps from the very first line! The first few pages are so utterly heartbreaking that you nearly shy away but the instant connection between reader and protagonist is established and you devour the entire book. And yes, you do worry, the entire way.

The novel takes you on a gripping journey that keeps you guessing, enticing you to want to know more while unfolding with perfect timing and suspenseful emotionality. And there’s a great ending, with suprising plot twists.

Worry is much more than a cottage country domestic thriller or a tale of childhood besties gone wrong,  Worry looks at the pain we can leave behind versus that which we can’t or, that still needs work and then, what lies on the other side of endurance and healing?

-.-

Hope You'll Check Out The 45 Two-Sentence Sizzling Summer Book Blitz!

I’ve got an exciting stash of amazing Canadian Reads lined up for The Minerva Reader! So many that it will take me a while to read them all. And, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I've got half a dozen books on the go and I pick up whichever one appeals to my mood at the time.
 
ECW posed the question (on Twitter) as to how readers file or organize their books and my answer was ‘to add to random piles until they fall over and then I start again!’ Book storage, Jenga-style!
 
Terri Favro (@fluffybaggins) said this: “Books signed by author, together. Graphic novels, together. Poetry, together. All others, wherever there's space. When there's no space, something goes to the nearest #LittleFreeLibrary” which was very impressive!
 
Which made me revisit my stacks, with the intent to do some sorting and organizing and then I decided to create a Two-Sentence Teaser, with two random sentences from each book.
 
So here, in no particular order at all – and I know, I should have alphabetized them or bundled them into genres or something – are 45 books on my CanLit To-Read Pile! And, some may be a bit longer than two sentences or a bit shorter! And, there's no information about the author or the book, just the sentences and who published the book. (And there is poetry too!)
 
Every Little Piece of Me by Amy Jones, McClelland & Stuart. “You are beautiful is so last month,” she said to Val, who was wrestling with a bubble-wrapped envelope full of what turned out to be two-dimensional paper flowers, cut from construction paper and painted with more glitter. “This should say Survivor. At least it would be shorter.”
 
• Bina by Anakana Schofield, Alfred A. Knopf, Canada. “Eddie’s the kind of son you are landed with because no beggar wants to be bothered with him, and because he’s used up all his goodwill and will soon expire on yours.”
 
• Spirit River Dam by Susan Daly, in The Best Laid Plans (Superior Shores Press). “In her mind’s eye, she saw the fateful figures reasserting themselves one by one, burning through the paper seal on the back of the painting. Like something in a Twilight Zone episode.”
 
• The Red Word by Sarah Henstra, ECW Press. “No one in their right mind gives up power peaceably, Dyann would say. No one is ever going to hand over our freedom to us, just like that.”
 
• The Whiskey King by Trevor Cole, HarperCollins. “The foursome spent the night in Detroit, Zaneth somewhere on his own, presumably receiving his drugs, and the Poles trio out drinking, or so they said. He didn’t see them until noon the next day, but once they were together the trio wanted Zaneth to stay with them.”
 
•  Up From Freedom by Wayne Grady, Doubleday Canada. “Nothing is forgiven,” his father used to say. “Some things are forgotten but damn few. And nothing is ever forgiven.”
 
•  Songs for the Cold of Heart, by Eric Dupont, translated from the French by Peter McCambridge, QC Fiction. “He was shorter than me. I’m a little on the tall side, even for a German from the north, but he was fat too, wearing a black suit with a bowtie. Nothing says “I’m a total cretin” like a bowtie, Kapriel.”
 
• An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim, Penguin Random House Canada. “He is at the end of time. There is nothing but ashy beach and giant, slithering crabs with palpitating mouths and pale, jerking antennae. He remembers the sounds of his world, birdsong and teatime, and he thinks, All that is over.”
 
• No TV for Woodpeckers by Gary Barwin, a Buckrider Book.
at this difficult time
in our lives, ladies and gentlemen
let us consider sandwiches:
if the only thing in the universe
 
• Subtitles by Domenico Capilongo, Guernica Editions. “The music grows outward from ancient street corners. In wafts of cigar smoke, off the hoods of vintage cars, echoing between the rows of tourists who tap their feet, off rhythm.”
 
• Tender in the Age of Fury by Brandon Pitts, Mosaic Press.
we knew then
that the boy
who spoke with departed shades
was a prophet of things to come
 
so we called him
Sweet Medicine
 
• Four-letter Words by Chad Pelley, Breakwater Books. “It had been a while, sure, a month or two, but this wasn’t about catching up, so he stood there, wordless, waiting to be invited in. She tightened her bathrobe and swooped her arm like, come in. A waft of lavender, some kind of bath product that smelled purple.”
 
• In the Bear’s House by Bruce Hunter, Oolichan Books. “She was fragile now. He felt the tremor in her voice and the uncertainty in her eyes. “Not a word,” he said. Then she let him go.”
 
• Twelve Moons and Six More Poems by Ellen S. Jaffe, Pinking Shears Publications.
I clean out your kitchen
one last time,
bake the sweet, apple-rich cake.
You never felt hungry, you
told me before you died.
Now I hunger, I hunger,
and I eat.
 
• Send by Domenico Capilongo, Guernica Editions.
I’m like in love with you
like she walked in the room
and I’m like wow look at her
like if you think I’m pretty
like if I shouldn’t kill myself
like I got so many likes
it was like crazy
 
• The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley, Simon & Schuster. “She created a Twitter account. She named herself Zoey W., left her photo the little white egg. It made her sad, the lonely little egg, but this was not about Zoey—or if it was, it was about creating the world she would have wanted Zoey to live in.”
 
• Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds, Biblioasis. “As soon as he saw the desert, Henry knew he was in the right place. It was like no landscape Henry had ever seen before. It was absolute.”
 
• Blue Pyramids by Robert Priest, ECW.
Daniel slips away
but he’s still standing there
riding the blue wave
into a painting
into a story
or just a fantasy-thought
one more little cape
for identity to twirl in his
wild shaman’s shuffle
 
• The Street of Butterflies by Mehri Yalfani, Inanna Publications. “On our honeymoon I realized I couldn’t live with him. He wasn’t my type. I couldn’t make myself love him.”
 
• Permission by Saskia Vogel, Coach House Books. “Standing in that same window, it wasn’t the ocean I saw but the seams: silicone, grout, hinges and brackets. All that was holding the house together and all the ways in which it could fall apart.”
 
• Black Beach by Glynis Guevara, Inanna Publications. “As she stepped away from the water and headed toward the unkempt trail back to town, she wondered what condition her mother would be in when she got home. She thought of her mother’s mother and her father’s sister, both of whom had suffered from debilitating mental health issues before their deaths. Will I end up like them? 
 
• Motel of the Opposable Thumbs by Stuart Ross, Anvil Press.
My shadow contains three words:
Sh. Ad. Ow. I contain mulitudes
of headlice I’m hoping to comb out
before you arrive with your eyes in your face,
 
• There is a Place by Ivy Reiss, Ivy Reiss.
Nothing can compare to
The blunt breaking in
Of un-thought
Forgotten things
 
• Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page, Biblioasis. “Running through the leafy lane, his shirt damp with sweat, his body warming to the work and liking it, his eyes growing sharper and taking in the almost-bursting buds and the spiderwebs bejewelled with glistening droplets, Harry forgets the argument completely.”
 
• Perspectives on a Crime Scene by Alex Stolis, Grey Borders Books. “Together they looked like some noir tableau, a Hopper painting. When he got the drop on her she looked straight-edged, full of sin; ready to burn him to the ground.”
 
•  Branches by Mark Truscott, Book*hug.
The feeling
we could be
Doing something
else is always
there, the
edge that
bespeaks the
thing is
here now
 
• One Day it Happens by Mary Lou Dickinson, Inanna Publications. “But then, after your understood it all, and God knows, she thought she understood it—the sudden crushing desire to take the oar and be that woman she hadn’t been—then what did she understand?”
 
• Side by Side by Anita Kushwaha, Inanna Publications. “Suddenly she can’t stand to look at the photograph any longer. Its lost beauty burns her eyes as if backlit with fluorescence. She turns away.”
 
• Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage, Alfred A. Knopf. “One morning in late June, Pavlov, still in his pajamas and slippers, rushed along the street to get his French Gitanes Maïs cigarettes before the grocery’s metal doors, in deference to the impending passage of death, rolled with the speed of a guillotine.”
 
• land of the sky by Salimah Valiani, Inanna Publications.
Have you seen
the moon through
A square in the sky?
The moon looks like
the sun
In some measure
4 rays (instead of many)
pronounced and crisp
but not blindingly bright
 
• Dreaming Fidel by Heather Birrell, Proper Tales Press 2018.
“There are insects that look like sticks in this world, and birds that can blend into flowers. Do you ever want to do the same, or does it bother you a little that they do not have the courage to make themselves known?”
 
• Journeywoman by Carolyne Van Der Meer, Inanna Publications.
We were removed
those summers
from our lives on Boundary Road
the little bungalow on the same street
 
• Roll With It by Heather Wood, Tightrope Books. “Gregor was totally pumped that NASA just announced they discovered water on the moon. Apparently they did this by crashing a satellite on purpose. Because of this discovery, and as it was also a Friday night, he asked me out for a special date at a classier than usual pizzeria.”
 
• Terra Incognita by Adebe DeRango-Adem, Inanna Publications.
Remember the cries that came
from small workshop rooms
 
when you marched onto everyone’s notebooks,
left the door deliberately ajar;
spoke in bleeding headlines,
need to get the story straight
 
• Land Mammals and Sea Creatures by Jen Neale, ECW. “The macaroni trudged down Marty’s throat. The world outside was dark, and he wondered what was outside the front door. The apocalypse could be long over. This dinner could have started ten years ago. Maybe he was stuck to the couch and didn’t realize it because he never tried to move.”
 
• Two O’Clock Creek by Bruce Hunter, Oolichan Books.
Blame it on this odd day
April in January
your parents’ empty house
an appropriate choice of music
you and your tangled hair
But the wind shook loose our clothes
sent us spinning like twin spells
tremulous through the house
 
• Beached Whales by Stedmond Pardy, World Enterprise Books
A quadruple rainbow, stretchedddddd across, A
Carnivorus,
Sky,
Our Black sheep, was about to get wrapped, Wrapped
In,
The Golden, FLEECE,
 
• From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle, Simon & Schuster. “A million years of silence followed. Stars flickered and extinguished one by one, civilizations rose and fell, great pyramids were built and crumbled, yet she kept looking at me. And the wall, a thousand miles high, that I kept between me and the rest of the world didn’t exist—not a brick anywhere in sight.” (Home you'll check out my review of this stellar book in the Library 2019!)
 
• I know you are but what am I? by Heather Birrell, Coach House Books. “The museum was colossal and quiet, like something God had built then abandoned. Not that quiet, with the people. Tourists chasing down culture. Lisa was one of them, and it smarted a little.”
 
• In the Days of the Cotton Wind and the Sparrow by Rafi Aaron, Exile Editions.
“And it was the time of disenchanted boulders
pounding on the plains and a time of courageous
endeavours when green plants stood against a
southern wind, and the feathers of the peacock
searched for colour.
 
• Drugs by Stedmond Pardy, World Enterprise Books.
Knowing
That “the elements in modern society
Destructive of the best qualities
Of human nature”
Have been laid out mercilessly
For our insatiable eyes
Countless times, you stand!!
 
• the innocents by Michael Crummey, Doubleday Canada and McClelland & Stewart.
“It was a foolish undertaking but she knew there was no bringing him to his senses. “I’m coming with you,” she said.
“Sister,” he said. Though he knew she would insist and didn’t waste any more of his breath trying to talk her into staying back.
 
• The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson,
“Your mother is a tireless turds polisher,” was my father’s official position on the matter.
That night the brothers got drunk, picked a fight, and scrapped outside the bar.
 
• To the River by Don Gillmor, Random House Canada. “We can’t protect them forever, of course. But parenthood is made up of thousands of these moments—something visceral in the dark when you are pressed against your child with your secret thoughts.”
 
• The Sweetheart Scamster by Rosemary McCracken in The Best Laid Plans, Superior Shores Press.
“And that made me sit up straight in my chair. As a financial advisor, I’m well aware there are complexities to grey romance that are seldom present in youthful relationships.”
 
 
    



"And if a writer has genuine star quality, a sharper, deeper radiance than most, then he or she ought to be identified and celebrated without delay. 
Time may be of the essence. Margaret Macpherson, a relatively unknown Maritime-born Albertan, is such a writer, and Body Trade, her seventh book and second novel, is the proof. She writes with the psychological insight of Carol Shields, the gravitas of Margaret Atwood, the poetic reflexes of Earl Birney and the earthy eroticism of Leonard Cohen, but her voice remains uniquely her own."  
Lesley Hughes, Winnipeg Free Press