Don't forget to check out Writer for a Year!
Three New Sizzling Summer Features!

I've got three fab treats for you but first, a shameless start to The Minerva Reader
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!

UNDERCARD by David Albertyn, Spiderline / House of Anansi Press Inc.
ABOUT THE BOOK: When Tyron Shaw returns to his hometown of Las Vegas after eleven years in the Marines, he’s surprised to discover that two of his best friends from childhood are all anyone is talking about: Antoine Deco, three years out of prison, hasn’t lost a boxing match since his release, and tonight is fighting in the undercard to the fight of the decade; and Keenan Quinn, a police officer who killed an unarmed teenager and escaped punishment from the courts, is the subject of a protest tomorrow morning.

Tyron has trouble reconciling either story with his memory of these men, and the situation escalates when he runs into the love of his life, Naomi Wilks, a retired WNBA player, basketball coach, and estranged wife of Keenan. As Tyron reconnects with his old community, he will learn over the next twenty-four hours that much has changed since he left Las Vegas . . . and there is much more that he never understood.

The Reef, an aquarium-themed casino and the hottest resort on the Strip, is the backdrop for this bullet-paced narrative, where loyalty to one’s friends, one’s family, and one’s community are ever at odds, and every choice has deadly repercussions.

MY REVIEW: A visceral no-holds-barred novel that’s as tight and strong as the bodies that populate it. The book grabs you from the get-go, it’s a compelling, character-driven tough-guy revenge story about life’s disappointments and the self-acceptance of being a bench starter. There are lots of sporting analogies for the failed relationships and scars of the wars of adult life, both figuratively and literally. It’s a gritty and powerful read and the characters will leave you hoping there’s a sequel in the works. This is a true Vegas tale of winner takes all - but do they really?


IRVING LAYTON: OUR YEARS TOGETHER, Harriet Bernstein, Inanna Publications.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Much has been written by others about the relationship Irving Layton and Harriet Bernstein shared, and most of it is inaccurate. This book tells the true story, and in so doing provides a look into the CanLit scene between 1974-1981. Students and admirers of Layton’s work will discover the genesis of many poems; other readers will find a unique and powerful love story, one that also probes issues of feminism, creativity, and self-creation.

MY REVIEW: Gianna Patriarca, author of Italian Women and Other Tragedies and All My Fallen Angelas, was right, “ This is a love affair that refuses to end long after the flames are spent. Even if Irving Layton were not the fascinating literary character that he is and, by virtue of that fact alone, intriguing, this novel would hold you in its thrall. It’s a tour de force of passionate sensual love and a riveting read that demonstrates all the complexities of a perfectly imperfect, doomed love. A love affair so wonderful at times that as a reader you ask yourself how it could all have gone wrong. But not all great loves are intended to last forever, they burn so brightly that their light reflects long after they are gone, a spent star still sending shimmering and mesmerizing light.


SIDEWAYS ROOTS by Gili Haimovich, Kimchi Press.

Gili Haimovich’s poetry captures an astonishing integration of place and emotion, with the same poem speaking to a breadth of moments and feelings. Which is why one can reread her poems so often over the years. It’s extraordinay, her way of capturing and startling the reader with observations and insights into a day, summing up the poignancy and the sufferings we endure – a wondrous ablity to surprise and delight with these perfect observations of something you thought or would have thought if you had been able to formualte that thought but for you, it was more a vague feeling but then you read the poem and there it is, only it comes with a conclusion that leaves you slightly sucker-punched but in the best possible way, as if showing you a sharp-edged truth that you were not entirely surprised to find was there.

Here are a few lines from Nice to Meet You in the Suburbs:

It’s nice to meet you
in the suburbs
in a softened miniature version
of our prosaic lives.
It’s nice to see you
embraced in a brown pied sweater,
to see
the suburban cozy yarns
hugging your desperate yearns.
you seem so self-contained that way.
It’s nice meeting you in the suburbs
like two losers
that didn’t even make it to the city to get drunk.
It’s nice to meet you in the suburbs
almost boring enough
so I won’t
so so so much
look forward
to the next time.


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
Our Black sheep, was about to get wrapped, Wrapped
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.
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