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The Recommend for July 2019

Research shows that most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Arthur Slade (Amber Fang), Heather Smith (The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden), Jules Torti (Free to a Good Home: With Room for Improvement), Marie-Renée Lavoie (Autopsy of a Boring Wife), and Jennifer Robson (The Gown).

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Arthur Slade recommends The Absence of Sparrows, by Kurt Kirchmeier

There is something both stark and beautiful about The Absence of Sparrows by Kurt Kirchmeier. It is stark because the storyline doesn’t pull any punches, but beautiful in its depiction of the relationship between two brothers and the rest of the family in a time of extreme danger and hardship. The main idea of the story is that storm clouds have appeared on earth and they create glass storms—storms that turn individuals to glass. This “unbelievable” idea is presented with Hitchcockian clockwork precision. There is never a moment where you don’t believe the fabulist nature of the story. The novel depicts with clarity how a …

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Shelf Talkers: Canada Day 2016 Edition

I think it’s easy, for many of us, to take the July 1 holiday for granted. I mean, what better way to kick off the heights of summer than with a stat, right? Especially when that stat is on a Friday, so you’ve got a three-day weekend. Time you can spend grilling and sipping and hiking and gardening and swimming and generally playing in the sun (though, if you’re me, the long weekend seems, traditionally, to be one of cleaning and organizing and general housework, I’m not sure why).

Too often, though, the significance of July 1 is lost, or overlooked. It’s not just any holiday, it’s Canada Day, a chance to celebrate what it means to be Canadian.

This is not as easy as it appears. As Canadians, we tend not to go in for jingoism or fervent national pride. We’re well aware of our problem areas, our shadows. Sure, there are fireworks (literally, in some places), but we tend to be thoughtful about what Canada means, what Canada is.

The other thing we tend to do is celebrate year-round, in our own low-key way. Look at the arts. We’re talking about a nation unified in its support of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie following the announcement of his cancer. And we’re a nation that regularly has writers appearing on the shortlists for international prizes.

But even that is somewhat ridiculous—we don’t need international recognition for our writers; we know Canada’s literature belongs on the world stage. It’s a given. More importantly, and crucially, we’re a nat …

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The Interruption: Arthur Slade Reads from The Hunchback Assignments

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Welcome to The Interruption, a 49th Shelf–Books on the Radio collaboration in which Sean Cranbury interviews Canadian writers about the surprising things that inform, inspire, and even interrupt their creative process.

The Interruption is generously sponsored by The UBC Creative Writing Program, celebrating 50 years of excellence in creative writing. Programs include undergraduate minor and major degrees, Masters of Fine Arts in Vancouver or by distance education from anywhere in the world! For more information visit creativewriting.ubc.ca.

Today, Sean chats with Arthur Slade, author of The Hunchback Assignments series, whose first volume won the prestigious TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, and whose second volume, The Dark Deeps, was a finalist for the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award and the CLA Young Adult Book Award. Slade is also the author of Dust, a national bestseller and the winner of the 2001 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award and the Saskatchewan …

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