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Bon Appetit: Food in CanLit

We all have our favourite food scenes from books and movies. Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega bonding over a $5 milkshake in Pulp Fiction. The poor lobsters in Annie Hall. Lady and the Tramp’s romantic spaghetti and meatball dinner. Butter beer and Cornish pasties in Harry Potter. Loretta telling Ronny how he’ll eat his steak in Moonstruck. Every single meal in Louise Penny's mysteries. Key lime pie and potatoes in Nora Ephron's Heartburn. The list is endless and adding to it is completely addictive. You could lose yourself for hours just by clicking on this link.
 
The best food writing defines characters and crystallizes their challenges and desires, allowing readers and viewers into a fictional world that is both familiar and surprising. When we “read food,” we automatically put ourselves into the scene and imagine how we would feel. Loved. Hated. Shocked. Enraptured. Pretty much any emotion can be summoned through food—and immediately, in very few words—if the writing is brilliant enough.

Food plays a key role in Trevor Cole’s Hope Makes Love. In the novel, the female protagonist, Hope, has suffered a terrible trauma. She is functional, but just, and fearful of intimacy. She meets a man named Adnan, and he is gentle. So as not to give too much away, here’s an excerpt from the book. The context: an email from Hope to Adnan, recalling a night they spent together.

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We made—or you made and insisted it was “we"—tarts with roasted cherry tomatoes and onions and …

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On Our Radar

"On Our Radar" is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet and elsewhere. 

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Book Cover White Elephant

White Elephant, by Catherine Cooper

Reviewed by Sarah Murdoch in The Toronto Star

Dr. Richard Berringer has long dreamed of bringing his medical skills to the poor of Africa. So now he, his sick and unhappy wife, Ann, and their difficult 13-year-old son, Tor, have pulled up stakes in Nova Scotia and settled in Sierra Leone, on the cusp of civil war... This self-assured debut novel, with its difficult characters operating at cross-purposes, can be hard to read. Yet it is so deftly executed that it’s impossible to turn away.

Read the review here

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Book Cover Tell

Tell, by Soraya Peerbaye

Winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry and shortlisted for the 2016 Griffin Prize for Poetry:

From the Griffin Judges' citation: The true miracle of Tell is not merely its choice to sing of such things, but its ability to sing in such a way as to urge the rea …

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Great Characters in CanLit

Chances are, when you think about a book you loved, it's not the sublime descriptions of architecture that come to mind. More likely, it's the characters—fictional, but in terms of impact, not. Characters happen to us, we care about them, love them, cringe at their foibles, laugh at their antics, and cry at their defeats. We want things for them, and we often flip pages faster and faster as our investment in them deepens.

Today some avid readers—Steph VanderMeulen, Léonicka Valcius, Dee Hopkins, Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen, Vicki Ziegler, and me (Kiley Turner)—talk about the CanLit characters that have most affected us and stayed with us. We all wanted to name at least twenty more, and on Twitter over the next week we'll be asking you to name some of your favourites (please use #bestcharacters). We'll then create a nice big list, with your picks included.

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Steph VanderMuelen picks Patrick deWitt's barman and Trevor Cole's Jean Horemarsh

"Patrick deWitt’s Ablutions is chock-full of well-imagined, strange, and funny people, but the whiskey-loving barm …

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Project Bookmark Canada's Carol Shields Celebration and Contest

carolshieldsprizepack

Miranda Hill, author of the acclaimed short story collection Sleeping Funny and the founder of Project Bookmark Canada, announces the newest Bookmark going up this Thursday in Winnipeg, and offers you a chance to win a thrilling prize pack of Carol Shields titles.

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At Project Bookmark Canada, we’re turning the library inside out, bringing text from stories and poems to the exact physical locations where literary scenes take place. With the help of readers across the country, we’re building a national network of sites and stories so that we can all read our way across Canada.

the republic of love

On October 24, it’s lucky Bookmark 13: The Republic of Love by Carol Shields, in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village. Carol Shields’ work has introduced many readers across the country and around the world to Winnipeg, so it seems fitting that this Bookmark is introducing Project Bookmark Canada to the city. And does the city ever shine in The Republic of Love, a story about the people and places that steal our hearts. Winnipeg is so much a part of the novel that it’s almost …

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