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The Recommend: September 2017

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 writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This month we're pleased to present the picks of Greg Rhyno (To Me You Seem Giant), Pamela Mordecai (Red Jacket), Alix Hawley (All True Not a Lie In It), and Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer (All the Broken Things).


Greg Rhyno recommends Andrew Hood's The Cloaca

Andrew Hood has written a pile of great stuff including book reviews, essays, and a biography on Guelph lo-fi legend Jim Guthrie. But for my money, Hood’s primary talent lies within his ability to birth a killer short story.  His second collection of these slimy diamonds is The Cloaca, appropriately named after the orifice where everything bad comes out of a bird. The stories in this book are messy, cathartic, and hilarious.   

The narrator in “Manning” spars with a deformed man-child over a rookie baseball card. In “Beginners,” a woman’s martial arts dreams are dashed when her sensei keeps looking down her karategi. The smell of a used diaper in “I’m Sorry and Thank You” reminds the main character of things he …

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Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's Red Letter Day


Red Letter Day is the 49th Shelf series where Canadian authors tell me about a dream day where all pleasures are possible, thanks to a combination of extraordinary talent and mad cash.

Today that day is envisioned by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of the Globe and Mail bestselling novel All the Broken Things.

Here is the premise: It’s been a good year. Things are looking up. You’ve sold your book, some lucrative foreign rights, and won a few prizes. AND it’s your birthday. It’s time to treat yourself. For once, money is no object. It’s time to go live a little.

And so ...


GM: You walk (or fly!) to your favourite bookstore (KK: Type in Toronto) and browse the shelves for three books you’ve been meaning to buy. What are they?


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Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer: Survival in High Park

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's new book is All the Broken Things. Here, she writes about the space between survival as metaphor and fact, and ponders the origin of myth. 


Book Cover All the Broken Things

'Soldier Man found him in the bush, and disappeared, and found him again. Now he stood near the shelter Bo was building on an east-facing slope under the canopy of a young forest in the northeast corner of the park. Bo used deadfall and pine boughs he’d cut from trees farther south, decorated the lean-to with bits of cloth people had left or lost in the park.

“Make it with confidence, boy, and no one will see it. You try to hide, they’ll find you, I swear.” Soldier Man crouched down, trying to coax Bear with a treat.'

from All The Broken Things

In my new novel, when the character named Bo hides with his bear cub in Toronto's High Park, he is structuring this decision around a mythic story line. The reader would do well to think that Bo is confused and has gone, like so many characters before him, including Iron John and Orpheus and Little Red Riding Hood and Gilgamesh, to an otherworld or forest-place, a space of wildness, on the margins, where society cannot understand him, and where he can be tested and find courage and humanity. That is how the author might want such a fictional geography t …

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