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Bodies in Trouble

"Diane Carley is a lean, strong writer—every word matters. She's the love child of Raymond Carver and Alice Munro. Sharp, sensitive, excellent stories full of emotion, like putting your hand over a racing heart. This writing is as vivid as it gets." —Lisa Moore, author of This is How We Love

*****

We, Jane, by Aimee Wall

We, Jane beautifully conveys the nuances of a complicated friendship between two women and the ways in which a whisper network helps provide much-needed women’s health support in rural Newfoundland. The novel captures the complications of loving a flawed and stunning place with its flawed and complicated people, and how it can be a long and circuitous route to finding your way home.

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Butter Honey Pig Bread, by Francesca Ekwuyasi

A story that beautifully captures the essentials of life—food, love, desire, family, frien …

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The Chat with Casey Plett

Casey Plett photo credit Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

Of the collection, the Globe and Mail says, “Plett has a characteristic style that manages to merge tenderness with Prairie toughness—a style on display in these stories of trans women seeking something—groundedness, maybe, but that dreamlike quality of desire, too.” 

Casey Plett is the author of A Dream of a Woman, Little Fish, A Safe Girl to Love, and the co-editor of Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy From Transgender Writers. She has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, the Winnipeg Free Press, and other publications. A winner of the Amazon First Novel Award, the Firecracker Award for Fiction, and a two-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award, her work has also been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She splits her time between New York City and Windsor, Ontario.

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Trevor Corkum: The stories in the collection span a wide geographic range—Portland, New York, Winnipeg, Windsor, southern Manitoba. Can you share a bit about how geography and movement has in …

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The Chat with Hasan Namir

Hasan Namir_Author Photo_Credit Tarn Khare

Praising the work, Griffin Poetry Prize winner Kaie Kellough says, “Umbilical Cord’s poems have a lucent quality and a supple rhythm that carries their tenderness to a reader. In an instant, the poems can become as raw, as immediate as touch. This work begins in heat and heartbeat, as a relationship and a family come into being, and it reflects the intimacies, anxieties, and devotions of love.  At once personally revealing and focused outward on the challenges that queer families face, in Umbilical Cord love triumphs over intolerance, and the future, named “Malek,” is nurtured by two devoted fathers.” 

Hasan Namir is an Iraqi-Canadian author. He graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in English and received the Ying Chen Creative Writing Student Award. He is the author of God in Pink (2015), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His work has also been in media across Canada. He is also the author of the poetry book War/Torn (2019, Book*hug Press) which received the 2020 Barbara Gittings Honor Book Award from the Stonewall Book Awards, and children’s book The Name I Call Myself (2020). Hasan lives in Vancouver with his husband and child.

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Trevor Corkum …

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Jordan Tannahill

*Don't miss your chance to win one of three copies of The Listeners on our giveaways page*

The 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury says,

"The Listeners is at once a revery for the sublime, for the innocuous tapestry of sounds that make up the rhythms of our lives—and the pollution of sounds that can tear and devour. It is at once a masterful interrogation of the body, as well as the desperate violence that undergirds our lives in the era of social media, conspiracies, isolation, and environmental degradation. Tannahill writes as both poet and playwright, millennial and philosopher, as one who trains his reader to attune to the frequency of ‘the Hum’ to experience a rich hinterland beyond our embodied senses, beyond our perceptions of grace or faith. I leave listening, even to the silences, which are always screaming, and posit myself in my cochlea, forever now a conch, flaring and reeling, primordially."

JORDAN TANNAHILL is an internationally acclaimed playwright who was born in Ottawa and is currently based in London (UK). Two of his plays have won a Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. He has written one previous novel, Liminal, which was published to much acclaim and named one of the best Canadian novels of 2018 by CBC Books. CBC Arts named him as …

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Bring Out My Balls and Dare to Be Different

The Crochet Crowd is up for grabs on our giveaways page right now.

Don't miss your chance to win!

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First Steps

When I was a teenager, walking into a yarn store for the first time made me feel out of place and awkward about asking for yarn for myself.

“Are you buying this yarn for your mom?” the cashier would inevitably ask. My heart would sink, and I’d say, “No, it’s for me.” Stereotypes have a way of choking off your internal joy.

As a teenager, I felt like I was buying stuff that I wasn’t supposed to be buying. Some kids were trying to sneak peeks at Playboy (or Playgirl – duh). But here I was, feeling furtive because I wanted to make something pretty.

Throughout my teenage years and up until The Crochet Crowd began, I wouldn’t reveal to many people that I knew how to crochet.

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“Are you buying this yarn for your mom?” the cashier would inevitably ask.

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I kept at it though. I just did what I had to and still enjoyed crochet, even though it was my own little secret. Crochet helped quiet my mind by making me concentrate on one stitch at a time.

Crisis of Confidence

I grew up in a home where creativity was encouraged and daydreams were gateways to ideas.

Living for a short time in a small town, Ontario, arts and crafts were a way to fill time in the e …

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On Our Radar: Style, Represention, and In Praise of Retreat

On Our Radar features 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.

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Heaven No Hell, by Michael DeForge 

Reviewed in Comics Bookcase by Zack Quaintance

"I don’t keep a ranking or anything, but Heaven No Hell by Michael DeForge may be the comic or graphic novel that has made me laugh aloud the most this year. And that’s not an easy thing to do, especially not when also operating with Heaven No Hell’s high level of wit, poignancy, and depiction of how it feels to just live right now on this planet as a human today.

This isn’t a book trafficking in cheap fourth-wall breaks of instantly-dated pop culture references. No, this is a smart and moving work. It’s all in here—an excess of heart and thoughtfulness—between a rare sense of humor that made me laugh as much (if not more) than any work I’ve encountered of late in comics or any other medium."

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[Michael DeForge] is a comic creator who is lighting the way for a new generation.

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Ontario Pi …

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The Chat with Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo

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This week we’re in conversation with political trailblazer Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, whose memoir, The Queer Evangelist, (Wilfrid Laurier University Press) was published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press this spring.

Quill & Quire says, “At a time when many people identify as spiritual but struggle to translate belief to the real world, DiNovo’s experiences and insights provide us with a divinely inspired practical purpose.”

Cheri DiNovo grew up in Toronto in a rooming house owned by her parents and spent time on the streets as a teenager, leading her to social activism. Formerly a member of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, she is host of The Radical Reverend Show, and Minister at Trinity St. Paul's Centre for Faith Justice and the Arts. Her book Qu(e)erying Evangelism: Growing a Community from the Outside In won the Lambda award in 2005. She has won numerous awards for her activism and is a Member of the Order of Canada.

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Trevor Corkum: The Queer Evangelist tells the story of your rise as a young activist to your storied career in politics, w …

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On Telling the Truth in Politics

The Queer Evangelist is Cheri DiNovo's story of her life as a queer minister, politician and staunch activist for LGBTQ rights. She shares how she went from living on the streets as a teenager to performing the first legalized same-sex marriage registered in Canada in 2001. From rights for queer parents to banning conversion therapy, her story will inspire people (queer or ally) to not only resist the system—but change it.

The following excerpt takes place during her time as an MPP for Parkdale-High Park in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, where she served from 2006 to 2017.

*****

There’s an old saying, “If you’re going to dine with the Devil, you’d better have a very long spoon.” The maneuvering included timing the introduction of bills, getting the press involved if an important human rights bill wasn’t going to be put forward, and as always bringing activist pressure to bear on the process. It all took a lot of work and my terrific team to carry it off. In that regard, politics, like most careers, involves, well, politics. Once you lose your idealism about partisanship, you can actually accomplish an amazing amount on behalf of the marginalized. As a socialist, I should have had no illusions about capitalist governments, and I only really harbo …

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The Keepers on My Bookshelf

LS Stone's debut novel is the middle grade novel What's in It for Me?, which is up for giveaway on our site this week.

*****

I have several  favourite Canadian middle-grade/YA novels that have inspired my own writing—these four are superbly written novels with interesting/likeable characters and believable dialogue, and contain a common thread of humour:

We Are All Made of Molecules, and No Fixed Address, by Susin Nielsen

Getting the Girl, by Susan Juby

Saying Goodbye to London, by Julie Burtinshaw

No one writes humour for kids/teens quite like Susan Juby and Susin Nielsen, while at the same time tackling tough topics like bullying in high school (Getting the Girl), homelessness (No Fixed Address), a parent coming out and the relatable tribulations of blended families (We Are All Made of Molecules).

Book Cover Saying Good-bye to London

Along with Juby and Nielsen, Julie Burtins …

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The Chat with Christopher DiRaddo

DIRADDO, CHRISTOPHER 1, credit Vincent Fortier

Christopher DiRaddo’s sophomore novel, The Family Way (Esplanade), is a dynamic and rich exploration of queer family, parenthood, and the deep bonds of love that sustain us. He’s our guest this week on The Chat.

Writer Ann-Marie MacDonald calls The Family Way "a love letter to families, chosen and otherwise, and an engagingly bittersweet tale of the city of Montreal."

Christopher DiRaddo is the author of two novels: The Family Way and The Geography of Pluto. He lives in Montreal where he is the founder and host of the Violet Hour LGBTQ+ reading series.

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Trevor Corkum: The Family Way explores many ideas of family: families of birth, chosen families, and new family configurations. Why was it important for you to tackle this subject in your new novel?

Christopher DiRaddo: I wanted to write a book that would have been helpful for me to read as a young gay man. In my early twenties, I had no idea what the rest of my life would look like. I only knew that it would be different from those in my family and my friends from high school. But I still couldn’t picture it.

What would life be like without a traditional family? Would I be lonely? Forgotten? Bored?

In the end, the opposite happened. It may have taken me a while to find them, but my chosen family has made my life …

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The Chat with Eva Crocker

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This week we’re in conversation with author Eva Crocker. Her debut novel, All I Ask, (House of Anansi Press) was published to rave reviews last year and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The Star calls the novel “wickedly funny, sexy joyous ... with heart.”

Eva Crocker (she/her) is a writer and a PhD student at Concordia University where she is researching visual art in Newfoundland and Labrador. Her short story collection, Barrelling Forward, won the Alistair MacLeod Award for Short Fiction and the CAA Emerging Author’s Award.

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Trevor Corkum: From what I understand, All I Ask was partly inspired by an event that happened to you personally. Can you talk more about that, and how the novel progressed from there?

Eva Crocker: I began working on this story in 2017 after a group of about ten police officers, all heavily armed men, forced entry into my home in St. John’s early one morning. They told me I was under arrest for transmission of child pornography and began searching the house.
 
I was home alone and terrified, I asked several times to use a phone and was told I wasn’t allowed. I wasn’t given a chance to get dressed and had to go alone to my bedroom with a young man wearing a gun. They wanted to collect all my electronics to comb …

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Small Courage: Parenting Memoirs

Book Cover Small Courage

Jane Byers' book is Small Courage: A Queer Memoir of Finding Love and Conceiving Family, a thoughtful and heart-warming examination of love, queerness and what it means to be a family.

Here, she shares other parenting memoirs that have inspired her.

*****

Home Ice, by Angie Abdou

This memoir by Fernie, BC–based novelist struck a chord with me. Both Angie Abdou and I are parents of sporty kids. Her romp through a year of her 10-year-old son playing minor hockey resonated with me, having played recreational hockey, but I hadn’t navigated the pitfalls of that mythical Canadian hockey-parent culture. I found myself bristling at the same things Abdou bristled at, and, as a former athlete, also being conflicted acknowledging the great things about sports and specifically team sports, but recognizing also the detrimental effects on our youth of a sport’s particular culture.

This memoir follows one hockey season, the divide-and-conquer parenting that often accompanies having a child in hockey, and the toll it takes on a relationship.

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