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The Recommend: April 2016

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 authors Andrew Forbes (The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays), Peter Behrens (Carry Me) and Kristi Charish (Owl and the Japanese Circus and soon, The Voodoo Killings); librarian Jamie-Marie Thomas; and me (Kiley Turner).

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Andrew Forbes recommends A Token of My Affliction, by Janette Platana

I want to say that Janette Platana's excellent story collection A Token of My Affliction is a funhouse mirror on domestic life, but that's not quite right. It's not a cracked mirror, either. I'm flipping through all the mirror metaphors here, and none fit. What it is is a magnifying glass that you hold up to an assortment of lives that look a lot like your own, and through that magnifying glass you see all the fascinating and horrible microscopic entities crawling over the surface and within the minuscule cracks of those lives.

“Invisible Friends” begins with a sequence which deploys the language of crime reportage to describe in unsettling fashio …

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Shelf Talkers: March 2016

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious

ee cummings knows what he’s talking about. While parts of the country are still struggling with the last lingering vestiges of winter, spring is upon us, with new buds, new mud, new puddles, new books...

You knew where that was going, right?

One of the great things about Canada’s independent booksellers is their depth of knowledge, internal databases spanning decades, incorporating hundreds of titles and authors, thousands of characters. It’s the work of a lifetime. And it’s ongoing work. Good booksellers are not only steeped in, and knowledgeable of, the past, they’re also wired in to the present, devouring new books and Advance Reading Copies to keep abreast not only with what’s new, but with what’s to come.

For the March installment of the Shelf Talkers column, we’ve asked our assembled booksellers to weigh in on new favourites, perfect—when the weather cooperates—for reading al fresco.

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The Bookseller: Lee Trentadue, Galiano Island Books (Galiano Island, BC)

The Pick: Carry Me, by Peter Behrens

Europe between the first and second world wars. Historical fiction at its best. Behren captures a Europe fraught with danger, anxiety, and loss. If you want to get lost in a book, pick up this one …

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Places and Novels: Guest Post by Peter Behrens

Peter Behrens

I need to seed a book in a place. In my mind I plant the idea of the book in one very specific patch of ground and hope it will grow from there. Until I know where that patch of ground is, I'm lost and the story, the book, that I'm trying to write does not come into focus. I can’t grasp it. I have no traction on a story until I have a place.

In my novel The Law of Dreams, which is a story of the Irish Famine, I had to wrestle with the book for quite a while before I came across the place where it could be seeded. That was--guess where?--in Ireland, on a damp mountainside, in Co. Clare. A man who knew every inch of that ground as a naturalist, as a historian, and as an Irishman, was my guide that day. I’d been in Ireland many times before. I knew the country pretty well, and I wasn’t naïve about it. Ireland has always interested me as a real place, not a mystic wonderland. I feel connected there because I often see people who look like they could be my relatives; on the other hand being in Ireland always makes me very aware of being very Canadian, not Irish. So. We were tramping up and down that beautiful, quite barren piece of Connacht on a damp morning in November. I was fighting a flu which had nailed me the day after arriving in Dublin, from Los Angeles. …

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