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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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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews Trevor Cole

TREVOR CORKUM cropped

This week on The Chat, I’m thrilled to speak to author Trevor Cole, whose complex and heart-tugging novel Hope Makes Love explores issues of love, trauma, and the lengths we will go to make amends for our past.

Hope Makes Love tells the story of Zep Baker, a former major league baseball player who believes all he needs to put his life back on track is to revive his marriage by convincing his wife to return to Tampa with their daughter. In order to do so, he enlists the expertise of Hope, a neuroscience researcher. Hope, meanwhile, is struggling with a traumatic past and relationship issues of her own. The novel follows both characters as they travel into new and uncertain emotional terrain.

Trevor_Cole - Author Photo

Trevor Cole has won international acclaim for his fiction and journalism. His first two novels—Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life and The Fearsome Particles—were each shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and longlisted for the Dublin International IMPAC Literary Award. His third novel, Practical Jean, published in Canada, the US and …

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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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In Conversation With: Trevor Cole (Practical Jean, @McClellandBooks)

Trevor Cole

Trevor Cole is the author of three novels. The most recent is Practical Jean, which was short-listed for the Rogers Writer's Trust Fiction Prize and recently won the 2011 Leacock Medal for Humour. (Read an excerpt on our shelf.)

Cole is also the creator of AuthorsAloud.com, a website dedicated to presenting short audio readings by Canadian poets and authors of literary fiction. With over 100 published writers represented on the site, those who know my penchant for podcasting will appreciate how happy I was to have the chance to chat with Trevor about performance, collecting voices and, as it happens, Pop Rocks.

Julie Wilson: AuthorsAloud gathers recordings from Canadian fiction writers and poets. The purpose is both to offer a space to writers in which to perform their work and to introduce readers to authors outside of a retail environment. It's an aural treat. As someone who's been recording poets for a number of years and has just started soliciting submissions for "Writers Reading Recipes"—enjoy Trevor's rendition of "Cranberry-Orange Relish" by John Engels—I feel you and I are intimately aligned in our appreciation for performance. To create an online presence dedicated to curating and building a library is a dedicated feat. There must have been a moment i …

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