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8 Books that Explore Memory and Place

Fawn Parker—whose latest novel Dumb-Show has been described by Adnan Khan as “vivid and vicious”—recommends eight books of fiction, memoir, and poetry exploring themes of memory and physical place.

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Householders, by Kate Cayley

The stories in Householders are haunting and enigmatic, with a clarity of emotion that cuts through the dreamlike atmosphere Cayley has crafted. With the first sentence of the opening story, “A Crooked Man,” we are introduced to the feeling of isolation that runs throughout the book: “Martha regarded herself skeptically and assumed skepticism from the other mothers at the table.” In “A Beautiful Bare Room” a strange infectious rash spreads among Palo Alto. A woman in a bunker considers whether she is “there to be amusing to languid virtual people, if the distinction between virtual and actual was meaningful anymore.” With incredible attention to the nuance of interpersonal relationships—whether familial, romantic, situational, dysfunctional—each story in Householders is a window into an eerie but …

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11 Essay Collections to Revisit Now

Susan Olding's latest book is the essay collection Big Reader.

If the pandemic has left you feeling too distracted and foggy to concentrate for long, buy or borrow a book of essays.

Short enough to finish in a sitting, inventive enough to spark your weary brain, intimate enough to dispel some Covid loneliness, an essay is the next best thing to an hour with a smart friend.

The bestselling novel of a decade ago will sometimes seem stale or irrelevant today, but that’s rarely true of an essay. Like your smart friend, the essay has staying power.

Here, then, are eleven stellar essay collections published in Canada over the past decade or so. Most are small press books you might have missed on their first release. Revisit them now—for their continuing relevance, for the comfort or provocation they’ll offer, for the laughter they’ll kindle, for the futures they’ll help us imagine as we slog our way through this third and —let’s hope—final wave of the pandemic. 

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Book Cover Reverberations

Reverberations, by Marion Agnew

Anyone who has lost a parent to a lingering illness …

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Courage from the Outliers

Michelle Butler Hallett's latest novel is Constant Nobody, and we've got three copies up for giveaway right now.

Don't miss your chance to win!

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I’m often plagued by self-doubt when writing, when trying to serve a story and give it what it needs, however strange, upsetting, or just plain weird that might be. Sometimes I borrow courage from aesthetic and thematic outliers.

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A Stone Diary, by Pat Lowther

A Stone Diary is such a strong collection, one that takes many risks with subject, themes, and form with confidence and control. Lowther’s often slant perspective is compelling, almost hypnotic—in “Craneflies in Their Season,” for example, and “It Happens Every Day.” Many of the poems examine violence, intimate and state-induced, from “I.D.” to “Chacabuco, The Pit.” Violence is still something of a taboo subject for women writers now, let alone in in the 1970s. I admire how Lowther portrays violence: harrowing, yet never gratuitous, allowing space to acknowledge, consider, and recognize the full truths of being human.

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