An interview with Melanie Dobson

The author of The Curator’s Daughter talks about her new book and what inspired the storyline and characters, how she connected her two main characters, what makes the book unique compared to other books in the WWII genre, some of the surprising things she found in her research, her favourite and most difficult characters, her new work-in-progress, and lots more.

A review of Here Lies a Father by McKenzie Cassidy

Secrets and lies permeate this entire story. “Mom had probably known most of his secrets just being married to him for so long, and he had slowly been filling Catherine’s ears with tidbits, I knew close to nothing.” The author of Here Lies a Father, McKenzie Cassidy, might very well been talking about the process of constructing his first novel when he reveals Ian’s state of mind as well as the main thematic elements concerning all of the lies he has heard his whole life. “The truth didn’t matter as much as the way a story made you feel…”

A review of My Stunt Double by Travis Denton

Mourning vies with exultation at every crisp turn of phrase and every crunchy, unexpected line break. Some of that mourning is for the earth, for its creatures, for human folly and ignorance, for the apprehended apocalyptic end of days. Mourning is sometimes captured in references to popular music hits — Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash always blaring out of cars of boys, and fathers who don’t know what to do with, without or about the boys — and sometimes in the symphony of stars, skies, space and otherworldliness. 

An interview with Anahid Nersessian

The author of Keats’s Odes: A Lover’s Discourse talks about her latest book, the way in which her lived experience complicates her understanding of this canonical poet and the way in which she’s had a personal conversation with him about poetry and pain, activism and revolution, love and the sublime, on poetry and social movements, what’s exciting her in contemporary poetics, and lots more.

A review of HellWard: The English Cantos Volume One by James Sale

In HellWard we find powerful, often disturbing language, simultaneously raw and refined, beautiful and at times jolting in its honesty. What struck me particularly throughout the book is the way Sale uses mono-syllabic words to powerful effect: death, hell, pain, depth, weak, guts, ache, dark, gunk, blight, flesh, tears, stench, dread, blood, hiss, oozed,“clots of gore” (a wonderful image), cries, groans, filth, swill, “smelt the blood” (another wonderful image), skull, skin, bone, ice, heat, hot, bare, raw, mess, froth, “dark webs,” “hard  knots”, guilt, “black holes,” blotch, stank, bleak, slop, “greed and pride and lust,” and “sick slime.”

A review of Tears of Amber by Sofia Segovia

Sofia Segovia uses interior monologue, an excellent technique for showing readers what goes on in characters’ hearts and minds. Sometimes, though, the time shifts in a character’s thoughts make the story hard to follow. In some sections it takes careful reading to distinguish between the recent past and the less recent past. Segovia could have put the wartime parts of the story in the present and the older characters’ memories in the past, but perhaps use of the present would have spoiled the story’s “once upon a time” quality. 

A review of How to be Australian by Ashley Kalagian Blunt

Of course every migrant’s experience is different, but Ashley’s story is one that’s both poignant and often hysterically funny.  Like a Canadian Bill Bryson, she shines a light on the distinctive Aussie culture that locals take for granted, but also renders those quirks hilarious and also painful in a way that only comes with a kind of deep-seated observation edged with love.

A review of Vegan Junk Food by Zacchary Bird

The name of the book is, of course, a misnomer. There’s nothing junky about these recipes, which use high quality fresh ingredients, often made from scratch and generally, with only a few (worth it) exceptions, pretty healthy. However, Vegan Junk Food is not a book that tries to extol the health virtues of eating a vegan diet.  Veganism is better for the planet and less cruel to animals, and that’s reason enough to eat vegan more often.