First Annual Zine Awards

First Annual Zine Awards
Thunder Bay's Shivaun Hoad in the long list for "You Still Need a Coffin." Powerful information in a small format.

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Glass Houses by Louise Penny
#1 on New York Times Fiction List

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Giller Longlist for 2017

Eden Robinson author of Son of a Trickster
Twelve books, twelve authors and twelve publishers and many many readers will await November 20 when the award will be announced. Of the twelve I have read only two, Rachel Cusk's Transit and Eden Robinson's Son of a Trickster. Both are excellent books. I was surprised to find Cusk's name on the list. I had always thought she was a British writer. Cusk tore up the rule book when she wrote Outline, the second in a trilogy. Instead of the traditional form, she introduces a narrator, a shadowy figure called Faye, who simply talks to us telling stories about people she meets. It is an odd but mesmerizing book. Eden Robinson's Son of a Trickster introduces Jared, a mixed up teen in a dysfunctional family and a violent world. But Jared is different. He has visions.  The novel has made the several best seller lists. 
The longlist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize is:
  • David Chariandy for his novel Brother, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • Rachel Cusk for her novel Transit, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • David Demchuk for his novel The Bone Mother, published by ChiZine Publications
  • Joel Thomas Hynes for his novel We’ll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night, published by HarperPerennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • Andrée A. Michaud for her novel Boundary, published by Biblioasis International Translation Series, translated by Donald Winkler
  • Josip Novakovich for his story collection Tumbleweed, published by Esplanade Books/Véhicule Press 
  • Ed O’Loughlin for his novel Minds of Winter, published by House of Anansi Press
  • Zoey Leigh Peterson for her novel Next Year, For Sure, published by Doubleday Canada
  • Michael Redhill for his novel Bellevue Square, published by Doubleday Canada
  • Eden Robinson for her novel Son of a Trickster, published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada
  • Deborah Willis for her story collection The Dark and Other Love Stories, published by Hamish Hamilton Canada
  • Michelle Winters for her novel I Am a Truck, published by Invisible Publishing
The 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize will air on Mon. Nov. 20, on CBC at 8 p.m. (12 AT/12:30 NT), CBC Radio One at 8 p.m. (9 AT/9:30 NT) and will be livestreamed at

The longlist was selected by Canadian writers Anita Rau Badami (Jury Chair), André AlexisLynn Coady, along with British writer Richard Beard and American writer Nathan Englander.
David Chariandy author of Brother

Saturday, September 16, 2017

International Festival of Authors

Terry Fallis at the Old Fort (photo Joan M. Baril)

International Festival of Authors.
    Time 19:00  (7 pm)
    OCTOBER 30, 2017
    COST: $15

1080 Keewatin St
Thunder Bay P7B 6T7
IFOA Thunder Bay welcomes authors Gary Barwin, Terry Fallis, Grace O’Connell and Jean E. Pendziwol. Do not miss the opportunity to hear them read live from their latest work and discuss their sources of inspiration!

Tickets for sale for IFOA at the Art Gallery and at Brodie and Waverley libraries. Also they can be purchased at the door.
Jean E. Pendziwol

Friday, September 15, 2017

Highly recommended.

NOWW READINGS AT BRODIE LIBRARY - Tue. 19 Sep 2017 @7:00 pm

The theme for the evening is "the fall", however you wish to define it.

One of the evening's readers is Edgar J. Lavoie, who lives in Greenstone, Ontario, where he retired after 35 years' teaching.  He describes his home as a big cabin on a big lake in the boreal forest, all of which influence his writing.

Between 1975 and 1984, he founded, edited, and published a little regional magazine, The Squatchberry Journal.  Edgar has published numberless articles and columns in magazines and newspapers, and written several local history books.  In 2011 he published The Beardmore Relics, a mystery novel, and in 2013, Geraldton Back Doors, the second book in the series.  Various writing projects have pushed back the writing of the third novel in the series, The Manitou Firebird.

At lot of his writing is published on his blog, E.J. Lavoie's Blog. 

His reading selections tonight come from volumes subtitled The Chronicles of Goshen.  Each volume is a collection of stories and essays set in a mythical Northwestern Ontario region.

He hopes you "fall" for them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The 2017 Man Booker shortlist


Ali Smith

The Short List is short and very interesting. I read Autumn by Ali Smith in one sitting. It's  a mesmerizing novel in which post Brexit malaise hovers in the background.   I have also read works by both George Saunders and Paul Auster but not those on the list.  Saunders and Auster are both Americans as is Emily Fridlund. Her book, History of Wolves is set in the woods of Northern Minnesota. I have to read it! And soon. The others will fall into my hands sooner or later. Until 2014, The Man Booker prize was open only to writers from the Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe. Since then it is available to any author who writes in English and whose book is published  in the UK. 

4321 by Paul Auster (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (JM Originals, John Murray)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)
Autumn by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

017 NOWW Readings: Dates & Descriptions

We need two more readers for each evening so please respond as soon as possible.

Brodie Library Fireside Room
Tuesday 19th September   7:00pm
Theme: Fall

Fall? Verb or noun or both? Did she fall or was she pushed? Nightfall or waterfalls? Find out how local writers interpret the many ways to fall into Fall. And participate in or enjoy the poetry at our open mic.

Mary Black Library Community Room
Thursday 19th October   7:00pm
Theme: “Ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggetty beasties”

From black cats to white ghosts and everything inbetween, join us for an evening of spooky (or maybe not so spooky) tales from local authors. As always, an open mic for poetry.

Mary Black Library Community Room
Thursday 16th November   7:00pm
Theme: Fireworks! Or Smouldering Coals?

Let three local writers light up your evening with their sizzling works. Bring your poetry for the open mic.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Sad Letter from The Antigonish Review

The following letter has upset me a great deal. The Antigonish Review was arguably one of the top literary magazines in Canada and one of the most long running. Founded in 1970, it published top notch work: stories, poetry, and reviews. 

It published some of my stories and nominated one of them, "The Yegg Boy," for the Journey Prize. 

The change to an e-mag format is a step backward in spite of editor Gerald Trites' optimistic letter. Digital books, whether read on computer or a device, have fallen in popularity in the past two years. Personally I hate the idea of running off a PDF format on my printer and trying to hold the thing together.

 Devices such as Kobo have limits. You cannot take them to the beach or to the bathtub. They just do not cut it for me. Reading on my phone is just fiddley.  My Antogonish Review, in paper form, went into my picnic basket, my fishing box, my swim suit bag, the pocket in the door of my car,  the spot beside my plate, the pile on the bedside table, the garden bench, the deck at camp.

We are making a very significant change at TAR. From now on, the journal will be published in digital form. Each issue will be produced in PDF format and emailed to subscribers. Individual copies will also be available for download from our website. A few months ago, we implemented a policy under which only digital submissions will be accepted through our website.

PDF works well with iBooks and Kindle as well as directly on tablets and computers. We will produce other formats in future as needed.

We hope to establish a print-on-demand service but are still exploring possible printers who have the capability to meet our needs. The concept is that the print-on-demand copies would be priced at a level that would recover the cost of printing and mailing.

This change was made necessary by declining subscriptions and reduced funding being made available to TAR. However, we are excited about it, as it offers the opportunity to innovate with TAR as never before. Also, we will be able to increase the size of our issues, thus giving our subscribers more for their money.

We are continuing the same intense procedures as before in reviewing submissions and believe there is no reason that there should be any decline in quality.

We hope you will join with us in celebrating this new venture into the future, which represents the future for many, if not most, literary journals and which some have already implemented.

The first digital issue will be in October, 2017.

Gerald Trites
Editor, The Antigonish Review

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Tree at My Window: A Book of Days.

Bill Heath will be launching, Tree at My Window: A Book of Days
a memoir of teaching, reading, and more. 
Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 
Mary J.L. Black Library, 7:00 - 9:00 PM. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Reading Nights This Fall. All welcome. No charge.

That Time of Year

Brodie Library Fireside Room
Tuesday 19th September 7:00pm

Fall? Verb or noun or both? Did she fall or was she pushed? Nightfall or waterfalls? Find out how local writers interpret the many ways to fall into Fall. And participate in or enjoy the poetry at our open mic.
OCTOBER THEME: “Ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggetty beasties”

Mary Black Library Community Room Thursday 19th October 7:00pm
From black cats to white ghosts and everything in between, join us for an evening of spooky (or maybe not so spooky) tales from local authors. As always, an open mic for poetry.
NOVEMBER THEME: Fireworks! Or Smouldering Coals?

Mary Black Library Community Room Thursday 16th November 7:00pm
Let three local writers light up your evening with their sizzling works. Bring your poetry for the open mic.

A Warm Day last November

Friday, September 1, 2017

Margie Taylor Reviews The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Margie Taylor, Queen of Reviewers, vowed to read a book a week and write a review.  Here is the review for week twelve. Of The English Patient, she writes: Twenty-one years after seeing the movie, I am finally reading the book!

[U]nder the scarred trees in the half-bombed gardens of the Villa San Girolamo…” Who wouldn’t want to be there?

The place is Tuscany, in a hill town north of Florence…the second European war is drawing to a close. A pilot, burned beyond recognition, lies in an upstairs bedroom in an abandoned villa, tended only by a young woman, a French-Canadian nurse named Hana. She is shell-shocked, reverberating from her experiences caring for the wounded and the dead. And he is more ghost than human…his face is unrecognizable, he has forgotten his name. He is simply, to all intents and purposes, the English patient.

While he lies in bed, bandaged, unmoving, Hana reads to him from the books she finds in the villa’s library – Kim, The Charterhouse of Parma, the Annals of Tacitus…a modern-day Scheherazade telling stories to the Persian king. Although it is not her own death she’s attempting to defer but his.

Yes, yes, you say, I know all this. I saw the movie. A love story, right? Well, yes and no. If I had to summarize The English Patient in a word or two, I might call it an extended love poem. “I have spent weeks in the desert, forgetting to look at the moon, he says, as a married man may spend days never looking into the face of his wife.” This, to me, is poetry.

So there is love. But the love story is multifarious and fragmented. The man in the upstairs bedroom is not English at all but Hungarian: he is Lászlo de Almásy, a Hungarian Count and desert explorer, and he did exist, although his character here is fictional. And his love affair with a young married woman – a liaison that ended tragically in a cave in the Libyan desert – follows the most conventional arc, which is why they made it into a movie.

Hana and Almásy are joined by two others – a young Sikh sapper whose job it is to trek across the war-ravaged country defusing the thousands of land mines planted by the retreating German army, and an Italian-Canadian working as an operative for the Intelligence Corps. The sapper is Kirpal Singh, whose nickname is Kip; the operative is David Caravaggio, who shares his name and temperament with a 16th Century painter who had a reputation for being violent, touchy, and provocative. This, I think, is not a coincidence.

Caravaggio, whose thumbs were severed by the Italians in Florence, was a friend of Hana’s father, and knew her as a child. He loved her then, like a father. Or an uncle. Now, seeing her as a young woman, he begins to love her in a different way, but is mindful enough of his own psychological and physical scars to keep this to himself. Instead he focuses on getting the patient, with whom he shares an addiction to morphine, to tell his story. Because he knows, or thinks he knows, who the English patient really is.

Hana and the Sikh fall in love, and conduct their silent affair in a tent overlooking the villa. But Hana is also somewhat in love with Almásy, whom she sees as a kind of saint. She says as much to Caravaggio, who is trying to make her see she’s tied herself to a dead man – or one who soon will be:
“Why do you love him so much?”

“I love him.”

“You don’t love him, you adore him.”

“Go away, Carvaggio. Please.”

“You’ve tied yourself to a corpse for some reason.”

“He is a saint. I think. A despairing saint. Are there such things? Our desire is to protect them.”

This is a book peopled by saints, from the biblical figures on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to the frescoes of Piero della Francesca in the church at Arezzo. And like the painted martyrs depicted by those medieval artists, Ondaatje’s saints are all too human.  The English patient is a spy; Caraveggio is a former thief; Hana is haunted by images of the child she chose to abort. We are all divided creatures – we are saint or sinner depending on time, circumstance, and opportunity.

The climax of the narrative occurs in August of 1945: the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Kip, who sees himself as representative of all of Asia, is devastated. He trusted the West, spent the last few years risking his life for the Allied cause, believed the Europeans to be better than they were. All that trust – all that loyalty and respect and yes, love, for his superiors – betrayed not once, but twice. Seeing the West clearly for the first time – the sheer naked colonialism disguised by good manners and a properly knotted tie – he can no longer be part of this group. He will no longer be their sentinel.

His head filled with images of death and destruction, Kip sets off on his motorbike, leaving behind Almásy, Hana, Caravaggio, and the “meadows of civilization he had tended”. He travels south, riding deeper into the thick rain, retracing the route he had taken to the Villa San Girolamo, and the words of the prophet Isaiah, spoken to him by the burned man – the sinner-saint he had once loved – come back to haunt him:
“Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee. He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country”.