Downward this Dog
Downward this Dog by Sanjay Talreja (Mawenzi House).

This year, I plan to read the works of more diverse Canadian writers and I’d like to thank Mawenzi House for supporting The Minerva Reader in this quest. 

I loved the short stories in this collection. From the very start, you’ll be gripped by the poignant tension and the vivid writing that engages all the senses.

Downward this Dog perfectly describes the immigrant experience, the difficulty in integrating, the rapture of the seasons, the orderly politeness, the quiet Canadian welcome. While far away, war rages with bombs and violence.

And Downward this Dog is also hilarious! I loved the insights, the creeping disillusion, funny despair and self awareness, as well as the insights into the Westernization of yoga. 

Downward this Dog is a beautifully written, insightful testament to the bravery of ordinary life, exploring themes of religion, family, love, marriage, money, success and failure.

"We will make a mix of flavours and dishes, but always with a hyphen. So it will be Italian-Tamil dishes or Punjabi-Spanish; instead of hiding in the kitchens, we'll show our faces to the public." – from The Kick. 

"And then, the journey back in the fading evening light. All of us strangely quiet, hypnotized by the unending expanse of snow-covered fields and the grey wet tarmac of the roads, and the lulling sound of the engine. All of us enveloped in our own thoughts—reminding us that the life we had glimpsed was only a brief moment and our yearning for home would have to lie buried deep within us. Bleak?" – from Downward this Dog.

"For all of those who struggle in the trenches—if experience has taught me anything, it is this: there is no other way." – Acknowledgements. 
    

Here are a few other books which have, for one reason ​or another, never lose their vibrancy in my mind:

Her Red Hair Rises With the Wings of Insects, Wolsak & Wynn, Catherine Graham

Got No Secrets, Too Much on the Inside, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I've Known)
by Danila Botha


A Gardener on the Moon,
Quattro, Carole Giangrande


The Book of Stolen Tales, Penguin, D.J. McIntosh


Eleven, Eleven,
Liz Worth


Jewels and Other Stories, TSAR Publications, Dawn Promislow


Of Being Underground and Moving Backwards, 
DevilHouse, an imprint of AngelHousePress, Heather Babcock


Body Trade, 
Signature Editions, Margaret Macpherson


Cape Town, Great Plains Publications, Brenda Hammond


Jackfish, the Vanishing Village, Inanna Publications, Sarah Felix Burns


Stunt, Coach House Books, Claudia Dey


Above Our Heads, Inanna Publications, Andrea Thompson


The Road Narrows As You Go, Hamish Hamilton Canada, Lee Henderson


Close to Hugh, Doubleday Canada, Marina Endicott
    

Bats or Swallows

Bats or Swallows by Teri Vlassopoulos (Invisible Publishing).

Bats or Swallows is a treasure I nearly missed! Published in 2010 by Invisible Publishing, I was truly delighted and enthralled by these stories!

I met Teri at the Tartan Turban Reading series and, after hearing her read her short story, I rushed off and got my hands on a copy of the book. 

With huge apologies to Forest Gump (and those of you out there who are tired of the analogy), there are times when a good book of short stories is like a box of chocolates. And I mean the good kind, like marzipan-filled Belgian chocolate, not that Hershey's-encased strawberry pink gunk which will light up the inside of your eyeballs like a neon sign, from sugar overkill.

No, reading this book was more akin to eating Mozart balls accompanied by a lovely latte on a cold winter's day!

I'm looking forward to doing a lot more reading and posting on The Minerva Reader in 2018. I planned to do a lot of reading over the Christmas holidays but I ended up writing more than I read! Which is fine by me – when the muse knocks on my door, I rush to answer her call!

But I'll have books coming from far and wide across Canada this year, and I hope you'll join me in celebrating them. 

And don't forget to pick up a copy of Bats or Swallows! Each story is a real treat. I look forward to reading Escape Plans by Teri, (Invisible Publishing).