Here are three very different, all equally wonderful reads and I hope you will check them out!

STEEL ANIMALS by  S K Dyment 

About the book:
Hilarity and queer magic realism twist the throttle when Jackie, a loner with a secret bank-robbing persona, meets Vespa: sexy, sculpture-welding artist and collector of vintage motorbikes. Still planning elaborate revenge on a New York ex-lover, Jackie tests both her new relationship and the loyalties of her friends, a rag-tag gang of post-punk eccentrics, realizing how love changes hatred only after her scheme runs out of control. An innocent misstep and an encrypted mystery swings the romance into the dangerous orbit of a construction mogul intent on subverting corporate money at any cost. (Inanna Publications)

My Review
Ursula Pflug (author of The Alphabet Stones, Motion Sickness and Mountain) has flagged this book to become a cult classic and I fully second that! I’m not sure it’s possible to adequately describe the joy of reading Steel Animals! The poetic brilliance of the writing, along with razor-sharp insights into art, love, sex, nature, relationships, consumerism, the perception of the self, the philosophy of art, our connections to one other and the things that surround us, is a real treat.

The writing sparks every sense to vivid life, cracking like Absolut cherry pop-rocks exploding on your tongue, delighting you at every turn.

-.-

AN EXILE'S PERFECT LETTER by Larry Mathews

About the book:
Sixty-two-year-old English professor Hugh Norman is getting ready to retire and just going through the motions. He's detached, irreverent, and quite pleased with himself. But then he learns of a long-lost friend's sudden death, and shockingly discovers a body while walking through a city park. Suddenly, over just a few days, Hugh is compelled to deal with a large cast of eccentric characters and a police detective who has taken a sudden interest in his life. With a perfect sense of comedic timing, An Exile's Perfect Letter is a portrait of a man forced to come of age all over again. It's a send-up, a love story, an elegy for lost youth, and a celebration of friendships that stand the test of time. (Breakwater Books)

My review:
The funny thing is, I thought I had posted about this book at the end of last year but I didn’t actually do it! I wrote the review in my head and I guess I imagined the rest! I met Larry Mathews at the FogLit Festival and immediately purchased his book. His reading was great and the book was a delight to read! It reminded me of my university days (which made me happy) and I loved Hugh Norman with his self-deprecating insights into aging, love, writing, poetry and life in St. John’s Newfoundland. I was sorry when the novel came to an end, I wanted to keep hanging out with Hugh! I loved the observations on writing and it made me stop (and worry!) that I had committed the sins that Hugh points out with such scathing clarity! A highly-enjoyable read with a lot of excellent humour about art, the politics of tenure, fame, crime and the meaning of life.

-.-

THE KNOCKOFF ECLIPSE by Melissa Bull

About the book:
Melissa Bull’s debut short story collection The Knockoff Eclipse hums with the immediacy of distant and future worlds. Firmly rooted in the streets and landmarks of Montreal and its many neighbourhoods and subcultures, Bull’s characters shine with the dirt of digging just deep enough.

Dark like Duras, flippant comme Sagan, with elements of the surreal running through, these Montreal stories are modern feminist fables for the reader who is decidedly uninterested in upholding the moral of the story as it’s been traditionally told. (Anvil Press)

My review:
The short stories in this are so powerful I had to pace reading them. They don’t hold back any punches and this book offers some of the most vivid ‘in another’s body’ experience I’ve read. You smell the sunburn, the lake water, the dirt, taste the tears, feel the cold and hear the voices as clearly as if the characters were standing in the same room. Gritty, tough, with lives on the edge of falling apart and yet, they just don’t… just. The stories are vignettes of the beautiful intimacy that can be found in quiet and precious moments and the very real sense that sometimes, just being is enough.


    
Here are three very different, all equally wonderful reads and I hope you will check them out!v

STEEL ANIMALS by  S K Dyment 

About the book:
Hilarity and queer magic realism twist the throttle when Jackie, a loner with a secret bank-robbing persona, meets Vespa: sexy, sculpture-welding artist and collector of vintage motorbikes. Still planning elaborate revenge on a New York ex-lover, Jackie tests both her new relationship and the loyalties of her friends, a rag-tag gang of post-punk eccentrics, realizing how love changes hatred only after her scheme runs out of control. An innocent misstep and an encrypted mystery swings the romance into the dangerous orbit of a construction mogul intent on subverting corporate money at any cost. (Inanna Publications)

My Review
Ursula Pflug (author of The Alphabet Stones, Motion Sickness and Mountain) has flagged this book to become a cult classic and I fully second that! I’m not sure it’s possible to adequately describe the joy of reading Steel Animals! The poetic brilliance of the writing, along with razor-sharp insights into art, love, sex, nature, relationships, consumerism, the perception of the self, the philosophy of art, our connections to one other and the things that surround us, is a real treat.

The writing sparks every sense to vivid life, cracking like Absolut cherry pop-rocks exploding on your tongue, delighting you at every turn.

-.-

AN EXILE'S PERFECT LETTER by Larry Mathews

About the book:
Sixty-two-year-old English professor Hugh Norman is getting ready to retire and just going through the motions. He's detached, irreverent, and quite pleased with himself. But then he learns of a long-lost friend's sudden death, and shockingly discovers a body while walking through a city park. Suddenly, over just a few days, Hugh is compelled to deal with a large cast of eccentric characters and a police detective who has taken a sudden interest in his life. With a perfect sense of comedic timing, An Exile's Perfect Letter is a portrait of a man forced to come of age all over again. It's a send-up, a love story, an elegy for lost youth, and a celebration of friendships that stand the test of time. (Breakwater Books)

My review:
The funny thing is, I thought I had posted about this book at the end of last year but I didn’t actually do it! I wrote the review in my head and I guess I imagined the rest! I met Larry Mathews at the FogLit Festival and immediately purchased his book. His reading was great and the book was a delight to read! It reminded me of my university days (which made me happy) and I loved Hugh Norman with his self-deprecating insights into aging, love, writing, poetry and life in St. John’s Newfoundland. I was sorry when the novel came to an end, I wanted to keep hanging out with Hugh! I loved the observations on writing and it made me stop (and worry!) that I had committed the sins that Hugh points out with such scathing clarity! A highly-enjoyable read with a lot of excellent humour about art, the politics of tenure, fame, crime and the meaning of life.

-.-

THE KNOCKOFF ECLIPSE by Melissa Bull

About the book:
Melissa Bull’s debut short story collection The Knockoff Eclipse hums with the immediacy of distant and future worlds. Firmly rooted in the streets and landmarks of Montreal and its many neighbourhoods and subcultures, Bull’s characters shine with the dirt of digging just deep enough.

Dark like Duras, flippant comme Sagan, with elements of the surreal running through, these Montreal stories are modern feminist fables for the reader who is decidedly uninterested in upholding the moral of the story as it’s been traditionally told. (Anvil Press)

My review:
The short stories in this are so powerful I had to pace reading them. They don’t hold back any punches and this book offers some of the most vivid ‘in another’s body’ experience I’ve read. You smell the sunburn, the lake water, the dirt, taste the tears, feel the cold and hear the voices as clearly as if the characters were standing in the same room. Gritty, tough, with lives on the edge of falling apart and yet, they just don’t… just. The stories are vignettes of the beautiful intimacy that can be found in quiet and precious moments and the very real sense that sometimes, just being is enough.


    
Library of 2019 Features
STEEL ANIMALS by  S K Dyment 
About the book:
Hilarity and queer magic realism twist the throttle when Jackie, a loner with a secret bank-robbing persona, meets Vespa: sexy, sculpture-welding artist and collector of vintage motorbikes. Still planning elaborate revenge on a New York ex-lover, Jackie tests both her new relationship and the loyalties of her friends, a rag-tag gang of post-punk eccentrics, realizing how love changes hatred only after her scheme runs out of control. An innocent misstep and an encrypted mystery swings the romance into the dangerous orbit of a construction mogul intent on subverting corporate money at any cost. (Inanna Publications)


My Review

Ursula Pflug (author of The Alphabet Stones, Motion Sickness and Mountain) has flagged this book to become a cult classic and I fully second that! I’m not sure it’s possible to adequately describe the joy of reading Steel Animals! The poetic brilliance of the writing, along with razor-sharp insights into art, love, sex, nature, relationships, consumerism, the perception of the self, the philosophy of art, our connections to one other and the things that surround us, is a real treat.


The writing sparks every sense to vivid life, cracking like Absolut cherry pop-rocks exploding on your tongue, delighting you at every turn.


-.-


AN EXILE'S PERFECT LETTER by Larry Mathews
About the book:

Sixty-two-year-old English professor Hugh Norman is getting ready to retire and just going through the motions. He's detached, irreverent, and quite pleased with himself. But then he learns of a long-lost friend's sudden death, and shockingly discovers a body while walking through a city park. Suddenly, over just a few days, Hugh is compelled to deal with a large cast of eccentric characters and a police detective who has taken a sudden interest in his life. With a perfect sense of comedic timing, An Exile's Perfect Letter is a portrait of a man forced to come of age all over again. It's a send-up, a love story, an elegy for lost youth, and a celebration of friendships that stand the test of time. (Breakwater Books)


My review:
The funny thing is, I thought I had posted about this book at the end of last year but I didn’t actually do it! I wrote the review in my head and I guess I imagined the rest! I met Larry Mathews at the FogLit Festival and immediately purchased his book. His reading was great and the book was a delight to read! It reminded me of my university days (which made me happy) and I loved Hugh Norman with his self-deprecating insights into aging, love, writing, poetry and life in St. John’s Newfoundland. I was sorry when the novel came to an end, I wanted to keep hanging out with Hugh! I loved the observations on writing and it made me stop (and worry!) that I had committed the sins that Hugh points out with such scathing clarity! A highly-enjoyable read with a lot of excellent humour about art, the politics of tenure, fame, crime and the meaning of life.


-.-


THE KNOCKOFF ECLIPSE by Melissa Bull
About the book:

Melissa Bull’s debut short story collection The Knockoff Eclipse hums with the immediacy of distant and future worlds. Firmly rooted in the streets and landmarks of Montreal and its many neighbourhoods and subcultures, Bull’s characters shine with the dirt of digging just deep enough.

Dark like Duras, flippant comme Sagan, with elements of the surreal running through, these Montreal stories are modern feminist fables for the reader who is decidedly uninterested in upholding the moral of the story as it’s been traditionally told. (Anvil Press)


My review:
The short stories in this are so powerful I had to pace reading them. They don’t hold back any punches and this book offers some of the most vivid ‘in another’s body’ experience I’ve read. You smell the sunburn, the lake water, the dirt, taste the tears, feel the cold and hear the voices as clearly as if the characters were standing in the same room. Gritty, tough, with lives on the edge of falling apart and yet, they just don’t… just. The stories are vignettes of the beautiful intimacy that can be found in quiet and precious moments and the very real sense that sometimes, just being is enough.


-.-

NIGHTS ON PROSE MOUNTAIN by bpNichol (Coach House).
 
ABOUT THE BOOK: Nights on Prose Mountain gathers all of beloved writer bpNichol's published fiction. Originally appearing between 1968 and 1983, and representing almost the entire arc of Nichol's writing career, Nights on Prose Mountain is by turns heartbreaking, playful, and evocative. While Nichol's poetry is widely studied, researched and taught, his novels have remained out of print and are overdue for a new edition. Nichol's curiosity and craft, his exploration and exuberance, his lyricism and adventurousness are all on exhibit here. From the Governor General's Award-winning "The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid" through more obscure treasures like Extreme Positions, and including Still, For Jesus Lunatick, and Andy, Nights on Prose Mountain traces Nichol's life in fiction.
 
MY REVIEW:

I have read small excerpts of bpNichol’s writing before and of this book, I have only one thing to say – I need to a buy a copy! I borrowed this copy from the library but I will need much more time than afforded to me by a loan, to read and enjoy this book. Prologue (from Craft Dinner) had me mesmerized and Still was incredibly powerful. Yes, this will need several reads and rereads!
 
-.-
 
THE JOURNEY PRIZE,
is a collection of short stories selected by Kevin Hardcastle, Grace O’Connell and Ayelet Tsabari (McClelland & Stewart). I loved the stories in this collection. They carry a visceral sadness that will stay with you – but in a good way! I wanted to follow the lives of the characters in these stories, particularly, Reading Week by Sharon Bala, They Come Crying by Sarah Kabamba and A Girl and a Dog on a Friday Night by Kelly Ward.
 
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Like The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and the Best American Short Stories series, The Journey Prize Stories is one of the most celebrated annual literary anthologies in North America. For almost 30 years, the anthology has consistently introduced readers to the next generation of great Canadian authors, a tradition that proudly continues with this latest edition. With settings ranging from wartime China to an island off the coast of British Columbia, the ten stories in this collection represent the year's best short fiction by some of our most exciting emerging voices.     
        A young boy who believes he is being stalked by an unstoppable, malevolent entity discovers that he may not be the only one. In a sweeping story set against the fall of Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War, a pregnant woman waits anxiously for her doctor husband to leave the city before it's too late. A river that runs through a First Nations community is the source of sustenance, escape, and tragedy for a girl and her family. The haunting footage of the politically motivated self-immolation has unexpected reverberations for a Tibetan-Canadian woman dealing with multiple conflicts in her own life. A man who works a back-breaking job at an industrial mat cleaning service is pushed to his limit. When her mother has to return to Kinshasa to bury a family member, a girl gradually learns of the intricacy and depth of grief, in an evocative piece that illuminates the cultural gaps common within immigrant families, and the power of food and stories to bridge them.     

 
-.-
 
I picked up a copy of YOUNG VOICES published by the Toronto Public Library and was very moved by the selection of writing and the artwork.
 
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Toronto Public Library's magazine of creative writing and visual art, created and selected by Toronto teens, published annually for over fifty years. 
 
MY REVIEW:
This collection offers courageous and compelling insights into the lives of young people struggling with the complexities of school, love, becoming adults, watching their parents.  Very worth the read. One wants to gather all these ducklings and make the world a safe place for them but, as they are already all-too-aware, it’s too late for that, but one can move forward with brave hearts and a drive to create.
 
-.-
  
CLOCKWORK CANADA, The Exile Book of Anthology Series, Number Twelve, edited by Dominik Parisien.
 
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Welcome to an alternate Canada, where steam technology and the wonders and horrors of the mechanical age have reshaped the past into something both wholly familiar yet compellingly different. These fifteen supercharged all-new tales reimagine Canadian historical events, explore other Canadas, and gather inspiration from the northern landscape to make us wonder: what if history had gone a different way? 

Experience steam-powered buffalo women roaming the plains; visit brutal gas-lit working class streets; join extraordinary men and women striking out on their own or striving to build communities; marvel as giant rampaging spirits are thwarted by miniscule timepieces, at a great clock that when it chimes the Seven O’Clock Man appears to terrorize a small village in Quebec, or when a Maritime scientist develops a deadly new weapon that could change the course of the American civil war.
 
MY REVIEW:
While this book was published in 2016, I reread it very recently. The introduction by Parisien reads: “What started as Victorian retro-futurist fantasy has gone global and now spans across multiple historical periods. … Some of the stories contain steam, others don’t; clockwork frequently appears, as do automata, airships, trains, copper, brass, goggles, mechanical limbs; the works of Jules Verne inspire a character or two; the magical and the mechanical sometimes coexist; alternate history is often at the forefront; and great and fantastical inventions abound.” And this is very true! If you’re looking for a different kind of anthology, I recommend Clockwork Canada!