This is the fourth Pick-A-Plot book from Conundrum Press written and illustrated by Tjia, and it’s the first in the series to feature a protagonist that isn’t a feline. Instead, as the title makes obvious, you are the mother of Alice Liddell, the reputed inspiration behind Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Dr. Bethune’s Children doesn’t always read like fiction, given the many similarities between the narrator and the author. Like the narrator, Xue grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution, and was shaped by the ideals of the period. In particular, his imagination was captured by the legend of Bethune.
In this deeply layered, poetic, and empathic psychological novel, James Wolfe reappears – in 2017. Traumatized James, or “Jimmy,” wanders the streets of Montreal and Quebec, homeless and haunted by war, his loneliness palpable as he tries to come to grips with the plastic facades of modern life, and continues to grieve his lost eleven days.
Robyn Maynard’s Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present intervenes in the narrative of Canada as the Promised Land, a haven for escaped slaves. Reading it as a Black Canadian woman, the book is a brilliant and powerful validation of our lived experiences.
This is a truly exceptional work, not only for the content – which is rich in both narrative thread and evocative imagery – but also for its visual impact. It is printed in full colour on beautiful paper; materially, it is a quality broadsheet within the pages of a book.
Drakkar Noir, Dodds’s second collection, is quite a return: Dodds re-inhabits his own gory, gothic world with the relish of a contemporary Lord Byron. The title references an arch brand of ’80s cologne, and many poems have a sardonic, sledgehammer musk made up of off-kilter epigrams, heavy rhyming puns, and scenarios that display a fury at the selfishness and idiocy of humans.
When I listen to local classic rock station CHOM, large chunks of the commercial breaks are devoted to the corporate owners’ satellite network and to hawking ad time on the station – not a good sign. Into this twilight era, like an only-slightly-premature obituary, comes local author Ian Howarth’s Rock ‘n’ Radio, a passionate paean to the golden age of the airwaves here in Montreal.
I like it when we shop together. All of us
at the heart of a snakeskin wallet. Grocery-bag ghosts
graze on footfalls. A wallet where we’re kept
like photobooth shots. There was a man
own here, we’re all going to hell and we know it, no need to warn us.” This crucial bit of information comes on page one of Sports and Pastimes, the first of Jean-Philippe Baril Guérard’s novels to be translated into English. It is delivered by the unnamed protagonist and narrator, a rich, twenty-two-year-old actor at […]
I learned the secret of serenity
by waterboarding daffodils.
My Buddha is landfill.
My mantra choked
It’s easy to see why Dominique Scali’s first novel, In Search of New Babylon, was a finalist for the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award, the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal, the Prix des libraires du Québec, and winner of the 2015 First Novel Award at the Festival du Premier Roman de Chambéry in France. The story is tightly woven and executed with masterful shifts in chronology and narrative focus. The characters are quirky and compelling. The language of W. Donald Wilson’s translation sings with rich detail. Short, staccato-like chapters propel the story forward with the pacing of good television. This is in no way meant as an insult – seamless storytelling is difficult to achieve, and Scali accomplishes that with virtuosity in this novel.
The new issue of the international magazine Granta dedicated entirely to Canadian writers, a first for the publication, feels a bit like a simple, local literary reading – a number of different voices with different perspectives all sharing the same stage and conversing with one another. Featuring stories, essays, and poems, some of which were translated into English from French, the Canada issue of Granta is also, with a few exceptions, not at all what you would expect it to be.
The Montreal Review of Books is currently accepting pitches for 1200-word essays. The essay should engage with an aspect of writing or publishing in Quebec, past or present – the topic and angle are up to you, but the essay should go beyond reviewing a book into reflecting on a broader issue related to writing, reading, translation, and/or […]
Six Degrees of Freedom, Nicolas Dickner’s story of the mysterious journey of a rogue “phantom container,” follows characters who have a healthy sense of wonder but are determined to make something of that wonder too, impatient as they are with the pedestrian uses humankind makes of its own inventions. The novel, translated into English by Lazer Lederhendler, doesn’t indulge much in romantic reflection; its characters move too quickly for that. They’re dreamers, but they also do.
There are things I want to show you, like the empty pause that encircles desire. Or how Klimt knew that a woman bends her neck that far for a kiss only if she really wants it. I want to show you how quiet it gets when you’re in the company of someone who no longer loves you.