A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Come to Word on the Street — Sunday, Sept 30

Word on the Street is coming to select cities across Canada on Sunday, September 30. WOTS is a festival of writing and reading, which is free to the public.

Library Square Vancouver

If you’re in Vancouver, here’s what’s on tap for this year’s festival:

From race horses to politics, to stories of the hippie days, suffragettes to road trips, squeezeboxes to love letters, and much more, Vancouver’s The Word On The Street is back for its 18th year with three days (Sept. 28-30) of reading and writing excitement!

The main festival day is Sunday, Sept. 30 where word lovers will find author readings, writing and publishing exhibits, musical entertainment, roving performers, children’s activities, workshops, panels, books and magazines, and more in and around Library Square and CBC Plaza, Homer and Hamilton Streets between Robson and Georgia.

Friday night programming (Sept. 28) will take place at Banyen Books and Historic Joy Kogawa House, and Saturday programming (Sept. 29) takes place at Carnegie Centre (Main and Hastings).

Highlights include readings by (among approximately 100 authors!) Annabel Lyon, WP Kinsella, Yasuko Thanh, Billie Livingston, Arthur Black, George Bowering, Brian Calvert & Chris Cannon (the Canada Party), Anakana Schofield, Kevin Chong, and George Murray (direct from Newfoundland!). Readers for children include Robert Heidbreder, Sylvia Olsen, Susin Nielsen, and Caroline Adderson.

David C. Jones will be the host of the Mainstage entertainment on the 30th featuring accordions, ukuleles, drumming, a poetry slam, and more.

—from WOTS

And my favourite: Word Under the Street is happening again in the downstairs area of the library.

Word Under the Street

Word Under the Street features local alternative comic book artists and illustrated zine producers. This year there will be sessions with comic book artists such as Gord Hill and Sam Bradd, plus panels and workshops such as a “love letter” workshop with Ricepaper Magazine and a memoir writing workshop with Naomi Beth Waken.

If you’re near Carnegie Centre, WOTS has a chapbook-making workshop, a session on “how to do your best live reading” with Hal Wake, and ab open mic poetry night.

Did I mention it’s all FREE? More details are here http://www.thewordonthestreet.ca/vancouver.

The Word On The Street takes place in Vancouver, Toronto, Kitchener, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, and Halifax.

Strong Man

One more time ...

What: The Word On The Street Vancouver
When: Sept. 28-30, 2012
Where: Sept. 28—Banyen Books and Historic Joy Kogawa House (times tba)/ Sept. 29—Carnegie Centre (10 am to 9 pm)/ Sept. 30—in and around Library Square and CBC Plaza, Homer and Hamilton Streets between Robson and Georgia (11 am to 5 pm).
Info: 604-684-8266, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Admission: free

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review: Canada by Richard Ford


Richard Ford is a writer who I’ve admired for decades. And, who wouldn’t be an admirer of this cliffhanger of an opener?

“First, I’ll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.”

I once met a woman after the tragic death of her husband and she said that she forgave the killer because her choice was to either let that event be the defining moment of her life or to continue living. I still don’t fully understand, but I think it’s what Ford is slowly unwinding in this epic story about how 15-year-old Dell Parson’s life is derailed by the bank robbery his parents commit.

Unlike in The Sportswriter, the first novel I read of Ford’s, each moment isn’t imbued with significance. Some things just happen and other things happen with meaning. The writing is more mature, but it’s also a slower pace so I’m not sure whether I liked Canada or whether I liked finishing Canada.

The novel is divided into three parts, and I found the first the most interesting as it sets up the bank robbery and immediate capture of Dell’s parents (it wasn’t exactly well thought out). The setting is Great Falls, Montana in the 1950s and Dell’s dad is a military man, then car salesman, then used car salesman, then ... a bit of an everything man. Each failure takes him closer and closer to committing a crime to get money, in the hopes that the cash can be used to pay people off.

The second part describes Dell’s family falling apart. Both parents are arrested. His twin sister runs away, and Dell is left to trust a family friend who is falling through on Dell’s mother’s plans to have both kids squirrelled away in Canada. Dell is left across the border in Canada with a mysterious American who’s running a bar/hotel and organizing hunting trips, among other things. But his shady past rears its ugly head and becomes just another in a series of unfortunate events that Dell has to extract himself from in order to survive on his own.

The third section reunites Dell with his long-lost twin sister Berner. She’s also in a dark place, and it’s interesting as a reader to think about twins, separated, and how they’ve lived their lives. In particular whether you let your parents’ robbery be the defining moment of your life or not. For Dell, I’d say it’s a significant moment but not the defining moment. He is more detached from the world than damaged by it, whereas Berner, who thought she was so grownup and above it all, is actually trapped by it.

Canada is a different type of Richard Ford so if you’re unfamiliar with his other works, then this one might seem like a masterpiece. For me, I couldn’t help but reflect on the writing I knew vs. the writing I had in front of me. Stylistically it’s wonderful, just not what I was expecting. There is a culmination of strength to this novel, which mirrors Dell’s growth from adolescences to adulthood. The novel is impressive but not one of my favourites.

Canada by Richard Ford
published by HarperCollins
Available on Amazon.ca

Monday, July 16, 2012

Salon Fiction Prize: New Canadian Short Fiction Prize


Attention writers: The Telegraph-Journal, New Brunswick’s provincial daily newspaper ( http://www.telegraphjournal.com ) recently launched a new short fiction prize.

The Salon Fiction Prize, which opened July 7, is for a work of short fiction in English between 1500-3000 words. The winning piece will be published in an issue of the Telegraph-Journal’s art and culture section “Salon”, and the winning author will receive a prize of $1,000.

The trio of judges are from Atlantic Canadian universities: Thomas Hodd (University of Moncton); Alexander MacLeod (Saint Mary’s University); and Sue Goyette (Dalhousie University).

The contest is open to all residents of Canada. All entries must be unpublished material and not under consideration in any other contest of competition. Entries will not be returned, so keep a copy.

Submission Details

  • Deadline: Entries must be received by Oct. 1, 2012.
  • Submissions may be sent via email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by mail to 210 Crown Street, Saint John, N.B., E2L 3V8.
  • Entries must include a contact email and telephone number where the author may be contacted.

For more details and information, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Book Review: Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

imageBook Of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale was recommended to me by my friend Rachael. I was keen to read it because when I worked at Raincoast we had distributed some of Shannon Hale’s previous titles.

The story opens with Dashti becoming a maid to Lady Saren and promptly being locked up in a tower with her for seven years. Saren’s father, in a rage, has bricked her up into the tower because she has refused to marry an evil lord from a neighbouring realm. Instead she is in love with Tegas, a more gentle lord, and another neighbour.

This love is rather tenuous though and Lady Saren insists that Dashti speak to Tegas when he sneaks into the tower and knocks at their locked door. Of course, Dashti complies, falls in love with Tegas, has to fight for her safety when evil Lord Khasar later shows up at the door, fends for herself and Lady Saren when they manage to escape and then sets them up, under a disguise, in Tegas’ own household.

Dashti is a heroine in the classic sense and a terrier in a modern sense.

Hale’s tale is pulled from a long-forgotten Grimm’s tale, but she adds her own twists and interpretations. Overall it’s a great teen read, and good for adults looking for light fantasy and easy, compelling reading.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Honeymoon: Barcelona

Barcelona was my favourite city on our trip. Not only did we have an amazing penthouse apartment while we were there, but we were also in the heart of everything. We were a few blocks away from La Rambla (the huge main pedestrian thoroughfare), steps from the Paral-lel subway station, and walking distance to Barceloneta.

Barcelona felt like a city you could explore on foot whereas Paris was worth visiting via the Hop on Hop off bus. I have a ton of favourite moments from our four days (Sunday, May 27 to Thursday, May 31).

360 View from Our Flat

View from our flat

View from our flat

Laundry day

View from our flat

Walking La Rambla

La Rambla

Catalan Architecture: A great mix of old and new buildings


Barcelona, near Catalunya

Near the Cathedral, Gothic Quarter, Barcelona

Cultural building near the Cathedral

Gaudi’s influence is everywhere. Mosaic rooftops, nature-inspired benches and street tiles, magical perspectives

Gaudi architecture

Gaudi benches

Fantastic markets

Mercat de boqueria


Usually built in a spiral pattern with seafood in the centre and radiating out to fruit drinks, dried fruit and nuts and chocolates.

Mercat Boqueria

Mercat Boqueria

Mercat Boqueria

Mercat Boqueria

Mercat Boqueria

Our last honeymoon celebration was drinking a bottle of sparkling wine left for us by our host with a lunch picnic we gathered from Boqueria market.


People Everywhere

Catalunya square, just off La Rambla > Catalunya


Pentacost Celebrations in Barceloneta

Pentecost - Second Easter

Can Maño: tiny fish shop

Can Maño


Outdoor Picasso

Frisos del Col-legi d'Arquitectes

Cascada Fountain in Parc de la Ciutadella

The Cascada fountain

Statue of Columbus. The new world is over there.


Catedral de Barcelona

Catedral de Barcelona

And, of course, the Gaudi architecture was my absolute favourite. I’ll have to do a post on that specifically.

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Honeymoon: Argeliers to Barcelona

This post is a bit out of order because I haven’t told you yet about our amazing bike trip along the Canal du Midi with Darren and Julie. But I’m longingly thinking of Barcelona this morning so I thought I’d share how we got there.

Friday, May 25

Friday is flower market day in Beziers so Julie, James and I set off in the morning for the market and a coffee.

Market day

Flower Market in Beziers

Just after lunch we headed out for Casa Pairal in Collioure, which is a small beach resort town along the Mediterrean.

Casa Pairal

Water walk

Collioure, France


After our first swim of the year in the ocean, we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant Julie recommended. The chef was Japanese and each dish was a delightful morsel, wonderfully presented.

Collioure, France

Collioure, France

Delicious wine

Walking around Collioure at night was warm and reminded me of hot summer evenings in Manitoba.

Collioure, France

Collioure at night

The next morning we had a swim, breakfast in the garden, where we enjoyed croissants, jam, fruit, ham and eggs. Then we set off for Figueres, Spain.

Collioure at sunset


Casa Pairal in Collioure, FR

Casa Pairal

Look, the Med

Leaving France > Spain

Leaving France > Spain

Entering Spain

Entering Spain

Figueres is the home of the Dali Museum, which was our afternoon stop. What a place!

The main entrance and building itself is remarkable with huge Mother Goose eggs and golden sculptures. Then inside the front entrance is a look into the atrium.

Dali Museum

Dali Museum

Dali Museum, Figueres

Entrance to Dali Museum

Entrance to Dali Museum

The most remarkable thing about Dali’s work is the number of different medium he experimented with, plus the number of different senses he put into play with moving parts, optical illusions, sound, scent and I’m sure taste was in there somewhere.

Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres, ES

Dali Museum, Figueres

Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres, ES

Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres, ES

Mae West room

Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres, ES

Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres, ES

Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres, ES

Dali perfume

Post museum visit, we had a quick bite to eat then were on the road to Mataro, which is about 30 minutes outside Barcelona. Although there are three city beaches in Barcelona, I’d read that Mataro was more spectacular.

Mataro, ES

The Ibis hotel where we stayed is on the edge of the action, the far edge. There was a big street festival going on during our first night and also a circus so we wandered through the streets into the downtown looking for a place to have dinner.

Mataro, ES

The funny thing for North Americans in France and Spain is finding somewhere that will feed you between 6 and 9 pm. Most restaurants are closed or don’t do dinner service until 8:30 or 9. We did find a butcher shop with a lunch menu and back garden who was also serving tapas and drinks.

in Mataro. Great tapas in the butcher's garden.

in Mataro. Great tapas in the butcher's garden.

Between my beginner Spanish, the waiter’s Catelan and some show and tell, I was able to order us some amazing tapas. My favourites were these little fried sausages and breaded balls of meat.

in Mataro. Great tapas in the butcher's garden.

in Mataro. Great tapas in the butcher's garden.

in Mataro. Great tapas in the butcher's garden.
There are a ton of unique tasting proscuitto.

Sunday, May 27

Since it was our last day on the road before hitting Barcelona, where we stayed put for 4 nights, James and I went for some beach time in the morning, had a terrible breakfast/lunch in the fast-food joint of our hotel, then made our way into Barcelona.


James working out


We dropped our car off at the airport and took the Aerobus into the city, jumped on a subway and arrived at our totally sweet penthouse apartment.


Arriving in Barcelona

Sweet Barcelona apartment

James enjoying our Barcelona flat

Sweet Barcelona apartment

Sweet Barcelona apartment

Sweet Barcelona apartment