Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My Quill and Quire review of All That is Solid Melts into Air, by Carole Giangrande ...

... is now online at the Q&Q website. This book takes on the formidable task of recreating the events of 9/11 in fiction, and as I say in the review, Giangrande does a splendid job. As I also point out, you may require an oversized crane to suspend your disbelief that so many of protagonist Valerie's loved ones could be tangled up in the events of that tragic, historic day, but if you can look past such an acute implausibility, you're in for a sharp and well-written read.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Out and about with The Slip and So Much Love

So RR and I are on the road here in the Maritimes doing a combination book tour/vacation, and it's been an interesting few days to say the least. On Monday of last week, we read before a small but mighty crowd at Tidewater Books in Sackville, NB, and then made our way to PEI for an event at Charlottetown's Confederation Library last Thursday. The day before that event, we got to do a wonderful interview with CBC Charlottetown's Angela Walker for her show Mainstreet, which you can listen to here.  

And speaking of radio interviews, I was also pleased to see this interview I did with the super-talented Jamie Tennant for McMaster's 93.3 FM CFMU campus radio in Hamilton about a month ago was posted while we were here. Tennant is an accomplished novelist in his own right, and his show, GET LIT, is a perfect platform for his serious interviewing chops.

Finally, there was also this lovely review of The Slip posted the other day on Brenton Dickieson's blog, A Pilgrim in Narnia. Some of you may recall that Brenton, who lives here on PEI and with whom I went to high school, wrote a very generous review of my previous novel, Sad Peninsula, for his blog earlier this year. I am, as always, eternally grateful for the care and insights he has shown in his attention to my work.

Despite all this business, RR and I have managed to get some relaxation/family time in as well. The photo above shows us at Rustico Beach with my parents shortly after we arrived on PEI, and we've had some spectacular meals, lazy strolls, family-filled visits, mornings of sleeping in, a Scrabble game or two, and various other rejuvenating activities we don't get to partake in very much in our busy lives back in Toronto. It's nice to get a break.


Monday, July 3, 2017

New poems in Numero Cinq

So I woke up to news this morning that the online literary journal Numero Cinq has published four poems in its new issue, which I'm very excited about. If you follow my blog you know I contribute regular reviews to this magazine, but this is the first time I've published more creative work in its pages. These pieces come from a new poetry manuscript I've been working on for about a year or so now, and I'm glad to see them out in the world. Check them out.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Quill and Quire review of Arabic for Beginners, by Ariela Freedman ...

... is now online at the Q&Q website. In fact, I think it's been up for a while and I somehow missed it. Anyway. I loved, loved, loved this book. Freedman is such a fluid, confident writer and I felt I could just trust her, paragraph after paragraph, to take me wherever she wanted to go. Arabic for Beginners, about a woman who moves to Israel with her family after her husband lands a year-long university appointment, sort of felt like one of these small-press books that may not get nearly enough of the attention it deserves, so I'm hoping this starred review in the Quill helps because it really should be read by a lot of people. So go check it out!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Maritime literary events

Well, my wife Rebecca Rosenblum are gearing up for our East Coast tour in about a week's time and we've a couple of hitherto unmentioned literary events we want to alert you to. Without further ado:

Tidewater Books, Sackville, NB. So we'll be reading at this lovely bookstore at 13 Bridge St. in downtown Sackville next Monday, June 26 starting at 7pm. If you want to RSVP via Facebook, here's the Facebook event page, and you can also check out Tidewater's events page.

And then, as mentioned in a previous post, we'll be reading at the Confederation Library in Charlottetown, PE, on Thursday, June 29, starting at 6:30. This will be my hometown crowd, so it should be a lot of fun.

Finally, if you're an Atlantic Canadian bookseller, we'll be attending the Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association conference in Halifax, NS. We're appearing at a breakfast session on Sunday, July 9, so come out and say hello.


Friday, June 16, 2017

The Slip happenings

So I meant to write this catch-up post yesterday but was struck down by an annoying head cold that had me laid up in bed for the entire day (a real rarity for me). But I'm up and back at it today, so here we go. There has been a lot happening with The Slip over the last little while, and I thought I'd get you all up to speed. Specifically:
  • Easily the best and most thoughtful review of The Slip so far ran on Kerry Clare's wonderful blog Pickle Me This last month. Kerry, who (full disclosure) is a friend and is spoken very highly of around the Sampsenblum homestead, really places the novel into a broader context of current news, and she does a wonderful job of describing the various braided themes in the book and how the story pivots on its satire to try to discuss something more culturally serious. Anyway, this review had me grinning for days.  
  • Yesterday CBC Books posted an interview I did for its always-fun Magic 8 Author Interview Series, answering eight questions posed by other Canadian writers. Here, I discuss the worst job I ever had, the difference between writing funny and sad stories, how a snippet of country music lyric works its way into the next novel I'm writing, and much more.
  • Speaking of the CBC, on May 31 famed novelist Russell Smith did a French-language interview for Radio-Canada's premiere literary show in Montreal in which he talked about various news and trends happening in English Canada writing. He spent a fairly decent chunk of his talk discussing The Slip, as the story covers the topics of literary feuds, social media shaming, and various other topics apropos to the interview. Anyway, if you speak French (or, I suppose, even if you don't), you can listen to the interview here.
  • London, Ontario-based book blogger (and all-around CanLit enthusiast) Steven Buechler ran this nifty review of The Slip on his blog, the Library of Pacific Tranquility. Beuchler has been a real champion of my work over the last few years, conducting a couple of interviews with me and running pieces on my previous books Sad Peninsula and Weathervane, so it was great to be back on his website.
  • And keeping with my policy of trying to share around all reviews of my work, not just the positive ones, Booklist magazine in the States ran a somewhat lukewarm review of The Slip last month. The piece, written by Emily Dziuban, has a couple of nice things to say about the novel, but it also took issue with Philip's prolonged ignorance over his actual "slip" throughout most of the story, which is a fair criticism. (If you want to read other equally tepid evaluations of the book, from reviewers who had the same issue as Dzibuban, or who found the book boring or bogged down with unneeded details, you'll find some on The Slip's page on Goodreads.)
Anyway, that's it for now. There is more stuff brewing for The Slip, and I'll post more when things are a bit more solidified.



Monday, June 5, 2017

My review of Fugue States, by Pasha Malla ...

is now online at the Toronto Review of Books. I was a big fan of Malla's debut book, a short story collection cheekily titled The Withdrawal Method and published back in 2008. This new work is about two dudes named Ash and Matt in a somewhat strained male friendship who travel to Kashmir on a mission to solve an old mystery in Ash's family. There's lots to like in this book, which is on sale now. Go check it out.