Thursday, August 10, 2017

Acceptance: Grain magazine

So just before I took an extended long weekend and jaunted off to Scotland for a wedding, I received an acceptance letter from the venerable literary journal Grain out of Saskatchewan for a new poem of mine called "A Consortium of 26 Lien Lenders." No, that's not a joke - it actually is the title of the piece. (And many thanks to RR for providing the inspiration for it.) Anyhoo. The poem - the sixth I've published this year from the new manuscript - is slated to run in the magazine's fall issue, so look for it then.

M.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My review of The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep by Steven Heighton

I'm back in the digital pages of The Winnipeg Review with this evaluation of Steven Heighton's new novel, The Nightingale Won't Let You Sleep. I'm always impressed when a writer as accomplished in poetry as Heighton can also write well-crafted and gripping prose, and that is certainly the case here. This story, set on the divided island of Cyprus, weaves a complex tale about love, loyalty and authoritarianism in an abandoned resort town called Varosha. Definitely worth checking out. Read the review.

M.

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.

M.

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.

M.

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.

M.


   

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.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Event: Reading with Rebecca Rosenblum in Charlottetown in June


I'm very excited to announce that my wife, Rebecca Rosenblum, and I will be doing a joint reading at the Confederation Library in my hometown of Charlottetown in June. She will be reading from her debut novel, So Much Love, which was recently shortlisted for the $40,000 Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and I will of course be reading from The Slip. If you're on PEI and are able to make it out, we'd love to see you. Here are the details:

When: June 29, 2017.
What time: 6:30 pm.
Where: The Confederation Library, 145 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE.
Cost: Free.
Facebook invitation: https://www.facebook.com/events/1215287865260391/ 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A good week for The Slip

That's me and my book in this
morning's Toronto Star.
So the hits keep coming for The Slip as it begins its final descent into the world. This week saw not one but two wonderful reviews posted about the book. The first came on Thursday when Kerry Clare published this insightful and generous evaluation of the novel on her Pickle Me This blog. Kerry's a good friend of the Sampsenblums, and she also has some serious chops as a reviewer and reader of Canadian writing.

Then, in today's edition of the Toronto Star, there is a glowing review of The Slip in the Books section, written by BC-based novelist Brett Josef Grubisic. This marks the first appearance (as far as I know) of my work in the paper, which has the largest circulation in all of Canada. I was very excited to get word earlier in the week that it would be appearing this weekend.

Finally, The Slip's publisher, Dundurn Press, informed me about a week ago that it had received a large order of the book from Shoppers Drug Mart, and the novel is now available on the bookshelves of select outlets across the country. Some friends and colleagues have already spotted it in their local Shoppers and sent me pictures. And while Amazon.ca is waiting to fill its own stock, you can still pre-order the book and they will deliver it to you when they do. The book will also hopefully be on shelves soon at brick-and-mortar stores, including Chapters-Indigo.
  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Weathervane featured on Today's Book of Poetry blog

So who said self-Googling doesn't pay off? I was on a short break from more mundane tasks yesterday when I pumped my name and other criteria into the search box and found this lovely post about Weathervane on Michael Dennis's Today's Book in Poetry blog. In the review, Michael and his "better half," K, have lovely things to say about various poems in the collection, including "Choosing a Mattress," "We Took the City," and "Blue Fog." Anyway, go check it and the rest of Michael's blog out. There are a ton of really great poets featured there.

M.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Back on Steven Buechler‏'s blog

I'm very happy to share around this Q&A I did for Steven Buechler's stellar blog, The Library of Pacific Tranquility, which was posted earlier today. In this interview, we chat about my new novel, The Slip, which goes on sale in bookstores everywhere exactly two weeks from today. I've been on Steven's blog a few times now, and I'm very grateful and appreciative of the support he has shown my work. He's a very generous reader, and he's talked to a lot of interesting writers on his blog. If you haven't checked it out yet, you should.

M.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Slip's second major review

Quill & Quire has posted its sharp (or Sharpe? Get it?), insightful review of The Slip, running in its May issue. The piece, written by Michael Hingston, provides a really great overview of the book and touches on several of its themes and tropes. Here's a taste of what it says:
"The Slip turns out to be less about morality itself than the way technology can turn our sense of right and wrong into a game of broken telephone. At various points, Sharpe pines for the kind of in-person, straight-shooting conversation he is familiar with from his father’s pub in Charlottetown. That alone wouldn’t have saved him, of course. But Sampson’s novel is a brisk and well-rendered reminder that those who dismiss social media are the ones most likely to get trampled by it."
Read the full review here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lengthy blog review of Sad Peninsula

So I had a pretty emotional time reading this thorough and thoughtful review of Sad Peninsula that was published yesterday on the blog, A Pilgrim in Narnia. The blog is written by a guy that I went to high school with, Brenton Dickieson, who attended the Charlottetown reading for the novel back in December 2014. Brenton covers quite a lot of ground in his lengthy piece. He talks about how Sad Peninsula was one of the last novels his mother read before she died, and that she, a voracious consumer of books, considered it one of the best she'd ever read. He also mentions remembering the intense drive I had for writing back in high school in the early 1990s (yes, I was getting up at 4:30 am every day to write, even back then) and his mixed feelings about that ambition. Mostly, he provides a deep and generous analysis of Sad Peninsula itself, discussing many of the book's ideas and themes. Anyway, it's great to see that my previous novel still has some legs out there in the world, causing thoughts and sparking discussion. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Announcing: The Slip's Toronto Launch Party


So, what are you doing the evening of Wednesday, May 31? If the answer is nothing, and you live in Toronto, why not come down to Ben McNally Books for the launch of my third novel, The Slip? The evening will include great conversation, snacks and drinks, and a short reading from the book. Here are the details:

When: May 31, 2017.
What time: 6:00 pm.
Where: Ben McNally Books - 366 Bay Street, Toronto, ON.
Facebook invitationhttps://www.facebook.com/events/237382073406125/

I'm so excited to share this book, and Philip Sharpe's delightful misadventures, with the world. Please come out if you can!

Mark

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Slip's first major review!

And it's a real dandy. Yes, for the third time in third years, a book of mine has had the privilege of getting reviewed in the pages of Publishers Weekly, the big publishing/book industry trade magazine in the United States. The review is glowing, calling The Slip "riotous but astute" and adding, "Sampson’s gift to his protagonist is not judging the 49-year-old 'compulsively type A' prof as a hopeless jerk. Like Robertson Davies, he grants him the ability to direct his prodigious intellect inward, with satisfying results." Hazzah!

And in case you're curious, here are the other two reviews I received from PW: one for Sad Peninsula (2014) and one for The Secrets Men Keep (2015).

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Reminder: Reading on Tuesday night

If you've checked out my Events page recently, you know I'm reading as part of the Toronto Review of Books' Spring Party. I'll be sharing the stage with an illustrious crew of other writers, including my wife, Rebecca Rosenblum, as well as Jessica Westhead, Heather Birrell and Antanas Sileika.  We'll be at the Poetry Jazz CafĂ©, 224 Augusta Avenue in Toronto. The festivities kick off at 7pm. I'm also happy to announce that my reading will be the world premiere of my new novel, The Slip. I'll be sharing only a short excerpt, but it will give you a taste of what I've been thinking and writing about for the last three and a half years. Hope you can make it out!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Reminder: Reading next week at Art Bar Poetry Series

I'm looking forward to being back at the Art Bar Poetry Series here in Toronto next week, where I'll be reading with Nicole Saltz and Jane Byers. I hope you're all able to make it out. Once again, here are the details:

When: Tuesday, March 21, 2017
What time: 8 to 11 pm
Where: Free Times Cafe. 320 College St., Toronto
Cost: $5 cover charge
See Facebook invitation.

Monday, March 13, 2017

My review of The Long Dry, by Cynan Jones

So I'm back in the virtual pages of Numero Cinq this month with a review of the dark, brooding and strangely beautiful novel The Long Dry, by Cynan Jones. It's a very short book - almost more of a novella - but it really packs a wallop. Set on a farm in Wales, it tells a compelling story of a family trying to locate a missing cow during a brutal drought. Definitely worth checking it out. See my full review here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Upcoming events

So I have a couple of upcoming poetry-related events to tell you about - one happening fairly soon, and one occurring much later:
  • On March 21 here in Toronto, I'll be back at the Art Bar Poetry Series, reading at Free Times Cafe, 320 College St., sharing the stage with Nicole Saltz and Jane Byers.
  • Then, waaaay into the future, I am booked to appear at the Planet Earth Poetry reading series,  in Victoria, BC, on January 19, 2018. This will be my first reading ever on the West Coast, so if you live in Victoria and are seeing this, please come!
If I can also throw in a pitch for my wife, Rebecca Rosenblum, she will be launching her new novel, So Much Love, at Ben McNally Books here in Toronto the night after I read at Art Bar (we live a rock 'n roll lifestyle around here), on March 22. This book is going to blow all of your socks off, so come on out if you can.

Finally, I will be announcing the Toronto launch party for my own new novel, The Slip, slated for release in May, shortly. So please stay tuned for that.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Most Anticipated Spring 2017 fiction ...

... from the 49th Shelf includes not one but TWO books coming out of the Sampsenblum homestead. Yep: both RR's novel, So Much Love, and my novel, The Slip, made the list, along with a slew of other cool names, including Pasha Malla, Terri Favro, Andrew Kaufman and list-maker extraordinaire herself, Kerry Clare, whose debut novel, Mitzi Bytes, is on our own must-read list. Looks like a solid season for Canadian fiction all around.



Sunday, January 8, 2017

Publication: The Humber Literary Review

One of the great things about being away on vacation is coming home to discover that a bumper crop of good mail has built up during one's absence. For me this year, that meant returning from the holidays on PEI and finding my contributor's copies of The Humber Literary Review  (Issue 3, Volume 2), which contains my poem, "Dysthymia," waiting for me.

This special issue of the journal is dedicated to the theme of mental health, and it includes work by a raft of literary luminaries, including Jowita Bydlowska, Stevie Howell, Anakana Schofield, Matt Cahill and Angie Abdou. Thanks again to the editors for selecting my poem to be included with them.

M.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Interview in Open Book Ontario

Well, I'm starting 2017 with a bang. The year kicked off with the very gracious Koom Kankesan conducting this interview with me as part of his stint as Open Book Ontario's writer in residence. We discuss a number of interesting topics here, including my new novel, The Slip, president-elect Donald Trump, and what it's like for me being married to the brilliant Rebecca Rosenblum.

Koom is a good friend, and this role with Open Book is in support of his own new novel, The Tamil Dream. You may recall that I reviewed his two previous works, The Panic Button and The Rajapaksa Stories, last year. The latter was one of my favourite reads of 2016 and a book that both RR and I feel deserves much more attention.

Anyway, thanks to Koom for this interview, which marks the first bit of promotion for The Slip ahead of its May 20th release. I'll be sure to update you all on others, if and when they come.

M.