Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: Strip, by Andrew Binks

You know, for a straight-up hetero guy I’ve read a number of interesting books about the gay-male experience over the last little while. I really enjoyed my friend Ron Schafrick’s first short story collection, Interpreters, published late last year by Oberon, about gay men living and teaching in Seoul. I also reviewed some stellar novels recently for Quill & Quire written by gay men—The Desperates, by Greg Kearney, Imperfections, by Bradley Somers, and the mind-bending magic realist novel The Lava in My Bones, by Barry Webster. Andrew Binks’ new book, Strip, is certainly more in the realistic mode than that latter example, but it does--eventually--holds it own with each of these other titles I've enjoyed.

I say "eventually" because I really did struggle for the first quarter of this novel to get into it. The story begins as a rather familiar bildungsroman: set in the early 1980s, the book introduces us to John Rottam (a surname that sounds, he readily admits, a bit too much like “rotten”), a struggling dancer from the Prairies holding down a tenuous job with a classical dance troupe and ends up in Quebec City. Unable to score the bigger roles and earn a decent living, he drifts into a stripping gig at a burlesque house as a way of keeping his dreams alive. For the first chunk of Strip, we don’t get much access to John’s inner world beyond his career ambitions and sex drive. We do learn early on that he suffers from an intense (and rather adolescent) infatuation with a fellow dancer named Daniel, but we aren’t given much access to Daniel’s greatness, either. On the surface, it seems this novel flounders around for the first 100 pages or so, obsessed with the superficial world of physical appearances and the various vicissitudes of the starving artist lifestyle.

But to say that the first 100 pages of Strip under-promise on what the last 100 pages deliver is a huge understatement. Readers who stick it out with this novel should prepare themselves for one of the most wrenching, devastating and deeply affecting endings they’ll find in any work of contemporary fiction. John’s saving grace is the slow-burn relationship he develops with his neighbour Kent—a relationship that grows increasingly complex as it becomes sexual, and moves with them from Quebec City to Toronto. As mentioned, it’s the early 1980s and HIV (the “gay cancer”, as it’s labeled here) looms large over the narrative. How this deadly disease comes to affect John and Kent’s relationship is absolutely harrowing.

Binks takes his time revealing his talent, his ingenious hold over this story as the book goes on. Even in those iffy early pages, he shows an incredible ear for pitch-perfect dialogue and well-chosen turns of phrase. We also get two incredibly descriptive strip scenes later on: one involving John himself (“I ground my pelvis into the floor until I felt arousal. I rolled over, reached for the ceiling, rocked up and down, up and down … I shoved and it was Kent’s mouth I saw in front of me”) and one involving a travelling celebrity stripper named Brittany (“She made you think she needed someone to satisfy her immediately, but didn’t want to give it away to just anyone. She made you think it was you who could save her”). These and other scenes reveal that Binks has some serious writing chops. But it isn’t until John and Kent relocate to Toronto that we see just what this author has in store for us, the depth of emotion he’s about to put us through.

And therein lies, I think, what Strip really is. This is not a slow reveal of John’s emotional life. Rather, it’s a slow development of that emotional life. The vapidity at the beginning of this book turns out to be paramount to the richness at the end. John’s growth as a man, as a lover, and as a conscientious member of a gay community is this novel’s true arc. It is breathtaking. By the end, I felt as if I was mourning what he mourned, was feeling as lost as he was.

It’s an incredible affect to pull off, and one that lingers for a long time. Indeed, if readers stay with this novel, I promise this novel will stay with them.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Acceptance: Forthcoming anthology from Frog Hollow Press

Got word today that a poem of mine, entitled "Tragedies of Stillness," will be appearing in an upcoming anthology of poetry on childhood from Frog Hollow Press, edited by Shane Neilson and slated for release in the fall of this year. (A slightly different version of this poem previously appeared in an issue of This magazine back in 2012.) Anyway, thanks to Shane for taking my piece. Looking forward to seeing the book.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: Winter Cranes, by Chris Banks

I’ve been dying to read some Chris Banks for a while now, as several very smart people—including Adam Getty and Bob Spree—have recommended his poetry to me over the years. Winter Cranes, Banks’s 2011 collection with ECW, seemed to be as good a place to start as any. The back-cover copy reminds us that, “In Asian folklore cranes symbolize longevity, immortality, and good fortune.” It’s curious that this blurb excludes the word wisdom from the list, which is one of the chief associations of cranes in Asia, especially in Chinese and Korean mythology.

I say curious because much of what Banks is wrestling with here seems to be the slippery, tenuous nature of wisdom—how our knowledge and certitude can be undone by emotions, by the vicissitudes of reality and our own self doubts. This was certainly evident in the collection’s lovely and cadence-rich title poem, where he writes about the wish of Truth being what we want it to be, rather than what it is. He tells us:

My wife saw birds pass over the frozen pond
and wondered aloud if they were cranes,
desiring proof of their corporeal existence
to mark them as either a tangible reality
or a fantasy born of some lack in our lives
“I want them to be cranes,” my wife said again,
a little more forcefully this time, so her words
were now a truth or a sacrament of experience
fully grasped …

There is a mutual desire between the two characters in this poem to see the world in the same way, to share with one another an immutable reality, or at least the same delusion that holds a ring of truth. This, one could argue, is the very definition of wisdom.

There is evidence of these preoccupations throughout Winter Cranes. In the poem “David,” the narrator talks of neighbours who glimpse an autistic man living next door engaging in his own un-parse-able inner world, only to turn their gazes away before a clearer truth can reveal itself to them. In “Graffiti,” Banks walks us through the often-inscrutable world of vandalism-as-art, writing of “street calligraphy” and the “longhand scrawl of syllables” that stay just beyond the boundaries of our understanding. In these and other poems, full wisdom remains one step ahead of us, a version of reality floating in a world just outside our reach.

I have to admit that there were times when I struggled with some of Banks’s approaches. There are a number of poems in this collection that have what I would call close-ended finishes—lines that reach a bit too much for a clear-cut epiphany or easy reversal, rather than an open-ended moment that allows the reader to do most of the work himself. I’m thinking of poems like “Desert,” which manages to be mysterious without holding much mystery; or “The Thief,” which builds to a rather pedestrian resolution. These issues may stem from a larger problem I found in Winter Cranes—that is, its overreliance on narrative in many of these pieces. Reading this collection reminded me of a pearl of wisdom that Catherine Owen shared in her essay collection Catalysts: “A willingness to experiment with form is also paramount in increasing the ‘energy potential’ of one’s poems. Words and forms are the poet’s primary tools. Too many poems are currently being written and published that emerge from … a narrative impulse, a character-driven structure and little else.” I often wished that Banks would subjugate his own narrative impulse a bit better, and allow his talent for ellipses and subtlety to shine through more.

Still, it’s clear that Banks writes with a very sharp eye, and loads of generosity. He understands what propels a reader through a poem, the percussive energy that captures our imagination. While some of these poems may be bogged down by their over-dependence on narrative, most of them have no trouble at all taking flight.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Left for Right, by Glen Downie

I’ve always felt that the prose poem has a hell of a time justifying its existence. You know what I mean: leading its double life; wrestling with how much narrative to include or exclude; trying to build a sense of rhythm without the convenience of line breaks. Since discovering the form via the works of Arthur Rimbaud as an undersexed undergraduate in the 1990s, I’ve never stopped asking: how are these bloody things supposed to work?

Well, thank God for Glen Downie. I think it’s fair to say that in the very best pieces in his 2012 collection Left for Right, he puts on an absolute clinic in terms of what the prose poem can accomplish on the page. Here you will find a simplicity that resists the simple, a musicality that resists the lyric, and an emotional arc that resists the humdrums of plot. Many of these poems swept me up in the worlds they created, even if that world was, on the surface at least, a fleeting one. A perfect example of what I’m talking about is his poem “Self-loathing,” where Downie writes:

I dislike men who resemble me. To spot one crossing the street
is to mistake myself a moment, and think Oh God, there goes
that sad poet! What an unprepossessing figure, what a shabby
fat fellow he’s become! He was young once, at least passably
good-looking. Now he is no one, nothing, and worse yet, a
dime a dozen …

There are several interesting things happening in this one short passage—the self-referential imaging, the carefully placed alliteration—but they all conspire to create that recognizable moment we all have when we detest the doppelganger in front of us for what he resembles, both inside and out. (The subject matter of the doppelganger crops up later in the collection, in Downie’s poem “My Part,” albeit less successfully.)

Each of Left for Right’s five sections are organized around a singular and straightforward noun: “Domesticity,” “Fables,” “Disappearances,” etc. But the poems therein shine brightest when they keep just enough distance between their subject matter and what the reader has immediate access to. Downie is canny enough to know just how much to reveal to us to pique our interest, keep us in the moment of the poem, and then let us go without needing to give us more. I certainly felt this way about his piece “Firefly”, which is worth printing in its entirety here:

In your jar, you are my faint-hope lantern, frail guide through
the night by my bed. On a shelf in the pitch-black cottage
you circle a tiny kingdom — a miniature lighthouse sweeping
the coastline of solitude. As I drift off, you keep vigil. Your
ember fails and flares, the fiery end of a smoke as a father
watches over his sleeping son, think his dark private

There is so much intimated at here but never overly said: the sense of loss (“faint-hope lantern”), of loneliness (“coastline of solitude”) and that great mysterious ending with the inscrutable father. I would argue that only a prose poem could accommodate the various subtleties encoded in this piece, and Downie executes upon them brilliantly.

Other examples embrace these same techniques. I love the coyness of the title poem (“A hand like his might have palmed a one-eyed jack, lifted a wallet, or switched, unnoticed, a pretty assistant’s mole to her opposite cheek …”) and the extended image that plays itself out in “Buried Sky,” (about blue piping laid below the poet’s street.) Of course, not ever instance worked for me.  A couple of Downie’s poems ended on puns that left me grimacing: I’m thinking specifically of “Corner Store” and “Death of the Life of the Party”. And a few of the early pieces in the book struggle to find their legs in the way that the later poems do. Not sure what impression his poems “The Queen” or “Third and Long” were meant to leave with me, for example.

But these are minor grumbles. For the most part, Left for Right reenergizes one’s affection for the prose poem. Downie does a tremendous job showing us how to do them right.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review: The Art of Sufficient Conclusions, by Sarah Dearing

Abigail Strafe, the protagonist of Sarah Dearing’s arrestingly funny and linguistically daring new novel, loses her job as a school teacher after a confrontation with a student that gets out of hand. The reason for the confrontation is that a young boy was being bullied. As she puts it:

It was the coddled, over-privileged boys doing the torture and their victim was the fatherless fat kid who probably never learned how to fight back. His mother whispered her thanks when she came to collect him, but he never returned to that school. I think my reaction was not only appropriate but also long overdue. He’s on my list too, that little boy, and twenty years from now I’ll ask him if I did the right thing.

It’s the “fatherless” bit that holds the key to that passage, and indeed to this entire book. The Art of Sufficient Conclusions has Abbie on a quest to learn more about the life of her now-deceased father, a former child film star who was (apparently) “sold” to an infamous sculptor to be his model. This journey takes Abbie to London, riding on the coattails of her on-again off-again partner Julian, a scholar who is there to attend a conference. Concurrent to all this is a flirtatious affair that Abbie strikes up with a man named Martin, who is Julian’s old university roommate and whom Julian may have set up Abbie to fall in love with. Bundled up in all this are issues of science, mortality (Julian has discovered himself to be a candidate for early onset Alzheimer’s) and the very nature of inevitability.

The great strength of this novel is Dearing’s manic, almost hyperactive prose: whether describing the streets of London, how much Julian annoys her, or the surly librarian overlooking her research, Abbie’s voice wows us with its hilarity and cutting observations. This is a character whose brain you want to inhabit, whose witty inner world seems enviable even as her life teeters toward the edge of collapse. In this regard, The Art of Sufficient Conclusions reminded me of the best of Amis, Burgess and A.L. Kennedy.

Still, I found the novel lost a bit of its steam in the last quarter. There is a dourness that infiltrates the long heady exchanges that come near the end as Abbie wrestles with her troubled love triangle with Julian and Martin, the family secrets she is learning about her father, and her own mortality. It’s almost as if Dearing felt the book needed to become Serious Literature as it reached its conclusion, lest it be dismissed as little more than a comic romp. But a marvelous romp it is—some of the funniest writing I’ve read in a long time—and it’s too bad it didn’t maintain that momentum all the way through.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects, by Catherine Graham

Is it possible to employ the words “hotly anticipated” when referring to a collection of poetry? If so, I would certainly use them to describe my feelings toward Toronto poet Catherine Graham’s latest collection (with its albeit long-winded title), Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects. It isn’t just that I read and favourably reviewed her last collection of poems, Winterkill, back in 2010. I also knew that this new book was shaping up to be a collection of glosas in tribute to Canada’s own P.K. Page (a master of the form) as well as to the late Irish poet Dorothy Molloy.

Graham is an accomplished glosa writer in her own right; probably equal to Page herself. (For a good sample of Graham’s chops with the form, check out the summer 2012 issue of The Malahat Review, which includes three of her glosas.) But Her Red Hair … has evolved into something different: it sheds the glosa structure—what Graham refers to as “scaffolding” in her foreword—in favour of incorporating swatches of Molloy’s lines from specific poems into more free-verse style works. The results were, I must admit, a bit jarring at first: the Molloy passages come in italics and are often included in mid thought, or even mid image, in Graham’s poems. But once my eye acclimatized to this approach, the book grew exhilarating as it revealed a sly and dark call and response between the two writers as poem after poem unfolded.

It would be tempting to say that Graham is committing an act of ventriloquism here with Molloy’s verse, but I think the opposite is as much true. That is, Molloy’s lines “use” Graham’s, as much as Graham’s uses Molloy’s, to create sharp, pungent images. In some poems, this interstitial conglomeration is overt and intense. Take, for example, the pieces “Winter Broccoli” and “You Are Dead to Me,” both of which borrow flora or plantation images from Molloy and infuse them into the emotional life of Graham’s lines. In the former, she writes:

Oh, but the purrs of a pub in strings.
His voice slips through my sixth sense.
Medicinal split between this and this.
And he is so real. And I am so normal.

Purple hearts sprouting flowers in hedgerows carry
the glisten of sex as the night blows stars to deafen
our ears and we are safe beside the sea’s deep
negotiations, unseen in the forests of our own taking.

And in the latter she writes:

Now I remember
the sweet name of things:

roses, carnations, 
camellias, begonias.

No more brick of you
to weigh me down in the cellar

where darkness shot roots
through the stems of my ankles.

In both instances, there is an unmistakable spark of metaphor, a series of images that slide both forward and backward when forming their comparisons. The duality of the voice is deliberate and not meant to be glossed over. That echo of Molloy’s imagery in Graham’s is intended to sit at the forefront of the piece.

Other poems use slicker, more subtler inclusions—but are just as effective. An example would be “Peas & Barbies” a light, comic poem about two girls ogling a naked Barbie and using the much-maligned vegetable to create nipples on a mound of mashed potato. Here, the Molloy lines are more gently deployed, their metaphoric contributions kept in the background:

We said it at the same time.

I made a doll of mashed potato
with nipple-peas on my plate.

Take charge and split. 
Witless move. Nana’s looking.

Don’t play with your food says the line
in her lips that melts the wizard in mine.

She blinks the nippled world away.
I give the world too much.

Fork more food in your mouth
and keep your eyes shut;

be an empty-headed thing 
with shredded carrot hair.

You can see a similar strategy in the poem “Pail and Shovel,” where Molloy’s voice moves more fluidly through Graham’s lines, contributing to—rather than forcing the reader to pause upon—their cadences. We see it begin in the third stanza:

You sit for hours beneath the dripping taps
in the white and narrow bath trying
to dilute your father’s neglect.

and continues forward, with a kind of canny propulsion, through the later verses of the poem:

Salt in the water won’t
lessen the evidence.
What makes a father leave?

There is no solution. 
With hands flapping, water lapping,
a letter leads to a buried memory.

There’s not just energy here in the weaving together of these two poets’ lines. There is, in case you missed it, a wonderful pun on “salt in the water” and “solution”, which Graham and Molloy collaborate on, collectively. Brilliant.

Those of you who have read Graham’s earlier works will be familiar with her favourite reoccurring trope—that of a quarry, a place of both danger and exploration. Rest assured that Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects contributes to this pattern: the book includes a poem called “Quarry” as well as several references in other poems to this kind of stone pit. The unifying trope is one of the great charms of Graham’s collections.

But readers should also prepare themselves for a book that is darker than Graham’s previous outing. This collection has other, more unsettling preoccupations: that of mortality, of the threat of impermanence and the vicissitudes of time. The book ends, I believe, on what can only be a premonition. From “There is a Stir, Always”:

“If I hold this body up the snow will grow inside me
and the winter of my cells will flake
into tiny crystals like six figure gods
I rise to the cold
to take my place among the fragile stars,
and sleep.

These lines belong to Graham alone. And hopefully the voice captured therein will return from its sleep to grace us with yet another collection, a new and finely wrought reliquary of her rich and generous imagination.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013: My Reading Year in Review

Twenty thirteen was a weird reading year for me. I managed to blow through my typical number of books, and yet I had this strange pall of laziness that I couldn't shake for most of the year. This is partly due, I think, to the fact that I failed to review every title on my reading list. Some books were by people who have become good friends and I couldn't really give them an objective evaluation; others books got read at a time when I was low on energy, and I just didn't have the brainmeats to commit to a critique. (You'll also notice from the full reading list below, there were a number of books late in the year that I'm reading for "research"for a new major work of fiction.)

At any rate, I did manage to compile my usual 10 best reads and my 5 worst reads. Here we go:

10 best reads of the year

  • (reread) The Information, by Martin Amis (part of the Co-habitational Reading Challenge): "Throughout, what we find is a treatise on professional avarice and a hilarious (and strangely touching) portrait of the Failed Male of the late 20th century. Amis has mastered an incredible narrative voice for this book, an almost amorphous "I" that watches Richard from a distance and yet can capture him so perfectly, gain access to his every thought so readily. Couple that with an enduring fascination of cosmogony as a way of grasping the midlife crisis, and what you've got is a book about squandered potential and revenge that gets out of control." Full review: here, here and here.
  • (reread) Ulysses, by James Joyce: I covered this book over three posts, and it's difficult to find a singular pull quote that captures the essence of them all. Best to read the full reviews here, here, and here.
  • The Crystal Palace, by Carey Toane: "What makes The Crystal Palace such a remarkable achievement is its breathy ability to both build up and tear down our assumptions of what the book is going to be. You cannot come to this collection thinking you will find a Zwickian thisness to the Great Exhibition, or to rats, or to flowers, or to any other recurrent preoccupation cast upon its pages. You come to this collection to marvel at the looseness of its metaphors, the temporary but powerful allusions that scuttle like crabs across its landscape." From an as-yet unpublished review.
  • Arguably, by Christopher Hitchens. "In the end, when reviewing Arguably, one must set aside these literary profiles/criticism and once again acknowledge Hitchens’ true m├ętier: his geopolitical writing. Whether tackling the historic phenomena of Nazism and Stalinism, or writing about the current-day situations in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, Hitchens’ breadth of knowledge and depth of engagement have few peers." Full review.
  • Contents of a Mermaid’s Purse, by Phoebe Tsang: "[I]n poem after poem, Tsang peels back our expectations of what can be conveyed through a traditional image for kids—a mermaid, a black cat, a pig with an apple in its mouth—to reveal a visceral world of lust, desire and even violence underneath." Full review.
  • The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud: "There is no denying that this is a powerful and well-envisioned novel that captures perfectly a kind of self regard that feels so prevalent to the 21st century. The Woman Upstairs is a deeply contemporary novel that reflects back the darkness and the light of ourselves as we try to shape our own worlds and how we define the meaning of success." Full review.
  • Cottonopolis, by Rachel Lebowitz: "What unfolds is a breathtaking, eerie and oddly beautiful look at the vicious underbelly of capitalism, and how this tangled system of human subjugation continues to lord over our lives and our prosperity." Review forthcoming in The Fiddlehead.  
  • Savage Love, by Douglas Glover: "If there were any doubts that Douglas Glover is one of Canada’s best prose writers, then Savage Love will surely extinguish them. The fact that this collection braids so many modalities, so many tonalities, together into a cohesive whole speaks to the author’s immense talent. These stories are skillful yet breathless, and deserve any and all accolades that may come their way." Review forthcoming in CNQ. 
  • M/F, by Anthony Burgess: "Burgess weaves his puns and his allusions expertly and with great deliberation. Thankfully, one can read M/F simply at the level of its convoluted plot, missing much of its subtext, and still get a lot out of it. You’ll laugh. You flip the pages. And you’ll probably increase your vocabulary by a wide margin." Full review.
  • The Last of the Lumbermen, by Brian Fawcett: "Brian Fawcett’s engrossing new book is as good as any hockey novel gets. Whether you’re a fan of the sport or a devotee of tense, multi-threaded storytelling, you’ll find something to love in this book that bursts with family secrets, small-town violence, and scads of on-ice action." Full Quill & Quire review.
5 worst reads of the year
  • Every Little Thing, by Chad Pelley: "The story itself moves through a series of pointless twists and tropes: there’s a drowned brother (an increasingly overdone occurrence in CanLit); parents dying of cancer; an infidelity involving Allie and her boss; and a young boy Cohen wants to adopt. The issue here isn’t just these convolutions. Nor is it the novel’s clunky prose, wooden dialogue, or tortured similes. An insidious sentimentality infects the entire novel, culminating with a final scene in a cemetery that will have readers throwing the book across the room." Full Quill & Quire review.
  • Flip Turn, by Paula Eisenstein: "What Flip Turn does explore, inexplicably, is an array of petty relationships that the narrator has with other girls at school and at the pool. A motley assemble of vague, poorly drawn female characters are marched out, given some kind of trivial interaction with our protagonist, and then scarcely heard from again. This approach goes on for dozens of pages, and left me wondering what all these relationships would amount to, what sort of jouissance they would instill by the end of the story. The answer, sadly, was nothing and none." Full review.
  • Iron-on Constellations, by Emily Pohl-Weary: "[I]t often seems like Pohl-Weary is reaching for the easy rather than the difficult, the vague rather than the specific, the prefabricated rather than the vibrantly original." Full review
  • Extraordinary, by David Gilmour: "As with other Gilmour books, Extraordinary contains elements that left me baffled. Example: Sally broke her neck at a cocktail party after tripping on a carpet and hitting her head on a fireplace. The exact nature of her injuries is not made clear, however: she’s not a quadriplegic – she appears to have full use of her arms – or a paraplegic, since she occasionally gets around on crutches. These and other nebulous details pepper the book, making for an occasionally jarring reading experience." Full Quill & Quire Review.
  • Day of the Oprichnik, by Vladimir Sorokin: "[U]nfortunately Day of the Oprichnik just doesn’t hold together. Sorokin—perhaps in the interest of appearing original—relies too heavily on elision: we never get a sense of the broader machinations of the society he creates or how Russia arrived in the state that it’s in. Komiaga’s inner world comes off as rather hollow. He doesn’t really change or evolve over the course of the novel, doesn’t ever build upon his sense of the magnitude of his actions or the role he plays in this horrific society." Full review.
My reading year in full
64. December 29. Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects, by Catherine Graham. 57 pps.

63. December 26. Interpreters, by Ron Schafrick. 127 pps.

62. December 21. Unruly Voices: Essays on Democracy, Civility and the Human Imagination, by Mark Kingwell. 272 pps. (for research)

61. December 15. The Fiddlehead No. 257, Fall 2013. 118 pps.

60. December 7. Prisoner of Zion: Muslims, Mormons, and Other Misadventures, by Scott Carrier. 240 pps.

59. November 30. What's the Score? 99 Poems, by David McFadden. 146 pps.

58. November 26. Baffle, by Zachariah Wells. 28 pps.

57. November 25. One Fat Englishman, by Kingsley Amis. 162 pps.

56. November 19. So Much Love, by Rebecca Rosenblum. 180 pps. (manuscript)

55. November 19. (reread) On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill. 141 pps. (for research)

54. November 13. The Desperates, by Greg Kearney. 319 pps. (For review in Quill and Quire.)

53. November 12. (reread) The Social Contract, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 139 pps. (for research.)

52. November 6. The New Quarterly 128 (Fall 2013.) 141 pps.

51. November 5. (reread) Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, by Immanuel Kant. 115 pps. (for research)

50. October 31. Personals, by Ian Williams. 68 pps.

49. October 29. M/F, by Anthony Burgess. 206 pps.

48. October 25. Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, by Chrystia Freeland. 330 pps.

47. October 18. The Fiddlehead No. 256. Summer 2013. 181 pps.

46. October 5. Arguments with the Lake, by Tanis Rideout. 70 pps.

45. October 3. The Blue Guitar, by Ann Ireland. 254 pps.

44. September 28. Happy Birthday, Nicanor Parra, by Jim Smith. 98 pps.

43. September 25. Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup, by Trevor J. Adams. 148 pps.

42. September 23. The Marquess of Queensberry: Wilde's Nemesis, by Linda Stratmann. 316 pps.

41. September 12. Savage Love, by Douglas Glover. 262 pps.(For review in Canadian Notes & Queries.)

40. September 5. The Last of the Lumbermen, by Brian Fawcett. 285 pps. (For review in Quill and Quire.)

39. August 29. Day of the Oprichnick, by Vladimir Sorokin. 191 pps.

38. August 22. We Others: New and Selected Stories, by Steven Millhauser. 387 pps.

37. August 16. No One Belongs Here More than You, by Miranda July. (audiobook)

36. July 28. Cottonopolis, by Rachel Lebowitz. 117 pps.

35. July 25. Extraordinary, by David Gilmour. 186 pps. (For review in Quill and Quire.)

34. July 21. The Semiconducting Dictionary (Our Strindberg), by Natalee Caple. 111 pps.

33. July 15. Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann. 512 pps.

32. July 3. CNQ 87. Spring 2013. 96 pps.

31. June 30. The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud. 253 pps.

30. June 25. It's Hard Being Queen: The Dusty Springfield Poems, by Jeanette Lynes. 91 pps.

29. June 24. Whiteout, by George Murray. 64 pps.

28. June 22. Contents of a Mermaid's Purse, by Phoebe Tsang. 62 pps.

27. June 20. A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove, edited by Robert McTavish, with an Afterword by Jeff Derksen. 251 pps.

26. June 15. Arguably, by Christopher Hitchens. 788 pps.

25. May 20. Unmapped Dreams: The Charlottetown Stories, by J.J. Steinfeld. 171 pps.

24. May 14. The Hundred Hearts, by William Kowalski. 292 pps. (For review in Quill and Quire.)

23. May 7. Iron-on Constellations, by Emily Pohl-Weary. 54 pps.

22. May 6. Gaspereau Gloriatur - Volume II: Prose, edited by Michael deBeyer, Kate Kennedy and Andrew Steeves. 278 pps.

21. April 28. Waking in the Tree House, by Michael Lithgow. 59 pps.

20. April 25. The King's English: A Guide to Modern Usage, by Kingsley Amis. 270 pps.

19. April 16. Event, 41.1. 102 pps.

18. April 14. Li'l Bastard, by David McGimpsey. 151 pps.

17. April 10. Flip Turn, by Paula Eisenstein. 190 pps.

16. April 4. CNQ 86. Winter 2012/2013. 96 pps.

15. March 30. The Crystal Palace, by Carey Toane. 93 pps.

14. March 27. Grunt of the Minotaur, by Robin Richardson. 80 pps.

13. March 26. Ash Steps, by M. Travis Lane. 85 pps.

12. March 23. Giant, by Aga Maksimowska. 211 pps. (For review in The Antigonish Review.)

11. March 15. Distillery Songs, by Mike Spry. 155 pps.

10. March 11. (reread) Ulysses, by James Joyce - Episode 15: "Circe" to Episode 18: "Penelope", plus endnotes. 572 pps. (For A Time to Re-Joyce.)

9. March 4. Every Little Thing, by Chad Pelley. 271 pps. (For review in Quill and Quire.)

8. February 24. Prism International, Winter 2013. 81 pps.

7. February 21. (reread) Ulysses, by James Joyce - Episode 11: "Sirens" to Episode 14: "Oxen of the Sun." 162 pps.  (For A Time to Re-Joyce.)

6. February 13. Charms Against Lightning, by James Arthur. 64 pps.

5. February 11. (reread) Ulysses, by James Joyce - Jeri Johnson intro to 1922 text and Episode 1: "Telemachus" to Episode 10: "Wandering Rocks". 313 pps. (For A Time to Re-Joyce.)

4. February 3. Under Budapest, by Ailsa Kay. 260 pps. (For review in Quill and Quire.)

3. January 21. What We All Long For, by Dionne Brand. 318 pps.

2. January 15. (reread) The Information, by Martin Amis. 494 pps.(For the Cohabitational Reading Challenge)

1. January 2. PRISM International, Fall 2012. 79 pps.