"Grief feels like love. Sometimes you press on that tender spot, because it’s as close as you can get to the person who is otherwise gone.” – Kate Brody
Posts tagged "Canada"
The horror of the self

The horror of the self

In November 1979, the American current affairs programme 60 Minutes ran an item called ‘Wellness’. In it, host Dan Rather profiled the work of Dr John Travis, a former physician-turned health educator who had, in 1975, opened the Wellness Resource Center in Mill Valley, an affluent city in California’s Marin County. As Rather discovered, Travis...
We need to do the impossible, because what’s merely possible is gonna get us all killed

We need to do the impossible, because what’s merely possible is gonna get us all killed

We can debate whether the problem is Us or Them. We can endlessly parse false and real solutions, and fight over what – given prevailing political realities – we’re willing to consider “good enough.” We can argue whether to focus on mitigation, adaptation, or suffering. We can quarrel over whether our salvation lies in individual...
Orlando Ortega-Medina: Love without borders

Orlando Ortega-Medina: Love without borders

Orlando Ortega-Medina’s riveting novel The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants wears its politics on its sleeve. Beyond the inclusion of the perennially hot-button word Immigrants in its title, one needs only to peel back the front cover and read the dedication to find the first direct iteration of its author’s message: “To the countless multinational same-sex...
Keeping mum

Keeping mum

In Ainslie Hogarth’s gripping and darkly comic modern gothic novel Motherthing, Abby Lamb’s mother-in-law Laura’s endless sniping and put-downs come to an abrupt end when she slashes her wrists in the family basement. But then Laura’s ghost takes up the mantle, and begins to terrorise Abby with still greater venom, just as Abby is left to cope...
Blind ricochets and unexpected avenues

Blind ricochets and unexpected avenues

“We want Jack! We want Jack! We want Jack!” It starts with just one voice, some anonymous drunken loser without a girlfriend to embarrass, hidden deep within the chattering mass of denim and leather. Cliché to begin with, those three syllables sound particularly obnoxious coming from just one person. But a restless herd of kindred...
Ink blots in the trunk

Ink blots in the trunk

Every aspiring writer is familiar with the concept of the ‘trunk novel’. This is the novel that doesn’t make it to the bookshelf, but instead gets tucked into a bottom desk drawer or old USB drive after refusing to do what its writer wants it to do. Often it’s the writer’s first attempt at a...
Tessa McWatt: A place in the world

Tessa McWatt: A place in the world

Tessa McWatt’s The Snow Line throws together four strangers at a wedding in the Indian Himalayan foothills. Twenty-five-year-old Reema is a classical singer born in India but raised as a Londoner, who has travelled without her Scottish boyfriend. Having recently discovered she is pregnant, she is facing a life-shifting decision about her future. Yosh is...
Alone at last: The secret of Marian Engel's Bear

Alone at last: The secret of Marian Engel’s Bear

A woman is sent to an island for a summer. The island holds little more than a house, although admittedly a big one for this remote territory, and strangely shaped too, with eight sides and no real corners, two levels, many windows – ridiculous anywhere but especially here, where you need a fire most of...
Nasim's story

Nasim’s story

I moved to New York in January 2014 to start reporting New Yorkers. I had spent the previous decade researching, reporting and writing two books about other places. They were based on my experiences interviewing a wide array of people to get a feel for their lives, their work and the places they made. For...
Bearing witness

Bearing witness

Before discussing the far-reaching scope of Kim Echlin’s Speak, Silence, and the enormity of the issues it illuminates, let’s zoom in close: amid a tryst in a hotel room at The Hague one evening, a female reporter covering the trial of a Bosnian war criminal prods her companion, the Dutch guard assigned to watch over...
Behind the mask

Behind the mask

There’s a movie I love called The Red Violin, by Canadian filmmaker François Girard. I was in university when it came out in 1998, and watched it in one of those old theatres where the seats were upholstered in rough velour, the tickets were cheap and the popcorn stale. The Red Violin, if you’re not...
You and the story

You and the story

Second-person narration, in which the author uses the pronoun ‘you’ to seemingly address the reader and draw them into the story, can be a bit of a high-wire balancing act. Or, to apply an analogy more suited to my West Coast background (I’ve never tried any circus stunts, let alone a high-wire act), writing in...