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nonfiction

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Under the Radar: An Interview with Olivier Matthon

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Olivier Matthon, itinerant labourer and ethnographer, is the author of  Under the Radar: Notes from the Wild Mushroom Trade. It tells the story of the seasonal migrant labourers who harvest wild mushrooms in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, and is out now from Pioneers Press. Dylan Gordon caught up with Olivier between wild harvests for an interview. Your bio reads a lot like a mushroom...

A Fantasy of Indigenous Experience: Cherie Dimaline’s The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy

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Reviewed in this essay: The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy by Cherie Dimaline. Published by Theytus Books (June 2013). The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy, written by celebrated Ojibway and Métis author Cherie Dimaline, weaves together a story of struggle, hope, and magic. As the main character, Ruby Bloom, experiences a series of traumatic childhood events, planets start to grow around her head. The planets...

Histories and Hauntings: New Books of Note

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Much-anticipated, curious, or simply thrilling, here are some new and notable books. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (McClelland & Stewart) – Hailed as a promising young writer after her award-winning first novel, Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize for this 800-page historical saga. Attracted to Hokitika by the West Coast Gold Rush, Walter Moody finds himself drawn (along with a diverse...

The great Quebecois language balance: Reviewing a guide to interculturalism

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Reviewed in this essay: L’Interculturalisme: Un point du vue québécois, Gérard Bouchard, Boréal, 2012. Despite the arrival of spring and the Habs’ fantastic playing, Quebec is once again at the brink of an existential crisis. Passions are stirred over Bill 14. Proposed by the PQ “separatist” government, Bill 14 attempts to enforce the supremacy of French in Quebec at the...

TRB Podcast: Dr. Pamela Palmater speaks about Indigenous rights and Idle No More

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Listen here: Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser. Lawyer, Ryerson professor and member of the Mi’kmaq community Dr. Pamela Palmater has been one of the key organizers of the Idle No More movement in Toronto. On Jan. 17, 2013 she spoke to a packed room...

Changing the narrative on peace: A review of What We Talk About When We Talk About War

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Reviewed in this essay: What We Talk About When We Talk About War, Noah Richler, Goose Lane Editions, 2012. George Grant wrote Lament for a Nation before official multiculturalism, before the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, before the liberalization of Canada had begun in earnest. But he understood that his preferred canon of national stories were no longer told, and that new ones were being...

CanLit Canon Review #12: Harold Innis’s Empire and Communications

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In an attempt to make himself a better Canadian, Craig MacBride is reading and reviewing the books that shaped this country. What is most remarkable about Harold Innis is his consistency through the years. Whether it’s his first book, The Fur Trade in Canada or, 20 years later, his last book, Empire and Communications, Innis is always, without exception, unreadable. Unlike Fur Trade, Empire and...

A brief literary history of cocktails: The Mint Julep

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Since the time of Homeric libation rituals and Plato’s wine-soaked Dionysian revels, alcohol has been an abiding fixture in the works and lives of many of our greatest writers, poets and philosophers. Their liquid inspiration and sustenance—to say nothing of ruin—has played a surprisingly major role in the development of literary history. Our new series of posts will explore both famous and...

An ambitious take on human nature: Edward O. Wilson’s The Social Conquest of Earth

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Reviewed in this essay: The Social Conquest of Earth, by Edward O. Wilson. Liveright, 2012. The first scientific controversy to capture the mind of the young Edward O. Wilson was the so-called Lysenko affair. Wilson, 14 at the time, wrote an enthusiastic essay about the Soviet biologist Trofim Lysenko, a Stalinist protégé who advocated the now discredited theory of inheritance of acquired...

The Wit and Wisdom of Misha Glouberman

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Reviewed in this essay: The Chairs Are Where the People Go by Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti. Faber and Faber, 2011. You can tell the publishers weren’t quite sure what to do with Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti’s book The Chairs Are Where the People Go because the explanatory subtitle, “How to Live, Work, and Play in the City,” really doesn’t capture the nature...

TRB Podcast: Richard Stursberg’s Tower of Babble

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On April 24, Richard Stursberg joined Don Ferguson of the Royal Canadian Air Farce in conversation at the Toronto launch of Stursberg’s new book, presented by This Is Not a Reading Series, D&M Publishers, the Gladstone Hotel, and the Toronto Review of Books. In The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC, Stursberg discloses the controversies, successes and dead ends...

TRB Podcast: Ruth Panofsky on The Literary Legacy of the Macmillan Company of Canada

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Listen here: Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser. On March 19, Ryerson University hosted an interview and launch for Ruth Panofsky’s new book, The Literary Legacy of the Macmillan Company of Canada: Making Books and Mapping Culture, at the Modern...