• Side Effects: A Footloose Journey to the Apocalypse

    S. Montana KatzGuernica Editions, 2020236 pagesISBN: 1771835508$20.00 Side Effects: A Footloose Journey to the Apocalypse is a rollercoaster read through the Baby Boomer years, 60-80s, exploring the devil-may-care attitudes of a peculiarly quirky family. The narrator is the first-born daughter of that family, who offers a retrospective of past events. The book captures a post-war optimism as a newly married couple from New York set out to travel the country by motorcycle for their honeymoon. When they reach California, they are seduced by the warm climate and intellectual counter-culture and vow to live there one day as political activists. A year later they have their first child and Side Effects is told…

  • MIRROR’S EDGE

    Alex PasseyAt Bay PressSeptember 29, 2020347 pagesISBN: 9781988168234$29.95 Mirror’s Edge is a cunning and thought-provoking debut science fiction/fantasy novel that showcases two beautifully juxtaposed worlds. It follows Rath in a technologically advanced future in which everyone and everything is connected through a MOSES chip nestled against the brainstem. Except, Rath hates his MOSES chip. He could have it removed, but doing so would make it impossible for him to function as a part of his society. Sarah’s world is beautiful and pristine, nature nearly untouched by the humans that live in a simpler world. Sarah lives in a small cabin in the woods with a large garden, a tool shed,…

  • WALKING ON THE BEACHES OF TEMPORAL CANDY

    Christian McPhersonAt Bay Press, 2020278 Pages978-1-988168-40-1$24.95Reviewed by Chris Beaton Walking on The Beaches of Temporal Candy is a collection of poetry split into two sections: the first being “Poems Written Travelling Around the Sun” and “Poems Written On The Walk To Work.” Both sections make use of fantastical imagery and gritty language to examine the notion of time, particularly when it passes slowly at jobs for which the employee lacks passion or during moments of anxiety over quotidian life when the strain and anger builds to a crescendo. McPherson unabashedly shares his worldview with those willing to listen. The book is dedicated “To those who go to a job every…

  • STOOP CITY

    Kristyn DunnionBiblioasis, 2020299 pagesISBN 9781771963862$18.95 (ebook)Reviewed by Danielle Minnis Stoop City collects 13 wistful vignettes about the lives of some of the most unfortunate, vulnerable, and abused people in modern-day Toronto. There, people of every age, ethnicity, sexual identity, and socioeconomic status, struggle to cope. In the introductory story, “Now Is the Time to Light Fires” an unnamed narrator mourns the death of her girlfriend, Marzana, only to be informed of her infidelity when her ghost starts haunting their condo. “Fits Ritual” follows a homeless youth struggling with addiction, as he grows increasingly more concerned when his friend and partner, Roam, does not return from their latest scam. “Tracker &…

  • A HISTORY OF MY BRIEF BODY

    Billy-Ray BelcourtPenguin Random House Canada, 2020173 pagesISBN: 9780735237780$25.00 “I felt as though I was a part of an endangered species. I still do,” writes Billy-Ray Belcourt in his genre-fluid memoir, A History of My Brief Body. A member of the Driftpile Cree First Nation in rural northern Alberta, Belcourt transcends the confines of memoir to deliver his thoughts on grief, queerness, colonialism, joy, loneliness, and love in pieces that feel like poems and essays simultaneously. Belcourt prefaces the memoir with a letter to his kokum—his grandmother—”Here, and in my poetry, you’re always looking up at the sky, longing for the future. In order to remember you as a practitioner of…

  • VANISHING MONUMENTS

    John Elizabeth StintziArsenal Pulp Press, 2020320 pagesISBN: 9781551528014$19.95Reviewed by Miles Hayes In Vanishing Monuments, the debut novel by John Elizabeth Stintzi, time and memory intersect in poignant and devastating ways. Alani Baumb, a non-binary photographer living in Minneapolis, gets a call from a care home saying that their mother, who had been living with dementia in a nursing home in Winnipeg for years, has completely lost the ability to speak. Alani travels back to Canada to see their mother, staying in their unoccupied childhood home for the first time since running away as a teenager. Their mother’s declining health and aphasia adds urgency to their need for closure: “If it’s…

  • TREETALK

    Ariel GordonAt Bay Press, 202083 pagesISBN 978-1-988168-27-2$19.95Reviewed by Joe Enns TreeTalk by Manitoban writer Ariel Gordon is a collection of poem fragments gathered during a two-day event of the same name in July 2017. The TreeTalk event took place on the patio of a restaurant in downtown Winnipeg called The Tallest Poppy. Over the hot summer weekend, Gordon wrote poems on slips of paper and encouraged others to do the same, tying the poems with string to a struggling boulevard elm as a symbol of re-foliation. The 234 poems written by Gordon (111), people passing by (107), and other academic sources (16), emulate new leaves. “Poems are edited by writers…

  • SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD

    Saleema NawazMclelland & Stewart, 2020428 pagesISBN: 978-0-7710-7257-4$24.95Reviewed by Giovani Ralaisa Saleema Nawaz’s bestseller Songs for the End of the World presents a world that mirrors our own, complete with a pandemic, self-isolation, reliance on the Web, and the power of human connection. Nawaz wrote this book from 2013 to 2019 after researching SARS and the Spanish Flu. She created ARAMIS, Acute Respiratory and Muscular Inflammatory Syndrome reminiscent of our own COVID-19, and let it flood her fictional world like “a maelstrom: intense, unseemly.” ARAMIS takes hold late July and spreads between August and December. Elliot is a first responder in New York who realizes he contracted it at a restaurant…

  • SMALL, BROKE, AND KIND OF DIRTY

    Hana ShafiBook*hug Press, 2020165 pagesISBN: 9781771666091$25.00Reviewed by Lauryn Mackenzie Hana Shafi makes it very clear in the introduction of Small, Broken, and Kind of Dirty: Affirmations for the Real World that this is NOT a self-help book. It has evolved from her very popular Instagram series where Shafi is known as Frizz Kid to over 42,000 followers. There she delves into sexism, racism, and body politics as she does in these short essays divided into five chapters: “On Kindness,” “On Bodies,” “On Politics,” “On Self-Love and Healing,” and “On Resilience and Mental Health.” She peppers the essays with humour and pop culture references while discussing growing up Muslim and immigrating…

  • REACHING MITHYMNA

    Steven HeightonBilbioasis, 2020224 pagesISBN: 177196376X$22.95Reviewed by Kaleigh Studer In the fall of 2015, Steven Heighton traveled to the Greek island of Lesvos to help the influx of refugees fleeing Syria for Europe, a humanitarian crisis in the wake of the Syrian civil war. Heighton dropped everything and landed ill-equipped and unprepared for what lay ahead in the month-long mission. The book is written as a first-person narrative that allows Heighton to reflect on what was rather an impulsive decision: “I’m still not sure why I’m here,” he writes, “beyond a wish to do something useful, involving flesh and blood people instead of invented characters and words.” There is a raw,…