Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom by Stephen Gowans

Of all the wars fought in the twentieth century, the one I was least familiar with was the Korean War. Odd, because my father-in-law served in Korea with Canadian Forces. With Baraka Books’ 2018 release of Patriots, Traitors and Empires by Stephen Gowans came my opportunity to learn more about the history of Korea, how it came to be divided into North and South and so on.… Continue reading

Explosions by Mathieu Poulin (Translated by Aleshia Jensen)

Subtitled Micheal Bay and the Pyrotechnics of the Imagination, you may, at first glance think this is an authorized biography of the acclaimed action film director and producer of such movies as Bad Boys, Armageddon and Transformers.  A closer look at the cover reveals the disclaimer: “A Novel.” So what we have here is a fictional story built around real people and events, an approach that movie enthusiast and first-time Quebec author Mathieu Poulin manages to carry off beautifully in Explosions (2018, QC Fiction, originally published in 2015 as Des Explosions), which has been scrupulously translated from French by Aleshia Jensen.*

The main premise in Explosions is that Michael Bay considers himself an intellectual director whose films traverse deep philosophical territory, as he explains to his ex-girlfriend, Daphné who is unconvinced:

“My films are essays on serious and complex topics.… Continue reading

The Light a Body Radiates by Ethel Whitty

At fifty-eight pages into The Light a Body Radiates by Ethel Whitty (2018, Caitlin Press), Eileen Macpherson’s grandmother tells her:

“If you’re a storyteller, it’s your job to make it a story that wants to be told. Where we come from, the one who always keeps the stories is the granddaughter.” Then she murmured, “You can be that granddaughter to me.” In response to the confusion she read on my face, she continued in a less conspiratorial tone, “Don’t worry, they’ll be good stories.”

The Light a Body Radiates comprises a good story in its 280+ pages.… Continue reading

The Pink House and Other Stories by Licia Canton

I enjoy reading short story collections, particularly when there are connections between the stories, for instance, reoccurring characters. Such is the case in Licia Canton’s The Pink House and Other Stories (2018, Longbridge Books), her second collection of short fiction.

The two main characters throughout the majority of the stories are Rita, an Italian-Canadian, and an unnamed woman who gets struck by a car outside the Bell Centre in Montreal.… Continue reading

New 2018 Fiction from Goose Lane Editions

Here are a couple of mini-reviews of two recent fiction titles New Brunswick’s Goose Lane Editions, Marry Bang Kill by Andrew Battershill and Catch my Drift by Melanie Scott.

Marry Bang Kill by Andrew Battershill

The title of this book comes from a popular question: when presented with three things (typically celebrities) who would you: (need I say more?).… Continue reading