Bill Arnott’s Beat: Dementia, Depression, and Other Feel-Good Stories

I have a friend (acquaintance, really) – Gunnar Thor Gunnarsson. Best name EVER, I thought. Until I met Lorenz von Fersen. Now THAT’S a name. The kind of name I’d choose for myself, assuming Max Power’s already been taken. Turns out Lorenz’s excellent moniker fits. He’s an excellent man doing excellent work. And has done for years. If you’ve lived in the Vancouver area you’ve benefitted from the tireless efforts of Lorenz: writers’ festivals, children’s festivals, music festivals, international and civic celebrations with installations of art and history that blanket our metropolis – lifetimes of stories breathing personality into populous clumps of construction.…

Bill Arnott’s Beat – National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month: NPM2020

April is National Poetry Month. This year’s theme, A World of Poetry.

A world of poetry. This, I understand. Being witness to stomped-verse haka in Waitangi, the lyrical thrum of Outback didgeridoo, breathy sax in a wet London underpass, red slashed characters on a mud wall in Hebei, tanka blurred through joss smoke in Kyoto, rantings of a street poet in Times Square, the guttural slur of a Greenlandic hymn, and a master’s spoken-word reverberating on old timber, sibilant sea hissing through cracked glass.…

NOlympians: Inside the Fight Against Capitalist Mega-Sports in Los Angeles, Tokyo and Beyond by Jules Boykoff

same day as I’m writing this review of Jules Boykoff’s NOlympians*, the CBC reported on the possibility of the Tokyo Olympics being cancelled due to fears over the Coronavirus. A microscopic virus may do what thousands of anti-Olympians want to do: shut down the Olympic games. Not just in Tokyo and not due to their dislike of sport per se, but due to what happens in the cities that host the games; cost overruns being the most obvious, displacement of marginalized peoples to build venues, athlete villages and hotels being a lesser-known one.…

Bill Arnott’s Beat: Independents’ Day

bookstores shouldn’t exist. Brick-and-mortar bibliophile havens are retail models waiting to be business school case studies, “Why These Can’t Work.” TV narcissi could bleat indefinitely as to why they’d never invest in such ventures. But they do exist. And despite every reason why they shouldn’t, they thrive.

I was in one of these doomed locales, its interior walls a swathe of indigenous authors, poetry, and every stripe of an LGBTQ2S writers’ rainbow – a showcase of all that’s good in the world of books.…

Silver Linings: Stories of Gratitude, Resiliency, and Growth Through Adversity by Janice Landry

feel that Nova Scotian author Janice Landry is one of those people you would like for a next-door neighbour: she comes across as a genuinely kind, understanding, upbeat person who likely takes care of their property. That’s just the impression she gives, as the reader of Silver Linings (Pottersfield Press) comes to know her as well as the seventeen people she interviews for her latest book, Silver Linings.

Exile Blues by Douglas Gary Freeman

recently watched the 2013 movie Lee Daniel’s The Butler which I thought notable for vividly depicting the struggle for desegregation in Washington D.C. during the late 1950s and early 1960s by both peaceful and radical means. Viewed through the lens of time, it is even more shocking to think that humans treated other humans less favourably based on skin colour alone.…

Black Cop: My 36 years in police work, and my career ending experiences with official racism by Calvin Lawrence, With Miles Howe

The title and subtitle pretty much sum up what this book is about: being black and facing systemic racism in two police organizations in a 36-year career. Calvin Lawrence was born in 1949 in Yarmouth and raised in Halifax. His parents (he was actually raised by his Uncle and Aunt) were a mixed-race couple living in Halifax. His father worked as a porter for the railway, one of the few respectable jobs available to blacks at the time.…

About Face: Essays on Recovery, Therapies, and Controversies of Addictions in Canada Edited by Douglas Gosse

*Note: While About Face was on the 2019 shortlist for Non-Fiction and didn’t win, it did result in Breakwater Books being awarded the “Atlantic Canada Virtuous Love Award” for Publishing. See: https://miramichireader.ca/2019/09/2019-very-best-book-awards/

Mental health is a huge topic these days. Overcoming and coping with various addictions, disorders, and their treatments have been the subjects of many books particularly since modern psychology began early in the last century. …

Land for Fatimah by Veena Gokhale

In Land for Fatimah, we follow Anjali, an Indian woman who as a young girl witnessed the levelling of a slum outside of Bombay, displacing the members of that poor colony. She’s carried that horrible event in her head since, and we now find her working for an international non-profit organization called HELP (Health, Education and Livelihood Skills Partnership) and has taken on a year-long assignment in Kamorga, a fictional East African country.…

Under the Bridge by Anne Bishop

Near the end of Under the Bridge (2019, Roseway Publishing)*, Lucy, the narrator and central figure of the story, stops walking near the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge and reflects:

“I can see the bridge from the corner of Devonshire and Barrington, lights arching off into the dusk, reflected in the inky black water below. The Dartmouth end is hidden by the bulk of the shipyard.…

Walmart: Diary of an Associate by Hugo Meunier, Translated by Mary Foster

In Miramichi, Walmart is one of the very few places to get items like clothing, housewares and electronics. As such, it is a pretty busy place, as are most Walmarts I have been in throughout North America.  Honestly, I never give much thought to the people that work there (the Associates) since I usually know what I want and where to find it.…

The Daughters’ Story by Murielle Cyr

I would like to start this review* by quoting the Author’s Note at the end of the text: “Although the references to historical names and events are real, this story remains, first and foremost, a work of fiction. October of 1970 was a tumultuous time for the people of Quebec. Emotions ran high, ideals soared and plummeted, yet they emerged from this with a clearer, more confident vision of themselves as a society.…

Motherhood: The Mother of All Sexism by Marilyse Hamelin

When I first received this review copy in the mail, I wasn’t sure what to expect, or even if I would be interested in it, since neither my wife nor I am a parent. Nevertheless, I started reading it, and as usual, I got caught up in the subject and learned a few things along the way. Until I read this book, I have never fully understood why, when a child is sick, that it is the mother that needs to drop everything (including her work) and retrieve the child from daycare or school.…

A Wholesome Horror: Poorhouses in Nova Scotia by Brenda Thompson

Update 03/09/19: A Wholesome Horror has won the 2019 “The Very Best!” Book Award for Non-Fiction!

When I first saw the cover of this book, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing: poor houses existed in Canada? While I grew up in a household that used the warning of “being put in the poor house” I didn’t know that it was a real house (by the time I was born, federal unemployment insurance measures were in place).…

The Habit of Turning the World Upside Down by Howard Mansfield

There comes a point early on in the reading of Howard Mansfield’s newest book The Habit of Turning the World Upside Down (2018, Bauhan Publishing) when you realize that you thought you understood what “property” meant, but in actuality, you didn’t. A point when you say to yourself: “Ok, I’m listening to what this guy has to say.” This book is a path-clearing work; the idea of property as most of us understand it has been occluded by so many branches consisting of conflicting ideas, legalese, lawsuits and the idea of eminent domain that one needs a person like Mr.…