Cheap Thrills: A Novel by David Kloepfer

Thrills takes place over the course of a single weekend, beginning with the incessantly stoned Ethan and his roommate Phil discovering the body of their weed dealer in a Vancouver alley alongside a box of porno magazines and crime noir paperbacks. Tasked by his eccentric boss with locating the money the dealer had been carrying, gang member Wynne Duncan is led to the two roommates.

We All Will Be Received by Leslie Vryenhoek

the title of Leslie Vryenhoek’s latest novel reminds you of Paul Simon’s song Graceland, that could be by design, for there are several characters looking for Graceland (although it’s a very different one from Elvis’ mansion). Their stories are told in separate threads that eventually merge to a climactic finish at Graceland, a renovated motel in Newfoundland, near the L’anse aux Meadows National Historic Site.…

Broken Man on a Halifax Pier by Lesley Choyce

The arresting title of Lesley Choyce’s new book from Dundurn Press* begins to tell the story of Charles Howard, a fifty-five-year-old man with little to show for all his time on earth. No family, no significant other, failed relationships, and out of a job as a journalist since the newspaper he worked for closed down. He’s lost his life’s savings in an altruistic act.…

The Forbidden Dreams of Betsy Elliot by Carolyn R. Parsons

The Forbidden Dreams of Betsy Elliot is Carolyn R. Parson’s debut novel for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Flanker Press, and she joins such authors as Ida Linehan Young and Gary Collins as storytellers of the first rank. It is set in 1933-34 in the outport community of Elliot’s Cove just after the Commission of Government took over control of Newfoundland’s governing at the start of the Great Depression.…

An Exile’s Perfect Letter by Larry Mathews

intelligent humour seems to be in short supply these days, especially when we could all use a little of it in our lives given the depressing dross served up as so-called “news.” An Exile’s Perfect Letter (2018, Breakwater Books) fills that need, particularly for those of us Boomers nearing retirement age like Professor Hugh Norman is. He’s sixty-two and has three more years to go.…

The Carpenter From Montreal by George Fetherling

I love noir fiction (and film), so I was eager to read this book of criminal men with power, some in control, some out of control in the Prohibition Era of 1920-1933. On the back cover of The Carpenter from Montreal (2017, Linda Leith Publishing) it states to any curious reader that may pick up this novel: “In this cinematic and genre-bending novel, George Fetherling both honours the roots of serious noir fiction while also pushing its boundaries.”…

Operation Wormwood by Helen C. Escott

Over the years, Flanker Press of Newfoundland & Labrador has published a vast array of books, both Fiction and Non-Fiction, including the excellent historical fiction books of Gary Collins. Operation Wormwood (2018) is a fictional crime thriller that was interesting to read, to say the least. The main theme is that a “disease” of sorts is affecting a particular group of people, namely pedophiles.…

The Moon is Real by Jerrod Edson

Saint John, New Brunswick native Jerrod Edson has published his fifth novel, The Moon is Real (2016, Urban Farmhouse press) the manuscript of which won the Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick’s David Adams Richards Prize in 2013. A novel of urban restlessness that is set in Saint John concerns the lives of four main characters, who appear to be settling for the status quo of everyday life.…

New 2018 Fiction from Goose Lane Editions

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 Genevieve 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?). While this question is only posed once in the book, the title is a sure attention getter, and the writing between the covers, while perhaps not to everyone’s taste is excellent.…

Arrow’s Flight by Joel Scott

Joseph Conrad’s autobiographical short story Youth, we are introduced to Marlowe, who upon initially sighting the ship he is to join in his first commision wistfully states:

“There was a touch of romance in it, something that made me love the old thing – something that appealed to my youth!”

Similarly, when Arrow’s Flight protagonist Jared Kane sights the wooden ketch Arrow for the first time:

“She was laying into the sunset and seemed to float in a coppery sea of light, her tall amber masts suspended above her.…

The Fortunate Brother by Donna Morrissey

winning author Donna Morrissey revisits the hardscrabble Newfoundland outport world of her 2009 book Sylvanus Now in The Fortunate Brother (2016, Viking) her sixth novel.  The Fortunate Brother is Kyle Now who has recently lost his beloved older brother Chris in an oil well accident in Alberta. This accident has ripped the family apart, Chris being the oldest and most favoured of the Now family (which also includes a daughter, Sylvie).…

Under the Zaboca Tree by Glynis Guevara

Guevara was born in Barataria, Trinidad. She was shortlisted for the Small Axe Literary short fiction prize in 2012 and was also a finalist for the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature in 2014. She currently lives in Toronto where she works as an adult literacy and ESL instructor.

Under the Zaboca Tree (2017, Inanna Publications) is a Young Adult (YA) book that tells the story of Baby Girl (Melody) Sparks, and her trip to Trinidad and Tobago with her father Smokey (Nicholas) who has sole custody of her.…

The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes by Bridget Canning

If F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby defined a time period, then Bridget Canning’s The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes is a book defined by a time period, and that time period is now. 2017. Technology and social media figure so prominently in Wanda Jaynes that this book could not have been written 10 or 15 years ago, for 2007 was still the email age; texting, YouTube, and the rise of the ubiquitous smartphone were yet to come.…

The Effects of Isolation on the Brain by Erika Rummel

Don’t let the title mislead you; this is not a book about the results of a psychology experiment, however it is a novel about a woman who uses that excuse to explain away her presence in a cabin in a remote northern Ontario town in the dead of winter, should anyone ask. Ellie Kruezweg describes her situation in the opening pages:

It’s the middle of November, and I’m bored out of my mind.