Tag Archives: drama

Pull Focus by Helen Walsh

“Yet the show must go on”, Jane Browning has been pole-vaulted from artistic director of the Worldwide Toronto Film Festival (WTFF) to acting CEO after her boss Paul DelGrotto has been removed for sexual harassment. Pull focus is defined as a filming technique used in film and television whereby the focal point is drawn towards the viewer. Walsh’s use of description will pull the readers into the story which is told over ten days.

Jane’s partner Bob goes missing and needs to find out if he’s in danger. Jane is also dealing with the politics of running WTFF, the Hollywood power brokers, Russian oil billionaires, Chinese propagandists, and members of the festival board.

“Walsh should get this story onto a script so more people can experience this thrill ride.”

Pull Focus is a sexually driven thriller and gets steamer with every turn of the page. Starting off on day one with a dick pic featured on the gossip TV show TMZ. Hashtags and rants trending on Twitter, apologetic emails, and an overcrowded party filled with A-list celebrities, media scum and the police. All wanting to know more!

With this unique Torontonian storyline, you really need to pay attention to all the characters as I found myself reading over some pages for the second time. This book reads like watching a movie, in which you don’t want to miss any character or storyline as the days unfold.

If you’re a fan of Film Festivals this book is definitely a must-read. Walsh’s description of behind the screens and the inner workings of a film festival is very interesting and in-depth. You can tell Walsh has a background working within the film industry. Being a movie buff myself I think Walsh should get this story onto a script so more people can experience this thrill ride.

“Part Real Housewives, part grown-up Nancy DrewPull Focus gleefully skewers all players in the international film scene while deftly unspooling a good old-fashioned thriller. Walsh creates a world of glamourous parties, dirty money, and weaponized sex.”

― Missy Marston, author of Bad Ideas


Helen Walsh is the founder and president of Diaspora Dialogues, Canada’s premier literary mentoring organization. Formerly the publisher of the Literary Review of Canada and a founding director of Spur, a national festival of politics, arts, and ideas, Walsh spent five years working as a film/digital media producer in L.A. and New York. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ ECW Press (Sept. 7 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1770415793
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1770415799

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

We All Will Be Received by Leslie Vryenhoek

If 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.

One thread involves a drug dealer called Slake and his female companion, Dawn, who disappears with a large amount of his money in the middle of the night and head east, hitchhiking along the way. She eventually gets a ride with an older man named Jerry who takes her to Newfoundland where his cousin has a small motel. This is in 1977. Another thread has Ethan, who as a youngster was abducted and abused before he was found, and in the meantime, his name became a household word due to the media at the time. His story begins in 2012. In 2013, we have Spenser, an ex-con who works for a successful charitable organization that helps ex-cons get help with developing “life literacy skills.” That same year, we are presented with Cheryl, a single mom who desperately wants to understand and connect with her teen daughter Jenna. There is a lot to tell before all these eventually end up in a snowbound Graceland. This is the magic of We all Will Be Received: telling these stories set in different years, with different characters, different voices and transitioning them ever so cleverly to Newfoundland.

Aside from some rough language, there were few negatives to be found in reading this story. True, not all the characters are likeable, nor are the things they do, but those flaws add to the story, not detract from it. And, throughout most of the book there is the rugged beauty of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland which Spenser well describes:

He’d had hours on the drive up the peninsula to get used to this coast. Astounded at first by how much the topography reminded him of Northwestern Ontario. Then, his agitation growing, deciding it was similar but stunted. That it lacked even a whiff of majesty like God had taken a beginner’s course in fashioning rocks and trees but they’d all turned out misshapen and scraggly. That God must have moved on, tried again further west, finally hitting His stride only when He got to the Rockies.

If you like stories that at first glance appear to have no common thread, then We All Will Be Received is a book you will definitely enjoy and receive much reading pleasure from. Breakwater Books produces some of the best contemporary fiction on the East Coast, and this book well represents the genre.

“Even once you’ve read the last page, you’re still enthralled and you’re still right there, in the refurbished Graceland Inn, hoping there’s more book to read because you’re not ready to say goodbye to the characters”. — Lisa de Nikolits, author of The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution

We All Will Be Received by Leslie Vryenhoek
Breakwater Books

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This article has been Digiproved © 2019 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Peacock in the Snow by Anubha Mehta

Anubha Mehta is a Canadian writer and artist who was born in India. With a doctorate in Political Science and two decades of Canadian public service experience, Anubha has been awarded for her leadership work for diverse communities. Her short stories and poems have been published in several Canadian magazines and journals. Peacock in the Snow is her debut novel.

Overall, Peacock in the Snow is an ambitious debut novel by an author that holds much promise.

As I consider my ever-changing “to be read” stack of books, there is currently a predominance of literature written by, and about the immigrant experience on both sides of the globe, starting with the old, established way of life then moving on to the stark reality of trying to adapt to life in a new country thousands of miles from home. Many, if not all of the stories are derivative of the author’s own experience, yet they write of what they know best, adding realism to the story and acquainting the reader with the unfamiliar aspects of immigration into Canada at the same time. Anubha Mehta’s debut novel is no exception, and while the story in Peacock in the Snow is a good one, it is not one without deficiencies, but more about that in a moment.

The story starts in India in the year 1985. Maya’s wedding day has approached, and she is marrying Veer Rajsinghania, a man who comes from a wealthy, established Delhi family. Maya’s family, while not poor, has had to work for everything they needed, with no servants to assist them. Upon marrying, she is to live in Veer’s family mansion with the aged Sheila as her personal maid. Sheila knows all the family secrets, and Maya learns that she looks very much like Veer’s deceased grandmother Gayatri, who died at the hands of her husband many years ago. Veer’s mother shuns her, believing that Maya only married her son for his money, not for love. It is these secrets that dog Maya and Veer throughout the story, which moves to Canada where Veer is to establish an extension of the family business. I’ll refrain from telling any more of the story to avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that challenges in their new life threaten their marriage (they have a little girl, Diya as well) in addition to the preexisting emotional and mental baggage they brought across the water from India.

As I mentioned earlier, Peacock in the Snow is not without its shortcomings. At 320 pages, it just falls short of being a great saga. If more time was spent on the previous two generations and a little less on the present one, a more balanced story would have resulted. As a Westerner, I am fascinated by stories (fictional or non-fictional) of India before decolonization and the separation of India and Pakistan, and Peacock held my interest when it was flashing back to those times. I became less interested as the story progressed and moved to Canada (although the struggles of new immigrants are always eye-opening) and trial after trial faced the family, some believable, some a little less (like travelling to Tuktoyaktuk!). Ms. Mehta also uses some interesting word combinations at times (an “apologizing scarf”?) that made this reader wince.

Overall, Peacock in the Snow is an ambitious debut novel that covers a lot of ground, and it has a kind of Disney-animation feel about it, which is not a bad thing, but a few trials have a predictable outcome, while others like Veer’s battling with a hungry bear, travelling to Canada’s Far North, and surviving avalanches and blizzards just push the envelope of credulity further and further.

Nonetheless, I would very much like to read Ms. Mehta’s next novel (or short story collection), as I feel she exhibits much promise as an author. I will add Peacock in the Snow to the 2019 longlist for the “Very Best!” Book Awards in the First Book category.

Peacock in the Snow by Anubha Mehta
Inanna Publications

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This article has been Digiproved © 2018 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Inanna Publications

Some Rights Reserved  

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