Humour

Please Stand By by Carolyn Bennett

Carolyn Bennett’s debut novel Please Stand By is a fast-paced story about a woman trying to save the public television station in Edmonton where she freelances at. When a corporate man from Toronto is recruited to make changes to the Alberta Broadcasting System (ABS) and threatens the protagonist Suzanne Foley’s livelihood and those of her colleagues, Bennett skillfully reveals the anguish at the prospect of losing a job with convincing and, at times, hilarious dialogue.…

The Story of Steve – Part 2 of 2

Six years later, with my pet Steve-the-African-tree-frog, I headed off to grad school, a four-thousand-kilometre drive. Late on the third day, I was stopped for speeding. It was starless dark and the officer used a flashlight to approach our car. I had my license out. Steve was on the dash in his Mason jar. The officer didn’t seem to notice me, his flashlight trained on Steve.…

The Story of Steve – Part 1 of 2

Fifteen years ago Wonderful Magical Words, my first book, was published, raising twenty grand for Make-A-Wish Foundation, for which I’m eternally grateful. Here’s a passage I hope you enjoy, The Story of Steve …

I was twelve. And I got a small African tree frog as a pet, one of a few to surface at our local pet shop, a novelty we assumed was part of an order gone wrong.…

The Quantum Theory of Love and Madness by Jerry Levy

Jerry Levy’s quirky narratives provide a high-spirited alternative perspective on the crushing emotional isolation and myriad pressures that often accompany modern urban life. The fourteen stories in The Quantum Theory of Love and Madness, Levy’s follow-up to his 2013 collection Urban Legend, also frequently stretch the boundaries of narrative plausibility and occasionally veer into pure fantasy. 

A Diverse Cast of Characters

Levy’s diverse cast of characters includes children and men and women in various age groups, but in his most satisfying and fully realized stories, his protagonists tend to be men in their thirties or forties, aimless and living alone, out of shape, lacking confidence, who have lost their jobs, or else married and cracking under the stress of daily life.…

Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Réhel, Translated by Katherine Hastings and Peter McCambridge

There comes a time in every adult’s life when they realize they are now on the other (wrong?) side of the generation gap. Today’s music, today’s news and sports figures hold little interest for us. Our cherished music is relabelled as “classic” and likely has been repackaged in 30, 40 and even 50th-anniversary editions. Same with books and movies of our generation (Late Boomer).…

Skin House by Michael Blouin

Skin House got me with this line on its back cover: “Skin House is a story about two guys who end up in the same bar they started out in.” I thought, sweet, a kind of modern Waiting for Godot story. Wrong. But oh, so good in what it does do.

Take a down-and-out guy who stocks store shelves, add an ex-girlfriend who hates him while he still loves everything about her, his father Otis who lives unhappily in a nursing home and wonders who his son is, and his best friend, bald Gerry, who works in a meat department in a grocery store and competes with the guy for top rung on the loser ladder.…

The Electric Baths by Jean-Michel Fortier, Translated by Katherine Hastings

A surprise return home triggers a chain of events, their strands weaving together a sinister web of dreams and reality, truth and lies, secrets and spells.

The Electric Baths*, like its predecessor, The Unknown Huntsman is composed in the absurdist style, but in comparison, The Electric Baths would appear to be somewhat less so. It follows that it is less humorous as well, but that doesn’t mean it has its mirthful moments.…

The Rise and Fall of Derek Cowell by Valerie Sherrard

, the high-school years. Especially the Junior grades when you are still finding your way around a new academic setting, while at the same time discovering your own way in life. When the opposite sex gets thrown into the mix, and it can be a very confusing time for a young thirteen-year-old lad like Derek Cowell. Valerie Sherrard’s latest Young Adult (YA) title takes a humorous look at an otherwise average self-described “see-through” teen as he becomes quite popular after unintentionally photo-bombing a group selfie of his sister and her friends.…

Bill Arnott’s Gone Viking Online

The Miramichi Reader’s West Coast Editor, Bill Arnott is a published author and poet and a world traveller (although he’s isolating in Vancouver at the moment, he’s not going anywhere). Someplace he IS going, and you can join him is at Bill Arnott’s Gone Viking Online over at YouTube. You see, Bill was booked at libraries in and around Vancouver to promote his new book. …

Like Rum-Drunk Angels by Tyler Enfield

New Brunswick’s Goose Lane Editions has been branching out to include fiction titles from authors living outside the Atlantic provinces, it seems. The most recent one that I reviewed was Daughters of Silence by Toronto author Rebeccah Fesseha. Like Rum-Drunk Angels, is a novel by a Californian now living in Edmonton, Tyler Enfield. This is his second novel the first being the award-winning Madder Carmine.…

The Transaction by Guglielmo D’Izzia

cannot be easy to write humorous fiction, although it does seem to come naturally to some. In the television world, they have writing teams, but in the sequestered world of the writer, it’s all on them to produce a work that is not only funny but interesting as well, that tells a story. The Transaction is such a story and from all appearances, Mr.…

Devil in the Woods: Poems by D. A. Lockhart

at Urban Farmhouse Press and poet D. A. Lockhart is A Turtle Clan member of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation, and Devil in the Woods (2019, Brick Books) is his latest collection of poetry. Brick Books has done an admirable job of designing and packaging this volume; my review copy came with a matching bookmark and a promotional postcard with the book cover on one side and the Roll Up the Rim Prayer on the opposite side.…

The Sign on My Father’s House by Tom Moore

As you can see from the cover picture above, the sign on top of the house reads “GOD DAM SMALLWOOD.” Incorrect spelling notwithstanding, this sign that Felix Ryan’s father has erected on top of their house in the small outport of Curlew, Newfoundland is a bold statement.  Premier Joey Smallwood is revered as a near-deity amongst a large percentage of the Newfoundland population back in the 1960s when the story begins.…

A Philosopher, a Psychologist, and an Extraterrestrial Walk into a Chocolate Bar by Jass Richards

Jass Richards (AKA Peg Tittle, see Just…Think About It) is back with another exceptional book that entertains and informs as she mixes feminism, critical thinking and current social issues with humour to produce a story about two 40-year-old women, Jane and Spike who set out on a road trip from Toronto to Paris (!) in search of chocolate. (Chocoholics will love this story).

Bad Ideas by Missy Marston

is 1976, and in Eastern Ontario, alongside the St. Lawrence River a man named Ken Carter (AKA The Mad Canadian) intends to jump the St. Lawrence River in a rocket-powered Lincoln Continental. The event was encircled by hoopla and mired in inevitable delays. Even Evel Knievel said it couldn’t be done. This actual event is the basis for Missy Marston’s new novel, Bad Ideas, published by ECW Press*.…