mental illness

Still Crying for Help: The Failure of Our Mental Healthcare Services by Sadia Messaili

This is a true story about the suicidal death of a 32-year-old man, Ferid Ferkovic, the son of the author. It is a story told straight from a mother’s heart with nothing but a loyal love for her son and her total discouragement with the Quebec mental healthcare system that failed her and her son. It has been translated from the French by Alishia Jensen.…

Pineapple Express by Evelyn Lau

Pineapple Express is rooted in the mind and its disorders. This collection explores moods, medications and side effects, capturing the flatness of depression while still making the language sing. It also probes the landscape of mid-life in all its manifestations: physical changes, psychological upheaval, the notion of becoming “invisible,” aging and loss, mortality, and the haunting of family and cultural history.

The Waiting Hours by Shandi Mitchell

The Waiting Hours, Shandi Mitchell’s suspenseful follow-up to her award-winning debut novel, Under This Unbroken Sky, examines the professional and personal lives of people working in crisis response: Mike is a cop, Kate an ER nurse, and Tamara a 911 operator.

The action takes place in an unspecified urban centre, though enough cues are present, and sufficient landmarks mentioned, to make the Halifax/Dartmouth setting obvious to anyone familiar with the city.…

Curtis LeBlanc’s Birding In The Glass Age Of Isolation

Curtis LeBlanc’s Birding In The Glass Age of Isolation, mental illness, masculinity, and storytelling are all explored in this worthy follow-up to his first book Little Wild (2018). Like the hunters he writes about, LeBlanc practices patience and careful observations leading readers through poem after poem as he seeks a verbal equivalent for the anxiety he feels.

Clearly one of LeBlanc’s triggering subjects for his poetry is his father, and it ignites one of the best poems in the collection “On Seeing My Father In Brueughel’s Winter Landscape With Skaters And A Bird Trap”.…

Lightness by Fanie Demeule, trans. by Anita Anand

to one source, 90% of all anorexics are females. They lose a few pounds but are still not satisfied. They become obsessed with reaching the “ideal” weight, but it’s a moving target, practically unattainable. Such is the case with the unnamed young woman in Lightness (Déterrer les os in French) by Quebec author Fanie Demeule, which has been translated into English by Anita Anand.*…

Good Mothers Don’t by Laura Best

illness. It would appear that the mental illness trope never seems to wear out. Is it because we who are able are fascinated by those with a mental disability? Or do we see more than a few of our own thoughts and mis/perceptions in the bringing to light the depths of madness the human brain is capable of? Whatever the reason, I never tire of seeing how an author — using fiction — unravels the tangled up thoughts of a mentally ill person.…

Homeless Memorial by John La Greca

first twenty years of my life I lived in Vernon, BC. I had a home. Which I usually took for granted. It was where I returned most nights, save for sleepovers and one night in a jail cell, futilely scrubbing fingerprint ink like Lady Macbeth. But that’s a separate story.

I went back for a writer’s residency at Vernon’s Caetani House in grey November pre-snow where I spent a great deal of time not writing, instead strolling the gardens and my hometown, the home of once homeless poet John La Greca.…

The Daughter Who Walked Away by Kimia Eslah

Eslah is a feminist writer who lives in Ontario, and The Daughter Who Walked Away* is her debut novel. The book first introduces us to Taraneh Pourani living in East End Toronto with her husband and two young boys. It is morning and she is in bed with her husband Haseem, who is snoring beside her. She admonishes herself:

“Get up!

A Palace in Paradise by Mehri Yalfani

The life of Iranian exiles in Toronto and the rumour that there is a traitorous woman in their midst provides drama and a lot of soul-searching in A Palace in Paradise (2019, Inanna Publications). Ferdous, a poor single Iranian woman with mental health issues has made up her mind to help a fellow Iranian-Canadian woman, Frida, by donating a kidney. Her decision causes a rift between her friend Nadereh and her social worker, Parvaneh.…

Random Act (A Jack McMorrow Mystery) by Gerry Boyle

Random Act is #12 in the Jack McMorrow Mystery Series penned by Gerry Boyle and published by Maine’s Islandport Press. As soon as I received this Advance Reading Copy in the mail, I eagerly started to read it, for having read most of the series, I am an unabashed fan. Number twelve does not disappoint. I read it in a few hours, only interrupted by the need to sleep.…

In the Wake by Nicola Davison

Update 03/09/19: In the Wake has won “The Very Best!” Book Award for Best First Book (Fiction) for 2019!

There must be something in the water in Nova Scotia. Literally. Here is an absorbing debut novel by Nicola Davison, a Dartmouth resident who mentored under no less a personage than that wonderful novelist Carol Bruneau, another Nova Scotian writer that you may have heard of.…

The Clock of Heaven by Dian Day

I believe I may have found a new “favourite” writer in Dian Day. I recently read her new book The Madrigal (clicking the link will take you to another site) and I was very impressed by it. It was an intriguing read about the life of Frederick, the seventh son (all the other six were twins) and the issues he had to deal with growing up and some that haunted him up to his adult life.…

Perfect World by Ian Colford

(This is a guest review submitted by Naomi MacKinnon of Consumed by Ink.) Naomi often reviews books that I can never get around to reading, and such is the case with Ian Colford’s Perfect World.)

We first meet Tom as a 13-year-old living in rural Nova Scotia with his parents and new baby sister. But ever since his sister was born, his mother has been having what his father calls “spells.”…

mouth human must die by Lee D. Thompson

This 2017 chapbook by New Brunswick author Lee D. Thompson is either the work of a literary genius or a literary madman (not that the two are mutually exclusive). Having a small acquaintance with Mr Thompson impels me to put him in the former category as this 35-page exercise in creative writing left me staggered by his vision into the schizophrenic mind of Lester, a young man who lives in his mother’s basement, refuses medication and communes nocturnally with Lara, a Slow Loris in the city’s zoo.…