Fiction: The Moment of Truth  by Damian McNicholl

May 26, 2017 admin 0

Because so many of the truths in our lives are hidden, denied or twisted in disguise, it’s nice to have the occasion to state a truth that is unanimously agreed upon. If you dislike the central concept of a book, it is darn difficult to like the book. Don’t waste your time or risk eyestrain reading The Martian Chronicles or Stranger in a Strange Land if you are firmly convinced that there is no possibility […]

Review: Wake Up and Live: The Life of Bob Marley
by Jim McCarthy and Benito Gallego

May 16, 2017 admin 0

Graphic novels, or in this case graphic biographies, are a new world to me. I’ve always looked at the arts rather like a primary school gym teacher: words over here, pictures over there, no talking in lines! PWEET! But then again, as we all know or should know, being a true lover of the arts means that we should be prepared to roll with it, accept changes or combinations, embrace the new before we’re dragged […]

Fiction: The Chosen Maiden  by Eva Stachniak

March 16, 2017 admin 0

Virtually every novel you’ve ever read is a historical novel. The only exceptions I can think of are speculative or future-set science fiction, or romping through the woods and fields with anthropomorphic animals (and even then, there’s Animal Farm). Dickens and Defoe, Melville and Marquez, Jameses prefaced or suffixed with Henry or James, all are historical writers regardless of whether or not they intended it at the time. It’s all about the reader’s perspective and […]

Crime Fiction: Brussels Noir

February 23, 2017 admin 0

The great nations of the world, the ones whose internal or external intrigues are guaranteed global headlines, all seem to have a neighbor that serves the role of awkward younger sibling. I’ve lived in two of them. Believe me, I get tired of two questions: people in Ireland thinking that my stubbornly persisting Canadian accent is American, and friends back in Canada asking if I get over to London much these days. (Mind you, I’ve […]

Fiction: Cruel Beautiful World  by Caroline Leavitt

February 10, 2017 admin 1

Whether they consciously realize it or not, all the works of great novelists are testament to Sigmund Freud’s model of the mind. Hacks have it easy – apply some sparkly phrases to formula, stir, bake and sell. There’s nothing wrong at all with being a hack. As I have often said, whether the medium is books, music, theatre or designing cocktail napkins for posh gatherings, if you can manage to make a living out of […]

Fiction: The Parcel  by Anosh Irani

December 19, 2016 admin 1

It wasn’t until I finished reading The Parcel (Knopf Canada) and then, having rolled a cigarette to recover from this harrowing yet strangely heroic journey through Bombay’s prostitution district of Kamathipura, that I realized I had reviewed Anosh Irani’s work before. That was back in 2011 when I was still learning the ropes of reviewing and the novel was Dahanu Road. What I wrote about that tragically beautiful love story applies quite well to this […]

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Non-Fiction: Institutions and the Right to Vote in America  by Martha E. Kropf

October 24, 2016 admin 0

There is a phrase I have used many times that is usually met with a shocked expression. It is this: The universal voting franchise was a terrible idea. “You can’t possibly mean that,” is the helpful response from people who evidently know my mind much better than does my mind itself. “That’s elitist!” Well yes, I suppose it is, so what’s your problem? Isn’t everything else we deem as important in (cough) civilized society elitist? […]

Non-Fiction: Masculinity, Media, and the American Presidency  by Meredith Conroy

September 22, 2016 admin 0

While indeed elections are contests, their likening to a violent athletic contest makes as much sense as their likening to a beauty contest. In both types of contests, there is a winner, yet the media rely on metaphors that invite notions that masculinity, violence, and strength are appropriate, as opposed to metaphors invoking poise, devotion, or beauty, which would preference feminine traits and characteristics. In reality, physical beauty and physical strength are equally relevant to […]

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Non-Fiction: The Politics of Emotions, Candidates and Choices  by Heather E. Yates

August 31, 2016 admin 0

Reviewed by Hubert O’ Hearn (This is the first of a series of reviews and author interviews examining the current state of US politics.) Let me put it to you this way: We want our governments to decide like Vulcans, yet we vote like Klingons. If that is a shade too obscure, I can rephrase it more prosaically. A safe assumption is that any citizen of any nation wants its designated executive leaders — whether […]

January Interview: Roisin O’Donnell

July 13, 2016 admin 0

by Hubert O’Hearn Let’s imagine a scene together. You’ve received an invitation to a swank literary event, one of those champagne and piano evenings where the conversation is all dry wit and sincere chuckling; hands are kissed, cuffs are linked, and may I say you’ve never looked lovelier? You wander through the room, not quite sure who to talk to but finally somewhere near the Utrillo hanging above the cheese selection you find yourself chatting […]