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Atlantic Books today

61 books

Book News Reviews Excerpts

CBC’s Rich terfry on

featured inside!



Honouring Alistair MacLeod

Meet your




The curse of the second novel

Frank cameron, Lesley Crewe, Lawrence hill & many more

fall 2015 No. 79 Publications Mail Agreement 40038836

Roy MacGregor’s rollicking and deeply personal celebration of Canada’s enduring love affair with our first and still favourite means of getting around—the canoe.



Contents Fall 2015 On the cover These days Frank Cameron is (mostly) retired and volunteers with Seaside FM, a community-based station in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia., but in rock and roll’s early days he was the man to know in the local music scene. Hear his tales about music and 30 years at the CBC when he appears at The Word on the Street Halifax in September.


Up Front


5 Editor’s message

Get thee to a literary festival!

Current Affairs 6 First person

Newfoundland author Sharon Bala on why you need to read a short story, right now

7 Perspective

New Brunswick author Marq de Villiers on why water woes aren’t just a Third World problem

Author Buzz


9 Proust Questionnaire



Whether you know him as CBC Radio host Rich Terfry or rapper Buck 65, this Nova Scotiaborn author’s dream job will surprise you

16 Honouring Alistair

25 Book reviews

10 Profile

18 Word on the Street Halifax comes home

Book Bites

Project Bookmark launches a literary tribute during the Cabot Trail Writers Festival

Atlantic Canadian fiction, history, poetry, art and travel books

Rober t Kroetsch Award-winning poet Lucas Crawford’s latest collection brings him home

Young Readers

The festival celebrates 20 years with a return to where it all began: Spring Garden Road

29 Events

21 Fog Lit


Lisa Doucet highlights new picture books and novels for young readers

5 Book Club Bonanza

14 Kids Feature

Saint John celebrates literature and literacy Cover photo: Frank Cameron by Joseph Muise This page (clockwise from top left): Lucas Crawford by Carmen Ellison; Marq de Villiers photo courtesy of Goose Lane Editions; Emily Skov-Nielsen by Bill Lapp

Discover readings and festivals near you

30 The Great Book Giveaway

12 Reviews

Meghan Marentette, author of The Stowaways, shares the highs and lows of penning a sequel

Atlantic Books Today


Atlantic Books today Atlantic Books Today is published by the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association (, which gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts.This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of New Brunswick. Opinions expressed in articles in Atlantic Books Today do not necessarily re足flect the views and opinions of the Board of the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association.

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ART DIRECTOR Joseph Muise Printed in Canada. This is issue number 79 Fall 2015. Atlantic Books Today is published three times a year. All issues are numbered in sequence. Total Atlantic-wide circulation: 70,000. ISSN 1192-3652 One-year subscriptions to Atlantic Books Today are available for $16 ($18.40 including HST). Please make cheques payable to the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association and mail to address below or contact apma.admin@ for subscription inquiries. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40038836 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association Atlantic Books Today 1484 Carlton Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3B7 Phone (902) 420.0711 Fax (902) 423.4302 @abtmagazine


favourite authors it was Linden MacIntyre. I’ll admit to eyeing him across the room for a good hour before working up the courage to move through the crowd to shake his hand. I tentatively introduced myself before blurting out, “My mom hates your books!” and turning beet red. “Too bleak?” he asked with his wry and recognizable smile. I nodded, adding, “But I love them.” He laughed while signing my book and asked what part of Cape Breton I hailed from. Literary festivals offer readers a golden opportunity to get out of the pages of the books we love and interact with their authors face to face. This fall our region is packed with such opportunities.

First up, on Sept. 19, Word on the Street Halifax celebrates its 20th anniversary by returning to its first home, Halifax’s Spring Garden Road. On page 18, you’ll read about this year’s line-up and the roadblock that almost derailed the festival. Next is Fog Lit in Saint John, New Brunswick’s celebration of literature and literacy on Sept. 30. On page 20, we revisit the July poetry slam that previewed the festival. Overlapping Fog Lit is the Cabot Trail Writers Festival on Oct. 2. This cozy event invites authors to share their experiences through discussions, workshops and social activities that present a stress-free way to meet some of the country’s most successful authors. Get thee to a festival! This is your opportunity to shake some hands and ask some questions. But for the love of God, try not to embarrass yourself in front of Linden MacIntyre.

Editor’s message

The first time I met one of my

Kim Hart Macneill

Book Club


Our latest winners the TGIF Book Club of Lewisporte, NL

Calling all book clubs! Want to see your book club featured on our website and in our newsletter? Fill out this ballot (or enter online at for your chance! The winning book club will also receive these great gifts: • We’ll bring the food or send you a $100 Sobeys gift card! • AND we will come to your next meeting (either in person or via Skype) to tell you about the hottest new Atlantic Canadian books! • AND you’ll win a set of Atlantic Canadian books for the group!

The information below will not be used for any purpose other than contacting the winning entry. Name: Phone (with area code): The name of your book club: Street/mailing address: City/town, province, postal code: Your favourite book from an Atlantic Canadian author: How many members in your book club?

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Current Affairs First Person

This fiction is fat free Why you need to read a short story, right now by Sharon Bala


suzsi Gartner tells a story. A group of neighbours adopt Chinese babies. Only girls. One per family. The parents – white Vancouver suburbanites – take up calligraphy and acupuncture. They Feng Shui their homes. They plant bamboo that turns invasive and spreads out of control. They dress their daughters in identical brown worker pants and conduct group exercises in the middle of the street. They bind the girls’ feet. The premise is preposterous and the story is thoroughly engrossing, entirely witty. And it works because the drama begins and ends in 11 pages. This is the magic of the short story. Short stories are an endangered species. Valiant publishers still print collections. And those collections punch above their weight when it comes to awards. But have a look at bestseller lists. Take a poll at your next party. What are people reading? It’s not short stories. And that’s a shame. Because out here in the Wild West, the hinterland where short fiction has been relegated (take a left past poetry; you can’t miss it), inventive things are happening. While no one’s paying attention, maybe because no one’s paying attention,

writers, like mad scientists, are conducting experiments. Lights are flashing. Concoctions are exploding. And if you’re not a part of this, if you’re not watching over their shoulders, breath held to see what emerges from the cauldron, dear Reader, you are missing out. Second person narration. The collective chorus of the first person plural. Stories told entirely in sentence fragments. Unconventional devices are rare in long form for a reason. The absurd, the quirky, worlds that skew just off centre, these imaginative leaps are easier to land in the confined space of 20 pages. But stretch that leap over one hundred thousand words and you risk a reader’s patience. Short stories are playful. And they are also more diverse. If you’ve ever wondered: where are the dark-skinned characters? The lesbian politicians, the transgender parents, the wheelchairs and hijabs? They are alive and thriving in the wilds of short fiction. Emerging writers are spicing their work with more colour. And literary magazines are championing diversity, making space for queer characters, for differently abled bodies, for kimchi and saris. Mad scientists!

Out here in the Wild West, the hinterland where short fiction has been relegated (take a left past poetry; you can’t miss it), inventive things are happening


But. Set all this aside. The fundamentals still apply. Character, plot, narration, description, all of it must collude to carry the reader away, into a story they don’t want to leave. In short fiction, all of this is achieved with economy. Characters are sketched in a few brush strokes. The car chase comes without preamble. This fiction is 100 per cent fat free. A well written short story is a perfect macaroon. An espresso you enjoy standing at the bar. A 10-minute ab workout. It’s a lay-over between two novels. A palate cleanser before a screenplay. The single toe you dip in the ocean of an unfamiliar genre. Here is what the doctor ordered: one story a day. That’s it. Resist the urge to gorge. Read a story in the morning and allow it to stay with you, percolating, for the rest of the day. Go safe with the Journey Prize Stories. Or branch out. Try an unknown writer. Or something experimental. Read a historical fiction. Magical realism. An international author. Read local. Pick up a copy of Fiddlehead or Riddle Fence. Listen to a fiction podcast. What have you got to lose? Ten minutes. ■

Sharon Bala is a member of the Port Authority, a St. John’s writing group. Their short story collection, Racket, is being published by Breakwater Books in September.Visit her at

Current Affairs Perspective

Water woes Questions of water availability aren’t reserved for the Third World–it should concern us here at home, too by Marq de Villiers

Joseph Muise


y aunt, visiting from South Africa, quickly saw the most obvious difference between the Canadian countryside and the African plains. “In South Africa,” she pointed out, “you know when you’re approaching a farm or a village, because there are trees there. In Canada, you know when you get to a farm because there is a clearing there.” In one place, if you want trees you have to plant them, and carefully nurture them. In the other, you have to hack them back. The difference, of course, is the availability of water. When I moved to Canada I was greatly envious of the abundance of water – anyone who came from an arid place would be. But I was also somewhat appalled, because Canadians treated their water with a carelessness bordering on the criminal – dumping

rubbish and poisons into rivers and lakes without apparent thought for the consequences. Hardly anywhere in Canada was usage metered, and water cost virtually nothing to consumers. As a result, Canadians used prodigious amounts of the stuff. It was the very antithesis of the conservation ethic. It was this stark difference that impelled me to write my first book on water, back in 1999. Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource book was an attempt to understand the “water world” – how much water there was, where it was (and wasn’t) and to assess the risks of running out altogether. Since then, dire stories of the world’s water crisis have become depressingly commonplace. The World Bank has taken to calling it “the dismal arithmetic of water”, by which they essentially mean that many

Atlantic Books Today


Current Affairs PerSpective parts of the world are increasingly bereft of safe, clean water, and that the shortages are getting worse, with no end in sight. Combine these stories with accounts of droughts ravaging many regions and, by contrast, floods ravaging other parts, and it is all too easy to believe that doom is nigh – or at least nigh-ish. Which is why I’ve come back to the topic. Can things really be that bad? Reassuringly, my answer is a qualified no. I put it this way: “Sure, it’s true, as a recent UN report put it, that global water use has grown at more than twice the rate of the world’s population for the last century, and it’s true that we are overdrafting many of our water resources at an unsustainable rate, and it’s true that we are still polluting water that we should have cleaned up decades ago. But no, we’re not necessarily doomed.” So is my latest, Back to the Well: Rethinking the Future of Water, a good-news book? Not quite. But I do argue that if we can avoid the most deeply irrelevant ideological quarrels to which the water world is so prone (the notion of a callous Big Water cartel that would reserve clean water for the rich, paranoia about bulk water transfers), a wide range of available techniques and conservationist practices will take us very close to solution. What about Atlantic Canada? If we have plenty of water (and we do), why should we bother to conserve? If we cut back on our consumption, how does that benefit, say, water-starved Syria? Water thrift in one place benefits only the thrifty, no one else. Cutting back in New Brunswick won’t get a drop to Haiti – or even to PEI for that matter. Yemen’s water problems are catastrophic for Yemen, Mali’s for Mali. But Mali’s problems are not catastrophic for Haiti, or Bolivia or Lubbock, Texas. The shrinking Rio Grande cannot be filled by water thrift in Denmark; polluted rivers in China cannot be scrubbed by America’s Clean Waters Act. Water thrift in Nova Scotia is a good thing – but it will benefit no one but Nova Scotians, who don’t really need the boost. So why bother? Here’s why: At home, I could use as much water as I wanted without depriving anyone else. But even my small well uses an electric pump to distribute the water, and that electricity is generated in our province largely by fossil fuels. So it is not without cost. And multiplied by millions, it has a real negative ecological effect that is, indeed, global in scope. Further, water problems may not seep across borders and into other jurisdictions, but attitudes do. And an attitude of entitlement, of profligacy, and of waste is surely contagious. That is a global problem. ■


Marq de Villiers’ book Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource won the Governor General’s Award for Englishlanguage non-fiction in 1999. His latest book revisits the topic and will be published in September 2015.

Marq de Villiers has authored 15 books, graduated from the University of Cape Town and the London School of Economics, and is a member of the Order of Canada. He lives in Eagle Head, NS.

Feeling the dinner-time crunch? Get a jump start on cooking with these easy, time-saving recipes from celebrity chef Michael Smith.


Author Buzz Interview

Kevin Kelly Photography

Proust Questionnaire

Rich Terfry Rich Terfry is a natural born storyteller. By day he hosts CBC Radio 2’s show Drive, and by night he’s Canadian alternative hip-hop icon Buck 65. His first book, Wicked and Weird: The Amazing Tales of Buck 65, tells the tale of growing up poor in Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia with a loudmouth mother and an alcoholic father, and then touring the globe as his alter ego Buck 65. Terfry’s memoir explores life as a girl-obsessed romantic, whose heart is still torn between music and baseball.

What do you consider your best quality? I think I’m a really good baseball player. If I have to be specific, I’d say I’m a really good hitter. Does that count as a quality? A quality you desire in a partner: A strong sense of humor. What do you appreciate most about your friends? Being non-judgemental. Truest friends don’t judge. Your worst quality: It’s a long list, but I’d put ‘excessive rumination’ at the top of the list today. Your favourite occupation: Playing catch. What is your idea of happiness? I’m not sure I’ve figured that one out. Your idea of misery: Imprisonment.

If you could be someone else for a day who would it be? Mike Trout, outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels. Where you would most like to live? In a Canada with a four-week winter, preferably out in the country. Your favourite poet(s): Mary Karr, Jacques Prévert, Philip Larkin, Townes Van Zandt.

Your favourite food & drink: Cereal and water (not together). What is your greatest fear? It’s a toss-up between snakes, deep water and being misunderstood. A natural talent you’d like to possess: I used to be able to throw a baseball 90 mph. I wish I could still do that.

Favourite author(s): Nabokov.

How you want to die: I’ve dealt with sleep apnea throughout my life. I figure that if it catches me one day, there would be worse ways to go.

Your real life heroes: Ted Williams (baseball player), social workers, mental health professionals, my ex-girlfriend, Claire.

Your present state of mind: Mostly anxious, grateful, confused, cautiously optimistic and a little bit hungry.

Your favourite fictional heroes: Margarita from The Master and Margarita, Ignatius J. Reilly from Confederacy of Dunces, Bentley Ellicott from Prince Ombra.

Favourite or personal motto: “Keep your eye clear and hit ‘em where they ain’t,” which I borrowed from baseball Hall of Famer, Wee Willy Keeler. ■

Atlantic Books Today


Author Buzz Profile

Remembering his roots Blunt, genderqueer poet and academic revisits his Atlantic origins

Carmen Ellison

by Shannon Webb-Campbell


Author Buzz Profile


ucas Crawford’s debut poetry book Sideshow Concessions fixates on transgender issues, Chinese food in rural Nova Scotia, sex and fat politics. As a bi-coastal writer, originally from Kingston, NS, now based in Vancouver, Crawford is this year’s Canadian Women In Literary Arts critic-in-residence, and winner of the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. The prize includes publication with Invisible Publishing’s Snare imprint and a $500 book advance. Sideshow Concessions is both bearded lady and the world’s fattest man, and comes out in October. “If I may be blunt, it makes me very happy that a genderqueer fatso from Nova Scotia who writes a lot of free verse can be read closely and taken seriously by the folks deciding such things,” says Crawford. “It is always reaffirming when the things you find interesting end up interesting other people. It also makes me hopeful that my students and other young people who are queer or trans will have some options ahead of them.” Inspired by Canadian poets Jeanette Lynes, Karen Solie, David McGimpsey, and Marilyn Dumont, Sideshow Concessions is a collection of thematic narrative poems focusing on circus-like bodies and extraordinary experiences of exploring a rural past and urban present. “I try to create new ways to think about gender, bodies, memory, time, sex, connection and so on. I have been out as queer for a good long while now, and the word has often meant a lot. However, I do pause when I consider the question now; I am wary of getting attached to any one approach.”

In December, he’ll publish an academic collection of essays, Transgender Architectonics – The Shaping of Change in Modernist Space. Both his poetry and academic work take roots in his rural East Coast upbringing. “Being working class; being aware of labour issues and class inequality from a very early age; developing an atheistic ‘catholic conscience’ and an anti-colonial ‘celtic soul;’ knowing early on that neither urbanism nor wealth neatly align with value or success; and, at the risk of sounding corny, knowing that earnestness and bigheartedness can coexist with intense critique and debate. I consider all of those things Nova Scotian gifts and I try my best to live up to them.” As this year’s criticin-residence with Canadian Women In Literary Arts, a national non-profit feminist literary organization that supports active female and genderqueer perspectives in Canadian literature, Crawford’s mission is to write reviews of transgender literature that makes people rethink what Trans Lit is, and what it could become. Crawford’s critical and creative work speaks to fat politics, embodiment, gender and sexuality. His poems are political, humorous, unabashedly honest, and offer snapshots of complicated family dynamics, ex-lovers, new flames, and all relationships in-between. He is concerned with poetry’s ability to expose, and wonders if his rural family and intimate relationships may be affected by his no holds barred approach. “I am aware that when one publishes poetry that could potentially be interpreted as personal, there is always the knowledge that one will,

Being working class, knowing early on that neither urbanism nor wealth neatly align with value or success, I consider these my Nova Scotian gifts.

in a sense, lose interpretive control over one’s narrative, he says. “I am curious to know if that feeling would be painful, or freeing, or something else. Also, because nobody’s story is free from the stories of others, it would be understandable if a writer felt concerned about publishing candid texts; nobody wants their loved people to feel they’ve been Alanis Morissette’d.” ■ Shannon Webb-Campbell is the inaugural winner of Egale Canada’s Out in Print Award and was Canadian Women in Literary Arts 2014 critic-in-residence. Still No Word (Breakwater Books, 2015) is her first collection of poems.

Third in the

Thomas Pichon Novels Now in stores

978-1-77206-020-1 $ 19.95

Atlantic Books Today


Young Readers Reviews

Zompires, tween idols and rocket ships - oh my! Lisa Doucet is the co-manager of Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax. She shares her passion for children’s and young adult books as our young readers editor and book reviewer.

Hannah Smart: Operation Josh Taylor by Melody Fitzpatrick $12.99, paperback, 144 pp. Dundurn Press, October 2015

After Dark by James Leck $18.95, hardcover, 252 pp. Kids Can Press, August 2015


When Hannah Smart discovers that Josh Taylor, her favourite singer in the whole world, is coming to her hometown she is wild with excitement. Until her mother informs her that if she wants to go to the concert she will have to raise the money to buy her own ticket. She and her best friend, Rachel, immediately concoct a plan: Operation Josh Taylor. When a yard sale fails to yield the neccesary funds, the girls channel their entrepreneurial spirits into a business venture that is sure to help them turn a tidy profit. But can their friendship survive the commotion that ensues? Not if mean-girl Scarlett Hastings has anything to say about it. In her bright and breezy middle-grade novel, Melody Fitzpatrick captures all the drama and angst of middle school life as Hannah catapults through the full spectrum of emotions. While this short and sassy tale doesn’t delve too deeply into the characters and their relationships it still manages to depict the intensity of Hannah and Rachel’s friendship. Although numerous issues are raised, they are not explored in depth, allowing the narrative to maintain its upbeat and lighthearted tone. Tween readers will root for Hannah and look forward to her next adventures. Charlie is deeply unimpressed when he learns that his mom has taken over her grandfather’s old inn in the tiny town of Rolling Hills. Despite his non-stop protestations, his mom makes it abundantly clear that there is a lot of work to be done on the house and that they are going to do it. Things start to look up when his older brother, Johnny, joins them and town beauty, Elizabeth Opal, enters the picture, as does Miles Van Helsing, a local teen notorious for his outrageous conspiracy theories. This time Miles is convinced that the townspeople are falling victim to a strange illness that is turning them into creepy zombie/vampire hybrids. And this time, it looks like he might be right. But can Charlie and a handful of teens withstand a paranormal invasion and save their family and friends? From the very first page, Charlie Harker establishes himself as an engaging narrator whose wry humour and laidback demeanor are a perfect counterpoint to Miles’ wackiness and nervous intensity. The story is briskly-paced and suitably atmospheric with Charlie’s sarcastic voice adding levity to even the most gruesome scenes. The “zompires” are at once ridiculous and horrific, the result being a horror story that is entertaining and terrifying… but only mildly terrifying. The open ending leaves fans plenty of room to hope for a sequel.

Young Readers Reviews

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton $19.99, hardcover, 40 pp. Scholastic, July 2015 Feisty Princess Pinecone may be small but she has big dreams. This year she has set her sights on a birthday present befitting her true warrior status: a horse! No more cuddly sweaters for her. This year she has let it be known that she wants a big, fast, strong steed. Instead she gets a short, round, perfectly-pleasant little pony with eyes that look in opposite directions (but only sometimes). With some misgivings, Pinecone and her new pony enter the kingdom’s big battle. Much to her amazement, her roly-poly pony captures the hearts of even the fiercest warriors… not to mention the Most Valuable Warrior trophy. Kate Beaton’s plucky princess and her big-eyed, charmingly dopey sidekick are a truly delightful duo. In this clever, witty tale the uplifting messages about unlikely heroes (and that even warriors need to embrace their cuddly sides) don’t get in the way of the fun and silliness. The fact that the pony happens to fart excessively will tickle the funnybones of the book’s intended audience, but their parents will enjoy the dry humour in the text itself. Adults and children alike will apreciate the bold, cartoon-y illustrations.

Island Morning written by Rachna Gilmore, illustrated by Brenda Jones $19.95, hardcover, 32 pp. The Acorn Press, September 2015

Down Here written by Valerie Sherrard, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant $18.95, hardcover, 32 pp. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, July 2015

“In the still of the morning, the chill of the morning, we tiptoe outside, Grandpa and I.” And so a girl and her grandfather venture forth to welcome and embrace the new day. With only the wind and the waves to disturb the stillness, and the seagulls gliding overhead, they follow the path to the clifftop where they are treated to a magnificent view of the rising sun. Along the way, they make sure to stop and greet the cows in the pasture, unimpressed though the placid creatures seem to be. When their early morning meanderings finish, they find themselves once again at their very own front door where they pause one more time to savour their special time together. In this latest collaboration, Rachna Gilmore and Brenda Jones create a loving and beautiful ode to Prince Edward Island. The words and images work perfectly together to capture the reverential nature of this early morning stroll. The vibrant illustrations are suffused with light and depict the multihued splendour of the ocean, fields and sky while Gilmore’s gentle prose is lyrical and lovely, and captures the spirit of stillness and sweet peace. The book is an exquisite evocation of the island’s charm while also serving as a touching tribute to the bond between this pair.

Jamie knows “everyone is good at something.” Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates the something that he is good at: building things. Rocket ships and mazes, roller coasters and castles, these are just some of the things that he conjures up. But mom doesn’t see his creative genius, she just sees a huge mess! Until the day that Jamie decides to look at his constructions from a new angle. Then he realizes that mom just needs to see his creations from his point of view: from down here instead of up there. This is a pleasing tale that will charm young readers and possibly give the grown-ups in their lives pause for thought. Jamie’s simple confidence in his own ability to build things is heartwarming, but the reader also recognizes the other something that he is good at is using his imagination. His epiphany about taking the time to look at something from a different perspective and his subsequent realization that that has been his mother’s problem all along is a simple but profound truth that is conveyed in a lighthearted fashion. Malenfant’s illustrations are busy and full of energy and movement, expressive and bursting with details. They perfectly depict what both Jamie and his mom see. A lovely book to savour and to share.

Atlantic Books Today


Lindsay Jones

Young Readers FEature

Meghan Marentette’s first book, The Stowaways received glowing reviews and awards nods.

Starting over all over again A Nova Scotia author shares the joys and challenges that come with writing a sequel by Lindsay Jones


eghan Marentette scrapped the first five chapters of the sequel to her popular children’s novel The Stowaways, then shelved her second attempt. These days her third rewrite is coming in “spits and spurts,” but she’s determined to finish by Christmas. The pressure to produce a sequel is daunting, especially when the first book was nominated for multiple awards: including Monica Hughes


Science Fiction and Fantasy and CLA Book of the Year for Children. That she’s missed several Arts Nova Scotia grant deadlines only increases the pressure on her to finish. “It’s a totally different process and I’m a little bit all over the place. So right now my process is discovering what my process is,” says Marentette. The 41-year-old has sacrificed a lot to make this next novel happen. After a recent breakup, she sold her

Young Readers FEature

north end-Halifax home and moved into a apartment at the back of her parents’ place in Fergusons Cove, NS, where the page-turner of a middle-grade novel about a family of adventurous mice, first came to life seven years ago. She spent part of this spring and summer in Calgary designing costumes for the film and television industry and is relieved to be finally free to immerse herself fully into the mouse world. Her parents’ support plays a big role. Marentette’s mother, Hilary, says her daughter’s film job was just too mentally and physically exhausting to write at the end of the day. That’s why she offered-up the tiny home studio. For a woman whose childhood nickname was Meghan Mouse, Marentette’s almost pocket-sized workspace befits her. The small desk is neatly arranged, with a brown bottle of naturopathic “focus” tincture, her slim silver laptop, notebooks and a sketchpad for drawing scenes. Three life-sized wooden mice, carved by a friend, sit perched on a shelf. For Marentette, writing is meditative and healing. It allows her to enter a different world and forget about her struggles. It’s not always easy to get into that groove. “There are so many moments, even when you are focused, when you just have an overwhelming moment of ‘Oh, I can’t do this. It’s not coming to me. Why can’t I write this paragraph?’ It’s usually only going well for 15 minutes and then it’s awful,” says Marentette. During these times she zeros in on the vision board above her desk: “Keep going. Everything will come to you in perfect time,” says one quote. Another is from author John Steinbeck: “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” This is where Penelope Jackson comes in. The Halifax editor is known for her pep talks. Although she doesn’t work with Marentette, she says even the most successful writers, particularly authors of second books or sequels, are plagued with self-doubt. “Trying to navigate writing a book when there is more pressure on you than when you wrote the first book can be really terrifying,” says Jackson. Jackson’s strategy is to get her writer refocused on the specifics of their writing. Pep talks can last

as long as the book is being written. A big part of that, she adds, is also acknowledging when things are too tangled. At that point, she helps them see their way through what isn’t working. “Some writers, like myself, are perfectionists and that can be what stops you, because your paragraph isn’t perfect and you can’t go on to the next part because you hate that part.,” says Marentette. “You sometimes just have to push through it and write some crap.” Her book will be released in 2016.■

“Writing a sequel is a totally different process and I’m a little bit all over the place. So right now my process is discovering what my process is.”

Lindsay Jones is a Halifax-based freelance journalist.

After a busy day building snowmen, sledding, snowshoeing, and roasting chestnuts, Mr. Peanuts and Cousin Squirrel settle in to wait for Santa ... Christmas is so much better when you have a friend to spend it with. ON SALE OCTOBER 27

Atlantic Books Today



Hon our iAlistair ng Project Bookmark launches a literary tribute during the Cabot Trail Writers Festival by Simon Thibault


he work of an author often takes readers into the minds of their characters, but also the places they inhabit. Writers want you to see, smell and hopefully understand the power of the places their characters inhabit. Alistair MacLeod often wrote of the beauty of Cape Breton Island, bringing many a visitor – and resident – to see the isle in a new way.


As of Oct. 1, readers will be able to access both MacLeod’s words and the place that influenced it thanks to a very special plaque. It will be unveiled in Port Hastings, Inverness County, Cape Breton during the Cabot Trail Writers Festival. The plaque will include a brief passage from MacLeod’s No Great Mischief, describing the land that inspired the author. That plaque is one of more than a dozen crisscrossing the country, from

Vancouver, BC to Woody Point, NL, thanks to Project Bookmark Canada. Miranda Hill is the organization’s founder and executive director. The idea for the plaques came to her while walking the streets of Toronto. “I realized that the streets that I was walking, and the stories that I was reading, were intersecting,” she says. “I was walking in the characters’ footsteps from books like Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin

Nat Brunt


Poet Al Pittman’s family celebrated the unveiling of his Woody Point, NL Bookmark in 2012. From left to right: grandchildren Remy Pittman-Byrne and Maida Leigh PittmanByrne, daughter Emily Pittman, her mother Marilee Pittman, and his sister Alice Pittman.

of a Lion or Anne Michaels’ Fugitive Pieces. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if you could encounter the stories in the places that they were set, just stumble across a setting in a book, and read the scene right there.” Port Hastings will soon join the ranks of current and upcoming Bookmarks planted by Project Bookmark. Hill hopes that this one will speak to fans of MacLeod’s writing, as well as those who have yet to discover it. “It will be placed at the Nova Scotia Visitor Information Centre, just over the Canso Causeway,” she says. “People will be entering the island and the mind of the author at the same time. For an author that has helped to introduce Cape Breton to readers around the world, that seems fitting.” Gary Walsh is excited about the Bookmark. He is the organizer of the Cabot Trail Writers Festival. “We are, of course, delighted that the bookmark will be unveiled on Oct. 1, the day before our festival,” he says. “We envisioned it happening at our festival when we met with Miranda in Toronto last May. To see everything come together so quickly speaks to the esteem in which Alistair is held.”

Alex MacLeod, associate professor of Atlantic Canadian Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, and Alistair MacLeod’s son, hopes that visitors to the site will feel as closely connected to the land as his father did. “People experience places with their imagination and their senses, so that to be there is profound, “ he says. “The project is interesting that you stand in the actual real world place where an imaginative scene has played out.” As a child, Alex often travelled to Cape Breton with his father. He notes that his father’s connection to Cape Breton never faded. “Even though we did it a hundred times, every time we crossed the causeway it was important for us,” he says. “The Bookmark being there will be emotionally important to our whole family. Dad was marked by that land, and he is already carried in the hearts and minds of people in Inverness, and so this is an extension of that connection.” ■ Simon Thibault is a Halifax-based journalist whose work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Vice, Saltscapes and on CBC Radio. He is currently working on his first book about Acadian food.

Biographical Fiction Now in stores

George Cameron tried in vain to silence the yearning for the childhood muse who haunted his thoughts and fuelled his passions. In a mind churning with words and feelings, madness waited in the shadows. 978-1-77206-032-4 $ 19.95

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The Little Festival that Could

The Word on the Street Halifax returns to Spring Garden Road to celebrate a milestone by Kate Watson

Meet your favourite authors at The Word on the Street (from top left):Stephen Rowe, Alan Syliboy, Dean Jobb, Lesley Crewe, Frank Cameron, Sarah Mian, Leslie Choyce and Megan Gail Coles are but a few of those on the schedule.


s The Word on the Street Halifax approached its 20th anniversary, the festival’s volunteer board wondered if the event was even going to happen this year. A behind-the-scenes hiccup delayed the release of funding to the national The Word on the Street office in Toronto and then trickled down to affect the cash flow for Halifax’s event.


“We had to ask ourselves, is the festival possible this year? Do we go ahead or do we cancel?” explains Lesley Dunn, Chair of the WOTS board. “The short answer was, if we scale back somewhat, we can do this. “ A small team of volunteers rolled up their sleeves and put together programming with an emphasis on the wealth of talented writers from here in

Atlantic Canada. And that, says Dunn, has proven to be the silver lining in the potential storm cloud. “We honestly don’t have to look out of this region. We have amazing authors here, and The Word on the Street is the perfect place to celebrate that.” Carolyn Gillis, chair of the WOTS programming committee (which included Atlantic Books Today managing

FEature editor Kim Hart Macneill, and Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association executive director Carolyn Guy), echoes that sentiment. “We definitely punch above our weight in Atlantic Canada when it comes to great writers,” Gillis says. “We’re inviting 40 to this year’s festival, and a great many of them are very well known on the national stage.” The list of writers includes Frank Cameron, Joan Clark, James Leck, Carol Bruneau, Charlotte Mendel, festival headliner Lesley Crewe and many more. Gillis says that the library offers a dynamic space to host various activities. She cites the First Nations Circle on the third floor as a prime example. “There’s going to be a reading of Robert Munsch stories in Mi’kmaq. Could there be a better place for that?” The APMA’s popular Pitch the Publisher event will happen again this year, along with other opportunities for would-be authors. A Blue Pencil Café will offer writers an opportunity to sit down with experienced editors and local publishers; plus a panel discussion will help authors learn what options are out there when it comes to getting their books published. Patrons can also expect to see many familiar vendors and booksellers, both inside the library’s expansive Paul O’Regan Hall and in a tented marketplace on the library’s Spring Garden Road Plaza. “I think you can call The Word on the Street Halifax ‘The Little Festival that Could’,” says Dunn, with a wry chuckle. “There have been some changes, but I think it’s all adding up to something really positive.” ■ Kate Watson is the theatre reviewer at The Coast, a freelance writer, and the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award coordinator. She has a keen interest in municipal politics, community-building and Twitter. Follow her @DartmouthKate.

TOP 10 reasons to attend THE Word on the Street Halifax

1 2 3 4

Cape Breton novelist Lesley Crewe will headline the festival with a reading from her latest book Amazing Grace (find a review on page 25). Veteran Nova Scotian broadcaster Frank Cameron will share stories from the heyday of Atlantic radio and his memoir I Owe it All to Rock and Roll (and the CBC). Best-selling author Joan Clark will read from her latest book, The Birthday Lunch, a novel chronicling the profound effect that a death has on a close-knit, New Brunswick family. If you’re not sick of the election yet, sit in on our political panel. Howard Epstein and Graham Steele, former MLAs turned authors, will join Dan Leger, journalist and author of Duffy: From Stardom to Senate to Scandal, to discuss the challenges of writing a book about politics.


Thinking about publishing a book? Join the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association’s panel discussion highlighting the benefits of working with a traditional publisher, and when you might want to self-publish.

6 7 8 9 10

Aspiring authors will have 5 minutes to sell a panel of book publishers on their book idea and get feedback that could help make their dreams a reality at Pitch the Publisher. The Halifax Central Library’s children’s floor will be bustling all day as authors read their picture books aloud! Join Philip Roy, Alison Delory, Ron Lightburn and others. WOTS will host story time sessions for big kids (adults) too! Join Winterset Award-winner Megan Gail Coles, poets Stephen Rowe and Brian Bartlett, local storyteller Vernon Oickle and others for back-to-back readings all day.

One Book Nova Scotia will announce its selection for the book all Nova Scotians should read and discuss. This surprise author will also give a short reading. Discover the mysteries and history of Oak Island with authors Joan Hamilton-Barry (Oak Island: and the Search for Buried Treasure) and John O’Brien (Oak Island Unearthed!).

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Debriefing elsipogtog the Anatomy of a struggle

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9781552667446 $24.95 “The only such book about this transformative moment in Maritime social history.” —Silver Donald Cameron

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tHe curse of tHe secoNd Novel

out of the Depths the experiences of Mi’kmaw Children at the indian residential school at shubenacadie, nova scotia, 4th edition

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Isabelle Knockwood 9781552667293 $22.95


This updated edition features survivors’ reactions to the apology by the Canadian government.


Fog Lit Fandango Getting ready to spread the word in the port city Words Colleen Kitts-Goguen Photos Bill Lapp

Sandra Bell of the Saint John Theatre Company, which is a partner in this year’s Fog Lit festival, holds Bill Conall’s The Promised Land: A Novel of Cape Breton, one of the festival’s featured books.


t’s a warm, overcast mid-summer Saturday. The Carnival Splendor cruise ship is docked in the harbour. Its passengers are climbing the steep streets of uptown Saint John in search of local colour and souvenirs to commemorate their port-of-call. Some have stopped in King’s Square, attracted by the crowd and the mesmerizing man at the microphone. A former New

Yorker, who now calls Saint John home, playwright and performer Clyde A. Wray gestures as his poetry spills out in a melodic basso profondo. Someone in the crowd shouts “Preach, brother! Preach!” “And I outside under your window under a bluegray moon, To glimpse a sight of you in the damp chill air . . .”

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The festival fills a void in terms of local literary events and emphasizes literacy at the same time. Along with readings and book launches there are events aimed at promoting literacy, especially in the schools.

Playwright and performer Clyde A. Wray and poet Emily Skov-Nielsen read to curious on-lookers at the Fog Lit poetry jam.


FEature This poetry jam, also featuring Annette Robichaud and Emily Skov-Nielsen, is a tee-up to Fog Lit, the city’s annual literary festival. This year, it runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, with more than a dozen authors covering all genres – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, young adult and children’s books. Andrea Kikuchi is standing in the crowd this morning. She’s brought her children along for the event. Andrea is one of the founders of Fog Lit and now sits on the festival’s board of directors. She’s a total fangirl when it comes to books. “The exciting part is meeting all of these authors... I’m a big fan. I’ve read books that I normally might not have. I just finished Hemlock. Loved it! Can’t wait to pick up the second one and the third.” Kathleen Peacock is the author of the Hemlock Trilogy and is appearing at this year’s festival. She’ll be in good company. Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour-winning writer Bill Conall (The Promised Land: a novel of Cape Breton) will be there, along with Megan Gail Coles and her Winterset Award-winning story collection (Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome), Mark Anthony Jarman, Libby Creelman (launching her new book, Split, at the festival), M. Travis Lane, Chuck Bowie, David Goss and many more. Kate Inglis will read from her books The Dread Crew and Flight of the Griffons at the Haunted Saint John family event. Saint John Free Public Library is the festival’s biggest partner, with additional support from many others, including the New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture and the City of Saint John’s Community Arts Funding Program. Kikuchi says in three short years the festival has grown in stature, to the point where publishers are now seeking out the festival, rather than the other way around. “It’s great because now all of the publishing houses know to contact us,” she says. Andrea Kikuchi, along with Rosalyn Hyslop, Carol MacFarqhuar, and Abby Teed-Walton, founded Fog Lit. Kikuchi says they wanted to

fill a void in the area in terms of literary events and to emphasize literacy at the same time. Along with readings and book launches there are events aimed at promoting literacy, especially in the schools. There’s also a visual arts component to Fog Lit and the desire to have something for everyone. “Our oldest and biggest supporter is 81,” says Kikuchi, “and our youngest is my daughter, who’s six.” Back at the microphone Clyde A. Wray wraps up. The crowd disperses. The cruise passengers have just a few hours before the ship sails from Saint John, but the Splendor will be back in port in early October, just in time for Fog Lit. ■ For more information and a full schedule go to Colleen Kitts-Goguen is a freelance writer and broadcaster based in Fredericton, NB.

ABT_FALL2015_FIN.indd 1

2015-07-31 8:44 AM

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A memoir of growing up poor, talented, baseball-obsessed, music-mad and girl-smitten on the East Coast.


2015/16 SEASON

Bernhard Gueller, Music Director

SYMPHONY NOVA SCOTIA Tickets are on sale now for our 2015/16 season! Come join us for spectacular performances of the music you love. Buck 65

Holst’s The Planets

Sleeping Beauty

UPCOMING HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE: • Buck 65 • Mozart’s Requiem • Ben Caplan • Bach’s Christmas Oratorio • Handel’s Messiah • The Music of Queen • Vivaldi’s Four Seasons • Pianist Marc-André Hamelin • The Celtic Tenors • Sleeping Beauty • Holst’s The Planets • and so much more!




Two hooves up for The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton ! Now that [Kate Beaton] has entered the world of picture books, the kid lit crown is hers for the taking. — Quill & Quire

$19.99 hardcover • Ages 4 & up

Beaton strays from the predictable underdog (underpony?) route, combining an original narrative with clever gags to make a truly one of a kind princess story. — National Post


Book reviews Discover longer versions of these reviews, and new stories about your favourite books and authors every day, at


Amazing Grace by Lesley Crewe $19.95, paperback, 288 pp. Vagrant Press, September 2015

This is an amazing read. From the first page to the last, the novel is a warmhearted story of one woman’s journey from a dark and abusive childhood into the light of acceptance and love. It’s also funny, alive with Lesley Crewe’s trademark wit and ear for dialogue. Grace is born Amazing Grace Fairchild. Her sister is Ave Maria. Through flashbacks doled out gradually, we learn that Amazing Grace and her sister were born to a hippy mother who had been drawn into an abusive cult. Grace barely makes it out alive and spends the rest of her life trying to find her mother and sister. When we first meet Grace, she is living in Cape Breton as the platonic housemate of a gentle giant named Fletcher. She is content with her life. It seems her only complaint is dealing with the town church ladies. “Last year at the Christmas tea and sale, I was so frustrated at a woman dithering in front of the fruitcakes I blurted, ‘Jesus Christ, take me now.’” Grace curses too much, smokes too much, and enjoys a glass of wine or three. She also has a son with whom she has little contact and a granddaughter who barely knows her. It’s the granddaughter, Melissa, who acts as the catalyst in the story. She’s a rich and spoiled teenager who’s going down fast, tricked into posting nude selfies online and using drugs to escape from the boredom of her life. Her father sends her to live with Amazing Grace as a means of scaring her straight. What unfolds is the narrative of Grace’s past, which leads to closure, and yes, a state of grace, for the whole family. Colleen Kitts-Goguen is a freelance writer and broadcaster in Fredericton. She shares some, but not all, of Grace’s vices.

These Good Hands by Carol Bruneau $22.95, paperback, 311 pp. Cormorant Books, Inc., June 2015

French sculptor Camille Claudel’s relationship with her lover-mentor, the sculptor Rodin, and her eventual life and death in a mental asylum, are the stuff of art legend. Now they are joined by Claudel’s fictional, innermost thoughts in this novel. The novel’s strength flows from Claudel’s fiery voice. Her prose are as lyrical as her sculpture. In a letter to her younger-self she writes, “In the grey-green thrall of another life... In those unbroken days... you were as headstrong as any horse.” Claudel is not depicted as a simple victim of a predatory older man but as an artist who wants to get ahead; she’s conscious of her need of Rodin’s connections, but “love crept up without my knowing it, gaining ground.” Similarly, madness creeps up on her. There is a realistic complexity and ambiguity to both, to which Bruneau and Claudel do not so much explore as bear witness. Anna Quon is a novelist and poet living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

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This second novel is an in-depth exploration of the complex dynamics of a family living in an unnamed Middle Eastern country during a time of democratic upheaval. Protests and increasing violence loom in the background, yet the author’s focus is on the turmoil playing out on the home front for her six main characters. They are: Rana, a woman with a lust for life and a willingness to speak her mind; her brother Mohammed, a domineering patriarch who is deeply worried about how the changes underway will affect his family and country; Fatima, Mohammed’s wife, who accepts her passive role; Ahmed, Mohammed’s brother, who is active in the protests; Zaynah, an eavesdropping girl; and Mazin, a clever boy with effeminate tendencies that worry his parents. Mendel tells the story through the eyes of these six characters, revealing the course of events and the complex family dynamics from differing points of view. A Hero a fascinating novel for readers who enjoy going deep inside the minds of multiple characters.

The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Short Fiction $19.95, paperback, 224 pp Breakwater Books, June 2015

Field Notes for the Alpine Tundra by Elena Johnson $17.96, paperback, 48 pp. Gaspereau Press Ltd., April 2015

This collection is a greatest-hits ensemble. But with a single editor (author and professor Larry Mathews) choosing the pieces, it’s better to read it like one enjoys a mix-tape. Mathews writes that these stories represent only “energetic, intense, imaginative, sophisticated, witty” prose. Aging protagonists reflect on their lives in six of the 10 stories. While Matthews avoids defining Newfoundland culture, these selections give a flavour for language and environment, urban and “beyond the overpass.” But their themes are universal. Readers will argue the choices. Ramona Dearing’s “An Apology” remains one of the most profound English-language short stories in any era or locale. Meanwhile, Edward Riche’s “Deer Friends” was unfortunately chosen to represent satire, bizarrely (and humourlessly) poking fun of the language around “transitioning” from one gender to another. As with a mix-tape from a friend, you won’t love every track. But this is work from some of Newfoundland’s greatest writers.

Elena Johnson spent several weeks at a research station in Yukon, and so began this book. It presents its eco-poetics by juxtaposing found poems like “Willow Shrub-Annual Growth Rings (Stems)” with more conventional lyrics like “Spines”: “spine of the sky / spine of the sparrow / spine of the sheep’s horn / spine of the antler / spine of footsteps over tundra / spine of white plastic.” As with all Gaspereau Press productions, much thought has gone into the aesthetics of Field Notes for the Alpine Tundra. Although this is Johnson’s first book, the ways that her poems’ forms match their subjects indicate literary maturity. For example, where the words of Jan Conn’s Jaguar Rain are as copious as the jungle biome they describe, Johnson pares her poems down to a minimalism appropriate to the tundra: “Wildflower one knuckle high. / Mammals the width of a hand.” Johnson’s stark austerity ensures that significance inheres in every line of this short book: “Each landscape leaves its mark – /a scratch at the heart.”

Chris Benjamin is the author of the award-winning Indian School Road: His latest book, Crossings, A Thomas Legacies of the Shubenacadie ResidenPichon Novel (Cape Breton University tial School; Eco-Innovators: SustainPress), the third in that series, comes out in ability in Atlantic Canada and Drive-by September 2015. Saviours; as well as several short stories.

Kathy Mac’s poetry books are The Hundefräulein Papers and Nail Builders Plan for Strength and Growth. As Kathleen McConnell, she also authored a book of essays. Mac teaches creative writing at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.

A J B Johnston is a historian and novelist.



A Hero By Charlotte Mendel $22.95, paperback, 286 pp. Inanna Publications, May 2015

Short Fiction





A Sea Glass Journey: Ebb and Flow by Teri Hall, with photography by Jane Milton and Carly Boertien $24.95, hardcover, 100 pp. Nimbus Publishing, July 2015

The Oak Island Mystery: Solved by Joy A. Steele $24.95, paperback, 320 pp. Cape Breton University, May 2015

Part poetry and part how-to guide on the art of collecting and creating with sea glass, this book ebbs and flows on tides of fact and whimsy. The books begins when the lure of sea glass prompts the author to give up her career as a probation officer and establish Fire & Water Creations, her PEI-based sea glass jewelry and home décor business. Discover the best time and place to search for glass (low tide on a pebbly beach), how long it takes waves and rocks to create jewelry-grade glass (40–100 years) and how to spot a rock tumbler-made fake. As well, there are practical tips on how to create pieces using your own beach finds. You’ll be entertained by the folklore attached to the glass, sometimes referred to as “mermaid’s tears,” entranced by the delicate hues of the still-life photographs and inspired by the notion that what was once discarded as valueless has been transformed into something of great beauty by nature and time. Margaret Patricia Eaton writes the weekly Art Talk column for the Moncton Times & Transcript. Her poetry has won several awards, including her latest collection, Vision & Voice with painter Angelica de Benedetti.

To write a new book on Oak Island, you need a distinctive title, as well as a new and plausible theory on the mystery. Joy Steele succeeds on both counts. Sydney’s Joy Steel has managed to come up with an engaging new thesis about the legend’s origins. The author claims to have solved the famous island’s puzzle, though I won’t reveal her solution, her argument is credible. Initially, I wasn’t convinced—the historical reference to a “pretty island in Nova Scotia” was too vague to identify Oak Island and the hypothesis about the slave industry being well developed on the island in the 1720s seems a bit far-fetched. And yet her theory became more convincing as she discussed the physical evidence found on the island. In addition to pointing us in a fascinating new direction surrounding the mysterious island, she’s done a fine job presenting important research into an essential but often ignored aspect of our region’s historic lumber trade. Dan Soucoup has worked as a bookseller and publisher for many years. He is the author of numerous books including Failures and Fiascos and A Short History of Halifax. He lives in Dartmouth.

Murder on the Rock: True Crime in Newfoundland and Labrador by Robert C. Parsons $19.95, paperback, 278 pp. Flanker Press, August 2015 Newfoundland and Labrador has been the site of some heinous, bizarre and puzzling crimes over the last 300 years. Some of the stories recounted in this 59 piece collection include “The Signal Hill Prison Break” and “The Bonne Bay Hostages.” It is likely you’ve heard of Robert C. Parsons and his work before as he is one of Newfoundland’s most prolific non-fiction writers having published more than 25 books on various topics pertaining to the province’s history particularly regarding ship disasters, rescue and survival. True crime is the perfect subsequent topic for Parsons as he continues culling stories that may otherwise be forgotten. The stories in Murder on the Rock have been developed by a keen eye that serves up details and facts mustered from lengthy research. This collection combines history and story in an easy to read, educational way that shows the author’s love of Atlantic history and the individual human stories that complete it. Kerri Cull completed an MA in English Literature in 2004 and has worked in publishing, journalism, radio, teaching, writing and marketing. She is writing a book about the sex industry in St. John’s.

Atlantic Books Today






Door To The Past: Abandoned Properties of Prince Edward Island by Tony Gallant $19.95, paperback, 68 pp. The Acorn Press, July 2015

Trails of Prince Edward Island by Michael Haynes $24.95, paperback, 352 pp. Goose Lane Editions, June 2015

Hand Drawn Halifax by Emma Fitzgerald $19.95, hardcover, 128 pp. Formac Publishing Ltd., September 2015

Michael Haynes has been blazing – or at least chronicling – trails for Canadian hikers and cyclists for almost three decades in his best-selling guidebooks. This new work provides an indispensable guide to more than 50 walking and biking routes that take in the island’s “pastoral panoramas” and “awesome beaches in matchless settings”. The compact book includes maps, trail descriptions and GPS coordinates as well as information on length, time, difficulty, permitted uses and facilities along the way. He weaves into sidebars throughout the book hiking tips and interesting facts about wildlife and local historic sites. An easy-to-use “Trails at a Glance” section offers basic information to help users narrow down choices based on variables like length and difficulty. From there, each trail is navigated in Haynes’ conversational manner: “Watch carefully, because the map at the next junction might be nearly hidden by thick vegetation.” The effect is rather like having a knowledgeable friend along for the journey.

Emma Fitzgerald is a true explorer. Her sense of adventure lies exactly where it’s supposed to: in her every step. She looks for treasure in her daily surroundings and, delightfully, is inclined to share her discoveries with us. Through her words and illustrations (a mighty combination) Fitzgerald notes those folk who are the bedrock of this city. She does so with little flourish, as though she whispers in our ears and passes along the magic of her experience. She lays no claim to the people and places she paints, but instead points to how rich in culture the shared collaborative space known as Halifax truly is. Fitzgerald’s illustrations are alive, shifting, swaying in front of your very eyes. She captures an essence while leaving out the bits and bobs the reader must go and see on their own, those integral aspects of a place that will only be found when you’re there on your own, hunting for a piece of treasure.

Kate Watson is the theatre reviewer for The Coast, a freelance writer, and coordinator of the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award. She has a keen interest in municipal politics, community-building and twitter. Follow her @DartmouthKate.

JJ Steeves was homegrown on a farm in Lanark, NS, and has worked with her hands all her life. These days she is busily making comics, painting monsters, and as always, working on street art.

Freelance photographer Tony Gallant has spent the past four years taking photos of old abandoned properties in Prince Edward Island. At first, he started by doing photo shoots of his childhood home, which sat vacant for 15 years. This led him on a quest to find other abandoned properties on the Island. Door To The Past is a photo summary of this project, and includes snippets of information below each photo. The most striking feature of this book is how simple, yet telling the photography is. Although most of the photos are not award-winning material, if you spend some time with them you’ll also wonder, as the author does, who lived in these homes and what their lives were like, or come up with your own stories. The photos tell it as it is, without digital manipulation. This is refreshing. The book may also inspire others to look at abandoned homes with a new appreciation. Sandra Phinney is a journalist/photographer in Yarmouth, NS. Her favourite photo in Gallant’s book is on the right of page 7. She finds it haunting (and lovely).


Vi s i t

Book bites Events

It’s festival season We love seeing pictures from festivals, book launches and author events. Share yours on

September 30 Rich Terfry Halifax Central Library Halifax, NS CBC Radio host Rich Terfry presents the

true story of his alter ego, musician Buck 65, in his memoir Wicked and Weird: The Amazing Tales of Buck 65. Hear him share stories of growing up poor, talented, baseball-obsessed, music-mad and girlsmitten on the East Coast. Learn more at September 30 to October 4 Fog Lit Festival Saint John, NB Now in its sixth year, this city-wide festival engages authors and readers alike with writing workshops and panels, readings and school literacy events. This year’s line-up includes Bill Conall, Megan Gail Coles, Mark

readingvser festivals, signingsand book a the regiocross n

Anthony Jarman, Libby Creelman, M. Travis Lane, David Goss and Kate Inglis. Find the schedule at October 2–4 Cabot Trail Writers Festival St. Ann’s, NS Atlantic Canada’s most intimate literary festival invites you to get up-close and personal with its guest authors, who include Lawrence Hill, Miranda Hill, Linden MacIntyre, Joan Clark, Ian Hamilton, Megan Gail Coles, Kathleen Winter, Lisa Moore and musician Dan MacCormack. Buy tickets at


September 18 Libby Creelman Resource Centre For The Arts, St. John’s, NL Join this local author for the highly anticipated launch of her new novel, Split, a compelling story about family, home and belonging. The event is free and open to the public and books will be available for purchase. Learn more at

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Racket: New Writing Made in Newfoundland

EDITED BY LISA MOORE | 978-1-55081-609-9

This unique anthology showcases a generation of voices soon to emerge as the next great wave of Newfoundland writers.

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The World, The Lizard, and Me

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A stirring and contemporary Heart of Darkness, utterly compelling in its portrayal of Western ideals submerged in the global politics of poverty and violence.

One Hit Wonders

PATRICK WARNER | 978-1-55081-613-6

An energetic tale that is part caper and part murder mystery– relentlessly satiric, brutally funny, and obsessively readable.

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by Margaret A. Westlie

HoNouriNg AlistAir MAcleod

Anna’s Secret is available in bookstores on PEI or order online at and use the discount code 7P89E6LU for $5.00 off for Atlantic Books Today readers.

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The Memory Chair $12.95

Kira’s Quest $12.95

The Pup From Away $9.95


tHe curse of tHe secoNd Novel


Prince Edward Island in 1859: The murder of a woman disrupts the close-knit Scottish community. Join the Community! Read the Selkirk Stories novels by Margaret A. Westlie.

Island Morning $19.95


Meet your

“The first paragraph grabbed me, and I had to read on.”

frANk cAMeroN, lesley crewe, lAwreNce Hill & MANy More

fall 2015 No. 79 Publications Mail Agreement 40038836

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online now Door to the Past $19.95

This I Know $19.95

The Dead Letter $19.95


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Atlantic Books Today Issue 79 - Fall 2015  

In this issue: Festival preview: The Word on the Street Halifax on Sept 19, Fog Lit in St. John Sept 30- Oct 2, Honouring Alistair MacLeod i...

Atlantic Books Today Issue 79 - Fall 2015  

In this issue: Festival preview: The Word on the Street Halifax on Sept 19, Fog Lit in St. John Sept 30- Oct 2, Honouring Alistair MacLeod i...