Category: Non fiction reviews

A review of The Writer Laid Bare by Lee Kofman

One of the key tenets of The Writer Laid Bare is the importance of paying attention. This almost obsessive focus is the writers’ stock-in-trade. Kofman calls it voyeurism, but in our attention-starved culture, being able to lock onto the details contained within a moment is more than just a tool to make our work more interesting (though Kofman makes a good case for that), it’s revolutionary.

A review of So You Want to Live Younger Longer by Dr Norman Swan

This is a book about enjoying your life with as much vigour and health as possible by making better lifestyle choice, not about living forever through a rich-person only, ageism that requires collagen injections, placental transfusions or high colonics (even if they are the secret to Keith Richards’ longevity). Of course ageing well is a privilege. Financial security along with access to high quality food makes all the difference.

A review of Women Winning Office by Peggy Nash

Should a woman run as an independent, or as a candidate for a recognized party?  In Canadian municipal politics, everyone is an independent in theory.  At the provincial and federal levels, most successful candidates have a party affiliation.  Nash acknowledges that independent candidates are free of strong central control and vetting; adherence to policy and discipline, and the nomination process that a party requires

Reframing History with ‘Redeclarations’ by Halim Madi

Halim Madi, a Santa Barbara–based digital poet, highlights this ironic relationship in his new digital art project, Redeclarations, an interactive endeavor that invites viewers to write their own declarations by selecting words and phrases from the original Declaration of Independence. Madi says he opted to use parts of the original document rather than rewrite the whole thing from scratch in an attempt to “reuse the soil from which we grew as a nation to reinvent the nation itself.”

A review of The Strategic Poet edited by Diane Lockward

Aside from the illuminating value of the poetry, these modern poems are a pleasure to read. While specifically published as a teaching tool for writers of poetry, anyone who appreciates contemporary poetry should find The Strategic Poet to be a valuable addition to a personal library. On top of everything else, it’s both a challenging and a fun book to study with, filled with insight, imagination, rewarding tasks, and exceptionally fine writing.  

A review of Friday Book by John Barth

Essays can often have a certain unapproachable quality. However, when you read Barth, you can’t expect a constant stream of seriousness, or at least seriousness in the most acceptable times. Even before the barrage of essays comes forth to dazzle us, under the heading “The Title of This Book,” he already starts with some unserious seriousness when reflecting on the various sorts of titles floating around in the literary world—while refraining from actually speaking of his title much at all.

Clarity That Could Cut Through Bone: A Review of Listen Mama

Listen Mama is less a traditional memoir and more a compilation of the author’s journal entries, many of which were written at the tender but precocious age of 14. These entries stretch over more than 19 years, covering in real time the heartaches, health problems, and general misfortunes that were thrown at this unfortunate person. What Williams brings to the memoir is a clarity that could cut through bone and a sober reconciliation with the past that can only come with age and knowing.

A review of The Silence Between Us by Oceane Campbell and Cécile Barral

Both Oceane and Cécile are beautifully articulate, carefully unpicking their own wounds to find something universal in their experience. In breaking their silence, Oceane and Cécile create an allyship between mother and daughter that reverberates beyond their changing relationship to one another, themselves, their histories, and the world they live in.

A review of The Tramp in British Literature, 1850-1950, by Luke Lewin Davies

Having published a book on fifteen (American, British and Irish) tramp writers, although devoting an entire chapter to each, after reading Davies’ book I was left feeling that I had only scratched the surface of this fascinating and under researched phenomena (Davies identifies thirty-three British tramp memoirists alone). I will have to read this book more than once to fully appreciate its scope and content, including the countless delightful anecdotes from the subject’s of Davies curiosity.