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Pickle Me This

April 26, 2018

This Week’s Reading

April 18, 2018

My Garden, So To Speak…

The internet is awful, and this week I met the exciting milestone of my first report of a threat to my personal safety on Twitter. Obviously, they found the threat doesn’t violate their terms. To suggest the comment was something I actually find threatening is to give some sad little worm too much credit, but still, what a sorry thing when this is how people communicate, and somebody else decides it’s acceptable. Even sorrier that someone like that gets to define our online experience—and so he doesn’t. I also love the internet. I’ve also spent this week jumping through portals into rich and colourful stories and experiences, and I share links to these places on Twitter. Where, I find, there isn’t tremendous engagement anyway. And so in celebration of the goodness, I’m going to bring back the links round-up to my blog, that little corner of the internet that is mine. My garden, so to speak.

March 5, 2015

Perhaps the alphabetizing is a diversion

IMG_20150305_132621There is something. I am not sure what it is. Perhaps we’re that much closer to the sun and the days are longer, though winter is still very present, and maybe it’s that I’m keeping my head down and just trying to make it to the finish line. With March Break on the horizon (and we’re having a Dreaming of Summer party, inviting friends over so their moms can drink sangria in the morning with me), plus we’re spending much of April in England, which I’m so excited about. Before we leave, I am quite adamant that I shall finish the second draft of my novel, so that’s a preoccupation of late. I’ve been reading so many exceptional books (Eula Biss’ On Immunity at the moment), and reading fewer think-pieces. The other day, I culled my to-be-read shelf and got rid all the books I kind of always knew I was never going to read, and all the books that I was intending to read because I thought I should (and while I’ve meant to stop acquiring such books, I sometimes even fool myself). And then I alphabetized the books that were left, whereas before they’d been a series of teetering stacks. And it feels good, tidy, exciting. Though perhaps the alphabetizing is just a diversion. Is it possible that alphabetizing is always a diversion? I don’t think so though. It’s an order to chaos, something that makes sense. Regardless, it does feel like I’m walking along on the edge of something.

IMG_20150210_083952What else? Heidi Reimer’s winning essay about female friendship has been published in Chatelaine. I interviewed Marilyn Churley about reuniting with her son and her fight to reform adoption disclosure in Ontario. My profile of Julie Morstad is now online at Quill and Quire. A few weeks back at, we did a virtual round-table on The State of the Canadian Short Story that was amazing. And finally, here is a photograph of my children, because I know there are a more than a few readers who visit this site for only that.

February 27, 2013

Pickle Me This is featured on BlogHer

I was happy to learn that my blog post “How (at least I am hoping…) having a baby is just like getting a tattoo” is featured today as one of BlogHer’s Must-Read Posts. And I sure hope I’m right, because if I end up getting my family crest tattooed on my back while birthing quadruplets in May, it’s going to be pretty embarrassing.

April 15, 2012

Only in hindsight

I loved Stephen Marche’s piece “The Persistence of Mad Men”: “Everything in Mad Men is predictable, but only in hindsight.” Marita Dachsel and Carrie Snyder, two women I like and admire, have a conversation about The Juliet Stories, motherhood, and the writing life. Carrie Snyder also turns up at Blog of Green Gables writing about the various stages of reading with her children. I love that Sarah Tsaing is writer-in-residence at Open Book Toronto this month. Sarah is also on the New Generation of Canadian Poets, which has its own page at Amazon. Jonathan Bennett on Kyo Maclear’s Stray Love. Nathalie Foy likes Jo Walton’s Among Others. My friend Erin gave me a Cath Kidson Diamond Jubilee mug (which should go really well with my new bunting, which is due to arrive in the post soon. And how amazing that I get to spend the next couple of weeks anticipating bunting in the post [because is there any greater state of being?]). Blogs that are interesting me lately and challenging notions of the form: Habicurious (“Exploring the intersection of people, their housing and communities”), and Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer’s May I Stare At You?, and Heinonen on writing and reading fiction (in particular, lately, “The Notebook Habit and the Hell of Notebooks“). Richard Florida on “Why Young Americans Are Driving So Much Less Than Their Parents”. And finally, we’re currently building a box city at our house (of cereal boxes, pasta boxes and very much lately of tissue boxes) as inspired by Alfred Holden’s Beaver, whose exhibition Stuart and I went to see years ago.

April 4, 2012

Knee deep in the hoopla

According to Heather Mallick, we’re all mad women now (to which some would respond, “Speak for yourself, Heather Mallick”, I’m sure, but not me). And then Erica Jong does something the same but backwards in defending the feminist revolution. In more about feminism, the very wise Rachel Power suggests that Elisabeth Badinter has the wrong targets in her sight. The wonderful Sweet Devilry makes the Gerald Lampert Award shortlist! On Cindy Sherman and women’s work in art. Did you know that Jane Gardam writes for children? I just found out and have ordered a copy of her novel Bilgewater. Roger Sutton responds brilliantly to the “debate” about adults reading YA. “Frogs” from Heather Birrell’s forthcoming collection Mad Hope is now available as a free e-story.

And in “more about my friends” news, I once spent a year sitting across the circle at the library’s Baby Time from a woman I always wanted to get to know, and when I did, I discovered she was wonderful, a book designer, and that she’d designed one of the first books I professionally reviewed. She’s Diane Robertson, and along with Mo Willems and Elizabeth Mitchell, she’s been one of the great finds of my mothering life, and I’m so excited that she’s won a first prize in the 2012 Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design for Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery.

Finally, this year I once again served as a judge for the OSSTF Student Achievement Awards, and the very deserving winners are celebrated here in a video that’s guaranteed to make you cry.

March 26, 2012

Here and there

Tomorrow night, UofT’s MA Creative Writing program is celebrated at a gala at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library featuring readings by Anne Michaels, AF Moritz, and program students. Find out more here. Charlotte Ashley gives us 5 things to do with your kids while the library is on strike. What can librarians learn from DIY libraries (hint: it’s not about the digital). Heather Birrell reads Carrie Snyder’s The Juliet Stories. And her wonderful post at 49thShelf, “Reading My Way Through Motherhood“. Justine Picardie on writing the end of a marriage. Billeh Nickerson on what’s so funny about the Titanic: “What many folks fail to realize is the sensitivity that it takes to realize the happier parts of our psyches, is often the same sensitivity it takes to fully get the sadness.” A celebration of Judy Blume’s girls. Leah Bobet: “cities are machines for story”. Rohan Maitzen’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Digital”. The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest has its deadline on Wednesday. And Anne Fleming has a new collection forthcoming!

March 14, 2012

From the reaches

Coach House fails to imPress the 3-and-under set or maybe they're just overwhelmed

From the reaches of the internet, I bring you Kyran Pittman on blogging and book-writing (“As we move away from our attachment to the vehicle, I’m noticing recently a subtle shift in the blog culture’s attitude toward publishing books”). Paper Tigers Blog reviews Joan Bodger’s Court and Castle. Behind the Mad Men twitter accounts (which I refuse to believe aren’t authentic). Lauren Groff’s Arcadia gets a rave review by Ron Charles in The Washington Post. Carrie Snyder’s The Juliet Stories gets love from Quill & Quire. Snyder’s book is also called one of the best books you’ll read this year by CBC Books in this excellent list of Canadian women writers you need to read right now. And she blogs for The Afterword about why she loves her cover art. An interview with the fabulous Caitlin Moran that references wanking to Chevy Chase (and I am so excited that so many of you want to read her book now. But of course you do!). The VIDA 2012 Count and why it doesn’t matter how many women submit to literary magazines. DoveGreyReader finally reads Possession. The spring session of my blogging course at UofT begins in one month! You can register here. And check out Kyo Maclear’s Picture Books for Grown-Ups list— I absolutely adore it. Now reading Death Comes to Pemberley, which I’m probably enjoying more than the Austenites and now I want to read Pride and Prejudice again (and let’s just say I never thought anything would make me want to do such a thing). Finally, we bought a Sam Cooke hits CD recently which has revolutionized how good it is to be at our house. Everything is better when Sam Cooke is playing, and we’ve been doing a lot of dancing in the kitchen and drinking more wine. My favourite song of the moment is the wonderful Bring It On Home.

And yes, I’ve decided to bring back my links round-ups which is a bit 2007, but twitter is too ephemeral for some things. Plus I can post photos of Harriet as accompaniment.

March 7, 2012

The internet is made of wonderful things

For the benefit of anyone who’s not on Twitter: Larissa Andrusyshn (who wrote Mammoth, which I loved) is interviewed at The 49th Shelf and talks about “discovery channel poetry; really interesting interview with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner about the upcoming season; Heather Birrell’s Mad Hope has been made into an actual book and we got to watch it happen; Rohan Maitzen on Virginia Woolf’s criticism, “Abandonment, Richness, Surprise”; an interview with Kyo Maclear on her new picture book Virginia Wolf (which we love); on Elephant & Piggie’s We Are In a Book as a meditation on death; Rebecca Rosenblum marks a decade in Toronto: “I survived SARS, Avian Flu, Swine Flu, the blackout, and I’ll survive Rob Ford, too.”; Daniel Griffin’s “Ten Stories Will Get You One”; Susan Swan explores past tense in the present; Maria Meindl on the perils of writing about family; and Elizabeth Renzetti leaves a box of books on the curb and watches to see what happens. Now reading Caroline Adderson’s Sitting Practice. And why don’t we all know already that Caroline Adderson is hilarious?

June 16, 2011

Introducing Canadian Bookshelf!

For the past few months, I’ve been thrilled to be part of the amazing launching the website Canadian Bookshelf. The site is a work-in-progress, which is pretty wonderful, because it’s fabulous already. It’s the largest-ever online assemblage of Canadian books of all kinds, with author pages and a reader community. A big feature of the site is reading lists, which I’ve had a great time soliciting from writers and hand-picked expert readers (and also writing my own– here is my own list of favourite bookish novels). I’m also pretty happy with the Canadian Bookshelf blog, with guest posts like this one by Anne Perdue, or my new post today on great books for Dads on Father’s Day. To learn a bit more about Canadian Bookshelf, you can read my introductory blog post. And if you’ve got some time to kill, kill away merrily with the Canadian Bookshelf Cover Shuffle.

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