The Short Story Advent Calendar 2017: Giveaway open till Oct. 17

Disclaimer: Giveaway copy is courtesy of the kind people at Hingston & Olsen Publishing, but I bought my own copy. I know one of the creators, Michael Hingston, and reviewed his novel The Dilettantes here.

ssac2017

It’s that time of year again: The Short Story Advent Calendar is on sale now, and I have a copy to give away. I plan to do daily reveal videos, so subscribe on YouTube if you haven’t already!

The SSAC is exactly what it sounds like: individually bound short stories that you open every day from December 1 to 25. The creators also post daily author interviews and extras on their website. The best part is reading along and chatting about the stories with fellow bookish people on the internet – use #ssac2017 on Twitter.

How to enter & other fine print

  • To enter: tell me about the last great short story you read in the comments, and make sure your comment either includes your email address, or links to somewhere I can find it. Or, email me at lauratfrey@gmail.com and put SSAC in the subject line. If you haven’t read a great short story lately, that’s okay! Just tell me how excited you are to start reading them, or something.
  • Rules and regulations:
    • Contest is open till October 17, 2017.
    • On October 18, I will randomly choose a winner. I will notify the winner by email and ask for their mailing address. If I don’t hear back in 48 hours, I’ll choose again.
    • The winner’s calendar will ship in late October.
    • The giveaway is open internationally, but can only ship to addresses in Canada, USA, Mexico, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Good luck!

Psst… Hingston & Olsen are offering a second story box this year. The Ghost Box is full of scary stories, and is still available but probably won’t be for long.

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CanLit for Cynics: Q&A with Peter Unwin

petroniusWhen I wrote about CanLit cynicism for carte blanche, I started with Alex Good’s book of essays, Revolutions (full Q&A here). Then, a very strange novel fell into my hands (actually, it was placed there by Kelsey at Freehand Books) and I knew these books were meant to be together. Searching for Petronius Totem is a strange, hilarious book, and author Peter Unwin is a bit strange and hilarious himself. Read on for the full Q&A.

Many thanks to Mr. Unwin, and Ms. Attard at Freehand books!

 

 

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CanLit for Cynics: Q&A with Alex Good

Canadian Novel.inddI’m pretty cynical about CanLit lately. When I noticed that carte blanche, a Quebec-based literary journal, was running a “Who Needs CanLit” series on their blog, I knew I had to get in on it.

One of the books I drew on was Revolutions by Alex Good, a collection of essays that leaves no CanLit heavyweight unscathed. Have a peek at my essay over at carte blanche, then read on below for my full conversation with Alex Good, who may actually be more cynical than me.

Many thanks to Mr. Good and the fine folks at Biblioasis who put me in touch with him! And stay tuned for my Q&A with poet, novelist, and YouTube star Peter Unwin later this week.

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along: All’s Well That Ends. (Well…)

happy ending

How Convenient

Alternate post title: All’s Well That Ends Well (If You Are A Rich, Titled Male)

“All’s Well That Ends Well” was the working title of what eventually became War and Peace. AWTEW was to be set just after the Crimean War, in which Tolstoy fought during the 1850s. But Tolstoy decided he couldn’t just start there. If he was going to talk about the Crimean War, he had to explain the Decemberist revolt of 1825, so he started again, with the working title The Decemberists. Then he backtracked even more, to the French invasion of Russia in 1812, but he couldn’t very well talk about Napoleon without talking about his 1805 antics. It’s all very Captain Underpants (… for those without children, flashbacks in Captain Underpants are always preceded by the line “But before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this story…”)

Did it all end well, though? Let’s not worry about the posts I skipped (lesson learned: eleven weeks is too long for a read-along) and see where our friends ended up in the epilogue, seven years after the events of 1812.

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume III, Part III: Fan Video Appreciation Week

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

I was going to save this for the end of the read-along, but I didn’t find much to remark on in this section. Well, okay, two quick things:

  1. Helene tries to get out of her marriage to Pierre by… converting to Catholicism?? I thought Pierre was being a dick when he insulted Helene’s intelligence, but I’m sorry, that’s just dumb. Have you seen The Tudors? You need to get away from the Catholics, girl!

Henry VIII knows: say “nope” to the Pope

 

2. Pierre figures out a way for the letters in his name to add up to the same number in Napoleon’s name… so… he has to…. murder him… this whole plot has got me like:Moving on! Let’s talk about the world of fan videos.

I don’t even know if that’s the correct terminology, but I’m talking about videos one finds on YouTube, which are spliced together from TV shows or movies, either to celebrate the themes or relationships within that show, OR, to insert the creator’s own interpretation of what the themes and relationships SHOULD have been. Like… video fanfic? I became aware that this was a thing when I was searching for the theme song in Far From the Madding Crowd (wonderful movie, watch it!) and found stuff like this.

With a recent adaptation of War and Peace, there’s a whole world of this stuff to explore. Let’s get to it!

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Vacation Reads 2017: The good, the bad, the DNF, and more

Ah, vacation reading. So many decisions.

  • Light reads or heavy reads?
  • Which physical books to pack?
  • Which to download on your ereader?
  • Which books can you stand to read to your children a million times over the next week?
  • What book will soothe your frazzled nerves when Air Canada announces that your connecting flight to Saint John, New Brunswick has been cancelled and you are stuck in Toronto for two and a half days, and PS, so are thousands of other people from dozens of other flights, so good luck getting a hotel and PPS, despite widespread reports of labour shortages at Pearson airport, the cancellations are due to “weather” so they’re not even compensating you?

*deep breath*

Here’s what I’ve read over the past two weeks, in Toronto, Moncton, Saint John, and Edmonton. Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume III, Part II: Napoleon Bonaparte Has a Cold

 

Et bien, mes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Several of our main characters do important things in this chapter. Pierre joins the war as a spectator, which is apparently a thing you can do. The old prince dies, and Marya tries not to be happy about it. The peasants revolt, and Nikolai gets a chance to help a (rich, single) damsel in distress. Andrei broods, and is badly wounded.

The real star of this section, though, is Napoleon Bonaparte. And he has a cold. Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume II, Part V and Volume III, Part I: Get it, girl

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

I’d vaguely heard of the musical “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”, but I’d no idea that it was currently running AND that it is based on just one chapter of War and Peace, my favourite so far, good ol’ Vol. II Part V.

The musical summarizes this chapter better than I ever could:

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume II, Parts III and IV: Phoning it in

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

It happens every read-along: around halfway through, the host starts phoning it in. I regret to inform you that the time has come. I’m about to fly across the country to see my family in Atlantic Canada and between wrapping up at work and packing and regular summer time craziness, it ain’t happening this week, or at least, not with my usual attention to detail.

Let’s see who else is phoning it in these days… shall we? Continue reading

War and Peace Newbies Read-Along Volume II, Parts I and II: Superfluous Men

Et bienmes readers-along, si vous n’avez rien de mieux à faire, go to the master post for the read-along schedule and more.

Wait, aren’t all men superfluous?

No, and I won’t tolerate that kind of misandry around here. ACTUALLY, the “Superfluous Man” is a literary trope common in Russian lit of the mid 19th century, and usually means a character who doesn’t quite fit into society, despite having the ways and means to do so.  The name comes from Ivan Turgenev’s The Diary of a Superfluous Man, which was published a good 10+ years before War and Peace and is definitely on my TBR, but the trope goes back as far as Pushkin, who seems to have influenced every major Russian author who came after him.

The Superfluous Man seems to be related to the Byronic Hero, with a little less romance and a lot less crazy… not so much mad, bad, and dangerous to know as slightly annoyed, fairly bad, and extremely eye-roll-inducing… in fact, I’d say the Superfluous Man has more in common with the Charmless Man than Lord Byron.

Couldn’t this song just describe every boring aristocrat in Anna Pavlova’s salon? Continue reading