Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Quill and Quire review of Arabic for Beginners, by Ariela Freedman ...

... is now online at the Q&Q website. In fact, I think it's been up for a while and I somehow missed it. Anyway. I loved, loved, loved this book. Freedman is such a fluid, confident writer and I felt I could just trust her, paragraph after paragraph, to take me wherever she wanted to go. Arabic for Beginners, about a woman who moves to Israel with her family after her husband lands a year-long university appointment, sort of felt like one of these small-press books that may not get nearly enough of the attention it deserves, so I'm hoping this starred review in the Quill helps because it really should be read by a lot of people. So go check it out!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Maritime literary events

Well, my wife Rebecca Rosenblum are gearing up for our East Coast tour in about a week's time and we've a couple of hitherto unmentioned literary events we want to alert you to. Without further ado:

Tidewater Books, Sackville, NB. So we'll be reading at this lovely bookstore at 13 Bridge St. in downtown Sackville next Monday, June 26 starting at 7pm. If you want to RSVP via Facebook, here's the Facebook event page, and you can also check out Tidewater's events page.

And then, as mentioned in a previous post, we'll be reading at the Confederation Library in Charlottetown, PE, on Thursday, June 29, starting at 6:30. This will be my hometown crowd, so it should be a lot of fun.

Finally, if you're an Atlantic Canadian bookseller, we'll be attending the Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association conference in Halifax, NS. We're appearing at a breakfast session on Sunday, July 9, so come out and say hello.


Friday, June 16, 2017

The Slip happenings

So I meant to write this catch-up post yesterday but was struck down by an annoying head cold that had me laid up in bed for the entire day (a real rarity for me). But I'm up and back at it today, so here we go. There has been a lot happening with The Slip over the last little while, and I thought I'd get you all up to speed. Specifically:
  • Easily the best and most thoughtful review of The Slip so far ran on Kerry Clare's wonderful blog Pickle Me This last month. Kerry, who (full disclosure) is a friend and is spoken very highly of around the Sampsenblum homestead, really places the novel into a broader context of current news, and she does a wonderful job of describing the various braided themes in the book and how the story pivots on its satire to try to discuss something more culturally serious. Anyway, this review had me grinning for days.  
  • Yesterday CBC Books posted an interview I did for its always-fun Magic 8 Author Interview Series, answering eight questions posed by other Canadian writers. Here, I discuss the worst job I ever had, the difference between writing funny and sad stories, how a snippet of country music lyric works its way into the next novel I'm writing, and much more.
  • Speaking of the CBC, on May 31 famed novelist Russell Smith did a French-language interview for Radio-Canada's premiere literary show in Montreal in which he talked about various news and trends happening in English Canada writing. He spent a fairly decent chunk of his talk discussing The Slip, as the story covers the topics of literary feuds, social media shaming, and various other topics apropos to the interview. Anyway, if you speak French (or, I suppose, even if you don't), you can listen to the interview here.
  • London, Ontario-based book blogger (and all-around CanLit enthusiast) Steven Buechler ran this nifty review of The Slip on his blog, the Library of Pacific Tranquility. Beuchler has been a real champion of my work over the last few years, conducting a couple of interviews with me and running pieces on my previous books Sad Peninsula and Weathervane, so it was great to be back on his website.
  • And keeping with my policy of trying to share around all reviews of my work, not just the positive ones, Booklist magazine in the States ran a somewhat lukewarm review of The Slip last month. The piece, written by Emily Dziuban, has a couple of nice things to say about the novel, but it also took issue with Philip's prolonged ignorance over his actual "slip" throughout most of the story, which is a fair criticism. (If you want to read other equally tepid evaluations of the book, from reviewers who had the same issue as Dzibuban, or who found the book boring or bogged down with unneeded details, you'll find some on The Slip's page on Goodreads.)
Anyway, that's it for now. There is more stuff brewing for The Slip, and I'll post more when things are a bit more solidified.



Monday, June 5, 2017

My review of Fugue States, by Pasha Malla ...

is now online at the Toronto Review of Books. I was a big fan of Malla's debut book, a short story collection cheekily titled The Withdrawal Method and published back in 2008. This new work is about two dudes named Ash and Matt in a somewhat strained male friendship who travel to Kashmir on a mission to solve an old mystery in Ash's family. There's lots to like in this book, which is on sale now. Go check it out.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Event: Reading with Rebecca Rosenblum in Charlottetown in June

I'm very excited to announce that my wife, Rebecca Rosenblum, and I will be doing a joint reading at the Confederation Library in my hometown of Charlottetown in June. She will be reading from her debut novel, So Much Love, which was recently shortlisted for the $40,000 Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and I will of course be reading from The Slip. If you're on PEI and are able to make it out, we'd love to see you. Here are the details:

When: June 29, 2017.
What time: 6:30 pm.
Where: The Confederation Library, 145 Richmond St, Charlottetown, PE.
Cost: Free.
Facebook invitation: https://www.facebook.com/events/1215287865260391/ 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A good week for The Slip

That's me and my book in this
morning's Toronto Star.
So the hits keep coming for The Slip as it begins its final descent into the world. This week saw not one but two wonderful reviews posted about the book. The first came on Thursday when Kerry Clare published this insightful and generous evaluation of the novel on her Pickle Me This blog. Kerry's a good friend of the Sampsenblums, and she also has some serious chops as a reviewer and reader of Canadian writing.

Then, in today's edition of the Toronto Star, there is a glowing review of The Slip in the Books section, written by BC-based novelist Brett Josef Grubisic. This marks the first appearance (as far as I know) of my work in the paper, which has the largest circulation in all of Canada. I was very excited to get word earlier in the week that it would be appearing this weekend.

Finally, The Slip's publisher, Dundurn Press, informed me about a week ago that it had received a large order of the book from Shoppers Drug Mart, and the novel is now available on the bookshelves of select outlets across the country. Some friends and colleagues have already spotted it in their local Shoppers and sent me pictures. And while Amazon.ca is waiting to fill its own stock, you can still pre-order the book and they will deliver it to you when they do. The book will also hopefully be on shelves soon at brick-and-mortar stores, including Chapters-Indigo.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Weathervane featured on Today's Book of Poetry blog

So who said self-Googling doesn't pay off? I was on a short break from more mundane tasks yesterday when I pumped my name and other criteria into the search box and found this lovely post about Weathervane on Michael Dennis's Today's Book in Poetry blog. In the review, Michael and his "better half," K, have lovely things to say about various poems in the collection, including "Choosing a Mattress," "We Took the City," and "Blue Fog." Anyway, go check it and the rest of Michael's blog out. There are a ton of really great poets featured there.