For the next two months, Radogoshi was held in isolation in a tiny, windowless cell. There was nothing to do. He didn’t even have anything to sit on, as his bed was folded up into the wall each morning. The only thing he had to look at was a series of 32 optical illusions on one wall of the cell. “They were to make us crazy,” Radogoshi says. “I studied psychology. I know. These were hallucinations.”
By the time he was released from jail, Radogoshi was 30 kilograms lighter than when he’d arrived. “After that,” he says, “I was active in political life.”
This week’s column is about a celebrated Kosovo writer who’s been quietly living in Edmonton for the past three years, trying to escape his past and start over writing in English.Nov 15, 2013
Nearly half of North Americans self-identify as shy. So Naomi K. Lewis and Rona Altrows decided to gather a bunch of those people and make a book about it.
This week’s column is about the fruits of that labour: Shy: An Anthology.Nov 12, 2013
“It occurred to me that the voyage of a detective in noir fiction is very close to the voyage of childhood,” Handler says. “You are increasingly lured into a sinister world, and it turns out everyone who has assigned you your case is unreliable. You slowly have to find your own moral path in a world gone, more or less, wrong. That reminded me of being a child.”
Big column this week. Huge column. I got to interview Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket himself—and he was exactly as erudite and delightful as I’d dared hope. (He’s in Edmonton on Sunday.)Nov 1, 2013
“Had Leonardo died in 1494, he would be virtually unknown today,” King says. “Because most of the things that he is known for today—The Last Supper, the Mona Lisa, the anatomical drawings—all of those things come after the age of 42. We think of him as a genius who could succeed at anything he turned his hand to. But until he was in his 40s he had not really fulfilled all his wants.”
This week’s column is a profile of Ross King, whose new book about Leonardo da Vinci I adore. (The imagine of Da Vinci obsessing—for years—about the perfect painting of a toddler holding a cat will be with me forever.) He’s in town for approximately 40 Last Supper-related events this weekend.Oct 25, 2013
Last Friday’s column was a (second) profile of Todd Babiak, whose (other) new book is (also) really great. Two for two, Babiak. This time around we’re talking about the history of the Edmonton Public Library, which turns 100 this year.
Featuring cameos by Andrew Carnegie and the KKK.Oct 21, 2013
“When you’re writing a thriller, you have to ask yourself some pretty hard questions,” Babiak says. “How does this add to the character, or advance the story? Is this beauty for the sake of beauty? Am I being cute? My mom would be annoyed by it, and she’d want to skip that part.”
As far as guiding principles go, you could do a lot worse.
“Yeah!” he agrees. “Don’t bore your mom!”
This week’s column is a profile of arguably Edmonton’s best-known writer, Todd Babiak, whose new novel walks the line between literary fiction and a balls-to-the-wall thriller.
The book is called Come Barbarians, and I liked it a whole bunch.Sep 27, 2013
“I wanted to write about everyday people—the people who don’t necessarily make it into textbooks,” Davidson says. “Women, generally, didn’t have a lot of agency (in the 1890s). They didn’t have access to things like birth control, and they weren’t even recognized as people under the law yet. They didn’t have a lot of avenues to see justice done.”
This week’s column is a profile of Edmonton’s Diana Davidson, whose debut novel Pilgrimage is a look at the early days of the mission at Lac Ste. Anne. With a special appearance by a 100-year-old body in a well.Sep 20, 2013
That’s the funny thing about controversial novels, though: they’re rarely as aggressive or polemical as readers are led to believe. The Black Coat is critical of Sheikh Mujib, to be sure—it argues, in no uncertain terms, that the man who was supposed to liberate Bangladesh instead created a new regime in his own image. As Imam foreshadows early on in the novel, “Walls were washed to make room for new graffiti.”
This week’s column is, if I may say so, pretty cool. Neamat Imam is a local author whose debut novel in English, The Black Coat, is ruffling some feathers in his native Bangladesh. But because it’s only for sale, so far, in the Indian subcontinent, practically nobody here in town had ever heard of Imam. Until now.Aug 16, 2013
Detective fiction, according to Janice MacDonald, is “a nice, containable genre: it starts with Edgar Allan Poe and it moves forward to the present. It’s not, ‘Oh, Cervantes…’ If you were to make concessions for utter drivel, you could actually read all of detective fiction—the great works, all the way through.”
Janice MacDonald has set four mystery novels in Edmonton to date. Why? I sat down with her and got not one reason, but six, which I now present to you in a handy list format.Aug 9, 2013
“I was planning out what kind of book we were going to do: whether it was going to be a numbers book or an alphabet book,” Boldt, 34, says. “You’ve got to be careful on your theme. You don’t want to cause conflict to the reader. You don’t want to send two different messages—the ideas will just fight.
“In my head, I was thinking, ‘Man, that would be a funny book, if two themes started arguing over who the book was really about.’”
This week’s column takes a long-overdue leap into the world of picture books. In the first of a pair of titles for HarperCollins, Stony Plain’s Mike Boldt pits numbers against letters, with adorable results.
(He’s also fresh off of helping Fisher Price redesign their Little People line, which is an absolutely huge gig that Boldt was characteristically humble about.)
And yes, those are puppets up there. He had them made special.Aug 2, 2013