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Look for me here

By November 21, 2016 Books, Headlines

Love and Sugar Launch Countdown Week

A week from today ♥with love and sugar ♥will be available in a bookstore jammed with goodies.

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Tucked on a Toronto midtown corner where passerbys can’t help but gape at the wondrous windows, Mabel’s Fables has survived where others have fallen. Since 1988, this gem has done far more than serve up children’s stories. It is a dream shop.
When owner Eleanor Lefavre invited me to launch my food memoir in her store, I might have fallen over right then. Fortunately for the stacks of gorgeous books around me, I wobbled but stayed afloat—just. Read More

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Summer? What summer? I’m still running.

By September 8, 2016 Books, Life

You were too busy to wonder where I went these months past. That’s okay. I forgive you. Summer is like that. We lose ourselves if we’re paying enough attention.  I got lost in all the right ways. Lost in endings and beginnings and falling head first into the bowl of life’s richest treasures. It took me awhile to get back up so pull up a chair and stay awhile.

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Are you ready?

By August 18, 2016 Books, Life

You’ve seen the hints here.

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I’m such a tease.

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I do like to keep my promises: my food memoir is finally here and could be in your hands for Christmas.

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You love the sweet life as much as I do.

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And visiting those places that always go hand in hand with pie.

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You’re always wanting to expand your repertoire.

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You love bringing out those special candles. I do too.

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You weep a tiny tear after each child’s birthday, after the guests have gone, after you’ve swept up the sparkles all over the floor.

Kate dinosaur cake

Barney bday

Maybe your life doesn’t leave you any room for reading, or lining up peaches in a row.

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You may still dream… about those days in your childhood when Sundays were for pancakes, Fridays for squishing every one of us on the couch, and every day was play day with your cousins.

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Everyone has a ritual lover in their family.

Is it you? This book is yours.

Click on the book cover image on the top right of this page and you’re on your way.

Those in the Toronto area interested in attending my official launch in November can shoot me an email. I also accept online bank transfers.

annehome1@rogers.com

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What kind of nest are you building?

By May 2, 2016 Books

We all inherit something when we’re born, and that’s a place in a family narrative. And that’s what I really think the book is about. You just become a character in the story that you have no control over, including who the other people in the story are, your own place in the story, and how you’re expected to play out the expectations of family.

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author

Once you finish chewing over that delicious quote, chew on this. Novelist Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney had never written fiction before she turned fifty. Fast forward a few years, to a bidding war, a heady advance, and her first book, The Nest, is now the buzziest title of spring.

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Four siblings of the dysfunctional Plumb family of New York City agonize over a bungled inheritance.  Money, sex, family, relationships: all boxes ticked here, along with a clever balance of voices and chapter hooks delivered for maximum addiction. I read it over a weekend previously earmarked for spring cleaning.  Is this anyone I know? Is this everyone I know?  Reading this was the closest exercise to binge-watching a juicy HBO series: utterly contemporary, darkly comedic, navel-gazing stuff. An alternate title perhaps could be “Exercise in Entitlement”. It is to Sweeney’s credit that she elicits empathy for these flawed characters, even if I’m not sure I cared enough to park it on the shelf of beloved book club selections. Also unclear in the final tally was audience. Despite the hype, this book may elude the grasp of younger readers, too busy conjuring up career paths to feel the true angst of pilfered dreams mined here.

Still, there’s much assurance in the storytelling, and while the author says The Nest is in no way autobiographical, her sense of sibling relations has won her many admirers. Perceptive as hell is one easy definition.

“Everyone’s always on the hunt for a mirror. It’s basic psychology. You want to see yourself reflected in others. Others—your sister, your parents—they want to look at you and see themselves. They want you to be a flattering reflection of them—and vice-versa. It’s normal. I suppose it’s really normal if you’re a twin. But being somebody else’s mirror? That is not your job.”

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Now a resident of LA, Sweeney spent almost three decades as a New Yorker, and this shines throughout−the book is as much about that storied city as it is about the struggle of her characters. Stay tuned for a cinematic adaptation, as sure as the conversation you will have in your head after reading this, or maybe, if you’re lucky, with book club members: what kind of nest are you building?

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Would it be cheating to say meringue ones?

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Just add rhubarb.

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Or lemon curd and a gooey blueberry sauce.

 

More thoughts on my nest here:

The day my house cried

Guarding the nest:Season 2

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The profane and the sublime

By April 4, 2016 Books

Quibble away with T. S Eliot’s charge that April is the cruelest month, but my shovel knows better.  Love or loathe it, frosty or green, April is here and needs your attention. National Poetry month is upon us and all eyes are on the road.

It’s time to celebrate the roads we travel, the roads we wish to travel, the roads we’ve found and made and cherished for decades.

 Fitting on a day where a few million traveled through familiar slop and slush, the 2016 theme from the League of Canadian Poets, currently marking their 50th anniversary,  hopes to celebrate the timeless journey of poetry. Canadians can take part by planning readings and events (share it on social media with the hashtag@NPM16)—

Wait, stop, another event?

It’s Monday. I know, I know. You’re  muttering (a Monday ritual) Where did the weekend go and there’s five days before the next one and you just want to go back to hibernating until the real spring comes. Wake me up when the green is here.

How about I wake you up with a little profane slamming? ( No, that’s not what it sounds like). POETRY SLAMMING,  sweet peas.

In addition to corralling Canadians on a cultural road trip, the League today has also announced the winner of  the Golden Beret, a national prize in spoken word poetry, awarded today to RC Weslowski. You can read this Vancouver talent’s bio here or you can watch this performance he’s posted on his website. The video was posted in 2014 so it is dated, but you may share of his frustrations.

Warning: If you are dreaming of bucolic April vistas, this video may not be to your liking. There’s a lot of F bombs.  If you liked Stephen Harper or Rob Ford, it won’t be to your liking either. You can log off and go back to sleep work. I won’t be offended. Poetry slams are feisty affairs and not for the fainthearted.

As for that poetry directive, this roadie is game. I’m thinking today about a trippy train trip and my first encounter with the Canadian prairies.

Praire Storm

Blink open to black motion

A heavy curtain drowns out place

Rum breath stumble, some drunk’s lot

teetering near my upper bunk

The others are undisturbed

but me, I’m on full alert

The intruder wanders off

I slip down, pass the sleeping berths

Find my father window watching

Outside the land races

Miles of flattened carpet

lit up by forked streaks stabbing the sky

We hear little but the wheels rounding the tracks

The flashing repeats, sharp defined strokes

through the glass

I wait for the hills

the flat flows

further yet further

I want to wake up everybody

think better of it

Sit out the night with Dad

fingers on the map

eyes on the silent storm

I remember the hokey hypnosis we tried at summer camp

But this midnight sideshow

on a moving train

beats all that.

Anne Langford © Holding Glass, 2001

 

Oh-and one last note about poetry. Lots of gorgeous poetic language can be found in “All the Light We Cannot see”, my pick for favourite winter read, chosen for our book club last month by the equally gorgeous Nancy.

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As absorbing as the narrative was, the brilliant characters and their many connections with one another will linger with me for some time. And all of Anthony Doerr’s beautiful lines:

“To men like that, time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it’s a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop.”

― Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

 

More on spring here. More on spoken word here. More on poetry here. More on time here.

What’s your favourite road poem, book, story, movie, trip you took that stoked your fires, saved your life, or one you never want to repeat? No need to be poetic-just prompt. 

I’ll try to post a few of my own here now that the cookbook is crowning and I’m ready to push out in June. I think June. When the lawn really is green and not filled with frozen dog turds-oh dear, there goes another subscriber. The last one left me because I wrote a word that describes turds that starts with S and ends with T.  Let’s see who scurries away today.

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Happy Heart Day.

By February 14, 2016 Books

This writer’s mind is meandering this morning, wandering through all the love pitstops, to those who’ve won a piece of my heart; surely, like yours, stolen and stomped on enough times to earn me some wisdom.

You won’t find any here on this lonely hearts club day for many. Plunging headlong with abandon is the only way I know how.

I’m with Rumi.

Someone who does not run toward the allure of love walks a road where nothing lives.

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Have no one to share your bed?

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Sprinkle something spectacular at the doorstep of friends and neighbours in your community. Children know already that having one Valentine is never as much fun as a stuffed shoebox of notes from a posse of pals, or sugar cookies with an abundance of sprinkles.

 

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Today also marks the start of an international week of random acts of kindness. Here’s an ambassador who walks the walk.

Those who celebrated Galentine’s Day yesterday interpret the holiday as girlfriend power, as dreamed up by Amy Poehler’s character from TV’s Parks and Recreation.

 

My Valentine, known around here for such grand romantic gestures as mopping the floors after a bash (yes, I hate housework. I’m no fool to have found a man who loves it), is a guy who loves razzmatazz as much as me.  For him,  I pull out a little Mary Oliver.

I did think, let’s go about this slowly.

This is important. This should take

some really deep thought. We should take

small thoughtful steps.

 

But, bless us, we didn’t.

-Mary Oliver

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More words, more love for all those in your life who need some help from the literary gods.

My current favourite list of the do’s and don’ts of falling in love.

Prefer to listen then read? The wonderful NY Times Modern Love column is now a podcast.

Still looking for a way to deliver romance? Perhaps you can only dream of sending a box of these very sexy paper roses, created in Paris by Kazumi Duncan.

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I’m sticking with a classic.

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A bite of this velvet truffle tart will deliver a giddy high only subscribers to my buzz sheet know about.  Want the recipe to make for your Valentine?  Sign up here.

What are you going to do to fill your romantic plate?

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Summer reading

By July 3, 2015 Books

Summer leisure translates into reading for me. If it does for you too, here’s a handy list of my favourites for the young adult reading fans in your life.

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My next read: IT’S WHAT I DO

By March 10, 2015 Books

Human beings are endlessly fascinated by war stories in print, on stage, onscreen. American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s recent Oscar nominated film, is on its way to earning half a billion worldwide. In its wake, a rush from several high profile parties to find other character driven military stories seemed inevitable. The hottest title in that genre right now is It’s What I Do, a memoir written by American photojournalist and Pulitzer prize winner Lynsey Addario.

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Excerpts from Addario’s book were featured in the NY Times Magazine, including What Can a Pregnant Photojournalist Cover? Everything. 

We eventually did get out of Libya, after a week of captivity. Six weeks later, I woke up in New Delhi, where Paul and I had moved when he became bureau chief in India, and took a pregnancy test. The little blue line appeared in the window — making a positive out of the negative sign. But instead of joy, I felt horror. I crawled back in bed with Paul, placing the plastic stick with our future on the pillow next to his head. When he finally woke up, I took another test, just to be sure: positive again. “You got your wish,” I said. “I can’t believe it happened so fast. I think my life is over.”

Considered one of the most daring and skilled in her profession, the award winning journalist says she took every assignment she could while pregnant, including trips to Afghanistan, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia, coming home to face heaps of criticism. Her response was to remain resolute:.

We need men and women to be war correspondents because women have access to women in the Muslim World.

If ever a book was to take me on a flight, far from my familiar perch, this one is it. I’m in.

So is Jennifer Lawrence. The film rights to Addario’s story now belong to the Oscar winner with Steven Spielberg tapped to direct and American Sniper producer Andrew Lazar on board to produce.

Now a mother, Addario has written that her role models were few but, in this lovely short film from the Sunday Times, Christina Lamb, one of Britain’s leading foreign correspondents, also a mother, shares Addario’s passion to seek out stories in some of the world’s most dangerous corridors. The story begins with a look into her travel bag.

 

The closest I want to be to that kind of danger is turning the page of Addario’s memoir.  I can’t say I understand all of their instincts, but storytellers are kindred spirits, especially those who go back to seek out what happened after the world spotlight turned away.  I applaud their courage as they continue to blur the definition of what it means to be a woman in contemporary culture.

 

Will I like the book? Stay tuned.

 

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National Family Literacy Day

By January 27, 2015 Books

Keeping a room full of books for little people in a house full of big people is a touch mad. Read More

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Nothing puny here

By January 20, 2015 Books

Canada Reads panelists and their book choices were announced this morning on CBC Radio.

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These titles may all be wonderful but there was one missing I had hoped would be a contender. All My Puny Sorrows, the 6th novel from Miriam Toews, one of 15 longlisted books for Canada Reads, didn’t make the cut but it wins my Red Chronicles Best Read of 2014.  The story: two sisters, bonded in love even as one wants to end her life with the help of the other. Inspired by her own relationship with her sister Marjorie, who took her life years after her father committed suicide, Toews distills sadness and then infuses it with all the shades that make it bearable. Not once did the book weigh me down with the dark subject. Beloved already for all her earlier work, this Canadian author treads deliberately with humour and the result is nothing short of brilliant.

Elf is a concert pianist. As she tells her sister Yolandi of the essence of performance, her words offer a summary themselves of all great stories:

She told me that the most important thing was to establish the tenderness right off the bat, or at least to the top of the piece, just a hint of it, a whisper, but a deep whisper because the tension will mount, the excitement and the drama will build-I was writing it down as fast as I could-and when the action rises the audience might remember the earlier moment of tenderness, and remembering will make them long to return to infancy, to safety, to pure love, then you might move away from that, put the violence and agony of life into every note, building, building still, until there is an important decision to make; return to tenderness, even briefly, glancingly, or continue on with the truth, the violence, the pain , the tragedy, to the very end.

It may be odd to describe a book about suicide as alive with joy but that is exactly what Toews accomplishes here. I felt pushed to new understanding of this idea of planning one’s own death but far more-I wept with the glorious mess of it all. If you have a sister, as I have three, then you too will laugh then cry then laugh again.

A great read should do just that. It should trek back to childhood and root around for a while in hilarity, even as it soars forward with giant sad leaps. A great read will bring out all your yellow stickie notes to mark page after page that leave you breathless and ignoring the doorbell, the phone ringing, the dinner burning, the kids calling.

All My Puny Sorrows will make you better at living.

 

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