Gift Guide Week: Bridget Canning
The Newfoundland-based, award-winning author Bridget Canning (most recently of the story collection No One Knows About Us, Breakwater Books) closes out our Gift Guide week with recommendations to suit a wide variety of book-lovers - a novel, story collection, kids' book, mystery, and cookbook. Read on to see what she chose!See more details below
Give everyone books! Here are some new releases and treasures from the past new years I think are great gifts for a variety of readers.
Fearnoch by Jim McEwan (Breakwater Books)
For those who love an epic.
In McEwan’s debut novel, the town of Fearnoch itself feels like a character as we manoeuvre through its difficult past to its present possible destruction. The story moves through a variety of points of view, all characters who have their own connection to Fearnoch and their own complicated histories with each other. McEwan writes with a raw tenderness and humour, crafting a story that skillfully depicts how love can overcome differences. For those on your list who love a Canadian classic and who understand or want to understand how to get along with their neighbours better, this is a great read.
Salt Beef Buckets, A Love Story by Amanda Dorothy Jean Bulman (Breakwater Books)
For the berry picker / flower sniffer / lover of a good mug-up.
This beautiful cookbook/essay collection is perfect to have on your shelf for after you’ve stumbled upon a secret blueberry patch or your neighbour invites you (or allows you) to pick apples from their trees. Bulman writes with a care that brings sumptuousness to those simple things we may take for granted. The recipes are laid out seasonally for those who love to forage throughout the year and the essays and photographs are delightful to dwell upon while you’re waiting for your bread to rise.
Spirited Away by Tom Dawe, illustrations by Veselina Tomova (Running the Goat)
For those who love magic.
If there is a child in your life who lights up when Nan starts telling faerie stories or an adult who revels in the creepier side of folklore, Spirited Away hits both these bliss points. This collection of tales by iconic Newfoundland poet Tom Dawe are spellbinding and not for the faint of heart. Veselina Tomova’s emblematic woodcuts of otherworldly, mischievous characters and engaging and tactile, like a smooth cool beach rock you put in your pocket for good luck.
Strange Things Done by Elle Wild (Dundurn Press)
For those who dig the whodunnits.
Another newish Canadian classic, this is great romp for the mystery lover on your list. Set in the Yukon, journalist Jo Silver is set out to find a killer before Dawson City closes down for the long, dark winter. I am quite particular about mysteries and this one engrossed me from the start. As a protagonist, Jo Silver is sharp, funny, and has something to prove. It’s got encroaching darkness, raucous bars, sexy saloon singers, a murderer on the loose, and a drink with a severed toe in it.
Two Man Tent, by Robert Chafe (Breakwater Books)
For those who crave healing.
Chafe’s latest play Everyone Just Calm the F#ck Down was recently nominated for the Governor General’s Award and he is known as one of the best playwrights in Canada. I recently reread his debut short story collection, Two Man Tent. This was along with several others as my own short story collection was about to be published and I decided I would torture myself by comparing my work to others. A good short story can accomplish as much as a novel in how it moves us and often has the delightful addition of arranging the stories creatively. Chafe gives us seven wonderfully crafted tales of human moments woven together with an online chat dialogue where two men go through the trials of sorting out their long-distance relationship. If there’s someone one your list who may have had a tough year, a short story collection like this can provide a flow of moments of humanity, of what it means to give and receive love.
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Bridget Canning’s debut novel, The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes, was a finalist for the 2017 BMO Winterset Award, the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, and the NL Fiction Award, and was longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Award. It is currently being adapted to film. Her second novel, Some People’s Children, was a finalist for the 2020 BMO Winterset Award and the Thomas Raddall Award. Bridget holds an MA in creative writing from Memorial University and a Masters of Literacy Education from Mount Saint Vincent University. In 2019, she received the CBC Emerging Artist Award with ArtsNL. She lives in St. John’s, where she writes and teaches.
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Many thanks to Bridget for her recommendations for readers of all stripes this holiday season! To catch up on the gift guides from this past week, click here. Happy giving!
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