Book Review – A Loving Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe

A Loving Faithful Animal is a striking debut novel by Josephine Rowe, who has published collections of short stories and poetry in her native Australia. It opens on a hot dry New Years Eve in 1990 in Victoria State with a poor rural family struggling with endings and beginings. Jack Burroughs, a violent Vietnam War …

Today in Literary History – September 25, 1897 – William Faulkner is born

Nobel Prize winning novelist and short story writer William Faulkner was born on September 25, 1897, in rural Mississippi, the state he lived in for the rest of his life and where he set most of his books, usually in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. At birth Faulkner's name was Falkner, but sometime in 1918 when …

Today in Literary History – September 24, 1896 – F. Scott Fitzgerald is born

The great jazz age novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota. His full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald and he was named after his distant cousin Francis Scott Key who wrote the American national anthem "The Star Spangled Banner." Like his most famous character, Jay Gatsby in …

Today in Literary History – September 23, 1241 – the murder of Snorri Sturluson

On September 23, 1241, the great Icelandic poet, historian and clan chieftain Snorri Sturluson was murdered in his home, probably on the orders of the Norwegian king Haakon, who had once been Snorri's patron but whom Snorri had disobeyed. Snorri was an important man in 13th century Icelandic life, twice elected as the "law speaker" …

Book Review – Midwinter Break by Bernard McLaverty

I have loved the work of the Irish writer Bernard McLaverty for many years, partly because of the quiet, almost imperceptible way that he careful layers tiny observations about his characters -- gestures, facial expressions, verbal mannerisms -- on top of each other to slowly reveal their hidden selves. But mostly for the generosity and …

Today in Literary History – September 22, 1598 – Ben Jonson kills an actor in a duel

On September 22, 1598, playwright Ben Jonson killed a prominent young actor named Gabriel Spencer in a duel near Hogsden Fields in Shoreditch, London. No one knows for certain what the duel was about, but two years earlier Spencer had stabbed a man to death in a brawl and was let off after pleading self-defence. …

Today in Literary History – September 21, 1934 – Leonard Cohen is born

Leonard Cohen was born on September 21, 1934, in Montreal to a prosperous Orthodox Jewish family. Cohen died last year at the age of 82. Over the years he had many artistic incarnations as a poet, novelist and singer-songwriter. Although he lived in many places over the years -- Greece, London, New York, Los Angeles …

Today in Literary History – September 20, 1592 – Robert Greene’s Groats-worth of Witte

On September 20, 1592, a pamphlet by Robert Greene, a successful but dissolute playwright was published in London. It was called A Groats-Worth of Witte bought with a Million of Repentance (a groat being a small coin). It is most famous for containing, it would seem, the first printed reference to William Shakespeare, although in …

Today in Literary History – September 19, 1819 – John Keats writes “To Autumn”

On September 19, 1819, John Keats took a walk near Winchester and was moved by the scenery to write the poetic ode "To Autumn", which would turn out to be his final major poem. He wrote to his friend John Hamilton Reynolds two days later: "How beautiful the season is now – How fine the …

Book Review – IN SEARCH OF A BETTER WORLD: A Human Rights Odyssey by PAYAM AKHAVAN

Payam Akhavan's In Search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey is this year's CBC Massey Lectures entry. Akhavan is reading its five chapters in five Canadian cities now and the lectures will be broadcast on CBC Radio from November 6 to 10. It is Akhavan's personal story as an immigrant to Canada who …

Today in Literary History – September 18, 1940 – Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again is published

Thomas Wolfe's novel You Can't Go Home Again was published on September 18, 1940, two years (almost to the day) after Wolfe's death at the age of 37. It tells the story of a famous novelist who returns to his hometown to find himself hated there for using the townspeople's private stories in his books. …

Today in Literary History – September 17, 1954 – Lord of the Flies is published

William Golding's first, and most enduring novel, Lord of the Flies, was first published on September 17, 1954. Although Lord of the Flies went on to be one of the best loved modern novels, taught in most schools, and Golding would go on to a knighthood and a Nobel Prize for literature, the book did …

Today in Literary History – September 16, 1962 – graphic novelist Seth is born

Canadian cartoonist and graphic novelist Seth was born on this day in 1962 as Gregory Gallant in Clinton, Ontario. He has been producing cartoons and comic work for years, but I really only started to pay attention to him recently. I have to admit that although I love cartoons I'm not terribly up on graphic …