Alice Munro

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The Poser’s Guide to Alice Munro: six tips for owning any conversation about Canada’s first literary Nobel laureate

(Image: Peter Mulhy/AFP)

Nobel laureate Alice Munro (Image: Peter Mulhy/AFP)

Three Gillers, three Governor Generals and a Man Booker later, Canada’s literary darling has finally snagged the big one: the Nobel Prize for Literature. If you’ve been reading Munro short stories for years, now is your chance to impress friends and co-workers with your literary expertise. If not, get reading! Or, fudge your way through the next month’s conversations with the following helpful tips.

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Five things you need to know about Andrew Pyper and his hot new horror novel The Demonologist

Bestselling Toronto writer Andrew Pyper’s newest novel The Demonologist, a supernatural thriller about old books and ancient monsters, comes out today (although Hollywood director Robert Zemeckis already optioned it over a year ago). Below, Pyper talks to us about his his fan posse, his brush with Alice Munro and why he hates writing for movies.

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People

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Year in Review: our favourite culture stories of 2012

As we approach the cultural dry spell that lingers in the wake of the big holiday shows, it’s good to be reminded of just how much interesting art, music, theatre, film and dance goes on in this city. Below, we look back at some of our favourite moments in culture and entertainment from the last year.

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Events

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The Weekender: Soupstock, Cat Power and six other events on our to-do list

The Normal Heart returns to Buddies in Bad Times this week (Image: John Karastamatis)

1. SOUPSTOCK
In the wake of last year’s wildly successful Foodstock, over 200 chefs from across Canada—among them, Susur Lee, Anthony Walsh, J.P. Challet and Jamie Kennedy, Aaron Joseph Bear Robe and just about every other famous Toronto chef you’ve ever heard of—are gathering, spoon held high, at Woodbine Park to protest the Melancthon Mega-Quarry. The event is BYOBAS (bring your own bowl and spoon) and will take place rain or shine, so come prepared—though a poncho might be a good idea anyway if you’re prone to spills. All funds go to the Canadian Chefs’ Congress and the David Suzuki Foundation. October 21. $10 for 3 servings. Woodbine Park, Lake Shore Blvd. E. and Coxwell Ave., soupstock.ca

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Best of Fall 2012: After years of playing the reclusive literary genius, Alice Munro is back with a new collection of stories

Best of Fall 2012:  Alice Munro

The 81-year-old Alice Munro has been publishing short stories for nearly half a century, and she keeps getting better, sharpening her focus on the manners and mores of tragically flawed women and men. Every story has a passage (and often more than one) that demonstrates her uncanny ability to see right through vanity, desperation and self-deception. Her favourite subject—the way otherwise intelligent women can fall victim to their own anxieties—dominates her new collection, Dear Life.

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Culture

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What are the odds a Torontonian will win the Nobel Prize in Literature? Not great

This year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature doesn’t get announced until October, but London oddsmaker Ladbrokes is already setting off speculation in the book world as to which lucky scribbler will be heading to Oslo in the late fall to collect a medal. Yesterday, Ladbrokes released its list of likely candidates,  and Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami is the clear favourite, with odds of 10:1.

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The Argument: Why is quintessentially American writer Richard Ford’s new novel about Canada?

The Argument | Ford NationThe day after George W. Bush was re-elected president, the American novelist Richard Ford got in his car and drove across the border to Saskatchewan from Montana. He did not come in search of political asylum—something many American liberal intellectuals loudly and half-jokingly yearned for that day—but for a flu shot, which his U.S. health care provider had deemed him “not old enough or sick enough to merit.”

Ford had made the journey north often enough, but this time it was different. “I crossed that border, and I just felt the world lift off my shoulders,” he says. “I realized there was something about Canada that was very established as good in my mind.” The burden of being American—of being from a politically fractious, sometimes violent place—suddenly vanished. “For many Americans, Canada has long been seen as a place of refuge.”

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Party Pages: The Trillium Awards, a rowdy affair for beflowered Ontario authors

The Trillium Awards, the annual ceremony for Ontario-based authors, took place, fittingly, at the Toronto Reference Library last week. The awards have honoured some of Canada’s most famous writers, like Michael Ondaatje, Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, and this was an extra-special night in celebration of the event’s 25th year. Nominees wore pink flowers, while past winners wore white to differentiate themselves in the massive crowd of literati (we guess wearing trilliums would be a little premature for the pink-flowered crowd). As it has since 1994, the event also fêted French- speaking nominees, so hosts Heather Hiscox of CBC News and Karen Thorn-Stone, president of the Ontario Media Development Agency, jumped between French and English (it becomes a rather long night when you hear everything twice). Though Hiscox sounded fluent, Thorn-Stone’s delivery seemed a touch forced—she even quipped, after her first French foray received a round of applause, “Now you’re just making fun of me.”

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Luminato 2012 guide: 20 must-see events at this year’s arts festival

Einstein on the Beach (Image: courtesy of Luminato)

Luminato begins this Friday, and it can be a bit of a whirlwind. Everything from a Philip Glass opera about Einstein’s life to a gigantic food festival are on the card from June 8 to June 17, so both mind and body will be nourished. There’s even a huge cast of international guests coming through Toronto, like New York artist Terence Koh and New Yorker editor Deborah Treisman. But there’s so much to do, and we couldn’t possibly see everything, so we’ve created an easy-to-use guide that lists all of Luminato’s best bets.

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TIFF

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TIFF Teaser: Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley’s first feature in five years

It’s hard to believe that it’s been half a decade since Sarah Polley made her feature-length directorial debut with 2006’s Away from Her, an adaptation of the Alice Munro short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.” Her new film, Take This Waltz, is the story of Margot (Michelle Williams) trying her darndest not to get seduced away from her stolid cookbook author of a husband Lou (Seth Rogen) by her neighbour Daniel (Luke Kirby), who, judging from the clip above, drives a rickshaw. The TIFF programmer’s note explains that despite their best intentions, “the sweltering Toronto summer has a way of making certain desires more urgent.” In the Mood for Love meets Little Italy? Yes please.

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People

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Is Canada’s high-low culture war a figment of John Doyle’s imagination?

For the second day in a row, the Globe and Mail‘s television columnist, John Doyle, is boldly claiming there is a culture war going on in Canada that’s taking place on our television screens and in the pages of our books. Today, Doyle rails against the perceived elitism of both the Giller Prize and the Gemini Awards, both of which he claims laud praise on work that satisfies an overeducated few. What people really want, says Doyle, is entertainment for the masses. His evidence? The popularity of Stephen Harper and Rob Ford

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Culture

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Denied! Emma Donoghue’s Room and the seven other biggest Giller Prize snubs

More than a few high-profile titles—Beatrice and Virgil, Ilustrado, Fauna—are conspicuously absent from this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize long list, but no snub was more shocking than the omission of Emma Donoghue’s Man Booker–nominated Room. Prior to the announcement, Room was fully expected to make the Giller short list, and the smart money was that it would ultimately go on to take the win. Good thing we’re not betting people.

In the hope of offering Donoghue some consolation, here’s a look the seven biggest Giller snubs in the prize’s 16-year history. Start the slide show »

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Culture

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New Yorker puts Toronto writers on its top 20 under 40 list

The last time the New Yorker published a list of its favourite young fiction writers, Y2K was a catastrophe avoided but 9/11 was still nothing more than an emergency telephone number. Ten years later, having boosted the careers of Jeffrey Eugenides and David Foster Wallace, the venerable 85-year-old magazine has released a new list of authors to watch, and this time, two Toronto-based authors are on it. Rivka Galchen (Atmospheric Disturbances) and David Bezmozgis (writer-director of the film Victoria Day) are among the picks for this generation’s top 20 writers under 40—alongside such names as Wells Tower and Jonathan Safran Foer. Although Bezmozgis told the CBC he was honoured to be included, he said he wasn’t sure what it would mean for him in the future. But since the New Yorker tends to publish works by luminaries like Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro, may we suggest bragging rights?

Toronto writers make New Yorker top-20 list [CBC]

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