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Best of Fall 2013: five books by Toronto writers you absolutely must read

Best of Fall 2013: the five fall books by Toronto writers you must read
Best of Fall 2013 Books: Projection, by Priscila Uppal
1 | Projection, by Priscila Uppal
The poet and novelist was abandoned by her mother when she was eight. Twenty years later, she met the woman, now a film reviewer in Brazil. Though the two share a love of cinema, this heartbreaking memoir doesn’t have a Hollywood ending. Sept. 14.

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Culture

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Backstory: the grisly Yonge Street murder behind Anthony De Sa’s new novel

A sadistic true-life murder becomes part of Toronto’s painful coming-of-age in the Canadian novelist’s gritty new book

Backstory: a sadistic true-life murder becomes part of Toronto’s painful coming-of-age in a new novel by Anthony De Sa

On July 28, 1977, Emanuel Jaques—a 12-year-old shoeshine boy from the Azores—was lured into an apartment above a body-rub shop on Yonge Street just south of Dundas. There, he was tortured and raped by three men, who then drowned him in the kitchen sink. Three days later, one of the killers confessed and led the police to Jaques’ body, which was hidden under a pile of debris on the building’s roof. The remaining men were caught shortly afterward on a Vancouver-bound train in northwestern Ontario. (One died in prison in 2003; the others are serving life sentences for first-degree murder.)

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Spotlight: Joseph Boyden’s new novel is an epic story of blood and butchery in early Canada

Spotlight: Joseph Boyden’s new novel is an epic story of blood and butchery in early Canada

(Image: Norman Wong)

Through a weird twist of cultural fate, Canada’s best-known native writer is a white guy from Willowdale. Joseph Boyden, who was born into a huge Catholic family with distant Métis ancestry, has spent his life bouncing between worlds. He hung out on reserves as a kid, went to punk shows as an angry teen, taught Cree students in Northern Ontario as a young man and finally ended up in New Orleans, where he wrote Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce, the novels that have made him a literary star. Boyden’s bloody and brick-thick new novel, The Orenda, is a historical epic about an idealistic missionary caught between warring tribes, hundreds of years before Confederation. (The title refers to the Iroquois belief in a pervasive, all-powerful spiritual energy; basically, the First Nations equivalent of the Force.) Full of head-bludgeoning and throat-cutting scenes set in the wilds of what is now Ontario, the novel feels like a hybrid of Pierre Berton and Cormac McCarthy: perfect for readers who like a little arterial spray with their history.

BOOKS

The Orenda
by Joseph Boyden
Available Sept. 10

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Five things you didn’t know about Margaret Atwood, whose apocalyptic new novel is out August 27

The Dame of Doom: five things you didn’t know about the ubiquitous Margaret Atwood, whose apocalyptic new novel, MaddAddam, is out this month

(Image: Getty Images)

1 | She eats bugs
“My dad was an entomologist, so I have nothing against eating insects. Giant locusts are delicious toasted.”

2 | She thinks about killing people
“The murder story I wrote for the New Yorker came out of an Arctic cruise I went on with an organization called Adventure Canada. A bunch of us were talking about how, if you wanted to kill someone up there and get away with it, you would do it.”

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The King of Spooky: Linwood Barclay’s rise from suburban dad to Canada’s biggest fiction export

Linwood Barclay’s thrillers have been translated into 40 languages and published in 30 countries, making him a multimillionaire. How an ordinary family man became one of Canada’s most successful living writers

The King of Spooky

Linwood Barclay was 51 years old, and his career had stalled: his books, a series of four ­comedic thrillers about a science-fiction writer and bumbling father named Zack Walker, had only sold 7,700 copies. For a living, he worked as a humour columnist at the Toronto Star. His agent, Helen Heller, who wanted him to branch out in a new direction, rejected all his proposals for a fifth novel. And then, in his Burlington home at five in the morning, lying in bed with his wife asleep beside him, Barclay had an idea that would change his life.

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The Goods

Stores

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The Drake General Store opens a location at Yonge and Eglinton

The Drake General Store has shuttered its Rosedale location and opened a new store 27 blocks north, at 2607 Yonge Street. The uptown outpost, which opened today, is the largest of the Drake’s three stores and carries a similar mix of apparel, jewellery, housewares and tchotchkes, including in-house clothing brand Shared, beauty products by Malin and Goetz and Canadiana by Hudson’s Bay Company. The quirky sensibility and neon purple cross above the door are nods to the shop’s West Queen West roots, but a sizeable children’s section reflects the family-friendly neighbourhood.

The Drake General Store Yonge and Eglinton, 2607 Yonge St,, drakegeneralstore.ca, 416-966-0553

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Politics

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Olivia Chow is writing a memoir, fueling speculation about a mayoral run

(Image: Andrew Rusk)

Olivia Chow, who has been toying with reporters about a possible mayoral run for months, is penning a memoir that’s supposed to come out in early 2014, right around the time campaigns kick off. The book will cover most of Chow’s life, including her move from Hong Kong to Toronto at age 13, her political career and—for lovers of the trustache disappointed by CBC’s lackluster biopic Jack—plenty of details about her relationship with Jack Layton. Her literary agent says the book is also going to touch on Chow’s decision to run for mayor—provided that’s what she decides to do. Either way, she’s figured out how to convert election speculation into book sales.

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See, Hear, Read: the best movie, music and book release for May

See, Hear, Read: Room 237, directed by Rodney Ascher (in theatres May 10)This is the kind of buzzed-about doc that sends quivers of delight through lineups at the Lightbox. It’s all about the crackpot theories espoused by obsessive fans of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic The Shining. Some believe the movie contains secret messages about Native American genocide, that it proves the lunar landing was faked, that the number 42 is the key to everything. Fair warning: the film goes so far down the rabbit hole that you might find yourself starting to believe.

Room 237, directed by Rodney Ascher (in theatres May 10)

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The List: 10 things singer-songwriter Sarah Slean can’t live without

The List: Sarah Slean

1 | My mini paints
I got these when I was on tour in Stockholm in 2004. They’re the perfect size for travelling. I like to do a quick watercolour to pass the time on airplanes.The List: Sarah Slean

2 | My stage dresses
A good stage dress is hard to find. It can’t be too short, it has to be secure, and it has to survive getting rolled up into a suitcase. When I stumble upon a good one—usually by a Toronto designer—I buy a spare.The List: Sarah Slean

3 | My library
I’ve been building a library of great thinkers—Tolstoy, Nietzsche, Marcus Aurelius, Jane Jacobs, Gandhi—all my adult life. It’s my pride and joy. Science, religion and philosophy all point to the mystery of existence, which is what art is really about.

4 | My vinyl
I used to have a huge LP collection, but as any vinyl lover knows, it’s heavy and hard to store. I’ve only kept the timeless stuff. I love Leonard Bernstein. West Side Story makes a great cooking soundtrack.The List: Sarah Slean

5 | My piano shell
When I toured in the States in the early 2000s, I had to bring a keyboard with me. Compared with a grand piano, a keyboard on a stand looks so sad. My dad helped me make a wooden shell to hide the wires and cables and make it pretty. My friend calls it the “shroud of legitimacy.”

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See, Hear, Read: April’s best movie, music and book release

See, Hear, Read: No, directed by Pablo Larraín (in theatres now)In Chile’s first-ever Oscar nominee for best foreign language film, Mexican hunk Gael García Bernal stars as a hotshot advertising exec who mounts a cheery campaign against General Pinochet’s dictatorship. Shooting on grainy video stock for added authenti­city, director Pablo Larraín turns a goofy historical footnote into the year’s most inspiring, crowd-pleasing political drama.

No, directed by Pablo Larraín (in theatres now)

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The Argument: Bestselling novelist Claire Messud returns with The Woman Upstairs, a book that dares to make art out of middle age

The Argument: Claire Messud

I’m over 40, yet much of my pop culture consumption of late has concerned precocious young people. I am surrounded by half-formed stragglers like Sheila Heti and Lena Dunham—female versions of the man-child, forever coming of age. Where are the women in the age of Girls? Ask any actress: there’s not much work to be had in the void between Katniss and the Dowager Countess. This youth-obsessed culture elides not just characters of a certain age, but many an older audience member looking for her reflection in the art she absorbs.

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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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Must-reads: three of this winter’s hottest novels depict Toronto as a city full of freaks, geeks and demigods

Most-reads: Born WeirdBorn Weird
By Andrew Kaufman
The relentlessly imaginative Kaufman writes high-concept modern fairy tales that hit the sweet spot between comic book quirky and genuinely touching. His latest novel follows the five aptly named Weird siblings, all of whom were blessed at birth by their grandmother—one always forgives, one never gets lost, one never loses hope, one always keeps himself safe and one is just a little stronger than any opponent. When the blessings turn out to be curses, the grown-up Weirds must dash across the country to get unhexed. It’s a tear-jerking family drama with a dash of The Incredibles. (Available now)

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See, Hear, Read: our experts pick January’s best movie, music and book release

They love it. We want it. Three red-hot releases

See, Hear, Read: Dowton Abbey, Season 3 (Jan. 6)Downton Abbey is a soapy period drama that pays as much attention to history as it does all the tortured love and intimate accusations. The new season is set during the Roaring ’20s, which means the show is finally taking a step away from the austerity of the war years into luxury. And Shirley MacLaine has joined the cast, so Maggie Smith will have another great old actress to play off of.”
—Amanda Worsley
Manager of Film Buff West

Downton Abbey, Season 3 (Jan. 6)

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The Goods

Shopping

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GALLERY: The top 10 booths from the holiday One of a Kind Show

The One of a Kind Show gives Canadian artisans the chance to sell their lovingly crafted wares, and panicked holiday shoppers the chance to power-shop at hundreds of different booths in a single shopping session. If you’ve been to the Direct Energy Centre for one of the semi-annual shows, however, you’ll know the array of kiosks inside the sprawling convention hall can quickly get overwhelming. To help, we perused all the goods and narrowed it all down to our 10 favourite booths, which you can visit until the show closes on December 2.

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