Julian the Magician by Gwendolyn MacEwen

Julian the Magician is the work of a poet of the mythic, the magical, and the exotic: Gwendolyn MacEwen. Although she is better known for her poetry--and mostly, I suspect, by academics rather than the general public--I recommend reading her today. Her style is a "sort of powerful poetic mad half-abandoned prose somewhere between [Kenneth] …

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Love & Sleep by John Crowley

The sequel to John Crowley's Aegypt (The Solitudes), Love & Sleep continues the story of Pierce Moffet's quest to write his history of histories, a book that in which he will propose that there is more than one history of the world. He must decide what to do with the posthumous, unfinished manuscript of historical …

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Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje

Before jazz became what it is today, before it was mainstream, Buddy Bolden blew his cornet in the streets of New Orleans. No recording of his music survives. A famous musician in his time, his genius and the threat of vanishing into silence tormented him. The quest Michael Ondaatje undertook in 1976 to discover the …

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Cockroach by Rawi Hage

Rawi Hage's unnamed protagonist—an unreliable narrator—fantasizes almost as much as he steals. A poor, starving Middle-Eastern immigrant walking the Montreal winter streets, he sees himself as a cockroach: the lowest of the low, but also crafty and able to survive. His awkwardness around women causes him to undergo what he perceives as a metamorphosis into …

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No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod

I first became interested in reading this novel when my mother pointed it out to me, saying the story of the family described within it was similar to how her family came over from Scotland in 1922. Reading it, I found that the legendary ancestor of MacLeod's first person narrator came over during the eighteenth …

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The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

Though this novel is quite different from the other books I have reviewed, which tend to belong to the fantasy genre, I nonetheless was intrigued to read it, because of three things: the bizarre cover, the awards it has won, and descriptions I had heard about its graphic depiction of violence. Actually, fantasy readers might …

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Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco

A group of editors gets together to write a parody of a conspiracy theory. What if the parody ends up becoming perceived as the source of ultimate truth for an actual underground group that styles itself after the Templars and Rosicrucians? The answer lies in the pages of Umberto Eco's intellectual thriller Foucault's Pendulum. In …

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