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Nonfiction of the Week

8 Questions for Alex Lemon

August 23, 2010 | Claire A

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I just finished reading the book, Happy: a Memoir and I loved it. Alex Lemon writes about the period in his life when he went to college and lived a carefree existence.  When he suffered his first brain hemorrhage, he turned to drugs and alcohol to help him cope with what he was going through.  This is the story of how he overcame his illness and substance abuse to become the person that he is today. 


I got the opportunity to interview the author. 



What was it like going through such a difficult experience at such a young age?

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Laid Editor, Shannon Boodram's Vlog

August 17, 2010 | Tatted Librarian

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Shannon Boodram did an AMAZING vlog for Word Out about her book, Laid

Check it out here

Thank you Shannon!

Laid and Relayed

August 16, 2010 | Tatted Librarian

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Unlike my other posts, this one is slightly more serious, and I've been trying to figure how I'm going to blog about Laid: Young People's Experience with Sex in an Easy Access Culture all summer.

Talking about sex isn't easy or the most comfortable thing to do; but it ought to be.  (I mean, we are all a product of it.)  Blogging about sex, especially for work, add another dimension of pressure. I've edited this thing too much with thoughts of "Was that joke too risque?" or "am I being too graphic" But then again, in some ways, this is exactly what the editor of Laid , Shannon Boodram, was trying to get across.  Talking about sex shouldn't be as taboo as society makes it out to be.

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She's Shameless and she answered some questions

August 9, 2010 | Cameron

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She's Shameless: Women write about growing up, rocking out and fighting back

Is an awesome collection of essays and articles about the experience of women as teen's growing up. I was fortunate enough to ask the editors some questions. Here is what Stacey May Fowles had to say:

The collection deals with a lot of sensitive and topical female oriented issues, but presented in unique voices and styles. Was this a conscious choice? Or was it just the variety of articles you had already received? And how did you decide to limit the collection to the one's that you chose?

I think the most important thing for me was that regardless of a writer's personal experience and how they felt it shaped their life, they refused to be patronizing to a young female readership. For the tone of the book I hoped we could achieve that of a trusted, older female confidant, someone who was non-judgmental and positive. So much of the media targeted at young women is about making them feel bad about themselves or scared of consequences. I wanted to make teenagers feel good about themselves, that things can and will get better, that hardship and difference can make you stronger. We had all of that in mind and we were blessed by so many submissions that shared that vision.

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Heroism and Injustice After the Hurricane

August 4, 2010 | Helena

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Zeitoun When I think about what happened to Abdulrahman Zeitoun, the eponymous real-life hero of Zeitoun, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I am filled with admiration, but I also feel indignant, sad, horrified, and cynical.  I’d like to think that in the wake of a huge disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, I’d be out helping others, like Mr. Zeitoun, who paddled a second-hand canoe up and down the flooded streets of New Orleans rescuing his fellow survivors, some of them clinging from upper-story windows. 

I don’t know for certain, though, that I’d be able to stop focusing on myself and my own family long enough to get out there and help my neighbours.  I suppose it’s when people are severely tested that they are at their best or their worst.

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An autobiography as episodes ...

July 26, 2010 | ED

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One cannot talk about Episodes: My Life As I See It, without first mentioning something about the format of the book. The format of the book is unique and adds to the appeal of the book. Blaze presents his autobiography as a series of television episodes. Each series has a release date and cast list. The series are further divided into episodes which have summaries, quotes, trivia and soundtracks. For those familiar with the Internet Movie Database, the book reads like an entry right out of the database.

In Episodes: My Life As I See It, Blaze provides an autobiography of his life as a high-functioning autistic teenager. He recounts various episodes in his life starting in freshman year of high school going into the early college years. Some of the episodes are ongoing, such as Thanksgiving Dinner, other are syndications and some have come to an end, such as his crush on Hillary Duff. Reading the book it is easy to relate to Blaze; after all he share many of the same concerns that any other person does, such as friendships, crushes on celebrities, going to classes and trying to find a girlfriend.

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Summer Chills

July 20, 2010 | Margaret

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Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night by a noise that can't be explained?  Ever caught a glimpse of someone out of the corner of your eye, then find they have vanished into thin air?  You are alone in your house, suddenly things start to move on their own, the phone rings and no one is there, the TV turns off, the lights flicker and go out.  You feel the hair on your neck stand on end, your spine shivers and you just know that someone else is there with you.  Could it be a ghost...or something else?

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Piecing the experience together-Part 2

July 12, 2010 | Elsa

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As promised, here is the continuation of my chat with Teresa:

3. Do teen immigrants have the hardest times adjusting to their surroundings?

I honestly feel that immigrating anywhere at any time forces you into a temporary adolescence. 
Think about it, your world is completely upended and nothing is sure or permanent or even familiar. 
You’re insecure and defensive, terrified and excited –all these polar opposite emotions that are the hallmark of adolescence.  Plus, you’re trying to figure out the lay of the land and all the new rules, written and more importantly unwritten.  I think that every single one of us, if we were honest, has gone through a phase of feeling like we don’t belong, don’t fit in.  The immigrant just wears that feeing more visibly like young adults do.  That’s why I think that there is a powerful connection between those two worlds.

4. What were your expectations for Piece by Piece?

I had massive expectations for the anthology and confess that I still do.  First, I wanted the terrific drama of the individual stories be recognized for the gripping entertainment that they are.  The writers represented have amazing adventures to tell.  There is an old cliché that: “Nobody’s got stories like immigrants got stories!”  And second, maybe even more importantly--for those of us who felt that we didn’t fit in at any given moment, immigrant or standard issue wonderful Canadian teen—I want those readers to feel just a little less alone after reading Piece by Piece.

I hope that you will check out Teresa's book soon!

Piecing the experience together-Part 1

July 8, 2010 | Elsa

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The latest release edited by well-known Canadian author, Teresa Toten, is called Piece by Piece: Stories about fitting into Canada. This anthology features short stories written by Canadian writers who migrated to a new country. Through their stories, they share their experiences of trying to belong as a teen in their new surroundings. These authors also explore the meaning of becoming Canadian.

I had a chance to chat with Teresa:

1. Your latest book Piece by Piece shares stories by writers who are immigrants, what was your inspiration for this book?
The emotional response to Me and the Blondes and Better Than Blondes, my last two books, took me completely by surprise.  My hero is a teen-age Polish-Bulgarian immigrant who cloaks herself in the bullet-proof armour of having beautiful blonde friends. First and second-generation Canadian kids related to Sophie quite fiercely.  So I really started paying attention to my auditorium audiences. Not surprisingly, they clearly reflected the fact that Canada has the highest immigration rate in the world.  Where were their stories and books I wondered?  We were definitely getting better about publishing novels about kids and teen in other countries but again, where were all the stories about young immigrants coming here and trying to fit into this country, into Canada?  It became a bit of an obsession.

2. When you were growing up as an immigrant, when did you start to realize your “otherness”?
One of the more interesting and subtle ways of making me feel “other” was how old I felt at such a young age.  Like so many immigrant children or children of immigrants, I felt I was 32 years old by the time I was 7.  You could spot us a mile away,so many immigrant kids have that weight of maturity about them. 
Aside from dealing with any prejudice or adjustment issues, it comes from being the family spokesmen, translators, and record keepers as soon as you’re old enough to read. I dealt with the banks, landlords and lawyers, wrote out checks and cancelled subscriptions to the Toronto Star that Mama kept mistakenly agreeing to every other month by Grade 2. I knew none of my friends, in none of the schools I went to were doing this.  I also knew to keep it secret.  Then, like a lot of immigrants and single mothers, mama had to work long and hard hours. She had a day job, then cleaned offices, two nights a week and then cleaned houses on Saturdays.  I knew to keep this a secret from my Canadian friends as well, most of their mums were at home baking things. That level of independence meant that I had to more or less raise myself, which is not untypical of new immigrant stories even today.  So in many ways, I felt “other” on the first day of school and have been compensating fast furious ever since.

More from the interview later this week. Watch for it! :)

Department of Meta: 7 Favourite Lists from a Book of Lists

July 7, 2010 | Alan H.

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7 favourite lists from Inventory: 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined by Saxophone, and 100 More Obsessively Specific Pop-Culture Lists:

  1. You Got Your Moog in my Keytar! (10 highly pretentious musical instrument) - pg. 18
  2. Click Here for Severed Face (30 disturbingly specific Internet Movie Database keywords) - pg. 59
  3. Panic at the Arcade (11 videogames that prompted fear and outrage) - pg. 90
  4. Lost In Translation (20 not-so-good-movies based on good books) - pg. 133
  5. So It Goes (15 things Kurt Vonnegut said better than anyone else ever has or will) - pg. 171
  6. Waste of a Good Flight Ring (5 crazy-ass members of the Legion of Super-Heroes) - pg. 179
  7. The McRib Has No Bones! (13 particularly horrible fast-food innovations) - pg. 186

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