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A heavy tale lightly told: Mona Awad's '13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl'

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

by Mona Awad
(Penguin Random House,
2016;
$16.00)

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The revolution will be led by women with wooden legs

In the Land of Two-Legged Women

by Huey Helene Alcaro
(Inanna Publications,
2016;
$22.95)

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"They were going to cut off her leg."

Huey Helene Alcaro's debut novel In the Land of Two Legged Women begins with this terrifying pronouncement.

"It was a blue and golden day, so beautiful it hurt and they were going to saw off her leg."

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'Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist' captures the spirit of protest

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

by Sunil Yapa
(Little, Brown and Company,
2016;
$31.50)

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'Between the Cracks She Fell' explores urban landscapes and the ghosts that haunt us

Between the Cracks She Fell

by Lisa de Nikolits
(Inanna Publications,
2015;
$22.95)

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Cities are palimpsests. Like those washed-off scrolls ready to be reused by a scribe, the words that came before leaving spectral impressions on the page, cities are built, unbuilt and rebuilt, leaving behind evidence of lives lived and left. In this way, time is made circular, existing on top of itself. It is no wonder, then, that in such spaces we should encounter the ghosts of those who came before us and those who might come after.

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'The Butterfly Prison' reignites hope for a better, more just world

The Butterfly Prison

by Tamara Pearson
(Open Books,
2015;
$20.65)

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Tamara Pearson is an independent left journalist from Australia who writes about Latin America. Her novel, The Butterfly Prison, set in Sydney, weaves together three different threads. In the following spoiler-filled review, I discuss each thread.

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'Night Moves' brings new light to the shadows of Canada's North

Night Moves

by Richard Van Camp
(Enfield & Wizenty,
2015;
$19.95 )

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"Why do you place such haunting red hand prints throughout all of your paintings?" asks one character to another in 'Skull.Full.Of.Rust' one of the many short stories in Dene author Richard Van Camp's latest collection, Night Moves.

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Searching for salvation: 'Binary Star's' journey across addiction, disease and abuse

Binary Star

by Sarah Gerard
(Two Dollar Radio,
2015;
$16.00)

"Sickness is reciprocal," says the unnamed narrator of Binary Star, Sarah Gerard's feverish debut novel. The narrator is anorexic and involved in a long-distance relationship with an abusive alcoholic who has latched onto a blurred vision of anarchist veganism.

"It's a symbiotic relationship of sickness," says Gerard. "It's something that the narrator shares with her culture, also shares with her boyfriend. She's battling within herself this desire to stay sick and this desire to live."

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Cabalcor: The rise and fall of a mythical tar sands boom town

Cabalcor: An Extracted History

by Sun Belt
(Anvil Press,
2015;
$24.00)

The relationship between activism and spoken word has a long, storied history in Canada. From Michèle Lalonde's 1968 Speak White, performed during the rise of separatism in Quebec to Ojibwe First Nation's Duke Redbird's spoken word performances about anti-aboriginal racism to Nanaimo's Shane Koyczan's recent anti-bullying performance poetry. 

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128 km later: How to hold on after your life doesn't make sense

The Walking Man

by Paul Dore
(Iguana Books,
2015;
$19.99)

"Lemme just get this out of the goddam way; I'm nervous as all hell. Nervous because you may or may not relate to the mess that follows."

This is how Paul Dore's debut novel, The Walking Man, opens: an intimate conversation with the narrator, our unnamed protagonist. A bundle of nerves, the character spills out his anxieties, struggles with depression, fears of opening up to people, of never finding love.

This book is that over-sharing friend we all have, and yet readers should not be intimidated or scared off by its candidness.

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Sex, drugs and pyromania: 'The Green Hotel' exposes Toronto's underbelly

The Green Hotel

by Jesse Gilmour
(Quattro Books,
2014;
$18.00)

First time author, Jesse Gilmour was introduced to the Canadian arts scene as a subject of a book instead of as a writer. His father, the infamous David Gilmour, wrote the memoir The Film Club, which talks about their relationship around the time when Jesse dropped out of high school.

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