Should memoir have its own section in bookstores?

Memoir is an exploding category. More and more, people want to read real-life stories that bear witness to the poignancy, pain, and unexpected joy of life. Curiously, despite the popularity of the genre, memoir does not have its own category on bookstore shelves. At Chapters/Indigo, memoir is generally shelved in the “biographies” section, even though […]
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Book Review – Arrival: The Story of CanLit

In 2018, we take it for granted that Canada has an abundance of authors with international reputations. But sixty years ago – not that long ago, really – there was no such thing as CanLit. Great authors came from elsewhere, from countries with a history, not from a northern colony. All that changed in the […]
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Book Review: What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, & Business of Book Editing

Every editor should buy this entertaining collection of essays edited by Peter Ginna. The essays cover everything from acquisitions to freelance editing, from the commercial environment of the Big Five to the literary milieu of independent publishers. See my review in The Editors’ Weekly.

Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics, by Joli Jensen

Book Review This new book is aimed at scholarly authors who struggle with writing. But to my surprise, much of Joli Jensen’s advice is translatable to any project that matters a great deal to you but that you put off doing. A professor of media studies and director of the Henneke Faculty Writing Program at […]
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The substantive editing gap at university presses

As a freelance copy editor for a university press, I’ve received the occasional manuscript that needed a substantive or structural edit – a depth of editing that copy editors are not paid to do. Copy editors are expected to do a combination of copy editing and stylistic editing, known in the Canadian market as a […]
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Review: The Complete Canadian Book Editor, by Leslie Vermeer

I was excited by this title, a brand new book on being an editor in Canada. I thought it would be aimed at readers like me. Although I’ve never worked in-house, as an experienced freelancer and long-time student of Ryerson’s publishing program, I know a fair bit about the publishing industry. This book, I hoped, […]
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The Best and the Worst of Edits: Diane Schoemperlen on the editing of her memoir, This Is Not My Life

Diane Schoemperlen, the author of a dozen novels and short story collections, thought that writing a memoir would be easy. After all, she had the makings of a great story – a fraught relationship with an inmate convicted of second-degree murder – at her fingertips. What could be so hard about typing it into the […]
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The Ethics of Truth-Telling

Writers of creative nonfiction have widely different views on how much they can make up and still call their work “nonfiction.” Investigative journalists, for instance, believe that it’s fine to use the techniques of fiction — characterization, dialogue, sensory description, and such — as long as they stay true to the facts. But for writers […]
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The Curious Mind of a Copy Editor

Should it be “short, balding man” or “short balding man”? “Bad hair day” or “bad-hair day”? Mary Norris, a copy editor at The New Yorker for over thirty years, relishes these sorts of editorial decisions. “If commas are open to interpretation,” she writes in her literary memoir Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, […]
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Book Review: The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

A curious mind probing for truth may well set your scribbling ass free. Poet, writing instructor, and author of three memoirs, Mary Karr has been messing around with memoir all her life. Messy – that pretty much describes her approach to writing and teaching. “I’m a passionately messy teacher,” she writes. And, no surprise, her book […]
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