Tag: Montreal

Travel: Winter interlude in Montreal

Snow was gently falling as I boarded the train at Toronto’s Union Station for VIA Rail’s recently-introduced overnight sleeper car service to Montreal. Before long I was sipping a drink and engaged in conversation with a fellow passenger in the glass-roofed dome car. “What is it about Toronto? They’re such amateurs when it comes to…

The enduring legacy of A. M. Klein

Ask any Jewish writer in Canada to name some of his or her most important influences, and before long the name of A.M. Klein is certain to arise. In an unofficial survey of contemporary Canadian writers whose works explore Jewish themes or feature Jewish characters, this writer found that almost all of them were quick…

Not Quite Mainstream offers rich assortment

A new collection of 17 short stories by Canadian Jewish writers, published by the Red Deer Press of Calgary, demonstrates both the diversity and literary acumen that we have come to expect from our writing community, pasat and present. Not Quite Mainstream: Canadian Jewish Short Stories is edited by Norman Ravvin, the gifted short-story writer…

Earth and High Heaven explores mixed marriage taboo

Gwethalyn Graham’s novel Earth and High Heaven (1944) is said to bear the distinction of being the first book published in Canada by a non-Jewish author that deals centrally with Jewish themes and characters. Since the former bestseller has been out of print for two decades, its recent reissue by Cormorant Books of Toronto seems…

Writer explores her brother’s mysterious death

The last time Nomi Berger saw her brother Peter, he was 19 years old and submerged in Montreal’s pot-smoking and acid-dropping hippie counter-culture. The year was 1968. Peter, who lived in a house with several others, had recently been arrested for drug possession and had fought bitterly with his parents. “Help me,” he had beseeched…

Roskies’ Yiddishlands is evocative memoir

Soon after her arrival in Canada in 1940, Masha Roskies sat down to a meal at her sister-in-law’s house in Montreal and, seeing that only “Canadian bread” (the white, fluffy stuff called Wonder Bread) was on the table, asked for a piece of real bread instead. When her aunt curtly replied that “this was what…

Montreal novel wins Jewish Book Award (2009)

The White Space Between, the novel by Montrealer Ami Sands Brodoff that won the 2009 Canadian Jewish Book Award for fiction, focuses on Willow Ives and her mother, Jane Ives, a Czech-born Holocaust survivor formerly known as Jana Ivanova, and Willow’s need to understand the persistent gaps in her mother’s past. Much of the story…

Homel’s ‘Midway’

The first several chapters of David Homel’s sixth novel Midway are written with such sure-footedness of structure as to float the promise of a story that would really be going places. The protagonist is Ben Allan, a middle-aged Montreal college prof who writes an award-winning paper on an obscure 19th-century psychological condition called dromomania, an…

Oral bio of Richler

When Michael Posner began his oral biography of Mordecai Richler, his plan was to assemble a collection of entertaining anecdotes about the legendary Montreal writer, but soon realized that psychological insights about Richler would produce a more revealing portrait. “When I began to do the interviews, I thought, ‘This could be more than just anecdotes,…

Leonard Cohen bio

It seems so long ago that Leonard Cohen, the gravelly-voiced songwriter-poet from Westmount, first won international acclaim with compelling songs like Suzanne and So Long, Marianne, at once deeply romantic and mystical. With ten books of poetry, two novels and a dozen albums to his credit, and three more tribute albums of his songs in…