What Novella Loves


This month, I’ve been enjoying Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett’s debut collaboration, Lotta Sea Lice. Musically, the two go together like bread and butter, John and Paul, and on Lotta Sea Lice you them get them both at their slow-going country rock-inspired best. Often they sing in harmony, but most memorable are those tunes where they sing in turn, as though you’d caught them in the middle of a thoughtful, mellowed out conversation. Over all, the album has a real warm quality, a good defence against winter blues. Definitely worth a listen. — Rachel Gerry, Contributor

Here is the best pair of boots I have ever seen… no exaggeration! These boots are everything you are looking for when you want a classy pair of shoes you can wear in any occasion but with a little twist. The medium size heel allow you to run all day long in the city, the colors match with everything, the shape is classy and at the same time characteristic of Gucci. And if you are looking for something even more classical, the brand proposes the same model without the pearls. — Aurore Evee, Contributor 

I guess Aurore and I both have Gucci on the brain. I am in LOVE with Gucci’s Queercore Brogue boots which can be dressed up or down but either way they will definitely make a statement. Sadly, my bank account doesn’t share the love for these shoes so I will have to continue to pine over them from a distance.  — Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief 

I blame it on Thundercat and his crazy music video for getting me back into my, for a lack of a better term, Japanese Western zone. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurais and Yojimbo especially. A general plot summary for many Japanese Western movies: a town is run by greedy and malicious crime boss, government officials are weak and corrupt, justice needs to be outsourced. Many such films, especially Kurosawa’s, are nuanced explorations of power relationships, community building, collective suffering and memories, and the pitfalls of relying on well-meaning ronins for a functioning society. Check out Kurosawa’s films, and, if you prefer something a bit lighter, Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman. — Hoon, Managing Editor

Photo: MissPrism

I recently finished reading Janet Fitch‘s novel White Oleander and was completely taken aback by how unbelievably stunning the writing itself is. The book is written in the most beautiful prose, giving the novel a fluidity that causes each sentence to beautifully transition into the next. For as much as I love reading, I often have a hard time getting into a book if it hints at being just the slightest bit dry or boring. This has caused me to sadly leave many a novel half read, collecting dust on my bookshelves. However, this novel was something else. Stretching the farthest I’ve ever seen from the realm of boring, White Oleander packs a punch. For such a stunningly and delicately written book, the contents within deliver a deafening blow to the reader. Turning the beautiful prose into a double-edged sword. On one end, you have a book that reads like a song, while on the other, the heartwrenching story of a young girl forced to live through the many different lives that are given to children in Los Angeles’ foster care system meld together to create a book steeped wholeheartedly in despair, punishment, acceptance, rebirth, and growth. Cutting progress off in certain parts, while planting the seeds of hope in another. I highly recommend picking the book up if you enjoy coming of age stories with fewer fairytale endings and the reality that the human experience of growth and self-acceptance, regardless of gender, sexual preference, age, income, etc. Can often-times be the most brutal experience in the world, and more often than not, we are left to cope and learn from it alone. 10/10 — Chris Zaghi, Fashion Editor

Ever since I saw the incredible movie The Shape of Water (which is incredibly amazing and go see it now if you haven’t yet), I’ve been obsessively listening to the soundtrack on repeat because it’s ridiculously good. You might recognize Alexandre Desplat for composing countless other film scores, from The Queen to The Imitation Game to Zero Dark Thirty. His work shines through here, giving this dreamy, surreal, underwater feel, perfect for the movie it accompanies and for making my daily routines seem a lot more fantastical. Not to mention, even beyond his stupendous work the soundtrack also features beautiful music like “You’ll Never Know” and “La Javanaise”. — Adina Heisler, Contributor

Long Story Short: 7 Questions with a Short Story Author

Hot on the heels of the release of her first short story collection Moving Parts, Toronto author Lana Pesch maps out the movements that led her here

Toronto-based author Lana Pesch
Toronto-based author Lana Pesch

Q: What sparked the concept for this collection?

A: To be honest, I wasn’t really focused on a collection. I was just writing stories, and they started to add up. I worked closely with [Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee] Sarah Selecky. I was like, “Okay, I have 10 stories here and I don’t know what to do with them,” and she said, “What we have here is the making of a collection.” So I worked with her to hone them down.

Q: Moving Parts “draws back the curtain on what it means to be human.” This may be asking for a spoiler, but what does being human mean to you?

A: I think primarily the flawed part of us, and the failures, and what is learned by failing. I’ve failed numerous times repeatedly — and keep doing so — and I think it’s really healthy. A lot of people see that failing is a bad thing, but I really don’t.

Q: Care to share a failure or two of your own?

A: My first marriage, probably, there’s one [laughs]. Not that I regret it, but it ended in divorce, so that’s how that story goes. I’m not entirely sure the job that I’m in currently was a wise choice. Financially I’ve made some poor choices, took up skydiving as a hobby. But there are pros and cons to everything, right?

“Moving Parts,” Lana Pesch’s first collection of short stories


Q: You’ve compared skydiving to writing, saying they both require courage, trust, discipline. You also have a history in theatre, and one could draw the same parallels there.

A: Yeah. In theatre especially, it’s a very vulnerable thing to do. I haven’t done it in years, and god, I’m much more comfortable jumping out of an aircraft than standing up in front of an audience. Isn’t public speaking the most feared thing? That and the dentist or something? But yeah, definitely parallels there, with the courage, confidence and trust in your own ability. That’s what writing is, too.

Q: You’re a traveler. How have your adventures impacted your writing?

A: The travel does definitely colour the writing. I think it’s a great tool to have those experiences, [to] just remember colours, food, a place, rooms. Somewhere, sometime, they can be the initial start that grows.

A: Do you feel you’re working towards or against traditional CanLit?

Lisa Moore wrote a great article in [the] Walrus about a new wave of CanLit short story writers, people that are going against the grain, and I would put myself in that camp. I guess it’s just being a bit more edgy, a bit more unapologetic.

Q: What does being unapologetic mean to you?

A: I’m not sugar coating anything, I’m not shying away from difficult subjects that I’m curious about. It’s not always a happy ending, but I always try and get some comedy in there, because I find that’s one of my own coping mechanisms for dealing with things that are difficult. I think it’s part of the balance of life.