Brain/Food: “Anything by Ayn Rand” is the correct answer

Sheetal Lodhia and I met in grad school. We both did Very Serious academic work studying the English Renaissance; we had the same thesis supervisor. Which makes it extra funny that I don’t recall ever talking to Sheetal about the Renaissance, even when we found ourselves at the same conference in Toronto one year. (I…

An urban squirrel triptych

I don’t think I knew the difference between squirrels and chipmunks until I moved to southeastern Ontario. I grew up in Nova Scotia where the only urban wildlife on my radar were seagulls, rats, mice, crows, and spiders bigger than God’s boots. What a joy to move here and discover all of the above as…

Love Letter to the Toronto Public Library: Riverdale

I’ve been a fool. For at least five of the ten years I’ve been in Toronto, I’ve lived no more than a half hour walk away from the Riverdale branch of the Toronto Public Library. I never went inside before yesterday. Let us, for a moment, quietly contemplate just how goddamned lame that is. How…

Wilkie Collins’s sensationally uninteresting Haunted Hotel

It’s been years since I read any Wilkie Collins; I thought he was probably pretty great, even though I barely remember either The Woman in White or Little Novels, and also in spite of the fact that I found┬áThe Moonstone‘s plot to be incomprehensibly complicated. Why did I think he was great? I must have…

All my life, I cherished the possibility of escape: Banana Yoshimoto’s The Lake

Near the beginning of The Lake, Banana Yoshimoto’s narrator, Chihiro , reveals that “All my life, I cherished the possibility of escape.” Although she insists her unconventional upbringing wasn’t particularly painful–her parents remained unmarried, her mother a club owner and her father a businessman–Chihiro is happy to sever all unwelcome ties to her past: Sick…