Saturday 2 November 2013

THE MEANING OF CHILDREN: Amazon review roundup...

A few of the superlative reviews from THE MEANING OF CHILDREN'S review page
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't stop thinking about this book May 2, 2012

It's been over a week since I read this collection of short stories and the characters are still with me.
These are stories about real people, real children, teenagers, adults, in real times. I went through a whole range of emotions when I read them, some good, some not so good. When the child was sitting on the stairs listening to her parents, I was right there with her. When the adult was sitting by the lake contemplating what happened years before and looking at her present day life, I was sitting across from her, doing the same thing. I can't remember a book, let alone a collection of short stories, where I could identify so heavily with the emotions and feelings of the characters.

As far as I'm concerned, this is what good writing, and a good book, should do for you. Yes, it entertained for sure, but it made me think and remember.

If you enjoy quality writing and a book that will make you think about where you've been and where you're going read The Meaning Of Children.
Highly recommended.
 8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life-altering read is so rare for a writer ... May 25, 2012
I reviewed this title on my Blog a while back and as you will read it has altered my own thoughts on childhood recollections. Thrilled to not only own a personally signed copy but to now have an iPad version to re-read these haunting stories. Not only for people with children, but for anyone who was ever a child.

Some excerpts from my blog review pasted here (to read more visit my web site and blog):

"... A life-altering read is so rare for me, and I imagine for many writers, with a critical eye often hard to keep closed while hoping to get caught up and swept away while reading fiction for pleasure ... This collection of short stories is her debut into the fiction book world after a solid career in molecular genetics research. Her stories are as diverse as her changing career path and yet string together a theme as connected as a genetic chain.

Very few times in my life resonate so strongly to a past and a childhood that has me always facing forward and rarely wanting to look back. As I read Akerman's book instantly I am that child on the first page, in the first sentence, whose parents "When the arguing started would get louder and louder, till they broke into my dreams." As the stories moved along I, like her character, realized how much I learned from eavesdropping during the arguments, and sadly like the child I too knew "... where the patched holes were in the walls" and that "... it would be smarter to keep my opinions to myself." In the next few tales the loneliness hit home of a child walking along to school wishing for her own puppy and that she could write a book and feeling very misunderstood by grown-ups.
Read more ›

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Akerman takes you back April 18, 2012
By twalker

Akerman takes you back to the time you were a child. No matter you did not grow up in Montreal or Jewish, the situations, conflicts, joys and fears are universal. Akerman grounds emotions with rich descriptions and a strong sense of place.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Meaning of Children January 16, 2013

My first impression of the book was, "Wow, this woman can write." The author's descriptions of settings are so vivid that I felt as if I was standing in the scenes of her stories.

In The Meaning of Children Ms. Akerman uses a series of short vignettes to explore innocence, violence and the human condition. For most of us certain scenes from childhood stand out as vivid memories. This book is a series of such memories--each of pivotal points in the life of a child.

This is not light reading as the stories deal with issues of self-image and sexuality by dramatizing how one seemingly small incident can shape a woman's image of herself and her interpretation of reality. However, I recommend The Meaning of Children to anyone who is a student of human nature.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound Vignettes of, about, or because of Children July 29, 2012
At times chance enters our lives and we encounter moments created by a wordsmith that, like it or not, raise memories and experiences that we have either experienced, watched, heard about, or dreamed and the stories in Beverly Akerman's book of short stories THE MEANING OF CHILDREN do just that. They slowly creep into our psyches, clutch a holding place, and stay with us permanently. This collection of the whispers and screams, longings and needs of being a child and the responses of those closest to that child are the works of a magician, a writer of such substance that she is obviously headed to the top echelon of writers of our time.

Some critics are saying that this book is about the underappreciated world of women and perhaps that stance is valid: there certainly are enough tales of anorgasmia, to abortion, to preparing to say the final goodbye to a dying child to the vagaries of holding a household together despite the external (an internal) flaws that creep into crack marriages. But I don't see men being put into negative places just to serve the purpose of making a collection of stories hang together with a theme. No, these stories are all about the influence of bringing a child into the world and the benefits and consequences of the way life changes because of that. And overriding everything else is the panoply of forms of love that transcend all else.

I like the way the author (or agent or some caring one who seeks to gain our attention to this book) states it: `...a girl discovers a fear of heights as her parents' marriage unravels; a thirty-something venture fund manager frets over his daughter's paternity; an orphan whose hands kill whatever they touch is accused of homophobia; a mother of two can only bear to consider abortion in the second person; the wife of a retirement-aged professor finds him unconscious near his computer...The Meaning Of Children speaks to all who--though aware the world can be a very dark place--can't help but long for redemption.' I like this because in the end words fail in attempting to share the variety of emotions this book induces. Beverly Akerman simply knows how to write. She understands contemporary vernacular and uses it to embroider her stories, not to be `with it' like so many authors who seem to need to fill the quota of expletives. She also knows when to leave a story alone, to just let it lift itself and slip out the window, carrying the impact of our emotional changes with it.

Enough said. This is a book of rare sensitivity and masterful creative writing and must surely be shared with as many friends and fellow readers as possible. Grady Harp, July 12

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Bev Interviewed about David Gilmour brouhaha by The Sisterhood blog of The Jewish Daily Forward

Had a nice chat with Renée Ghert-Zand the other day, about the whole David Gilmour brouhaha.

Her summary of the issue:

[Gilmour’s remarks came in a short, informal interview with a writer named Emily M. Keeler for Random House’s Hazlitt literary blog. According to the transcript of the conversation, Gilmour, an award-winning author who has been teaching (as a non-tenured lecturer) undergraduate courses in modern short fiction at the University of Toronto, is willing only to teach “stuff I love.” This apparently means Russian and American literature (“I just haven’t encountered any Canadian writers yet that I love enough to teach”) by middle-aged white men like him.

When the interviewer pressed him to explain why he doesn’t teach works by women writers, he answered, “When I was given this job I said I would teach only the people that I truly, truly love. And, unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Um. Except for Virginia Woolf.” Then he went on to complain about Woolf being too sophisticated for his students.

It seems common for Gilmour to be questioned about his reading lists. “Usually at the beginning of the semester someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I’m good at is guys.”

Then he clarified that what he meant by “guys” was “very serious heterosexual guys. Elmore Leonard. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy guys…Henry Miller. Uh. Philip Roth.”]

She interviewed several Canadian Jewish writers and academics, including yours truly, who was caught saying:

[Montreal writer Beverly Akerman finds Gilmour’s lack of openness to literary exploration “shocking in this day and age.” Furthermore, “there’s a real vein of misogyny there,” she says. She also finds Gilmour’s remarks bizarre in light of the fact that “Canada is famous for its women short fictions writers, like Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Mavis Gallant.” ]
And even gave me the last word:
[Akerman least finds a silver lining in the whole situation. “Gilmour has done us all a service,” she suggests. “We’ll all try harder now to look for and read the good female writers out there.”]

Read the whole thing here.
And please let me know what you think. Are you concerned? Do you think the University of Toronto has some 'splainin' to do? Are you fed up hearing about David Gilmour? Or simply fed up with David Gilmour? 
Meantime, I'm starting a collection of women writers worth reading (they can even be Canadian and/or Chinese!)

Saturday 14 September 2013

Please Don't Poach Quebec's Doctors in Our Time of Need


Dear Lakeridge Health,

This week, you started a direct mail campaign targeting Quebec doctors, medical residents, and medical students. I agree with your nearly 500 "likers" on Facebook: it's one great ad. But I'm writing to ask you if things aren't tough enough here in Quebec right now without you Ontarians trying to lure away our professionals? Thirty-thousand of us don't have a GP at the moment. We need more doctors in Quebec, not fewer. And who suffers most directly if our doctors and medical students leave? (Hint: it's not the PQ!)

For your information, the vast majority of Montrealers are against this proposed Values Charter thing. Mayors of virtually every town on Montreal island are against it (and nearly 90 per cent of Quebec immigrants live in Montreal). All Montreal's mayoral candidates -- Richard Bergeron, Denis Coderre, Marcel Côté, and Melanie Joly -- are against it (we have civic elections November 3), as is the current municipal council. And a 3,000 word "Manifesto for an inclusive Quebec" was published at (in French) on Sept. 10, and is being translated into English as I write. Quebecers can read and sign here.

It says, in part: "Nous dénonçons vivement qu'une poignée d'événements anecdotiques ayant marqué l'imaginaire serve de justification à notre gouvernement pour retirer des droits fondamentaux à certains de nos concitoyens les plus vulnérables. La publication de ce manifeste vise à expliquer à nos concitoyens et à nos décideurs les fondements de notre opposition."

My translation: "We strongly condemn the handful of anecdotal events, sparking the imagination, that serve as justification for our government's removal of fundamental rights from some of our most vulnerable citizens. This manifesto is to explain to our fellow citizens and our decision-makers the foundation of our opposition."

It talks about the slippery slope, fear of "the other," the exclusion effect. I'm sure you'll find it fascinating. Two hundred sixty-eight Quebec professors, lawyers, students, political activists, other thought leaders, and people of conscience have signed already. They have a website, with info on their Facebook and Twitter feed. They're collecting more signatures, too.

(Anyone reading this who might have something to say to Lakeridge Health can find them on Facebook, Twitter, or via email at

In any event, Lakeridge Health, please let us know who your ad company is: we're going to need them here in Quebec, once this damn thing finally blows over. I'm sure you didn't really mean to kick us when we were already down.

All best,


P.S. An unofficial English translation is now available from

P.P.S. Here are the authors and other signatories as of Sept. 10th, as published at (probably thousands more by now). Just so you know (and I thank them for standing up when others might be tempted to find some advantage in our hard times).

RÉMI BOURGET - Avocat et blogueur sur; il a été porte-parole des juristes opposés à la loi 12, au printemps 2012;
FRÉDÉRIC BÉRARD - Avocat-constitutionnaliste et politologue;
RYOA CHUNG - Professeure agrégée, département de philosophie, Université de Montréal;
JUDITH LUSSIER - Chroniqueuse
Ont également cosigné ce manifeste :
Martin Bisaillon, journaliste et chroniqueur;
Arjun Basu, écrivain et rédacteur;
Pascale Fournier, Professeure de droit, Université d'Ottawa;
Jean-François Gaudreault-DesBiens, Professeur de droit, Université de Montréal;
Dimitrios Karmis, Professeur de science politique, Université d'Ottawa;
Martin Papillon, Professeur de science politique, Université d'Ottawa;
Cédric Lizotte, journaliste et blogueur;
Daniel M. Weinstock, professeur, Faculté de droit, McGill;
Jocelyn Maclure, professeur, Faculté de philosophie, Université Laval;
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, ancien porte-parole lors du printemps 2012;
Maxime St-Hilaire, professeur, Faculté de droit, Université de Sherbrooke;
Mathieu Marion, professeur, Département de philosophie, UQAM;
Michel Seymour, professeur, Département de philosophie, Université de Montréal;
Valérie Amiraux, professeure, Département de sociologie, Université de Montréal;
Sirma Bilge, professeure, Département de sociologie, Université de Montréal;
Christine Tappolet, professeure, Département de philosophie, Université de Montréal;
David Koussens, professeur, département d'études religieuses, Université de Sherbrooke ;
Éric Pineault, professeur, département de sociologie, UQAM ;
Widia Larivière, militante des causes autochtones et co-initiatrice du mouvement Idle No More au Québec ;
Laure Waridel, éco-sociologue, auteure et chroniqueuse ;
Julien Villeneuve, professeur, département de philosophie, Collège de Maisonneuve ;
Philippe Boucher, chroniqueur ;
Rabii Rammal, humoriste ;
André Péloquin, journaliste;
Véronique Robert, avocate et chargée de cours, Université Laval;
Aurélie Lanctot, Étudiante en droit à l'Université McGill ;
Léa Clermont-Dion;
Ianik Marcil, économiste indépendant;
Jérôme Lussier, chroniqueur et juriste;
Stéphane Beaulac, professeur titulaire, Faculté de droit, Université de Montréal, Directeur du programme de J.D. en common law nord-américaine;
Alan Wong, Ph.D., Professeur, College Vanier;
Myriam Denis, Candidate au Juris Doctor, University of California at Berkeley;
Ayat Salman; Gérante du Programme de recherche clinique en transplantation du CUSM et candidate en PhD en pathologie de l'université McGill;
Sibel Ataogul, avocate et chargée de cours, Université de Montréal;
Léa Couture-Thériault, Assistante de recherche, Centre de recherche en droit public;
Noureddine Mouelhi, professeur;
Jean Dorion, président du groupe Indépendantistes pour une laïcité inclusive;
Pier-André Bouchard St-Amant, chercheur Post-Doctoral, INET;
Ludvic Moquin-Beaudry, enseignant en philosophie, cégep de St-Jérôme;
Jocelyn Brousseau, coordonnateur urgence en travail humanitaire;
Annie-Claude Trudeau, avocate et cofondatrice Faits et Causes;
Julien David-Pelletier;
Miguael Bergeron, étudiant et Éditeur-en-chef au Prince Arthur Herald;
Kevin Copps, candidat à la mairie CDN-NDG;
Ishan Singh, avocat, Président de La Voix Québécoise des Sikhs;
Daniel Thibault;
Pierre-Guy Sylvestre, économiste;
Jocelyn Desjardins, syndicaliste, ex-président du NMQ;
Sophie Bienvenu, auteure;
Mathieu St-Onge, conseiller en communication et journaliste pigiste;
Fannie Boisvert St-Louis, féministe;
Murphy Cooper, chroniqueur d'opinion;
Dalila Awada, étudiante en sociologie;
Nour Farhat, étudiante en droit;
Martin Chartrand, étudiant en communication;
Xenia Chernyshova, comédienne, chroniqueuse et leader de Femen Québec-Canada;
Xavier Peich, politologue;
Elizabeth Robertson, journaliste pigiste;
Julien Lefort-Favreau, doctorant en études littéraires, UQAM ;
Will Prosper, militant de Montréal-Nord Républik et documentariste;
Alexandre Alaoui, candidat à la maîtrise en science politique, UQAM;
Julie Paquette, politologue ;
Aurélien Chastan;
Alexandre Leduc ;
Olivier Roy ;
Naomi Cauchy-Cartier, Titulaire d'une maîtrise en Histoire de l'Antiquité;
Sophie Tremblay, avocate;
Zalman Haouzi, Avocat;
Marie-Claude Dufour, technicienne juridique;
Charles Bottex;
Marie-Pierre Rouette, politologue;
Sébastien Laflamme, informaticien;
Steven MacKinnon;
Emmanuelle Rouleau, avocate;
Colin Beaudry, D.I.T.;
Gabrielle Brais Harvey, étudiante, relationniste et organisatrice syndicale;
Christelle Arnaud, avocate;
Benoît Riopel;
Simon Labrecque, politologue;
Maxime Laflamme, programmeur-analyste;
Julie Chabot, avocate;
Patricia Fourcand;
Matthew Angelus, stagiaire en droit;
André Coté-Homier, musicien;
Raphaëlle Sandt-Duguay, gestionnaire documentaire;
Magdaline Saulnier-Bourget, étudiante;
René Lemieux, sémiologue;
Louis-François Brodeur, candidat au doctorat (HEC Montréal);
Julien Day, blogueur;
Catherine Girard Lantagne, directrice de programmation;
Rosa Pires, candidate à la maitrise en science politique, UQAM et vice-présidente des Indépendantistes pour une laïcité inclusive;
Annick Desjardins, avocate;
Julie Robert, avocate;
Louis Fiset, agent de communication et éthicien;
Frédérique Chiasson, juriste et traductrice;
Louis Bedard Giulione, étudiant à la maîtrise en musicologie université de Montréal;
Charles Tremblay, biologiste;
Annie Lecours, entrepreneure;
Francis Gosselin, économiste et chercheur;
Dalena Tran, étudiante en enseignement à l'Université Concordia;
Marie-Joie Brady, politologue;
Michel Desy, conseiller en éthique;
Joey Larouche, ingénieur;
Laura Dehaibi, étudiante au doctorat en droit à l'Université McGill;
Keithia Ladouceur, étudiante en enseignement à l'Université McGill;
Olivier Carpentier, illustrateur et bédéiste;
Marco Nocella, avocat;
Marie-Josée Dufour, rédactrice;
Marie-France Lemaine, recherchiste et traductrice;
Xavier Gravend-Tirole, théologien et écrivain;
Emilie Audy, stagiaire en droit;
Bochra Manaï, chercheurE;
Eugénie Depatie-Pelletier, juriste et démographe;
Cathy Wong, juriste;
François Fournier, sociologue;
Joey Hanna, juriste;
Hamza Benqassmi, étudiant à l'école du Barreau du Québec;
Léa Champagne, géographe;
Philippe Allard;
Jonathan Plamondon;
Karyne Charpentier;
Christopher Craig;
Ricardo Lamour, (Emrical), artiste et membre de Ca m'concerne;
Shahad Salman, avocate;
Janet Lumb, artiste;
Marie-Hélène Croteau, gestionnaire de projet;
David Crandall, avocat;
Golshad Darroudi, avocate;
Isabelle Boucher, étudiante;
Samira Laouni, Fondatrice-Présidente du C.O.R. Organisme de communication pour l'ouverture et le rapprochement interculturel;
Aminta Ndiaye, conseillère en projets d'affaires;
Sébastien Lord-Émard, artiste et militant acadien;
Katherine Kaufman, avocate et étudiante;
François Fournier, Étudiant en droit, Université de Montréal;
Sarah Charland-Faucher, étudiante à la maîtrise en développement régional;
Fanny Marcouillier-Mathieu, étudiante au baccalauréat en communication (relations publiques) et auxiliaire d'enseignement, Université Laval, Québec;
Emilie Tessier, enseignante en Arts au secondaire;
André Ho, étudiant à la maîtrise en travail social et intervenant psychosocial;
Jessy Thermil, traductrice;
Said Guennani, entrepreneur; notaire diplômé au Maroc;
François Schneider, directeur Technique en animation 3D;
Toufic Adlouni: étudiant;
Jean-François Thériault, ingénieur;
Jade Robert-Drouin, étudiante;
Gabriel Copps, étudiant;
Marc Duperron, étudiant;
Christian Arseneault, candidat municipal (Montréal);
Béatrice Copps, étudiante;
Antoine Desîlets, étudiant;
Laurent Fournier, étudiant;
Louis Lespérance, étudiant;
Jade Karim, étudiant;
Laurence Couture-Thériault, B.A littérature française et étudiante en droit;
Stéphane Stril, Président de PLQ McGill;
Djavan Habel-Thurton, étudiant;
Gabriel Myre, étudiant en droit de 2e cycle;
Hugo Guerche, Vice Président Organisation, PLQ McGill;
Joshua Arless, Vice-President, Organization Young Liberals of Canada (Quebec);
Simon Beauchemin, candidat à la maîtrise en RI et politique à l'université de Cambridge;
Laura Khouri, étudiante en sciences politiques;
Silvia Ortan, étudiante en droit;
Olivier Goulet, étudiant;
Éléonore Gauthier, étudiante;
Julia Kappler, étudiante;
Xavier Plamondon, B.A. Sciences économiques, étudiant en droit;
Annabelle S. Archambault, B.Comm.;
Saad Qoq, étudiant en ingénierie;
Samuel Lavoie, président des Jeunes Libéraux du Canada;
Cameron Ahmad, Président des Jeunes libéraux du Canada (Québec);
Mira Ahmad, étudiante;
Noémi Poulin, conceptrice de costumes;
Clara Pelletier, étudiante;
Élisabeth Couture, Chargée de cours, Université Concordia;
Daniela Chivu President, Multicultural Commission Liberal Party of Canada (QC);
Lambert V. Lorrain, étudiant en droit;
Chloe Luciani-Girouard, Présidente des Jeunes libéraux de l'Université de Montréal PLC(Q);
Christopher Monette, étudiant en communication et politique;
Alexander Jagric, Vice-Président (Externe) de PLQ McGill;
Maude Méthot-Faniel, fonctionnaire ;
Ali M. Al-saleh, Étudiant en science politique;
Brice Dansereau-Olivier, étudiant en économie et chroniqueur;
Frédéric Bourgeois-LeBlanc, Étudiant et Adjoint aux communications à la Commission Jeunesse du PLQ;
Sonya Mullins, president of the unity group - Quebec civil rights;
Étienne Leclerc, décrocheur engagé;
Michèle Goulet, enseignante;
Pier-Luc Brault, étudiant et citoyen engagé;
Nina Nguyen, étudiante en médecine, Université de Sherbrooke;
Félix Bowles, étudiant (Bacc. Travail Social);
Kaouther Saadi, étudiante en Communication et Politique à l'Université de Montréal;
Sukhmeet Singh, Homme d'affaires. Vice-président de La Voix Québécoise des Sikhs;
Nadia Kadri, étudiante et présidente des Jeunes libéraux fédéraux à l'Université McGill;
Judith Cardin Poissant, étudiante en droit;
Jean-Philippe Roy, étudiant en Économie et Science politique (Université Laval);
Marcelle Moffatt Thériault, professeure retraitée du Collège de Limoilou;
Ariel Gregory Shapiro, étudiant;
Simon Turmel, avocat (droit autochtone, de l'énergie et de l'environnement);
Alexandre Mailloux-Dupéré, étudiant à la maitrise en droit international et politiques internationales appliqués à l'Université de Sherbrooke;
Daphnée Anctil, étudiante en droit à l'Université de Montréal;
Diana Popescu, criminologue;
Constantin Draghici, ingénieur;
Vanessa Métivier, étudiante en communication publique, Université Laval;
Maija Kappler, étudiante;
Nicole Reckziegel, étudiante;
Chattar Singh Saini;
Ishan Singh, avocat;
Tiffany Hanskamp, étudiante;
Jan Hanskamp, étudiant;
Kayleigh Hanskamp, étudiante;
Emilie Hanskamp, étudiante;
Jennifer Crane, VP English Liberal Party of Canada (Quebec);
Simon Charbonneau, étudiant en droit;
Emmanuela Tedone, étudiante;
Jessica Lang, étudiante ;
Sarah Howard, étudiante;
David Kaufman, programmateur informatique;
Eric Hendry, étudiant en droit;
Frédérique Bourque, avocate;
Julien Brossard, avocat et MBA;
Frédérick Plamondon, enseignant;
Simon Jolicoeur, étudiant en droit;
Nellie Brière, stratège en communications interactives;
Georges Andriotis, étudiant en droit;
Aminata Mbaye, Conceptrice logiciel;
Yousr Masmoudi, partenaire d'affaire en apprentissage;
Federico Tyrawskyj, avocat;
Edouard Reinach, entrepreneur;
Dalla Malé Fofana, Chargé de cours, Auxillaire d'enseignement Université de Sherbrooke;
Alexandre Julien, technicien informatique;
Toula Foscolos, journaliste;
Ariane Bergeron-St-Onge, avocate;
Julien Vaillancourt Laliberté, Directeur Logistique, Milieu culturel;
Vanessa Udy, avocate;
Mathieu Fontaine, professeur de physique, collège Lionel-Groulx;
Delphine Abadie, chercheure indépendante;
Pierre-Yves Néron, Maître de Conférences en Éthique économique et sociale,. Université Catholique de Lille;
Leanne Bourassa, avocate;
Marc-Antoine Trudel, étudiant;
Lori Boyadjian, étudiante en droit;
Félix Roy, étudiant en Sciences politiques;
Vanessa Lapointe, étudiante en droit;
Frédérik Forget, étudiant en droit et philosophie;
Nicolas Trudel, étudiant en politique appliquée à l'Université de Sherbrooke;
Zach Paikin, commentateur politique;
Jeremy Little, étudiant - Faculté de droit;
Alexandra Mendès, Présidente du Parti libéral du Canada (Québec);
Arad Mojtahedi, étudiant en droit à l'Université McGill;
Julie Thibault, étudiante;
Sandra Levy, étudiante Faculté de droit;
Elise Abramowicz, étudiante Faculté de droit;
Erin Lesser, étudiante Faculté de droit;
Amanda Moniz, étudiante Faculté de droit;
Geneviève Claveau -Étudiante en droit, Fac. de l'UdeM;
Jeff Wise;
Benni Hodkin, ratafarian;
Catherine Ellyson, Professionnelle de recherche et consultante;
Frédéric Thériault, Photographe;
Angele Rondeau, traductrice;
Alice Tran, comédienne et animatrice;
Marie Clouâtre, avocate;
Sandrine Corbeil, étudiante en droit à l'Université de Montréal;
Marie-Danièle Germain, étudiante;
Jean-Michel Desgagnés, avocat;
Pamela Mikhael, étudiante en droit;
Alexandre Savoie-Perron;
Simon Cadorette, Chargé de cours en économie

A version of this article was originally posted at The Huffington Post Canada.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Oh tempora, oh Mordecai: What next Quebec, Mme. Marois telling us what we can wear?

Sometimes “the law is a ass” Mr. Bumble said, and it looks like the debate on Quebec’s proposed charter of “values”—or lack thereof—is one of those times.

Despite the symbolic blood-letting of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, which basically found there was no “reasonable accommodation” crisis, Quebec still harbours too many who are, as some Western Canadians used to put it back in the day, referring to French on their cornflake boxes, sick of having Islamic headscarves “shoved down their throats.”

Bev does Bubby. Is this head covering dangerous? Only the PQ knows...

In Montreal, where I thought we were famous for our laissez faire attitude toward issues that knotted knickers elsewhere in North America--like abortion, daycare, gay sex and marriage (“if you don’t like it, don’t do it, but keep your nose the hell out of my business”)—I predict we’ll soon have a new branch of the civil service analogous to the beloved Office québécois de la langue française Tongue Troopers: the Headscarf Haranguers. Or, perhaps, the Kippah Killjoys.

They’ll certainly have their work cut out for them. Let’s try and get our heads around how this would work.

Consider that most anodyne of textiles, the simple kerchief. Imagine a teacher at a public school, or a Centre de santé et des services sociaux receptionist. If she tucks her hair into a turban as a fashion statement, or dons a headscarf to keep her hairdo safe from the rain, or because she’s having a bad hair day, no problemo. Ditto for covering a pate denuded by cancer chemotherapy. But if she put on that same headscarf out of Islamic modesty, das ist verboten. And if she’s an Orthodox Jewish woman, covering her hair out of Orthodox Jewish modesty? Verboten again, I guess, though she’d look exactly the same as the cancer patient.

The true bureaucrat requires an objective way to differentiate between Jewish women, Muslim women, and women undergoing chemotherapy. How to accomplish this? May I suggest cancer patients be issued big yellow Cs to pin on their breast pockets? Or perhaps the Muslims and Jews could be issued large yellow Ms and Js, despite the optics. Clearly, issuing yellow crescents or stars of David would be unacceptable on religious symbol grounds; besides, the latter has clearly been done before (done to death before, in fact). And here in the ever-distinct society of Quebec, we value, above all, our cultural uniqueness.

But if you think that headscarves are complicated, what about wigs? Apparently, it has so far escaped the notice of the Headscarf Haranguers that sometimes a wig isn’t simply a wig. Most men who wear toupees do so for cosmetic/vanity reasons. Wearing a toupee to appear more sexually attractive will certainly sit well with the Headscarf Haranguers, but many Orthodox Jewish women wear wigs out of religion-based notions of propriety, which will not. Some wear wigs for reasons such as, again, chemotherapy, medical conditions like alopecia, or because, sometimes, unfortunately, their hair looks like crap. How are we—or, more importantly, the Headscarf Haranguers--to tell the difference? I could again suggest a yellow letter--B (for baldness), C (for cancer), or V (for vanity), but I’m sure Mme. Marois will see the value of a parliamentary commission to examine in closer detail acceptable reasons for wig wearing in this brave new Quebec. Otherwise men topped by toupees may be evaluated differently from women wearing wigs. Which would be sexist and against their human rights. Not to mention Quebec values.

But enough of wigs, and let’s leave beards—in fact, all other body hair--for another day.

Confining ourselves to clothing, let’s consider, for a moment, the zucchetto. This is not an Italian pastry but a skull cap worn by Catholic and Anglican clerics, and of the same sartorial ilk as the kippah. Clearly, following enactment of the Quebec charter of “values,” men like Pope Francis or Bishop Tutu would no longer be welcome to address the National Assembly in full religious regalia. No doubt, they’d be required to wear business suits, like engineering company executives, Canadian senators, or political bag men. This probably wouldn’t be a problem because I doubt Pope Francis or Bishop Tutu would be interested in addressing Quebec’s National Assembly in the event the charter of “values”—as currently bruited—was actually enacted.

Finally, if my doctor wore a kippah while at work, he’d be breaking the law. But if he covered it with a Yankees cap, he’d be okay. Unless the Marois government decided that only Expos caps were permissible. By Dickens, when the law can so easily be made “a ass,” I wouldn’t put it past them.

A version of this article may be found at 
The Huffington Post Canada.

Beverly Akerman’s award winning story collection, The Meaning of Children is set largely in Montreal. She’s strangely pleased to believe she’s the only Canadian fiction writer ever to have sequenced her own DNA.

Monday 8 April 2013

Self-publish your way beyond obscurity

I’ve decided to give away the e-version of my award-winning collection of short fiction, The Meaning of Children  - well, for a couple of days. The paperback, released in 2011 by Exile Editions, officially sold about 365 copies. At $2 per $19.95 list priced copy, I’ve earned about $730 in royalties from Exile’s publication, which doesn’t include the proceeds from the approximately 200 copies I hawked myself, or the $150 they paid me to publish one of the stories in Exile Quarterly. Somebody else—many somebodies—pocketed the remaining $12 to $18 per copy…or over $6500.

The economics of publishing, especially considering the hours put in writing, editing, re-writing, etc. are enough to make a grown writer weep.

In March 2012, posting on The New Quarterly’s Facebook page, I encountered Martin Crosbie, self-published sensation, poster-writer who earned $45,000 in royalties in February 2012 alone. I decided to self-publish the Kindle version of my book (to which I had luckily retained the rights).

It cost me nothing to self-publish (except for the commissioning of a new cover; Exile wouldn’t let me use theirs) and took about five minutes to accomplish. The self-published ebook, available exclusively on Amazon since March 2012, has been downloaded nearly 7,000 times. From this, I’ve earned about $500. So far.

I also wrote an article about Martin’s success and contrasted it with my own (“How to become an e-book sensation. Seriously”), published in The Globe and Mail Books section. The article was in the top 10 for its section for months.

As Martin and other successful indie writers, notably Robert Bidinotto, stress, the key to generating interest in your self-published book is to use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing’s primary promotional tool: five free giveaway days per three-month period your book is exclusively available with Amazon.

The point of exclusivity? The free days, and the opportunity to be paid for allowing them to lend your book to their huge bank of subscribers, Amazon Prime members. For an annual fee, Prime members benefit from a number of advantages, including borrowing a book a month from the KDP collection. Some authors generate mucho dinero from these loans, especially genre writers: because genre readers need their fixes real regular-like. Over $2 per borrow, on average. For Martin Crosbie, this translated to thousands and thousands of downloads and dollars.

Giving away your book is an indispensable promotional tool. Many websites, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages exist primarily to promote freebies. And thousands of free downloads rockets your book up the Amazon sales charts, which piques reader interest, generates those all-important reader reviews, and results in subsequent sales. Hopefully.

As Martin told me, “The rule of thumb is: For every three you give away, you’ll sell one. So give lots away!” Indie authors must be open, generous and giving. Remember, we’re channelling Oprah here.
Despite my modest success with self-publishing, I don’t suggest litfic writers take this route: my book won prizes (many prior to the book’s publication, and a couple, e.g. the J.I. Segal Award, as a result of being traditionally published). The traditional routes to recognition and sales—newspaper and magazine book pages—are sadly still unavailable to self-published authors. Of course, there’s a reason for this: many self-published books are pure dreck.

In any event, if your self-published book doesn’t manage to do as well as Martin’s My Temporary Life, you can always tell yourself it’s because

a. it’s not a genre novel, or

b. Amazon has changed their algorithms.

Hell, that’s what I do…

Beverly Akerman’s The Meaning of Children hit #1 on Amazon's Kindle Women's Fiction, Literary Fiction, & Short stories lists in her most recent giveaway (Nov. 2013), rising to #51 on their list of over 1 million books.

This article originally published on Montreal's arts and culture online magazine, The Rover.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Column on Philippe Couillard proves Don Macpherson needs a break

The Montreal Gazette's Don Macpherson, on a bad headdress day

Don Macpherson must need a break--and badly. That's the only explanation I can come up with on the heels of his scurrilous article in Saturday's Montreal Gazette. In "Are Quebecers ready for him?" Macpherson compares Philippe Couillard, Liberal Party leadership aspirant, and André Boisclair, the disgraced former Parti Quebecois leader. Macpherson discusses both men's political positions and draws parallels to their "scandals."

But there is no comparison.

May I remind Gazette readers that Mr. Boisclair's chief of staff, Luc Doray, become the fulcrum of a drug and embezzlement scandal? Mr. Boisclair, a reputed "party animal," according to The Globe and Mail, though never charged with a crime, later admitted he used cocaine while a sitting MNA. Mr. Doray pleaded guilty to defrauding the Quebec government; court testimony revealed that Mr. Boisclair had authorized some of the expenses in question.

Let's compare them a bit more: Mr. Boisclair was first elected to the National Assembly at the ripe old age of 23, and has, to date, spent most of his life in politics, where he served, variously, as minister of citizenship and immigration, social solidarity, and environment. Philippe Couillard, on the other hand, was an eminent neurosurgeon before he became minister of the most challenging of Government of Quebec portfolios, health.

While most of us would say, in reference to something simple, that it wasn't "rocket science" or "brain surgery"--meaning, of course, that both such endeavours are eminently challenging--Philippe Couillard has been known to say, "brain surgery is easy. It's politics that's difficult."

Macpherson's column is Couillard's exhibit A in this regard.

How are we ever to expect people of quality to continue to stand on their hind legs and publicly declare themselves political candidates under the onslaught of articles such as Macpherson's?

André Boisclair disgraced himself by using cocaine for seven years while a Quebec cabinet minister; Philippe Couillard, according to Macpherson, "trails a whiff of scandal" because of his "association with Dr. Arthur Porter."

Let's face it: between Boisclair and Couillard, there is no comparison.

And so, I am moved to inquire of Mr. Macpherson: is every person who shook hands with Arthur Porter (or went into business with him) now to be presumed a criminal? Where is Macpherson's sense of proportion? Where is Macpherson's sense of justice?

Where is Macpherson's editor?

If Macpherson has any evidence of Couillard wrong doing, let him speak now, or forever hold his peace. Because this kind of innuendo is out of place in a newspaper of record that The Montreal Gazette purports to be.

In fact, this column smells so bad, it reminds me of Jan Wong's odious, misbegotten analysis of Quebecers' supposed notions of ethnic and racial purity, part of her--and The Globe and Mail's--original "explanation" for Kimveer Gill's--and Marc Lepine's, and Valery Fabrikant's--murderous rampages.

Are Quebecers ready for Philippe Couillard? Who knows? Certainly, as far as this column makes clear, not Don Macpherson.

I hope le bon docteur Couillard--and the other two candidates, Raymond Bachand and Pierre Moreau--continue their campaigns in all serenity, and that the Liberal membership, of whom I am proud to call myself a member, chooses the best possible person for the tough job of defeating Premier Marois, and soon, before she completes the utter shambolization of our beloved Quebec.

Friday 1 March 2013

CBC Radio's "C'est la vie" episode this week featured Quebec Anglos talking about language

CBC Radio's "Cest la vie" episode this week featured Quebec Anglos talking about language. Three very different Montrealers are in the first segment, with very different experiences, and I'm one of them!

Enjoy learning about the Parti Quebecois' "Anglo sock puppets" (my words), and hear about the experiences of transplanted Vancouverite James Roberts, Montrealer Samia Marshy, and others.

C'est la vie | Mar 3, 2013 | 27:30

Quebec anglophones

Meet some Quebec anglophones. Some were born and raised in the province. Others have moved there. And all have different life experiences. Hear their stories.

"We're here because we like being here. Don't forget.  Don't think we were trapped here. Because we're more mobile than most other people in Quebec. So if we're here, it's because we like it." ~ Beverly Akerman

Monday 25 February 2013

Of sock puppets & PQ demagoguery: Beverly becomes CBC "go to" person on living in English in Quebec

Just thought I’d let you know of my appearances on CBC Radio’s Daybreak last week and CBC TV News, discussing whether or not English-speakers feel welcome in Quebec. It was part of their ongoing “Living English” series, covering results of an EKOS poll on Anglophones in Quebec.

“Panel of Anglos echo EKOS poll results about belonging”: "Speaking on CBC Montreal’s Daybreak, two anglophone Quebecers echoed the EKOS research poll results which found that 58 per cent of respondents feel welcome in Quebec and 57 per cent feel integrated into Quebec society…” 

You can listen to the interview here:

More on their radio series "Living English"

To come: I was interviewed for a segment on CBC Radio's “C’est la vie.” I think it will be out this week.

Big thanks to Mike Finnerty, Joanne Vrakas, Alison Cook and all their researchers and associates. An inspiring group who are always trying to do more with less.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Darkness at Downton: Season 3, Episode 5

SPOILER ALERT: Key incidents in the episode are discussed, so if you haven't seen it, and intend to, you've been warned...

I'm afraid Downton has grown very dark indeed, making it difficult to make light of this episode.

Last week's death of Sybil Branson, youngest daughter of Lord and Lady Crawley, reveals the deepest themes of this third season of Downton Abbey, and the series as a whole. The episode ended with the shocking convulsions after Sybil has birthed her bairn, the newest generation of Crawleys. (It isn't a strictly accurate portrayal of eclampsia, which remains a problem in pregnancy even now, ill understood and incurable, except by monitoring and early delivery at the earliest signs).

This week's pivotal scene takes place in Cora's bedroom when, blaming Robert for having insisted Sybil be treated as advised by the society doctor he'd engaged, tells him it's too soon for him to return to her bed.

And here is the clash of America vs. Aristocracy: Dr. Tapsell was "knighted and has a fashionable practice on Harley Street" while reliable country doctor Clarkson, who had counselled an emergency c-section hours before the delivery, was only the uber-reliable country doctor who had known the young woman for her entire life. A man of lower stature but greater knowledge--in this case, devolving to something as mundane as knowing that Sybil usually had slender ankles.

"You let all that nonsense weigh against saving our daughter's life. Which is what I find so very hard to forgive," actress Elizabeth McGovern sniffles.

Again and again across the series, we are confronted with Sir Robert, the benevolent slightly buffoonish one lord to rule them all, making decisions that, despite their impressive decisiveness, end up going south (e.g. losing Cora's entire fortune with one bad investment, which he was counselled against), and this episode is no exception.

He behaves insufferably over son-in-law Branson's wish to raise the baby as a Catholic. Robert balks, and has the temerity to invite Mr. Travis, the local Church of England vicar, round to dinner to dis popery. This is truly shocking when we take into account that a), Tom is heartbroken over the loss of his wife, for goodness sake, and b) that by the moral code of the Crawleys, surely importing a guest to insult a family member at table "simply isn't done." It demonstrates something that, to this crew, is clearly among the worst of all faux pas: bad manners.

When Mary confirms Sybil's intended the baby to be baptized Catholic, Robert is "flabbergasted." Cora says, drily, "You're always flabbergasted by the unconventional."

Robert seems blind to how inconsiderate he is being, blundering about like an injured bull, and demonstrating his increasing unfitness to lead.

Meantime, downstairs, a parallel story plays out with Carson the butler, who forbids any member of the staff having dealings with Ethel, the fallen maid, who has resurfaced as Isobel Crawley's new cook and housekeeper. Ethel, you may recall, while working at Downton, was seduced by an officer convalescing there during the war. Immediately dismissed, she ended up having a child out of wedlock and was forced into prostitution to support them. Ethel had given up her son to a better life with the now dead officer's parents and, latterly, been taken in by reformer Isobel, who hopes to help her overcome her degradation. In other words, Ethel's path to ruin happened on Carson and the Lord's watch, yet all they did was blame her for her misdeeds, and shame and humiliate her. Another among many shocking indictments of the social conventions of the Victorian era.

When Isobel suggests a luncheon for the Downton "girls"--"does that include me?" warbles the Dowager Duchess--the stage is set for the confrontation: between the men and the women, between creaky notions of propriety and the ancient concepts of mercy, made modern in the guise of rehabilitation. Thank God, mercy wins.

Mrs. Patmore agrees to help Ethel with a menu and cooking pointers (Mrs. Hughes has been defying Carson's edict by helping Ethel out for years). And when Robert storms into the luncheon, demanding his women--Cora, the two daughters, and his mother--leave immediately, Cora refuses. And the women stay put. "It seems a pity to miss such a good pudding," the Dowager offers by way of explanation.

The leadership upstairs and downstairs is gradually being chiselled away by the growing strength and enfranchisement of the women, and the mounting irrelevancy of Victorian social conventions. That is my read on the real message of Downton, though it be swathed in melodrama.

And the ultimate proof of this, which I realized most clearly after watching the end of season shocker, is telegraphed by the opening credits: they're alphabetical. Not "starring" this one and that one. In other words, no member of this cast is to be considered above the others. Sir Julian Fellowes demonstrates by metaphor in the very first moments of the program, that he thinks it best to treat all his actors equally.

Downton Abbey: social history writ small, wrapped in melodrama, and high production values. But make no mistake, the values here are not simply of production: they are social values, resonant and real, and so is the historical backdrop. And that is the lesson of its exploding popularity, what propelled it to the top of the TV drama heap worldwide, and why we keep watching.

A version of this post originally published on The Huffington Post Canada

Friday 11 January 2013

First time FREE on Amazon: SIX PIXELS OF SEPARATION, my Pushcart-nominated essay

UPDATE: 6 pm, January 11th: "Six Pixels" just hit #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Biographies & Memoirs > Arts & Literature > Authors. 

It's #16 in Kindle Memoir. Thanks for your support!

 “What a fantastic essay! I love it more with each reading!”
~ Sylvia Legris, Editor, Grain Magazine

For the first time FREE on Amazon, my short essay SIX PIXELS OF SEPARATION. Love, literature, evolution, the Holocaust, Oregon, Quebec, the Nez Perce Indians, Wikipedia, AIDS, short, the whole catastrophe.

Then-editor Sylvia Legris liked it so much, she submitted it for consideration to The Pushcart Prize and Canada's National Magazine Awards (the latter in TWO categories!).

The 2010 Fishtrap Fellows Cabin, Fishtrap Writers Conference & The Gathering, Wallowa Lake, OR


I: Irrigator evolution

A couple of summers ago, I flew from my home in Montreal across the continent to Oregon for the first time, on points cadged from my husband. He travelled a lot for work. Because I quit science to pursue art several years back, I sponge off him shamelessly these days. And not just for plane tickets.

From 32,000 feet, it was clear how parched the West is. I flew over mountains and deserts, greys and browns and ochres interrupted by the occasional mystifying emerald disk, round as a wedding ring. Until I saw the incomplete ones, pies with a serving removed, I thought the circles were waste pools, for mine tailings, say, or reservoirs of nuclear leftovers. It turned out they were crop irrigation circles, verdant patches in the desert created by enormous metal irrigators. Later, seeing these behemoths up close, I was reminded of bicycle wheel rims—the irrigators appeared to be composed of hundreds of them, as though the wheel rim was some missing link that the irrigator had ascended from via dark evolutionary forces of increasing complexity.

The next day, Rich Wandschneider—the outgoing, founding, and soon-to-be-ex-executive director of Fishtrap,1 the conference I was attending—drove a group of us  from Portland, 260 miles inland, to Wallowa Lake, the site of the conference. Only the third owner of an irrigation system ever makes any money with it, Rich confided, “The first two owners go bust."

...Tonight, reading a collection of Raymond Carver’s short stories, I discover he is from Oregon. Clatskanie, according to the book jacket, not far from Portland. Born in 1939. Because these facts come from a book, I may have more confidence in them than in those gleaned from Wikipedia. Wikipedia is unreliable because, as Conrad Black wrote me, it “can be written by anyone.”2 In this new knowledge economy age, though, large-scale creative collaboration is also considered a strength. The Carver book is What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

Actually, this piece you are reading might just as properly be called “What we talk about when we can’t make love.”
             My husband and I could not see eye to eye tonight and so I am in my son’s bedroom, seeking consolation from Raymond Carver...

Always free for Amazon Prime Members.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Downton Abbey jumps the shark

Downton Abbey's season 3 premiere: Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville, foreground) continues to do dopey things, his mother-in-law, Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) is fizzle and a gasbag, and viewers are reminded of familiar Downton truisms: “Downton’s in peril. Wills are complicated. Servants are sickly. Canadians are trouble.”

Photograph by: Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for Masterpiece-PBS

Spoiler alert! Contains Downton plot twists: If you haven’t yet seen the opening episode of Season 3 (or, for that matter, Seasons 1 or 2) and plan to, you might want to hold off on reading this article. It contains some of the notable developments in the plots of the series.

I’d been psyched for months by the promise of the newest season of Downton Abbey, which the New York Times’s Alessandra Stanley recently called the Fifty Shades of Grey of its ilk: “soft-core pornography, but fixated on breeding and heritage rather than kinky sex.”

But I was hugely disappointed by the two-hour series opener the other night, which drew the Crawley family — and voyeurs like us along for the ride — to new depths of fatuousness.

In the interregnum prior to the start of Season 3, hubby and I took the opportunity to rescreen Seasons 1 and 2. I’d been struck by writer Julian Fellowes’s apparent initial intention to make Lord Grantham, Robert Crawley (played by Hugh Bonneville), the heart of the series. The opening credits have him striding majestically through the grounds, golden lab at his side. But it wasn’t long before daughter Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), whose young Turkish lover shockingly expires in her bedchamber (in most morality plays, death is what happens to the girl seduced, not the rake) and the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith, who makes the most of the immortal line “No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house — especially somebody they didn’t even know”) began to steal the show from him, and run with it. Lord Grantham becomes sadly befuddled — for example, imagining that he will see active duty in France during the First World War.

But this year’s offering is a contraption so creaky with ersatz conflict that it reminds me of Oz the Great and Terrible at the moment Dorothy discovers that behind the curtain is an ordinary little man.

Opening with the revelation of Lord Grantham’s utter and advised-against squandering of the family’s fortune in Canada — as June Thomas says on Slate, “they sure do return to the same themes over and over: Downton’s in peril. Wills are complicated. Servants are sickly. Canadians are trouble” — the episode continues at breakneck pace to the wedding of Mary and Matthew — though skipping completely what true Fifty Shades fans would prefer to have seen: the honeymoon. But first — oh, irony — it picks up their latest complication: the father of the late Lavinia, Matthew’s one-time fiancée, has died and Matthew is third in line to inherit his huge fortune.

While the issue of whether the two men before him as inheritors are alive or dead is needlessly spun out, Matthew — looking a tad overfed and unctuous, proving himself a fitting heir to the doltish current lord — announces his resolution to give away the money should it come his way, because taking it would constitute a form of theft. He arrives at this weird notion through tortured guilty logic: Lord Reginald Swire could only have intended the money to come to Matthew because he was the great love of Lavinia’s life, but Matthew betrayed that love, sending Lavinia to an early, broken-hearted death by way of the Spanish flu.

It makes Harlequin romances appear deep.

Lady Mary castigates Matthew with the deadliest of accusations. In refusing Swire’s bequest, in his willingness to allow, dare one say it, Downton to be lost, Matthew is, she charges, betraying that he is “not on our side.”

Seriously? This is the complication on which Fellowes seeks to hang the season?

It was the moment that Downton Abbey, despite its high production values and effervescent cast, finally jumped the shark.

And it was only downhill from there.

Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson in Downton Abbey.
Photograph by: Image courtesy , Nick Briggs

Shirley MacLaine, looking like she might have had a tad too much plastic surgery, was a total fizzle, her Martha Levinson (mother of the U.S.-born Cora, Lady Grantham) little more than a gasbag of accented clichés.

I had heard the rumours that Dan Stevens (Matthew) would not appear in future seasons of Downton, and this flop of a premiere was just the impetus I needed to root through the Internet to discover what happens to his character. All the while, I was imagining all the time I might save on Sunday evenings by not having to watch the rest of the series.

As if. Like Fifty Shades of Grey, Downton Abbey has become, most assuredly, one more in a long line of life’s guilty pleasures.

        Published January 10th, 2013 in The Montreal Gazette (with fewer spoilers!)