25th Trillium Award

Windsor & Essex County: The Recommended Reads

Share |
Windsor, Ontario (photo credit: Alexa Garant and Natalie Hillis)

By Erin Knight and Megan Philipp

Picture a high-stakes game of pool. When the cue ball strikes, the carefully aligned balls rocket off in all directions, finding their mark, dropping into the pockets or hitting another ball, altering its course. This is what Windsor & Essex County is like: the inspiration the area gives writers starts them off in any number of ways, so that the style, genre and trajectory of every writer is unique. There is a multi-layered creativity at work here in Ontario's most southern region, and a visit to the area — either in person or through the written word — is an experience that won't soon be forgotten. In our Recommended Reads list, you'll find memoir, poetry, children's books, short fiction and novels, and you're gauranteed to come away from these books feeling like you've just won that pool game. For more on Windsor's local authors, check out Melanie Janisse's feature article, "In The Underbrush: The Literary Tribes of Windsor".

Ghost Road and Other Forgotten Stories of Windsor (Biblioasis), by Marty Gervais

In Ghost Road and Other Forgotten Stories of Windsor (Biblioasis), Marty Gervais, one of Windsor?s most popular historians, brings to light the hidden stories and history of Windsor, Ontario. Like the ghost road in Windsor that lies in the middle of a field and doesn?t go anywhere or connect to anything (and which people can only guess its reason for being there), the stories in this book have been forgotten but have left behind traces of the weird and fascinating history of Windsor. Including tales of tornadoes, horse drag races, 19th-century race riots, war heroes, murderers, sports heroes and more, this book will give readers a taste of this fascinating city.

Read Marty Gervais's Five Things Literary: Windsor here.

Helpless (HarperCollins Canada), by Barbara Gowdy

Windsor-born Barbara Gowdy is a novelist extraordinaire who shot to prominence with the publication of the now-classic White Bone. Her name has been included on the shortlists of the most coveted literary prizes: the Giller, the Governor General's Award, even the Man Booker. Gowdy's most recent novel, Helpless (Harper Collins Canada), is a thrilling, provocative story about every parent's nightmare: the disappearance of a child. Helpless probes the fears and desires that exist as undercurrents beneath our carefully presented lives, and challenges our impulse to categorize the "good" and the "evil". We eagerly await her next novel.

Joy is So Exhausting (Coach House Books), by Susan Holbrook

In the Trillium-Award winning book Joy is So Exhausting (Coach House Books), Windsor resident Susan Holbrook?s second poetry collection, she explores the off-kilter 21st century with a playful and transgressive tone. Taking the comical and spinning it into something serious and vice versa, through her poems Holbrook recognizes the truths within the great burden of joy and its opposite. At the heart of it, she reveals the roots of the comic impulse, exposing where it comes from, whether it?s from the political, psychological or emotional life of the mind.

Detours, Anthology of Windsor & Essex County Poets, edited by Susan Holbrook and Dawn Marie Kresan

The poetic imagination of Windsor and Essex County is vast, and it includes more stellar writers than you can shake a stick at. In an effort to bring these exciting voices together, local poets Susan Holbrook and Dawn Marie Kresan have teamed up to publish Detours: An Anthology of Poets from Windsor & Essex County, recently released with Black Moss Press. The style and subject matter of the poems they've selected is so eclectic that a brief description of its contents just won't suffice. Leaf through these pages yourself and be surprised by work by new and established writers, including Alex Goyowsky, Dani Couture, Darryl Whetter, Kate Hargreaves, and Robert Earl Stewart. It's the best way to sample the range of talent that this region has to offer.

Riverside Drive (Dundurn Press), by Michael Januska

Riverside Drive (Dundurn Press) is Windsor author Michael Januska?s debut novel and the first in the Border City Blues crime series. The novel is set on Riverside Drive, in Prohibition-era Windsor. Riverside Drive follows a shell-shocked Jack McCloskey, who has just returned from the Great War and is battling inner demons, and a young librarian by the name of Vera Maude, who longs to escape from her life. When Jack channels his energy into amateur fights, he is quickly noticed by a gangster sidelining as a boxing promoter and joins him. But feeling trapped, he gets involved in relationships that aren?t going to work out. Things get worse for Jack when a crime lord in the Border Cities takes over the smuggling activity in the area to finance his political agenda.

Light Lifting (Biblioasis), by Alexander MacLeod

Alexander MacLeod?s Light Lifting (Biblioasis) is a short story collection that?s received a lot of attention, despite being his debut. Raised in Windsor, Ontario, he?s truly made his mark in the Canadian literary scene, with this book making the shortlist for the Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Prize, and also having won an Atlantic Book Award. Rare in its honesty, this collection explores work and its bonds, tragedy, beauty and love. This is a collection of short stories that shouldn?t be missed.

Island (McClelland & Stewart), by Alistair MacLeod

Written by one of Windsor?s most celebrated authors, Alistair MacLeod, Island (McClelland & Stewart) is a book of 16 collected short stories set on Canada?s eastern shore. Of the 16 stories in this book, 14 have previously been published, but the title story, ?Island," is one of the new ones. Set almost completely in Cape Breton, although characters may stray to other places, MacLeod?s stories show men and women living their lives against the harsh landscape. And when characters leave their homes, they always carry with them their legacies — family ties and experiences of hardship. Mapping out the bonds that exist between families, these stories celebrate the continuity of generations despite the changes that might occur.

Bent at the Spine (BookThug), by Nicole Markotic

Bent at the Spine (BookThug) is a captivating poetry collection by Nicole Markotic, a professor at the University of Windsor. Hailed by many reviewers for the way she twists language in this volume of poems, Nicole has been described as having ?a trickster quality" where she takes language and then alters it. This is a collection of poetry that combines language in some new and surprising ways.

Read Nicole Markotic's Poets in Profile interview here

Irving?s Coat (Black Moss Press), by Eugene McNamara

Eugene McNamara's name looms large in Windsor's literary scene. The poet, short story writer and screenwriter was also a professor at the University of Windsor, where he helped to found the renowned Creative Writing department, which thrives with even greater vigour today. He's the kind of man who can tell a tale or two about some of our favourite literary icons. While many of these stories deserve to be shared over a few pints in one of Windsor's iconic pubs, McNamara has spun them well into his literary memoir, Irving's Coat: Windsor's Literary Renaissance (Black Moss Press). Find out why McNamara needed to give his own coat to Irving Layton, how Joyce Carol Oates handled a practical joke and what it was like to start up the Windsor Review and the Creative Writing department during these heady times.

Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy (Black Moss Press), by Vanessa Shields

Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy (Black Moss Press) is Windsor author and blogger Vanessa Shields's hilarious and taboo-breaking memoir about being pregnant for the second time around. Women (and the men who dare) will laugh along with Shields as she shares stories of the mind and body at their most unpredictable stages. More than one reader will be relieved to discover that "it wasn't just me!" As poet John B. Lee remarks, "For me, reading this book is the closest I have ever come to lactating while I read.?

(Black Moss Press), edited by Vanessa Shields

Whisky Sour City: Poems from the South Shore is a unique and exciting anthology of poetry about the city of Windsor, edited by local writer Vanessa Shields in collaboration with the students of the University of Windsor's Editing & Publishing Program. The poems in Whisky Sour City were selected from over 100 submissions received in response to a three-day call for Windsor-infused poetry. You can get a sense of Whisky Sour City and the work that went into producing it by viewing the trailer for the collection here.

Oscar (Palimpsest Press), by Jordan Troutt and Sarah Preston

Before Chris Hadfield orbited Earth, there was Oscar, the cat. Oscar's quest for a saucer full of good cold milk takes him all the way to the moon, where the moon cats (you've never heard of them?) show him a trick or two. With their picture book Oscar (Palimpsest Press), Jordan Troutt and Sarah Preston have written and illustrated a delightful rhyming story that youngsters will pore over (if you'll pardon the pun). Oscar follows the success of Trout and Preston's previous collaboration, The Naming Book of Rascally Rhymes.

With special thanks to Alexa Garant (photographer) and Natalie Hillis (designer) for permission to publish this image from Whisky Sour City (Black Moss Press).

Buy these books at your local independent bookstore or online from the publisher, at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Advanced Search