A Prose Reading Series and Writers' Workshops in The Junction

Spring Reading is better than summer reading!!

The Spring promises fresh flowers, rainy rain and sunnier sunshine (alliteration has never been my strong suit) and it also brings new books!

Why not come out to meet and mingle with some great writers and snag a few new books? And you won’t have to swipe the sweat from your sandy brow like all those summer readers will have to!

This month, we have memoir, short stories and some fabulous long stories!

Christopher Cameron   brings his memoir Dr. Bartolo’s Umbrella Memoir and Other Tales from my Surprising Operatic Life  to us this month. “Dr. Bartolo’s is a funny, touching, irreverent memoir about Christopher Cameron’s thirty-year career as an opera and concert singer on stages across the country. Cameron might have been a nondescript face in a crowd, but when he sang, he was somebody.”

With a feared MMA cage fighter as protagonist, Kevin Hardcastle’s In the Cage weaves together a grittily masterful tale of violence, family, and resilience as Kevin Hardcastle penetrates what it means to survive in the rural underclass.”

Part mystery, part elegy, Karen Smythe ‘s This Side of Sad begins with an ending: the violent enigma of a man’s death. Was it an accident, or did James commit suicide? In the shattering aftermath, his widow, Maslen, questions her own capacity for love and undertakes a painful self-inquiry, examining the history of her heart and tracing the fault lines of her own fragile identity.

“In the linked stories of Kasia Jaronczyk’s Lemons, the lives of Basia and her family are seen through a kaleidoscopic lens that follows them over twenty years from communist Poland, to their new home in Canada, then back to Poland, to make sense of everything that has happened in the interim.”

Terri Favro  bring us “a gritty tragi-comic fairy tale of sexual obsession and longing, based in equal parts on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, with Once Upon A Time In West Toronto is the story of outsiders reinventing themselves in Toronto’s immigrant neighbourhoods from the 1970s to the present.”


February 25: Let’s say goodbye to the blahs…together!

5 new readings and 6 fabulous writers! Nothing affirms my faith in a promising future filled with diverse and unique #canlit voices, than a reading such as this!

5:00pm at Famous Last Words: 392 Pacific Ave

Tehmina Khan brings us an incredible collections of short stories! Published by Mawenzi House, Things She Could Never Have is Tehmina’s debut into Canadian publishing. And how beautifully Canadian this collection is! Stories that show us the many dimensions of Pakistani and Muslim culture, with characters, both privileged and marginalized, struggling to find space in the world. ““Whisperings of the Devil” takes us into the mind of a mistreated maidservant’s boy who gets seduced into the role of a suicide bomber. In “To Allah We Pray,” two privileged and educated young men, one of them home from Toronto, gallivant through the streets of Karachi, finally walking into a doomed mosque. “Things She Could Never Have” is a love story about two young trans women living in Karachi. “Born on the First of July” opens the door into the home of a Toronto girl who has left to join ISIS and the devastated family she leaves behind. “The First” will astonish many readers by its depiction of sexual encounters of young college girls in Pakistan.”

Sylvain Prud’homme’s novel Les Grands has been translated by Wellcome Prize winner Jessica Moore as The Greats and published by Book*hug in Toronto.  Originally published in France, Les Grands was winner of both the 2015 Prix Littéraire de la Porte Dorée and the 2014 Prix Georges Brassens, “The Greats is a novel of mourning, love, and the thirst for justice that tells the story of a population who knew hope and independence but now live under the oppressive rule of an army dictatorship. BookThug is very proud to introduce the work of Sylvain Prudhomme, a steadily rising literary star in France, to English readers.”

Terry Watada will read from his novel, The Three Pleasures published by Anvil Press. Every Canadian should know about the Japanese internment camps. Although history lessons have changed over the years, as we learn more, and more is shared, we cannot experience it as deeply and honestly as we will through the three main characters in Terry’s book.  “The story is told through three main characters in the Japanese community: Watanabe Etsuo, Morii Etsuji and Etsu Kaga, the Three Pleasures. Etsu in Japanese means “pleasure”; the term is well-suited to these three. Morii Etsuji, the Black Dragon boss, controls the kind of pleasure men pay for: gambling, drink and prostitution – the pleasures of the flesh. Watanabe Etsuo, Secretary of the Steveston Fishermen’s Association, makes a deal with the devil to save his loved ones. In the end, he suffers for it and never regains the pleasures of family. And there is Etsu Kaga, a Ganbariya of the Yamato Damashii Group, a real Emperor worshipper. His obsession becomes destructive to himself and all involved with him. He enjoys the pleasure of patriotism until that patriotism becomes a curse.”

Catherine Graham brings us her debut novel, Quarry, a story about family secrets, deep, damaging, but ultimately strengthening as our protagonist struggles to uncover and face her family’s past. “Set in southern Ontario during the 1980’s, acclaimed poet Catherine Graham’s debut novel is layered like the open-pit mine for which it is named. Caitlin Maharg, an only child, lives in a house by a water-filled limestone quarry whose gothic presence is elemental to the story. With loving parents and what appears to be an idyllic upbringing, much has been kept from her and she learns that her mother is dying. But there are things Caitlin knows in a wordless way, the way she knows every inch of the quarry. By the time she’s in her last year of university, her losses multiply. And when a series of family secrets emerges, Caitlin learns to rely on her inner strength. She gains the confidence she needs to confront her maternal grandmother and carry out her father’s last wish.”

Lesley Trites offers us her debut collection of short stories, A Three-tiered Pastel Dream, published by Véhicule Press. There is no secret that women have had to BE everything for so many, but without ever getting the credit or acknowledgement. It’s no wonder so many have secrets! Lesley “unearths pearls of wisdom from the secret lives of women who could easily live next door, drop off their kids at the same school, or work in the next cubicle. A career-focused woman finds her life taken off course by an unexpected pregnancy and its challenging aftermath; a troubled doctor abandons her family on her daughter’s birthday, the three-tiered pastel layer cake in the passenger seat beside her; a young mother must contend with how to explain her husband’s suicide to their child.”


Image of vintage Bay and Yonge (from Pinterest)

January 28 at Famous Last Words!

Join us for the first fantastic readings of 2018!

As you may know, we LOVE short fiction here at Junction Reads and this month of readings are an all-you-can-read buffet of inspirational, provocative, surreal, heartbreaking and funny stories from 4 of the best writers in Canada today! See you at Famous Last Words on Sunday January 28 at 5:00pm!

More brand new short stories from Emily Anglin who brings us The Third Person, published by Book*hug.

“Writer and freelance editor Emily Anglin grew up in Waterloo, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto. Emily Anglin’s creative work has appeared in The New Quarterly, the Whitewall Review, and in the chapbook The Mysteries of Jupiter. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Concordia University and a PhD in English Literature from Queen’s University, and also completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Michigan’s English Department. Prior to her graduate studies, she studied English at the University of Waterloo. The Third Person is her debut book.”


Sarah Meehan Sirk  will read from her debut collection of extraordinary short fiction, The Dead Husband Project, published by Penguin Random House.

“SARAH MEEHAN SIRK is a writer, radio producer and broadcaster. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Quarterly, PRISM international, Room, Joyland and Taddle Creek, and is anthologized in The Journey Prize Stories. At the CBC, she co-produced and hosted the 2015 Radio One series Stripped, worked on Q (now q) and DNTO, and was a founding producer of Day 6 with Brent Bambury. Before that, she produced a Toronto crime show, hosted sports programs, filed human rights reports with Ghanaian journalists in West Africa, and co-produced and hosted a short TV series on minor hockey that was nominated for a Gemini Award (it lost to the Olympics). She lives in Toronto with her young family and is working on her first novel.”



When work is described as heartbreaking and hilarious, I get chills! Short fiction packs so much of the human experience into very few pages.  Christopher Gudgeon brings his new collection, Encyclopedia of Lies, published by Anvil Press, to our listeners.

“Chris Gudgeon is an author and poet and screenwriter. He’s contributed to dozens of periodicals – including Playboy, mad, National Lampoon, Geist, Event and Malahat Review — and written seventeen books, from critically acclaimed fiction like Song of Kosovo and Greetings from the Vodka Sea, to celebrated biographies of Stan Rogers and Milton Acorn, to a range of popular history on subjects as varied as sex, sexuality, fishing and lotteries. Gudgeon has more than 150 professional TV and film credits including creating, writing, and producing the Gemini-award winning series Ghost Trackers and the documentary, The Trick with the Gun. In his varied and spotty career, Gudgeon has worked a variety of jobs across Canada, the United States, and Europe including psychiatric orderly, rent boy, bartender, rock musician, rodeo clown, TV weatherman, and youth outreach worker. Gudgeon, who is bisexual, has been in an open relationship with author/self-help guru Jasper Vander Voorde since 2009. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Victoria, B.C.”


Michael Mirolla’s The Photographer in Search of Death is a magical and hyper-realistic collection of stories. About his work, Michael has said, “In this world, everything is possible and transformations occur all the time.” Who doesn’t want to live in that world?

“Born in Italy, and arriving in Canada at the age of five, Michael Mirolla calls himself a Montreal-Toronto corridor writer (because he spends so much time travelling between the two cities). He’s a novelist, short story writer, poet and playwright. Publications include two novels, the recently-released The Facility, and Berlin (a 2010 Bressani Prize winner and finalist for the 2009 Indie Book and National Best Books Awards); two short story collections – The Formal Logic of Emotion (recently translated into Italian and released in 2010) and Hothouse Loves & Other Tales; and two poetry collections: the English-Italian Interstellar Distances/Distanze Interstellari (2008), and Light And Time (2010), His short story, “A Theory of Discontinuous Existence,” was selected for The Journey Prize Anthology, while another short story, “The Sand Flea,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His short fiction and poetry has been published in numerous journals in Canada, the U.S. and Britain, including anthologies such as Event’s Peace & WarTelling Differences: New English Fiction from QuebecTesseracts 2: Canadian Science FictionThe Anthology of Italian-Canadian Writing (Guernica), New Wave of Speculative Fiction Book 1, and The Best of Foliate Oak.”


November 26 with Guest Host Brent van Staaduinen

Getting prepared for our second reading of the season and our last of 2017. This year has been a great one for so many of our readers. Many have been nominated and won some awards and others have completed another book.

November 26 at 5:00pm

Famous Last Words, 392 Pacific Ave (in the heart of the Junction)

We’re thrilled to have a guest host this month! Brent van Staalduinen lives in Hamilton, Ontario and has published many short stories and his novel, Saints, Unexpected was a finalist for the 2017 Hamilton Literary Award. Brent is the winner of The Bristol Short Story Prize, The Lush Triumphant Literary Award, The Fiddlehead Best Short Story Award, The Writer Magazine’s “Our Darkest Hour” Prize and The Short Works Prize. We have been lucky enough to have him read from his work at Junction Reads and we are even more grateful he will be hosting this month.

This gig as host at Junction Reads is a  natural extension of his ardent supporter of writing and writers in and beyond the GTA.

We welcome 5 unique voices to our stage this month!!

Daniel Karasik is an actor, playwright and author of Faithful and Other Stories, the story collection coming to us on November 26. Daniel has won the CBC Short Story Prize, the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award, and The Malahat Review’s Jack Hodgins Founders Award for Fiction. His previous books include Hungry, a poetry collection, and three volumes of plays. His award-winning plays been produced across Canada, in the United States, and frequently in translation in Germany.

Sanjay Talreja is a filmmaker whose work has appeared on television and theatrical screens in Canada, the US, and India. He has written a novella, and is currently working on  a detective novel. His collection of short stories, Downward this Dog, will bring a bit of fun to our stage this month. Sanjay has won several awards for his films. He lives in Toronto.

Pasha Malla’s writing has appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, including The New YorkerMcSweeney’sThe Walrus, the Journey Prize Stories, a ‘Notable Story’ in Best American Nonrequired Reading (edited by Dave Eggers), Toronto NoirTaddle Creek, and GreenTOpia. The Withdrawal Method, his first book, was longlisted for the Giller Prize, shortlisted for The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Best First Book) and won both the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Trillium Book. Pasha brings his novel, Fugue States to our stage and we look forward to hearing him read.

Grace O’Connell is a Toronto-based writer and editor and the author of Magnified World and Be Ready for the Lightning, which we will hear from this month. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in publications including The Walrus, Taddle Creek, the Globe & Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Star, ELLE Canada, Sharp Magazine for Men, Quill & Quire, and the Journey Prize Stories. She has been nominated for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award and two National Magazine Awards for fiction, and was the 2014 winner of the Canadian Author Association’s Emerging Writer Award. She lives in Toronto.

Sky Curtis was born in Toronto, Canada and has lived in England as well as the Canadian maritimes, travelling to both places frequently. Under her birth name of Kathryn MacKay, Sky has worked as an editor, author, software designer, magazine writer, scriptwriter, poet, teacher, and children’s writer. She has published over a dozen books. Passionate about literacy and involved with youth, her entertaining syndicated children’s column appeared in weeklies across the country for almost ten years. Her poetry has appeared in several literary journals, including The Antigonish Review, Canadian Forum, and This Magazine. Sky brings her mystery novel, Flush: A Robin MacFarland Mystery to us this month!

October 29!

The summer will sadly be finally over and that sad goodbye can only be buoyed by a good book or a delicious cocktail! Join us Sunday October 29 at 5:00pm at Famous Last Words!

Bethlehem Terrefe Gebreyohannes brings us her  beautiful, thrilling and heart-wrenching memoir, Fire Walkers, about her family’s escape from a totalitarian regime of a 1980 Ethiopia. What started out as a vacation ended after 15 months in Lethbridge Alberta. We cannot wait to hear Beth read from her personal story.

Sam Shelstad “Infused with dark humour, each of the sixteen stories (in Cop House) included in the collection explores the absurdity of life when the things that really matter are placed just out of reach.”

Melinda Vandenbeld Giles  “An evocative and sweeping tale of myth and magic, from a seventeenth-century escaped slave community in northern Brazil to 1930s Rio de Janeiro, Clara Awake will take you on a sensual journey of intense passion, intrigue and love.

Camilla Grudova joins us the day before she flies to Winnipeg for her prairie launch of The Doll’s Alphabet. “The stories’ principal emotion is melancholy disgust, often tinged with longing and dread. Grudova name-checks Hans Christian Andersen, Isak Dinesen, and Ovid; her characters metamorphose into wolves, insects, machines.”

Dane Swan    He doesn’t Hurt People Anymore: “These seven slices of urban life offer a poet turning his hand to fiction with masterful results. Swift, precise, unflinching but compassionate, Swan’s tales are bound together by his insight into the compromises we make to stay afloat, and the moments when we confront the deals we’ve made or betrayed. Into the ways we hurt, and the ways we heal.”

Junction Reads is looking for a Photographer!!

You know people say money can’t buy you happiness. Well that is not true! It would make me very very happy to have a photographer and now that Junction Reads has a bit of money (Thank you Toronto Arts Council) we can offer a bit of cash to an aspiring, but still talented, photographer.

If you are interested in this job and are available on the following dates, please contact Alison today!

October 29 2017

November 26 2017

December 17 2017 (open mic, may not need a photog)

January 28, 2018

February 25 2018

March 25, 2018

April 29, 2018 (A special YA event)

May 27, 2018

Booking Authors for 2017/2018

Although I dreamed of taking a year off and booking myself into a hotel every weekend until I finished my own novel, I cannot abandon my other dream, my dream of building a stronger more vibrant literary community right here in Toronto! Along with so many other fabulous reading series in Toronto, we hope to keep books alive and in the hands of the readers and word lovers!

Junction Reads is a prose series, that is, we showcase fiction and creative non-fiction: stories, novels, prose poems, books. We engage in an (hopefully) enlightening Q and A after our readings that welcomes all manner of query. How do you write? When do you write? Who do you write for? So you will not only leave one of our events with a book or two, or four, you will feel refreshed with knew knowledge of how challenging it is to actually write (see hopes and dreams of checking into a hotel above).

We are a welcoming series, so feel free to connect with us. Get your work heard by an attentive audience in a warm and friendly setting. Contact Alison today to request some time at the microphone.

Marlene opened Famous Last Words with the dream of creating a warm and friendly space for people who love books and cocktails. We are so excited to continue our relationship with Marlene and her great staff.

Upcoming Dates:

October 29 2017

November 26 2017

December 17 2017 (open mic, theme to be determined)

January 28, 2018

February 25 2018

March 25, 2018

April 29, 2018 (our now annual YA event)

May 27, 2018



Why the 150+ movement still doesn’t satisfy my sense of what is right and what is wrong.

Firstly, I am a proud Canadian. I love this country. And when compared to others, we are doing a stellar job, but we are not perfect. And just because we’re in the top ten of some list, it does not mean we shouldn’t want to be better.


I am the fourth born kid of some immigrants. First kid, of 5, to be born in Canada.

It’s not a hard story. They didn’t have to escape a war-torn country or jump through hoops to get here. My grandmother just gave my dad a sob story and he and my mum canceled their lives, picked up, and moved here. Ya, there’s some regret, but we’re here, and it’s as glorious and as free as it was in England.


I was raised by a liberal Dad, who suffered a bit of innate Scottish bigotry, and an agnostic Mum, who respected her husband’s religion enough to let her kids go to Catholic school and church, but who taught her kids, without words, how to see people with empathy, and how to heal people (she was a nurse). We’ve all become healers and servers because of her.


So this weird upbringing brings me here.


I see this celebration for what it is. It celebrates colonialism when we should be focused on reconciling our horrible colonialist behaviour.


It celebrates an anniversary that is arbitrary and exclusive. Canada existed before Canada was “born”.


We invaded this place. But also: The Vikings landed in Newfoundland 1000 years ago; European exploration began in the 15th century; the name Canada (from the Iroquois Kanata) was first reported in the 16th and 17th century. A lot of “collaboration”, “trading”, “cooperation” and fighting for land took place over the next 200 years until a whole bunch of white guys got together and created the British North America act and ultimately, Canada was born with confederation and we celebrate the anniversary of that meeting. But also: we only achieved ‘nationhood” after exploiting, stealing from and lying to all First Nations people.


So here we are, more than a year after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published its report with its essential 94 Calls to Action and I think, can we swallow our pride for a moment?


This is also where I think many “Canadians” are not clear. The last Residential School closed in 1996!! So many think of this as “old” history. So long ago, they say, let’s brush it under the rug!!


My eldest daughter was 4 years old!! I was raising a kid in my Birkenstocks eating my rice cakes with no real knowledge of residential schools because MY CANADA had removed them from the curriculum; from the media; from our narrative. After they failed to resocialize and institutionalize them, they tried to erase First Nations people.

So here I am. I am asking you to excuse me from the red and white boom of the 150, and the somewhat condescending (still red and white) of the 150+ because, although the heart is in the right place, I cannot celebrate this country until we are all talking about the same thing.


Rubber duckies are not our biggest problem. Who gives a shit about money when we can’t even get “Canadians” to read the report and participate in its Calls to Action.

May 28 Our last event of the season!

Join us on Sunday May 28 at 5pm,  at Famous Last Words, for our last readings of the season.


Mike Knox, Nora Gold, Ian Hamilton, Elyssa Marcoux Bissoondath and Cary Fagan join us for another unique event.

Each and every month I am surprised at how lucky we are to have 5 great writers on the same stage.  This month we will be introduced to a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant; we will hear a few fabulous stories inspired by found photographs; an obsessed and complex musician; three men whose live change forever when they collide in suburbia, and a batch of beautiful writing from a new writer.

You can add a few books to your summer reading list and enjoy a new spring cocktail!

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