A Prose Reading Series and Writers' Workshops in The Junction

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!

YA Authors come to Junction Reads!!

Junction Reads is thrilled to announce our very first readings for our YA readers and writers.

There is much evidence that proves deep reading at a young age improves intelligence, empathy and general niceness. We all want to to have nice smart kids, don’t we? Yes!.

Bring them to Famous Last Word on April 30 at 5pm. We will host Allan StrattonKJ RankinShalta Dicaire Fordin and Sarah Sahagian and Danielle Younge-Ulmann. Your teens can pick up some new summer reading and meet some incredible writers!


“Observing young people’s attachment to digital devices, some progressive educators and permissive parents talk about needing to “meet kids where they are,” molding instruction around their onscreen habits. This is mistaken. We need, rather, to show them someplace they’ve never been, a place only deep reading can take them.”

Marissa Stapley writes that books, not “news”, may soothe our troubled minds!

In a world filled with readers who are being spoon-fed news stories like helpless babies, we might want to stop and read a book. Nothing can be more provocative and life-changing than a good book. We know this and yet we continue to read blurbs and blips of clips of real or fake news (who really knows the truth?) to inform our righteous opinions on the state of the world and to give us “insight” into these politicians who have never been so famous. Did anyone know who the attorney general was during the Obama administration? I didn’t? Did you know who the Education go-to person was? Nah-uh, not me. So why do we care now? Canadians have lived a solid 150 years indifferent (defined as open-minded to many) to the shitstorm around us? This is worse, for sure, but where did all the opinions and arguments come from?

Close Facebook and Twitter for a few days and read some books. Great advice from a great writer!

February 19 at Famous Last Words!!

February 19


BOOKS ARE THE NEW BLAH!! February has nothing on the winter blues, when you’ve got books, cocktails and the voices of talented wordsmiths to keep you going!

Join us as we engage in an exchange of words, ideas and stories from B.D. FergusonLisa de NikolitsBianca LakoseljicMarissa Stapley and Zoe Whittall

Follow a group of reality TV ghost hunters around as they try and hide their own secret lives; refkect on what it is to be normal (if there is such a thing; live through a summer in 1967 Yorkville in Toronto; explore sisters, family and love, or read about how a communtiy filled with diverse people experiences a sexual assault.

This is going to be an incredible evening of intense and beautiful readings!


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