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Author: Christopher Adam

Café culture

The featured letter in this past weekend’s Ottawa Citizen is from Patricia Willoughby, who captures well the value of café culture. The same extends to bistros and pubs too, as places that can become a “second home,” especially to those living in downtown apartments. I wrote more than one conference paper and bits of my PhD dissertation in the ornate…

Book Review: So I Wrote You a Poem by David Tensen

This little collection of poems is very much a product of our times, but with a nod to a bygone era too. Through social media, Australian poet David Tensen invited his readers to submit to him their stories of loss, alienation and trauma — narratives that he then committed to transforming into poetry. As the poet is an avid collector…

Book Review: Ruse of Discontent by Matthew Epperson

The author of this novel exploring the harsh realities of addiction is an inmate at a prison in Kentucky. With the help of friends on the outside, Matthew Epperson self-published a book presenting the tragedy of lives lost to substance abuse. One of the more striking features of a narrative dotted with gritty, uncomfortable scenes is the authentic voice that…

Fiction as an agent of the moral imagination

As we consider and reconsider the role of social media in shaping public discourse, here’s a quote from twentieth century literary critic Lionel Trilling on fiction as a tool of introspection — an area where online echo chambers typically fail: “For our time the most effective agent of the moral imagination has been the novel of the last two hundred…

Book Review: The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor

Every page of Flannery O’Connor’s 1960 novel The Violent Bear It Away is a haunting read. The narrative is uncomfortable, the rich imagery captivating and at times suffocating; it’s as if every forest, highway, sky and human interaction is steeped in a mystery that the mind can never fully understand. O’Connor sets the tone of her story with a Scripture…

Faith and Doubt in Literature — Exploring Philip Larkin, Flannery O’Connor and Leonard Cohen

On December 3, 2020, I gave a presentation and facilitated a community learning session over Zoom entitled “Faith and Doubt in Literature.” The session was part of an Advent educational series spearheaded by St. Joseph’s Parish in Ottawa, Canada. We explored how British poet Philip Larkin, American author Flannery O’Connor and Canadian poet/songwriter Leonard Cohen grappled with the transcendental in…

Book Review: A Poor Man’s Supper by Jim Gulledge

Jim Gulledge’s novel A Poor Man’s Supper explores the drudgery of a harsh life in a rural, mountainous corner of North Carolina in the post-Civil War era, as well as those small, faint blessings in life that have the power to restore dignity to people who have been dehumanized by the conditions of the world. On the surface, A Poor…

Book Review: De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

De Profundis, a 55,000 word letter from disgraced author Oscar Wilde addressed to his love, Lord Alfred Douglas, who had spurned him, is at times more compelling due to its history, form and intended purpose than its actual substance. In 1897 Wilde was languishing in Reading prison on a conviction of gross indecency when the reformist and compassionate warden, Major…

Book Review: There There by Christopher Walker

British author Christopher Walker has built a life for himself as an expatriate in Bielsko-Biała, a town in southern Poland, where he has lived for over a decade and where he teaches English. His fictional work There There, which he sent me in exchange for an independent review, offers relatable storytelling for those of us who have experienced the authentic, unglamorous…