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Terra Arnone

Writer

Toronto, ON

Terra Arnone

Freelance writer covering books, sports, and the people who make them interesting | Toronto, Ontario | @terraarnone

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‘Her voice echoes’: Siri Hustvedt’s essays on bridging the gap between genders are loud and lyrical

She plays with rhythm, mixing phrases of varying length and language of varying complexity, setting a good pace for casual reading in the book’s early essays. Decadent prose, likely a byproduct of Hustvedt’s work in fiction (her 2014 book, The Blazing World, took home a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was longlisted for the Man Booker), begs to be read aloud, as fit for an Ivy League auditorium as tufted velvet wingchair – though its opulence does put one’s TTC commute into rather harsh perspective. The collection’s third essay, a hearty and profound look at French-American artist Louise Bourgeois, should be savoured, or awarded a prize, or both.
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The life aquatic: Jessica J. Lee's memoir

There’s something melancholy in that athletic isolation, taking a team sport’s elation and turning its camaraderie around, void time and lone thoughts and maybe a little too much headspace to be good for you forever. Lee swam 52 lakes in a year – one a week and no weather between worth stopping for – her physical feat returned doubly in the story those strokes made, accessible philosophy at its very best.
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Karen Swan’s Banff-set Christmas romance could become part of your perennial holiday reading list

My PVR is toast. It isn’t smoking yet, but just might start before the season’s out. Whatever restraint I’ve shown during the year begins to recede sometime just after the Americans have their belated Thanksgiving feast and doesn’t return until I’m at least one month past flipping the calendar for a clean slate.
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Terry Griggs's The Discovery of Honey (review)

Terry Griggs loves words. I know this because the author has said so point-blank and also because she does so – as much as someone can love something by using it excessively, creatively and frequently enough to pay bills. But the thing is that words have a hard time standing alone. Words need vessels, at least in fiction: characters with mouths to make and deliver them to the book’s readers. Griggs’s approach to words seems to care less or not at all about those vessels, characters secondary to maximum verbosity.
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Following a Sweet 16 gone wrong, Robyn Harding's The Party goes down easy but offers nothing new

What sick twist of human nature is responsible for our often sadistic investment in family affairs? It’s not difficult to understand a certain fondness for the odd bit of ancestral gossip from our own clan – telephone tag who’s-who after a bridal shower or baptism – but it seems we bipeds get a kick from indulging in the goings-on of other broods as well.
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Andrée Michaud's newest thriller straddles genres

This isn’t a history for the impatient attention span; French-Canadian relations are tricky to tell, particularly on the border, and the who’s-who hates-who is hard to pin at any point. Michaud seems to know that and has done her country a great service here, packaging French-Canadian colonial history in a thriller with enough drive and emotion to make it palatable for most anyone – even us lowly single-language Anglophones, thanks now to Donald Winkler’s smooth translation.
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How Gina Sorell’s Mothers and Other Strangers suffers the curse of a great first line

That’s the thing about selling people on spec: trailers are just a couple frames parsed from many thousands for pith, soundtrack saying more about market research than the movie itself. We know these things watching them, of course, but there’s a reason folks are paid good money to make them work well – a ticket sold is a dollar made, no matter the collective critical response, so previews mean a lot when piracy is free.
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Jesse Ruddock’s demanding debut novel is sparse in both language and landscape

Whatever comatose fantasies consume Ruddock at night, the author’s writing demonstrates she can sift through them deftly for meaning and present that subconscious contemplation on a page. Not always lucid, though consistently rich, Shot-Blue’s examination of loneliness skitters beyond easy digest but is braced in a story that makes its challenge worthwhile. Whatever Ruddock requests in presenting readers her riddled prose, it’s evident she’s done that work doubly herself in their clever crafting.
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Eva Crocker’s debut collection is a refreshing change from self-important short-fiction

Barrelling Forward’s stories are spliced, set and presented effortlessly, well-suited for waiting rooms before 5 p.m. on a weekday, where their entertainment can eclipse any temptation to eavesdrop with a similar brand of nosy romp: 14 portraits of dilettante banality, fleeting peeks into privacy laid bluntly in Crocker’s sparse prose. Housefly POV offers readers a little voyeuristic gander at the best and worst of things left unsaid between friends, parents and partners; sweet indulgence for a peeping tom.
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Convulsively readable: Gabrielle Williams’s new YA novel will make you miss your stop – or your step

What makes a book compulsively readable and what’s that supposed to mean, anyway? Tossed out time and again, the turn of phrase must be doing something right – gussied up in flashy font, it’s a favourite for bestsellers’ coveted cover real estate – though I’ve never found the line clicked enough to be convincing.
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The Longest Year honours respective intricacies

A great deal of The Longest Year is written at that intersection of linguistic uncertainty. It’s a book about a family confined and defined by their respective languages, each character’s dialogue penned deftly in the unmistakable cadence of first-to-second language speech. The book moves fluidly across century; a story about time that occupies and transcends temporal passage within. Here, now, it’s been translated en masse. I’m not sure what the French word for that endeavour might be, but English has a good one: doozy.
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It’s a dog’s life: Steven Rowley’s debut novel a tragicomic portrait of grief

The play between sweet dog, churlish octopus, and vengeful man is so colourfully absurd that the book often reads like a children’s novel, less the pictures and with a good dose of profanity. That isn’t a bad thing, though Rowley’s toggling between poignancy and farce can be clunky, especially at times when the metaphor bloats. Magical realism arrives fully in a middle scene, one last-gasp mission to hunt and savagely kill Lily’s octopus. It is vividly done – no easy feat – but the placement might flag pace for readers who’ve been enjoying the plot’s more light-hearted whimsy.

About

Terra Arnone

I'm a freelance writer currently based in Toronto, Ontario covering books, sports, and culture for print and digital outlets across Canada. My work appears most often in the National Post's Arts section, where I write book reviews, profile authors, and gather quick-take digests of the latest in arts and culture for readers on the go.

A graduate of Queen's University, I cut my teeth as Features Editor at the University’s twice-weekly campus newspaper. I followed up my degree with a jaunt through the UK and Europe, taking post-graduate courses in travel writing and making my way across the continent doing just that. I am also a graduate of Ryerson University's Book Publishing program.

With in-house editorial experience at some of Canada's best-known independent and multinational book publishers, it's a keen eye for good books and knowing who will read them that brought me to my current work in books journalism.

I'm glad you're here. If you'd like to learn more about me, my work, or availability for freelance writing and editing projects, please reach out via email at ta.arnone@gmail.com.