Sandra Nicholls' Reading Recommendations:
I’ve read so many great books lately that I can’t bring myself to recommend only one, so I’ll do a quick fly by from the top of the pile! Hopefully there will be at least one book that will strike the fancy of Fiddlehead readers! Here we go…Up Ghost River, Edmund Metatawabin’s heartbreaking memoir of his time at the notorious St. Anne’s residential school, and his journey to healing, should be compulsory reading for all Canadians; This Accident of Being Lost, short stories and songs by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, who gives us her powerful, sometimes funny, and always enlightening insights as an Indigenous woman; and for something entirely different, Mostly Dead Things, by Kristen Arnett, a witty and yet tender look at a family in crisis, as a daughter struggles with the inheritance of her father’s taxidermy business; a terrific collection of short stories by an author I had never heard of, The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis is one of the best collections I’ve ever read; an accidental treasure picked up at a second hand book store, The Talented Mr. Ripley, written in 1955, introduced me to the wonderful writer Patricia Highsmith, whose exploration of identity in the mind of a psychopath is completely brilliant; and speaking of identity, cannot fail to mention Jumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts, written in Italian and translated by the author into English, a beautiful meditation on what it means to be human; and finally, because I can’t create a list like this without mentioning some poetry, two recent discoveries: Like a Beggar, by Ellen Bass, reminds me over and over of why I go to poetry, for its beautiful and translucent exploration of what you can only see by slowing down experience this way, and Out to Dry in Cape Breton, which introduced me to the witty, furious, captivating voice of Anita Lahey, and should be read by all.
Sandra Nicholls is the author of two books of poetry, The Untidy Bride and Woman of Sticks, Woman of Stones, and a novel, And the Seas Shall Turn to Lemonade. She also wrote the libretto for a chamber opera about a homeless man, with her husband, guitarist Roddy Ellias. Sleeping Rough was performed at Ottawa’s Music and Beyond Festival, and is available as a DVD. New projects include a second novel, The Ornamental Man, and a suite of songs about the pandemic, Not This Room. Her story, "From A Distance", is featured in the new Spring issue of The Fiddlehead.