All posts by Maurus Cappa

Ben Antao Publishes Review of “Smitten” by Jake Hogeterp

Smitten will leave you in tears!

A review by Ben Antao

The word smitten at once brought to mind the adolescent idea of love that tends to fade away as the adolescents get over it after becoming young adults. However, in Jake Hogeterp’s novel titled Smitten, the idea doesn’t weaken but lingers on, forcing the reader to look at teenage love and friendship in a new light.

The story centres round a Canadian family, adherents of Dutch Reformed Church.  The novel begins with a tragic accident in which Paul van Hoop is badly hurt during a canoe trip over white water rapids in Ontario, with his friend Tom Zondervan, the first person protagonist. The opening is gripping and draws the reader into the narrative.

Through flashbacks, the author fills in the backstory of the other characters, especially that of Revered Arendt van Hoop, who immigrated to Canada from Holland, after serving as a chaplain to the nursing wards in a hospital soon after the Second World War in 1945. Both Paul and Tom are bosom friends, although Tom is a lapsed Christian of the faith.

It is after the accident when Paul is in hospital that the main action begins to develop at an engaging pace, with the author weaving in twists in the plot to inject melodrama and surprises.

The writing is fluent and captures the lifestyle of the Dutch Reformed faithful in Canada.

Here is a sample:

Reverend: “So, Thomas, tell me why want to become a member of the church.”

Tom: I wasn’t expecting anything quite so direct, and wasn’t sure whether the formal “Thomas” was meant to intimidate or be interpreted as a signal that I had somehow slinked through the initiation. All year long and two or three years prior, we had been catechized on the salient points of church doctrine. …And now here was van Hoop hurling the whole basket of goods in my face and asking me for some kind of personal statement.

My answer popped out before I had a chance to give it a thought.  “I don’t.”

If I found something missing, it is the setting that could have been better identified through street names as happening in Toronto or Hamilton.

The theme of the story appears to be a brooding angst over wrong doing as Tom blames himself for the accident.

I recommend this novel if you are a sucker for emotion and tears; but more than that, you’ll get a front row view of the hanky-panky going on inside so-called Christian families. The author writes whereof he knows.

     Ben Antao is a journalist and novelist living inToronto.

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Perparim Kapllani Releases his Book “The Thin Line”

  

Perparim Kapllani’s novel “The Thin Line” has the readers walking on a thin line of emotions.

The drama unfolds when Ermal Bllaca’s family flees and hides in a basement to escape from the Serbian Police and Yugoslav Army who are taking revenge by killing Albanians for the NATO bombing of former Yugoslavia. But they had nothing to do with the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Hundreds die including his mother , Marigona and three sisters Tana, Trendelina, and Dodona.

We witness Ermal’s grief and his recovery from his surgery of his bleeding arm. Throughout the novel intense action and suspense is created until Ermal is finally reunited with his father, Adem.

The struggles that Ermal and Adem experience are palpable. They have to adjust to a new homeland while being tormented and haunted by the memories of the war atrocities they witnessed.

They get some type of closure once their family is located and a proper burial is provided and they are present to witness the event.

The novel is compelling and heart-wrenching.

 

Maria Pia Marchelletta

President, WEN

 

October 15, 2018 Bruna Di Giuseppe Releases Her Father’s WWII Diary

Bruna Di Giuseppe has published her father’s WWII Diary titled “Diary of a Tufarola”.  She launched the book in her father’s home town of Tufo in Italy in October, 2018 and is planning a second launch in Toronto. The diary written by her father is a compelling and emotional story about his life growing up as an orphan and then being sent off to war in North Africa. After enduring life as a prisoner of war in England, he returns to Italy to start a family. In 1964, his family leaves the poverty of after-war Italy to start a new life in Toronto. He kept the diary hidden from his family until just before his death in 1993 when he asked his eldest daughter, Bruna to take care of it.

Breakfast Meeting November 16, 2019

Lynne Golding was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from Victoria College at the University of Toronto before studying law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She is a senior partner at the international law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP where she leads their health law practice group. Lynne is married with three grown children, and currently lives in Brampton, Ontario. Winner of the OBPO’s “What’s Your Story Short Prose and Poetry Competition,” Lynne is preparing for the release of her second novel, ​The Beleagured​.

Author Lynne Golding’s connection to Brampton runs deep. She’s the fifth generation of her family who has called the city home. She was born and raised in the city, and even lived for years in a house her great-grandfather had built way back in 1905. She still resides in Brampton.

“Brampton is in my bones,” says Golding,  released her debut novel, The Innocent (Blue Moon Publishers) last fall. The work of historical fiction is set in the Flower City, appropriate considering Golding’s history with her hometown. The book opens in 1907 and follows Jessie Stephens and her family. A service is taking place in the Presbyterian Church but Jessie’s father won’t let the family enter its hallowed grounds. When she asks why, everyone is tight-lipped. But it somehow involves her grandfather Jesse Brady, who built the church. As she attempts to unravel the mystery, the protagonist learns more about her family, its history and the town she calls home. Golding says there’s mystery in The Innocent. But, the book isn’t a suspense novel. Instead, it’s a look at a small-town Canadian city and the people who live there in an era of innocence that would soon be shattered by the First World War. The novel is inspired, at least in part, by the author’s great aunt Jessie Roberts — who was born and raised in Brampton.

 

Breakfast Meeting October 19, 2019

I was born in Montreal in 1946. My father, Irving Layton, who would later become the well-known poet, was barely making ends meet while my mother, Betty Sutherland, who would later change her name to Boschka, was a painter working as a cashier at a local restaurant.

My parents were, to say the least, unconventional. Atheists and socialists; they were part of a writers’ co-op. I remember the interior walls of my childhood home were lined with books and paintings and I remember there were frequent parties – artists of all kinds: dancers, potters, sculptors, actors and, of course, writers. One of these was a young poet who always brought his guitar. His name was Leonard Cohen. When I was twelve, my mother traded one of her paintings in return for Leonard giving guitar lessons to me. I’ve been in love with the guitar ever since.

My parents split up when I was 13. I remember my mother staring out the window and playing the same Leadbelly record over and over. Eventually, my mother and sister moved to California while I went to live with my father: I moved out when I was 16…

Somehow, I finished high school, then worked odd jobs – picking tobacco in southern Ontario, laying track in northern Manitoba, logging in B.C., apprentice car mechanic in Montreal, etc. – while putting myself through university. It took me ten years but finally I graduated with a BA in Eng. Lit. and Philosophy…

The trouble with being seventy years old is that by now I have too many memories – family, friends, enemies, canoe trips in the wilderness, Aikido, Tai Chi, the delicious loneliness of reading a good book at four in the morning in an all-night greasy spoon, the first time I saw my wife Sharon, the first time I saw an impossible bend in a telephone pole…

A few months later, I was legally blind.

Unable to work, I retreated into the darkness of my room and wrote my first album, Heartbeat of Time. Unable to read, I turned to my steel-string Martin guitar. And then a very strange thing happened – my fingers found new chords and I found myself singing new words and new melodies.

The good news is that, my eyesight restored thanks to the miracle of modern science, I am now able to read again – and write. In fact, I have since published two books of poetry and released four CDs.

No longer blind, filled with love and gratitude, my songs and poems celebrate the new world I see…

 

Breakfast Meeting September 21, 2019

Shane Joseph is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers in Toronto, Canada. He began writing as a teenager living in Sri Lanka and has never stopped. Redemption in Paradise, his first novel, was published in 2004 and his first short story collection, Fringe Dwellers, in 2008. His novel, After the Flood, a dystopian epic set in the aftermath of global warming, was released in November 2009 and won the Canadian Christian Writers award for best Futuristic/Fantasy novel in 2010. Shane’s most recent collection of short stories, Crossing Limbo, was published in 2017. His latest novel, Milltown, is set amidst the intrigues of small town Ontario, and will be released in April 2019. His short stories and articles have appeared in several Canadian anthologies and in literary journals around the world. His blog at is widely syndicated.

Shane is the owner and publisher of Blue Denim Press (www.bluedenimpress.com), a literary press he founded in 2011.

His career stints include: stage and radio actor, pop musician, encyclopedia salesman, lathe machine operator, airline executive, travel agency manager, vice president of a global financial services company, software services salesperson, editor, publisher, project manager and management consultant.



Breakfast Meeting, June 15, 2019

Komal Singh is in the midst of her first book tour – making appearances on talk shows and in bookstores – but she’s not what you’d consider a typical children’s book author. The Google program manager and engineer wrote the book when her then-four-year old daughter casually remarked that only boys were engineers. “It really bummed me out!” she says.

So in August of this year, Ara the Star Engineer was born. It’s the story of a young girl who solves big problems with courage, creativity and collaboration – which are all hallmarks of Singh’s own story, as well.

Singh grew up in India in the 1980s, when female role models in the sciences were few and far between. Now, in Canada, she wants to change that for little girls growing up today. “My anchor was my father,” she says. “He encouraged me to study and never give up on my goals.”

In 2005, Singh graduated from Simon Fraser University with a masters degree in computer science and, after 10 years in the software engineering business, landed her dream job at Google (on her third attempt of the company’s notoriously grueling interview and vetting process). “I loved the idea of doing work that impacts billions of people around the world,” she says. “I wanted to be somewhere I could be a whole person – a mother and engineer and someone with passion projects so I could inspire my kids.”

While Singh says she hasn’t faced overt discrimination as a woman in the male-dominated field of software engineering, she points to more subtle forms – like the fact that when the team scores a win, they sometimes circulate memes of white men high-fiving, or the fact that brainstorming sessions are recorded on whiteboards she’s too short to reach. “These seem like such small things, but over time they make you doubt you belong,” she says. And she hopes that getting more women and girls interested in computer science will help eradicate such continuing challenges through sheer numbers.

With the publication of Ara the Star Engineer, she hopes young girls will see that there is a place for them in engineering and that women will seek out mentors committed to diversity, as she has over the course of her career. As part of her commitment to closing the gender gap in her field, all profits from the book are being donated to charities encouraging girls’ and underrepresented groups’ participation in STEM fields.

Breakfast Meeting May 18, 2019

Leonard Rosmarin is Professor Emeritus of French literature and former Chair of the Department of Modern Languages at Brock University in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. He received his Doctorate from Yale University where he began his teaching career in 1964, then was appointed Assistant Professor at WesleyanUniversity, also in Connecticut.

He returned to Canada in 1969 to take up a position as Associate, then Full Professor at Brock, which, at that time, was only five years old. Leonard felt it would be an exciting challenge to create programs and traditions at a place that was just beginning its existence.

Before reincarnating himself as a novelist, Leonard has been an internationally recognized scholar and published nine books that have taken him all over the map of literary scholarship, from the 17th century to the 21st.

He has been decorated twice by the Government of France for distinguished service in the cause of French letters. From 1992 till 2002 he was Visiting Professor at the School for Doctoral studies at theUniversity of Perpignan in Perpignan, France.

A self-confessed opera addict, he has written a study on the relationship between literature and lyric drama titled When Literature Becomes Opera. He is especially proud of the essays he has devoted to the works of some of the great Franco-Jewish writers of the 20th century: the novelist Albert Cohen, the philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas, the dramatist Liliane Atlan and the Nobel Prize winner, Elie Wiesel.

His English adaptation of Mme Atlan’s finest play, Les Mers Rouges, was mounted by the very popular Toronto Fringe Festival in 2005 and will eventually be made into a film for television.His essay on the novels of Elie Wiesel has been enthusiastically endorsed by the great man himself. Leonard is fully fluent in both French and English, and navigates effortlessly between the two languages and cultures.

Leonard has become a novelist rather late in life, at the ripe old age of 70! Why did it take so long? Here is how he relates his unusual trajectory: “For literally decades I had wanted to immortalize my over-the-top, larger-than-life Jewish family. They were refreshingly un-hypocritical. In fact, they were always brutally frank. They would never stab you in the back; it was always in the chest. So at least you knew where the blows were coming from. They were absolutely transparent. What you see was what you got.

“But whenever I felt inclined to sit down and actually write about them, I would begin to worry about what would happen to my academic career. As of the late 70s, Canadian, just like American universities, were becoming afflicted with the neurosis of ‘Publish or Perish.’ In order to rise through the ranks, I simply had to concentrate on my scholarship and leave novel writing on the back burner.

“Once I retired, however, I had no more excuses. My immediate family and friends got after me to finally put down in writing all the tantalizing, scandalous stories I had been relating to them for years about the extended family of my childhood.  So I sat down and started working on the novel in earnest.

“I had written a few chapters way back in 1982, twenty-six years earlier. At that time, all I intended to do was to make fun of my relatives and throw in some sex into the story for good measure. When I returned to them so many years later, my attitude had, by then, changed radically. I felt a deep empathy towards them. I could no longer mock them. Instead of making my readers laugh at them, I wanted my readers to laugh with them.  I still wanted my novel to be hilarious, but I wanted it to have poignancy, too. Hence the title, Getting Enough.

“It’s the story of a group of individuals from the same family who are desperate for emotional and spiritual fulfilment but go about seeking it the wrong way. They get short-circuited by their erotic cravings. Rubbing epidermises is not the same thing as being in love with another human being.

“The two main characters, at least, come out stronger and better people. Once they stop typecasting one another, they can move towards a loving reconciliation after 26 years of an acrimonious, hate-ridden marriage.

“Now that I have written my first work of fiction, I would love to continue. When you create a novel, you experience the thrill of roaming, untrammelled, within your imagination. The sense of freedom is boundless. You are absolute master of the world you are building. And what is so wonderful is that by creating imaginary destinies you can see more clearly into yourself and our whole human condition.”