Sarah Raymond is a writer and artist from Toronto, Ontario. Her young adult novel, Signs of Martha, comes out in spring 2011 with Great Plains Publications. Scroll on down for musings on writing, art and other perils of domestic life. Homemade drawings included.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cookbook Goes Public

Printed copies have arrived! Just Add Shoyu is filled with Japanese-Canadian recipes, foodie stories and gorgeous photos.

This hardbound cookbook is a community project, and for us, a family one. Vince shot many of the images including the pour shot at your right, and I co-edited the recipes and especially the stories.

Inspired by our fresh copy, I cooked up okonomiyaki pancakes yesterday, made with a sweet potato and cabbage batter. I'm a sucker for shredded and fried vegetables, and these pancakes went down real nice. Editing a cookbook can make a person extremely hungry, so this week I'm cooking all-Just Add Shoyu recipes all the time. Next up? The kids' favourite: gyoza (pork dumplings).

Copies of Just Add Shoyu are quickly disappearing from the Japanese Cultural Centre ( on Garamond Court in Toronto.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Latest Read: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (Volume 1: The Pox Party)

M.T. Anderson pushes the boundaries of disturbing, fictional settings. In his novel Feed, he pitches himself into a technologically-perverse future. In Octavian Nothing, the author visits the past--the slave trade in 18th century America.

Octavian is a boy who lives with his mother at the College of Lucidity, where his tutors investigate whether their black subject can learn a classical education as well as a white one. When the men aren't lavishing Octavian with Latin and violin lessons, they terrorize him. Deliberately-inflicted smallpox ravages Octavian's home. He rebels against his owners and flees. Octavian Nothing is a coming-of-age horror, a perverse moment in history set to fiction, and a treatise on subjugation.

At my local library, Octavian Nothing is filed under teen fiction, but anyone who can stand the pain will appreciate the antiquated language and powerful story.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Latest Read: Our Lady of the Lost and Found

Carrying a suitcase-on-wheels, the virgin Mary shows up at a middle-aged writer's home. Mary stays a week. The two new friends visit the mall. In the lingerie department, a mannequin models underwire bras. "Not my type," Mary says. "More suited to that other Madonna, the really famous one." Diane Schoemperlen's "Our Lady of the Lost and Found" (Harper Collins) also muses about Life, Time and History. I loved meeting the Virgin Mary, and although we don't have a spare bedroom, I would gladly shift my writing schedule to accommodate a visit, and could offer our Coleman blow-up mattress.

Since I'm working on a novel about a girl who invokes the ghost of Queen Victoria, I'm drawn to authors' anachronistic characters. Or maybe others' renditions only confuse the writing issues. Either way, when I read Our Lady, I felt like the Virgin Mary was in my livingroom--which in a way, she was.