Andrew Ladd

*the author, not the hockey player


I've published all kinds of nonfiction, from book reviews to essays to big honking pieces of creative nonfiction. Here's a select list.

Creative nonfiction

This is an opaque term that people with masters degrees in creative writing use a lot. It generally means "something where I talk about my feelings, which I probably didn't get paid much for."

On A Scotch Bard, Gone to the West Indies

Big TruthsSeptember 2014

"You got all Scottish back there," says my brother, Marco, smirking as our taxi rumbles away. It's July 2010, and we're outside our family home in Edinburgh, fresh off the plane from two weeks in Canada - and though I try to brush off his comment I know exactly what he means.

Read "On A Scotch Bard, Gone to the West Indies" (External Link)

Some Words and Their Meanings

MemoirDecember 2012

When I was fifteen, I received a dictionary anonymously in the mail.

Not available online.

When life hands you lemon slices

Draft MagazineAugust 2011

I was 20 when I visited Lithuania almost a decade ago, for the first and only time. There are lots of good reasons to remember the trip: the picturesque countryside, the fascinating historic sites, and where I stayed in an old, crumbling apartment building across from the Finnish embassy, whose 24-hour guard stared suspiciously whenever I came and went. Instead, though, what I remember best is a single pint of hefeweizen.

Not available online.

This Modern Writer: The Importance of Revision

PANKJune 2011

People often meet their future spouses at grad school, but when I moved to Boston for a master's program I had the express goal of avoiding any serious relationship. I was there for a degree in fiction, I told myself. To get better at writing stories, and nothing else.

Read "This Modern Writer: The Importance of Revision" (External Link)

Essays & Articles

These are more conventional pieces of opinion-led journalism.

Three Things Writers Can Learn From Solange and Jay Z

PloughsharesMay 2014

Solange, whose sister, Beyonce Knowles, is married to Jay Z, attacked the latter in an elevator last week as all three of them were leaving a swanky party in Manhattan. Leaked video of the altercation soon prompted a storm of speculation, both online and in print. What could have provoked Solange to lash out like that? Whither such vitriol? We'll likely never know the answer - but amongst all our feverish attempts to uncover the truth this past week, there's a lot we can learn about writing good fiction.

Read "Three Things Writers Can Learn From Solange and Jay Z" (External Link)

Blurbese: "deeply felt"

PloughsharesFebruary 2013

In general, I dislike curmudgeonly fiats contra adverb. However, there are a couple of cases where I think specific adverbs ought to be banned outright. One of those is the book review phrase "deeply felt."

Read "Blurbese: "deeply felt"" (External Link)

Blurbese: "best"

PloughsharesJanuary 2013

Santa's not the only one who makes lists in December: come the end of the year, anyone who's ever expressed a passing literary opinion has their own rundown of the year's best books.

Read "Blurbese: "best"" (External Link)

Blurbese: direct quotations

PloughsharesNovember 2012

If you happened to read more than one review of J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy last month, you'll never look at a condom the same way again.

Read "Blurbese: direct quotations" (External Link)

Blurbese: "The First _____"

PloughsharesSeptember 2012

When Jonathan Franzen's Freedom was published, in 2010, the British Daily Telegraph called it "the first great American novel of the post-Obama era." If that sounds oddly specific (not to mention premature), they at least had good reason for it: the title of "first great American novel of the 21st century" had already been awarded to Franzen's earlier novel, The Corrections, by Elle magazine.

Read "Blurbese: "The First _____"" (External Link)

Blurbese: "a _____ debut"

PloughsharesMay 2012

But the prejudice against adjectives is a stupid one, an arbitrary holdover from Strunk and White, and it's all the more infuriating because reviewers flaunt it all the time - particularly when it comes to the word "debut." Rarely does this word appear without one - or more! - adjectives crammed in front of it, and worse, the ones that crop up the most have now taken on weird, book-review-specific meanings of their own.

Read "Blurbese: "a _____ debut"" (External Link)

Blurbese: "unflinching"

PloughsharesFebruary 2012

I think a lot of book reviewers were smacked as children. Some of them must have at least been bullied. How else to explain their admiration for the ability not to flinch?

Read "Blurbese: "unflinching"" (External Link)

Ignorance Is Bliss

The Weekly DigDecember 2008

"I don't know" is hardly an uncommon thing to say, but recently this phrase has started hanging out with an ugly new friend: "I'm too lazy too look it up."

Not available online.

Book reviews

These are... book reviews.

Canadian whodunit fun

This MagazineJuly 2012

A review of Fraser Nixon's novel The Man Who Killed.

Not available online.