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One of Globe & Mail Top 100 books of the year!
The Globe & Mail, Toronto
One of the Ottawa Sun Top 3!
The Ottawa Sun
Homemaker's Magazine BookMark Selection!


"Amid the flood of dull-to-middling first novels released each year from our dozens of small presses there has been in recent years a swelling wave of surprising accomplishment. Toronto writer Diane Baker Mason's Last Summer at Barebones crests that wave. The story of a shock-and-schlock tabloid journalist who plots the murder of her sister, this book is at once funny, sad and strangely uplifting. Perfectly voiced and beautifully shaped, its structure an emotional time-bomb, it's one of the most assured and auspicious debuts I've read in years."
- Jim Bartley, The Globe & Mail 

"Baker Mason has written an impressive debut novel. The writing is crisp, the characters are believable and you can't help but be amazed at how the littlest spark can create such change in people's lives." 
- Ottawa Sun

"This debut novel establishes Diane Baker Mason as a Canadian author of note. The details of Dee’s childhood (Dee and her friend Richard play dolls with G.I. Joe and Midge) and veracity of her voice in recounting her shame and obsessive hunger provide ample opportunity to ponder the needs of the hungry human heart."
Kathy English, Homemakers' Magazine

"Mason spins a narrative as large and energetic as her heroine, and just as filled with passion and conflict. Roiling, larger-than-life Dee has not only her own story to tell, but the story of a whole generation."
Nancy Wigston, Toronto Star 

"Palpably capable of murder, Dee is a credible psychotic. What on earth, we can't help wondering, created this person?...a startlingly assured first novel!"
Haliburton County Life

"This book threw me for a loop...and the ending gave me chills!"
Mary Hartling, The Belleville Intelligencer

"Last Summer at Barebones is so good that those who love both fine fiction and cottage life should buy a copy of this big, fat paperback novel, putting it away until the summer. And then read it on a dock during a hot July afternoon."
Andrew Armitage, Owen Sound Sun-Times

"Rare indeed is the novel with a conscience or moral, and rarer still is the novel that so touches your soul you long to see it continue well past the last page. Last Summer at Barebones is such a story. So engaging is the narration of 40-ish tabloid journalist Dee Graham, so unexpected is the ironic ending, that it is not possible to read this in bits and pieces, stretched out over days or weeks: It simply must be consumed whole for maximum effect."
April O’Flaherty, Hamilton Region 701.com

"Last Summer is funny, poignant and unsentimental. Baker Mason creates sympathy for her characters by portraying them as realistic and complex, instead of simply pushing the right emotional buttons. This first novel is hard to put down."
Malika Hollander, The Kingston Whig-Standard

"a...black but poignant narrative about an imaginative, sensitive and inexplicably huge child...Mason has produced an excellent first novel..."
JULIET WATERS, Montreal Mirror

"A hidden gem!"
The Red Deer Advocate 

"...Dee's afloat on a swamp of misery, buoyed only by her friendship with the spindly sickly Richard and her summers at an island cottage at Barebones Lake in the Muskoka region of Ontario. Oddly enough, this doesn't make for a depressing read: even as Dee snivels and lies, you find yourself rooting for her..."
Bonnie Scheidel, Chatelaine, January 2002

"Last Summer At Barebones, as dark and compelling as an Ibsen tragedy, is a marvellous novel that simply crackles with creative energy. There's a major new Canadian writer on the block, and her name is Diane Baker Mason."
George Patrick, Hamilton Examiner

"... page-turning panache that evokes not only Dee's adolescent suffering, but also the unique family dynamic that emerges on summer vacations. The ending...does not shy away from...catharsis -- a move Oprah would no doubt applaud." 
-- Quill & Quire

"Last Summer at Barebones captures all the awkwardness of adolescence: the humour, pain, imagination, and desire, but most of all the fear that you're not "normal" like other people. Diane Baker Mason's heroine, Dee Graham, is too big for her age, too smart for her peers, and exactly like every one of us who ever felt different and alone at age 13." 
-- Erin McMullan, The Muskoka Times Read Full Review & Author Interview

"Diane Baker Mason is one of the reasons Canadian literature is turning into a feast for the troubled soul. Her writing is bright, new and colourful... Last Summer at Barebones brings us characters who ride into your life fully realized aboard a voice that is irresistible. In particular, the two sisters, Dee and Theresa, remind us of the best and the worst in our natures, our ability to be loving and murderous with equal relish." 
-- Joseph Kertes, Director of Humber School For Writers and winner of the Leacock Prize For Humour for Winter Tulips

"You can add this wonderful new novel to your collection of troubling, hilarious, and absolutely addictive stories about the passage of 'different' children into adolescence. Dee Graham, the narrator, writes about her ordeal as a fat girl in the Toronto and Muskoka of the 60's with a mix of candor and indignation we usually share with only our closest friends. Her language is absolutely true -- to the ear as well as to the brain. It has all the bravado of stand-up comedy and all the surprise and wonder of a fairytale. Diane Baker Mason has turned a tough and unswerving eye on the emotional politics of Dee's family, and the deep insights into cruelty and tenderness she finds under the jocular surface will stay with readers, I predict, a long, long time." 
-- Don Summerhayes, author of This Old Man Reclines on the Field of Heaven

Praise for Diane Baker Mason's short fiction

Mason's contribution provides a more agonizing punishment of gluttony. Mason invents a biblical punishment to gluttons through a seemingly-eternal, lavish, dinner party...Gluttony functions as an excellent collection of anti-indulgence lessons... 
Victoria Barkley, reviewing the anthology Gluttony (featuring Diane Baker Mason's short story, Feast) UWO Gazette

I felt as if I had stumbled upon an old Star Weekly with a delightful piece...Quite simply, it was a gem.
Ted Bissland, Reader MailBag, Modern Woman Magazine (commenting on Diane Baker Mason's short story, Modern Conveniences)

ISBN NO. 1-55278-239-5
Published by McArthur & Co.
 (416) 408 4007