The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float – Farley Mowat (McClelland & Stewart, 1974)
Farley Mowat is a difficult author to categorize because he covers such a wide variety of topics. This book was pure fun – a bit of adventure and lots of humour. A perfect book to take along on our island camping trip at the beginning of the month and a glimpse at a part of Canada (Newfoundland) that I know very little about.
Elmet – Fiona Mozley (JM Originals, 2017)
While I didn’t have trouble getting through Elmet, I don’t know that I really enjoyed it. There were a lot of layers here, a lot of ways of approaching Place. It’s a story about home and family and, in many ways, it is beautifully written. It’s also dark and violent and dangerous. Thinking back about it, the whole world of the novel feels oddly untethered from the real world. The characters (almost) all seemed to do this thing where they simply dropped words from their speech. Simple words were just missing and it jarred my reading every time. I think this is a dialect/accent being portrayed but it jumped out at me a lot.
Just Let Me Look at You – Bill Gaston (Hamish Hamilton, 2018)
I like Bill Gaston and I like his writing. I don’t really like fishing and I like reading about fishing even less. I also am not a part of a father-son relationship so there was much to this non-fiction book that wasn’t geared to me or didn’t really appeal to me. I did like that part of it was set on the Sunshine Coast and the interpersonal stories and family relationships are honest and interesting and Bill writes well about people and how they fit together (and many of the ways they don’t).
Anatomy of a Girl Gang – Ashley Little (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013)
Do you ever finish a book and want it out of your house? Like, you just don’t want the physical book around because it horrifies you so? This novel was compelling and compulsive but so violent and dark and sad. It’s set in the downtown Eastside of Vancouver and the city is actually given a voice in some sections which I really enjoyed, especially since Vancouver is my hometown. I swung back and forth between feeling that the violence and depravity was over the top and believing that this is true to life for many people.
An American Marriage – Tayari Jones (Harper Collins, 2018)
The concept here is a great one – after a year of marriage, a husband is arrested and sent to prison. When he is released, years later, can the marriage survive? What happens in the meantime? My problem with An American Marriage was that the marriage was not a good one to begin with. This was never a marriage that was going to survive, even in ideal conditions. I also thought it strange that Roy’s guilt (or innocence) is never a matter of discussion. It felt like a missed opportunity and something even the most loyal wife would wonder about. The characterization is terrific and the voices (which alternate between characters) are very well-written.
Herzog – Saul Bellow
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
Dubliners – James Joyce