This book is one of my most favourite reads in a long time. Glass did a tremendous job creating interesting characters and...moreI rate this novel 4.5 Stars.
This book is one of my most favourite reads in a long time. Glass did a tremendous job creating interesting characters and wove them expertly into a subtly strong novel. It is certainly a character driven work that uses different themes and memories to tie it together. I enjoyed that each section (there are three) was from a different character's point of view. I was surprised by whom Glass chose to use as the focus for part three, but it worked very well and did complete the arc of the story. This isn't a neat, sweet story. It is funny, sad and challenging (in parts) and you are hoping the best for each character. The connectivity that is created through main characters who prefer solitude it terrific.(less)
3rd read: beginning 03 september 13, for GR group read @ CBC Books - 5* rating (YAY!!)
man, this is a great book and i am so thrilled it held up during...more3rd read: beginning 03 september 13, for GR group read @ CBC Books - 5* rating (YAY!!)
man, this is a great book and i am so thrilled it held up during this third read for me. gibb is a fantastic storyteller and through her prose i could truly see, hear, smell and touch the places she created in this book - lilly's life in harare, her life in london were both so vivid.
this subject - ethiopia in the 70s, the government and it's abuses and deaths caused, the truth behind the famines - is something not truly well understood. through this novel. gibb brings us into a world we may not otherwise have been able to know or experience.
2nd read: for in-person book group, 2007 - 5* rating
1st read: @ time of publication, 2005 - 5* rating(less)
elizabeth hay is an amazing writer. seriously beautiful with her prose. this story made me cry. twice. i don't tend to cry when i read books. but this i...moreelizabeth hay is an amazing writer. seriously beautiful with her prose. this story made me cry. twice. i don't tend to cry when i read books. but this is what happens to me when i read her books - i become so invested in the plot and with the characters that it seems so very real. the triumphs and tragedies sit with me personally and occupy space in my heart.
if you are one to time your reads to the seasons, this is a perfect winter book.(less)
Oh, I still LOVE this book! Elizabeth Hay is a great talent.
"Two sisters fell down the same well, and...moreYet another re-read. Loved this the first time.
Oh, I still LOVE this book! Elizabeth Hay is a great talent.
"Two sisters fell down the same well, and the well was Maurice Dove."
Acclaimed Canadian short story writer Hay's first novel, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Giller Prize in 2000, is a compelling and highly original debut telling the story of two sisters and the jealousy that irrevocably changes their lives when a young student comes to stay on their father's Saskatchewan farm in the 1930s.
Ernest Hardy is widowed, a single father raising two young girls on the rural prairies, when twenty-something Maurice Dove arrives from Ottawa to study the region's unusual weather patterns. Eight-year-old Norma Joyce, dark, fiercely intelligent, and inflicted with early puberty, claims Maurice from the first moment she sees him, albeit unrequitedly. Her sister, the "beautiful, saintly" Lucinda, 17, falls deeply in love. After Maurice leaves and his letters stop coming, Lucinda suffers a two-month-long deep depression.
Seven years later, the sisters cannot forget Maurice. The Hardy family inherits a relative's house and moves to Ottawa, on the same block as the Dove family home. What occurs between then teenaged Norma Joyce and the war-damaged Maurice brings to light a childhood betrayal significant enough to devastate everyone involved. Moving seamlessly through 30 years in Saskatchewan, Ottawa and New York City, Hay's novel offers up just the right combination of melodrama and melancholy.
this was my third time reading a complicated kindness and i think it gets better each time. the way toews captures the voice o...moreLOVE THIS NOVEL SO HARD!
this was my third time reading a complicated kindness and i think it gets better each time. the way toews captures the voice of 16-year-old nomi is incredible. sure she's wise and precocious but she's also still a kid and toews gets her voice so right. i don't want to say too much here as one of my groups is about to do this read together.
it's a great novel to read over canada day long weekend.(less)
Amid all the quips and clever comebacks that fly through the halls of the dysfunctional English department at West Central Pennsylvania University in...moreAmid all the quips and clever comebacks that fly through the halls of the dysfunctional English department at West Central Pennsylvania University in this novel, you find the reason for both all the antagonistic levity and the book's title. William Henry Devereaux, Jr., the story's narrator, states clearly:
In English departments, the most serious competition is for the role of straight man. Hank Devereaux, temporary department chair and determined wild card, revels in creating harmless chaos in his little corner of academia, and so rarely gets to play that coveted "straight man" role. He's a wisecracker who intentionally tries to hold the bad stuff in life at bay. He's a convincing, friendly point-of-view man, however, and his voice succeeds at drawing us into this hilarious, poignant novel of academe.
Continuing funding slashes have got rumours of staff cutbacks running rampant, and Hank's colleagues suspect him of having prepared a "list" that recommends who should get the boot, regardless of tenure. Hank hasn't, but it's not in his character to tell them if he has or not, and the English department threatens mutiny, calling a vote for a new chair.
That each and every member of the department should fear firing is not surprising, for paranoia is part of the academic game, and every person on staff has good reason for suspecting he, or she, won't make the grade. There's white linen-suited Finny, who outed himself just long enough to get divorced before reverting to claims of heterosexuality that no one believes, and who has a Ph.D. from American Sonora University, an institution that exists, so far as we've been able to determine, only on letterhead and in the form of a post office box in Del Rio, Texas, the onetime home, if I'm not mistaken, of Wolfman Jack.
There's nontenured Campbell "Orshee" Wheemer, the pony-tailed protofeminist who forbids books and writing in his classes (he uses taped TV sitcoms and makes his students turn in video cassettes for semester projects), who appends every use of the masculine pronoun in department meetings with "or she." There's aging prima-donna poet Gracie DuBois, whom every man in the college lusted over back when she was hired twenty years ago, now gone to fat; she's got a harassment suit in the works against Hank concerning his eternal wisecracking. There's meek Teddy Barnes, Hank's erstwhile best friend, who's been a little bit in love with Hank's wife for years; there's June, Teddy's wife, who is rumoured to be having an affair with Orshee. There's Paul Rourke, Hank's nemesis and neighbor, who's sworn never to laugh at anything Hank says. And then there's Hank, who hasn't published a book since his own hiring almost half his lifetime ago.
While he wrestles with this motley crew over department matters, Hank's got much more in life that demands his attention. His daughter, who has failed to inherit Hank or his wife Lily's love of language and writing, is in deep debt over her house (a copy of her parents') and on the outs with her unemployed husband. Hank himself is unsure whether or not he'd care if he got canned. Lily is checking out distant job opportunities, and Hank vaguely suspects that she's having an affair with his dean.
His adopted dog has developed enough self-assurance to "groin" everyone who visits. He worries that he's developing a stone -- as runs in the men in his family -- due to his having one hell of a time trying to pee. The biggest thing is perhaps his mother's informing him that the man he's tried hard not to think much about for most of his life, the father who deserted Hank and his mother for a succession of trophy graduate students, is going to be making a reappearance, perhaps for good, in their lives.
This novel of campus, family, midlife crisis and death threats against ducks bursts with humor and tenderness. Richard Russo has created characters who come quickly to colourful life. You won't want the story to end because you want to keep on seeing Hank Devereaux's world through his incomparable eyes. You will, however, be happy that you spent some time along with him for the ride.
Writing about regular people with regular lives is Russo's forte. His ability to turn the mundane or ordinary into nuanced stories is incredible. He also writes with amazing humour and wit. I laughed out loud reading this novel and give it 5 stars.(less)
Mercy Beth Fanjoy is in a panic about her life and is trying to get certain things in order before she undergoes surgery. Th...moreI rate this novel 3 Stars.
Mercy Beth Fanjoy is in a panic about her life and is trying to get certain things in order before she undergoes surgery. The characters were interesting and quirky and the town of Odell is based on Fredericton,New Brunswick, so it was cool to have a context of place. The author has stated she feels this book to be a tragicomedy. There certainly are tragedies but I expected to laugh more. Mercy got into some funny situations but nothing was laugh-out-loud for me. The first two-thirds of the book were each set one day at a time in sequence. The last third of the book jumped weeks and months ahead in time and I felt as though a lot of details were left out. The end seemed abrupt. This is Fitch's first foray into adult literature (she had been a children's author) and, overall, I did enjoy the story. My issues may have more to do with the editing. (less)
Boyden is a natural storyteller. Both the Native tales of the north and the grim accounts of the war in France and Belgium have the ring of truth. His...moreBoyden is a natural storyteller. Both the Native tales of the north and the grim accounts of the war in France and Belgium have the ring of truth. His images can be subtly appropriate--raiders who go over the top are "eaten by the night"--and his characterizations are excellent, especially the three main players and Xavier's Canadian trenchmates. Eventually, Elijah seems to feed on the death all around him, becoming a "windigo," while Xavier begins to question the sanity of the war and his friend's growing madness, realizing "we all fight on two fronts, the one facing the enemy, the one facing what we do to the enemy." Not for the squeamish reader, this is a powerful novel that takes a new angle on a popular subject, "the war to end all wars."
spoilers may follow...be warned, :)
**Review Below From Books in Canada**
"In 1919, Niska, an old medicine woman, ventures into civilization to retrieve one of the two boys she reluctantly sent to war. She speaks of the townspeople: "I must look a thin and wild old woman to them, an Indian animal straight out of the bush." She expects Elijah Whiskeyjack to return, but is it Xavier Bird who gets off the train. He is a mere shadow of his former self; he is without a leg, addicted to morphine, and near death. The three-day road is a journey between life and death. Niska, the medicine woman, paddles Xavier in her canoe, and as they travel, in an attempt to keep him alive, she tells him her life story. In return he tells her of his and Elijah's terrible experiences in the First World War. As they travel, hovering over them like a dark cloud is the "Windigo", a terrible Indian spirit monster. A Windigo is what a man becomes after eating human flesh. Niska's father bravely killed a Windigo, but was tried by white men and died in captivity. Xavier and Elijah grow up together, become fine hunters, and without understanding the consequences, enlist in the Canadian Army. They are sent to France where both boys, because of their extraordinary marksmanship, become snipers. They are eerily successful at what they do and become heroes of sorts, and legends among both the Allies and the Germans. "Elijah has reached 356 kills as of today, and these are only the ones of which he is quite positive. Today is a new personal record for one day and he says as much to the others . . . They offer congratulations . . . stare at the thin Indian with the sharp nose and blackened face."
The war scenes are some of the most violent and terrible ever put to the page, more shocking than most WWI writing, but authentic and realistic. While Xavier considers sniping a dirty job that must be done, Elijah revels in it, makes wild forays into enemy territory, risks his life repeatedly, and always comes away unscathed-at least physically. Like Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, Elijah descends into madness, and flirts dangerously with the legend of the Windigo. Eventually, Xavier is witness to soul-shattering events and has to make a terrible choice. The language is clear, the characters sympathetic, and only occasionally do Niska or Xavier use a word or two that seem out of place in their natural world. The descriptions of nature are brilliantly done: "I listen to the sounds of the night animals not far away. I hear the fox and the marten chasing mice. I hear the whoosh of great wings as an Arctic owl sweeps close by, and after that the almost silent step of a bigger animal, a lynx perhaps, keeping watch with her yellow eyes."
Three Day Road is as fine a novel as I have seen during the five years I have been reading first novels. My prediction is that it will win every award for which it is nominated, and that it will become a Canadian and international classic."(less)
right, so...i didn't like this. i really hoped i would...i have owned the book for years and been keen to savour smith's writing. but i had trouble bu...moreright, so...i didn't like this. i really hoped i would...i have owned the book for years and been keen to savour smith's writing. but i had trouble buying into the premise right from the get-go, and it did not improve as i read. i fell as though this was a giant exercise in cleverness, with smith going above and beyond to manipulate readers in a bit of a showoff-y way. i like postmodern lit. and i like unlikeable characters. so this book could have worked for me. but throughout, i was just too aware of the writing - oh! look what she's doing here now. that's annoying. - to settle into the actual story comfortably. i don't think i have been this ticked at a book since...Mrs. Dalloway. (stupid book!) heh. (less)
i made it all the way to page 317 without crying...even though i felt like i could a couple of times earlier on. but page 317 did me in, the bastard!...morei made it all the way to page 317 without crying...even though i felt like i could a couple of times earlier on. but page 317 did me in, the bastard! heh. (i am not really a person who cries while reading - though grapes of wrath last week and this book tonight are turning me into a liarface on this front.) now, i am all teary and soppy, and i ugly-cried and i got the hiccups and i have to try and write something here that conveys how brilliant this book is to me. so how about this:
harper lee is so freaking amazing she will make you ugly-cry!
as with any of the classic novels i read and love - how do you review something so wonderful in a way that hasn't been said better by someone else already? i can't do it.
(i think this is the 5th time i have read this novel, but the last time was about 25 years ago, so it's been a while. prior to this re-read, most of my associations to this book were actually due to the film adaptation and gregory peck. (swoon!))
what struck me on this re-read most: that there are several moral centres in this story. often a novel will feature one character who provides a strong moral centre around which the action occurs or is reflected upon. with TKaM, we have several: atticus, of course; miss maudie; calpurnia; dill; heck tate; and boo radley.
the way lee established her characters and settings are stunning. it just all feels so astute and, not that i know any better, authentic. i could see everything she created (and no - not the movie edition, ha.) in my mind while i was reading. lee's observations on people and society are eerily good. i also enjoyed the moments of wit/humour she included.
i will join the chorus of millions before me who get sad over having no other works published by harper lee after TKaM. i sometimes wonder if it was just impossible to follow? sometimes i think maybe there are more stories she's saved until after she dies? but mostly, i spend an awful lot of time be thankful harper lee wrote this one book. thank you!(less)
One Thursday at lunchtime the Earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his h...moreOne Thursday at lunchtime the Earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this seems already to be more than he can cope with. Sadly, however, the weekend has only just begun, and the galaxy is a very strange and startling place.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is the first book within Douglas Adam’s classic and well loved “trilogy in five parts” Hitchhiker’s compendium.
This book is for anyone with a good sense of humour and for those who think they will never like science fiction. However, if dry British wit is not appealing to you, this book may not be your best choice.
There are four others in the trilogy (I know, I know!) And Adams has also written a particularly funny couple of books about a holistic detective named Dirk Gently, well worth a read. (less)
Pessl's first novel, the subject of a bidding war, was eventually sold to Penguin for a six-figure sum. Published in the US to revie...morefrom the guardian:
Pessl's first novel, the subject of a bidding war, was eventually sold to Penguin for a six-figure sum. Published in the US to reviews of saucer-eyed admiration and already in its fifth printing there, Special Topics in Calamity Physics carries a heavy burden of expectation, which it only partly fulfils. The novel is the first-person narrative of Blue Van Meer, a bright teenager who since her mother's death has travelled the country with her arrogant, pompous but devoted father Gareth. He is a peripatetic lecturer in political science and is, in his daughter's eyes, "one of the pre-eminent commentators on American culture".
Blue spends her final year of high-school at a private college in North Carolina. There she encounters the "Bluebloods", an elite group of students who are under the spell of a charismatic film studies teacher, the compellingly mysterious Hannah Schneider. We learn in the opening pages Blue finds Hannah hanged during a camping trip. The first two-thirds of the book describes the long, fraught initiation of Blue into this glamorous and insular group, while the last third concerns Blue's mounting suspicion that her enigmatic and beautiful teacher was somehow murdered.
It is, however, the structure and style of Pessl's novel that have attracted attention. Blue is a very well-read young woman, so along with gauche drawings and hundreds of parenthetic bibliographical references, she names each chapter of her story after works from the canon. The connections between these works and Blue's narrative are sometimes direct, sometimes oblique. The first chapter, "Othello", quotes the play and describes the courting of Blue's American mother by an outsider, the Viennese-born Gareth, while the pathetically entitled "Things Fall Apart" has little to do with Achebe's novel and everything to do with a potential boyfriend's betrayal.
The initially droll bibliographical referencing, there to show Blue's pedantic nature and her father's influence, quickly becomes wearisome, but it is the style that is the novel's biggest failing. Baldly put, Pessl has a tin ear for prose. There is a page-by-page cascade of dreadful extended metaphors and distractingly inappropriate similes, from the surreally unilluminating "Her eyes were shockingly beautiful ... sudden sneezes in the dull silence of her face" to the almost heroically bad "not enlightenment but enleadenment". The hyperbolic figures of speech also lead Pessl into some toe-curling moments of bad taste, such as the suggestion that the destruction of Hiroshima was set in motion because of a mishearing of Harry Truman's announcement of a visit to the White House swimming pool, or when Blue compares telling herself not to stare at her teacher to "Pinochet commanding the torture of an opponent".
Of course the narrator is a teenager, with all the archness and solipsism that entails, and these comic riffs are there to give us Blue in all her smug but anxious glory; but Pessl writes in this style for more than 500 pages, so at some level we are invited to admire the phrase-making.
I really loved the premise of Luck. It is tightly written and Barfoot gives us three very interesting main characters. My...moreI give this novel 4.5 stars.
I really loved the premise of Luck. It is tightly written and Barfoot gives us three very interesting main characters. My only issue with the novel is the structure of the time line. The first three sections are each one day in time. The fourth section jumps to one year later and I was let down by that plot device. I feel as though I missed out on some behind the scenes action/development. It is a minor complaint though. I think this would make for an excellent book group read.(less)