If you’ve ever read anything about the gods of Ancient Greece, you know it wasn’t unusual for them to use and abuse humans. Whether they were bored, lIf you’ve ever read anything about the gods of Ancient Greece, you know it wasn’t unusual for them to use and abuse humans. Whether they were bored, looking for a sexual partner or simply trying to prove a point, humans were not much more than playthings. So when André Alexis’s newest novel opens on two gods, in this case Hermes and Apollo, sitting in a (human) bar trying to settle a bet, it’s not particularly groundbreaking. What makes this story unique, however, is that they don’t use humans to settle their dispute. Instead they use dogs.
Caught first hit my radar when it was nominated for the 2013 Giller prize and if I was one of theThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Caught first hit my radar when it was nominated for the 2013 Giller prize and if I was one of the judges it would have won.
The novel centres about David Slaney. He is a fabulous complex character. He’s an escaped prison convict and an international drug smuggler yet he’s extremely personable and his story is quite engrossing. You almost find yourself wanting him to succeed in breaking a ton of laws. On the other side of the coin, however, is Patterson, the cop assigned to Slaney’s case. Though the novel spends less time on Patterson, he feels no less developed than Slaney. A testament to Moore’s eye for detail. As the narrative switches back and forth between them you find yourself rooting for each one to succeed, even though they have such opposing goals.
Lisa Moore’s writing is quick, clever and insightful. You could almost miss how brilliant it is because it flows so smoothly. For example: “He could feel luck like an animal presence, feral and watchful. He would have to coax it into the open. Grab it by the throat.” Her descriptions were spot on and conjured up incredibly detailed scenes in my mind while reading. Strong characters, great writing, Caught is yet another example of why Canadian literature rocks....more
Half Blood Blues is a heart wrenching story of survival, betrayal and how the choices we makThis review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books
Half Blood Blues is a heart wrenching story of survival, betrayal and how the choices we make affect us for the rest of our life.
Half Blood Blues, along with The Sisters Brothers are two books that have received a lot of buzz this award season. Both have received short list nominations for the Giller and Booker prizes. It doesn't get much better than that. In the interest of full disclosure I have to say that I read The Sisters Brothers earlier this year and fully enjoyed it. And as a result I went into Half Blood Blues, unsure if it could match it the quality and creativty. Now I can honestly say I don't know which book I prefer more. They're both so good!
But I'm getting off topic. Half Blood Blues is one of those books that feels so gritty and raw with emotion that you become deeply attached to the characters and to the story. They consume you. It's authentic and dark. There are no “good guys” or “villians” - characters are whole people and Edugyan doesn't shy away from showcasing darker side of human nature.
The most brilliant example of this is Sidney Griffith. In my opinion Sid is one of those great literary characters that only come around every now and again. He's not perfect man. Far from it – I could write a list a mile long of all the things he's done or characteristics he should change. But he's someone you connect with, someone you can relate to. Despite all his flaws, you find yourself pulling for him. It was almost a protective feeling I had for Sid – like I wanted to shield him from the world and tell him it was going to be ok from here on out, but at the same time I also knew he was going to be okay.
Writing and characters aside, however, the most amazing part of this book is the ending. And I don't just mean that it is a well put together ending. When I got near the end of this book I didn't want to know what happened. Without giving too much away, there comes a point where Sid is presented with a particular choice. Both options have their benefits but both also have their consequences. Some many argue strongly for one side or another but really it's a choice that could go either way. I found there was a part of me that didn't want to know what Sid chose. Whatever choice he would end up making would defining who he was as a person and I almost didn't want to know, I wanted it to be ambiguous, because in real life isn't always going to be ambiguous? I still think he chose well and Edugyan ended on a strong note, but there's still that little part of me that wishes I had stopped reading right before reaching the end.
Half Blood Blues blew me away. It is a beautifully written book - Esi Edugyan writes with a strong voice and forms amazing, complex characters. The story broke my heart and by the end of it all it felt like I had lived it right along with them. It's an amazing read, more than worthy of all the attention and recognition it's been receiving. ...more