This book was a little apocalyptic pleasure to read. A devastating flu kills 99% of the planet’s population, and twenty years later the survivors andThis book was a little apocalyptic pleasure to read. A devastating flu kills 99% of the planet’s population, and twenty years later the survivors and their descendants live in small, parsed settlements along old highways–mostly around rest stops and motels. Among this devastated human landscape, a troupe of artists–musicians and actors–circuits around the Great Lakes, a little bit like medieval theatre troupes did.
This is a more literary approach to the dystopian style that’s flooding our reading lists lately. The focus is more on the characters and their relationships than about the fall of civilization. It’s slow and thoughtful rather than action-packed, but you still get a decent glimpse of what life would be like without electricity, and gas, and all the modern technology. Basically, what life would be like if we lived in the medieval era.
Verdict: a good read, deserves the attention it received by critics and bloggers....more
This novel, about a PhD student who ends up getting pregnant in the worst of circumstances, caught my attention with its apocalyptic premise (a virusThis novel, about a PhD student who ends up getting pregnant in the worst of circumstances, caught my attention with its apocalyptic premise (a virus that affects blonde-haired women and turns them into zombies!). It kept me with its strong characters and its pace, but it didn’t quite satisfy me at all the levels I wanted.
A man with a hard decision to make about the neighbour’s boy. A woman who tries to sell health products to her friends. Two couples entangled in infidA man with a hard decision to make about the neighbour’s boy. A woman who tries to sell health products to her friends. Two couples entangled in infidelity. A woman writing a letter to her estranged husband’s mother. A young woman in love with a man… and his ex-girlfriend. A fire in the candle factory.
These are a few of the stories in Sarah Selecky’s This Cake Is for the Party, nominated for the Giller prize in 2010.
I read this book because I’m currently taking Sarah’s Story is a State of Mind e-course, and I wanted to know where she came from as an author.
I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not especially fond of short stories; I’m more of a sprawling multiple story lines kind of person. I like expansive, complex books that reflect the complexity of human life.
These short stories, in a way, achieve that. Sure, it’s about a certain type of people–working-class, sometimes entrepreneurs and people who make a living out of their garage. They are about moments in time or short periods of time (an evening, a weekend, an hour). But the variety of emotions and situations represented really made me feel like I was plunging in an unknown world.
From “A Thousand Wax Buddhas”, my favourite of the collection:
I wish I’d just asked her about the mileage. I could have just said it: What do the numbers mean? Why is ten o’clock important? I could have asked her. She would have let me in. But I was too afraid.
These stories are exquisitely crafted. They are fragile like insect wings and yet strong like reeds. They were mostly sad, it’s true, but sadness is not something we should shy away from. Life is full of it. I felt strangely invigorated after reading them.
Each story is about 20 pages, a nice pace if you’re reading in the bath or during your commute. They are perfect little nibbles of stories, a set of 10 cupcakes to be relished slowly, not devoured in one sitting. There is both wit and wisdom in them–a sign that both can go together.
I especially admire Selecky’s control of her craft. Each word is there for a purpose; there is nothing superfluous. The descriptions are exquisitely evocative and there is not a single image that won’t strongly impress itself on your mind. I could easily see, feel, hear and smell each of the tiny little worlds she constructed.
If I am even half the writer she is, I will feel proud of my work. ...more
Read for a graduate course, I was easily transported by the poetic language of the book. Some of the characters lack definition, and the dialogue is aRead for a graduate course, I was easily transported by the poetic language of the book. Some of the characters lack definition, and the dialogue is a bit stilted, but the slow build-up and the shocking finale are worth the read. The description of city life as a second-generation immigrant I thought was fascinating, and I could feel the pulse of the city running through their veins. If you like poetical prose, then you will probably like this book....more