there were parts of this story i really enjoyed, but there were other parts i found a bit clunky. robinson is an interesting s2.5-stars, if we could.
there were parts of this story i really enjoyed, but there were other parts i found a bit clunky. robinson is an interesting storyteller, and she packs a lot into her books. but i find myself wondering if she tries to do too much? her characters and settings are very vivid, and the magical realism is interesting - though MR does tend to be something i struggle with as a reader, generally....more
the jury for the 2017 giller prize announced their longlist this past week.
∙ David Chariandy for his novel Brother, published by McClelland & Stethe jury for the 2017 giller prize announced their longlist this past week.
∙ David Chariandy for his novel Brother, published by McClelland & Stewart ∙ Rachel Cusk for her novel Transit, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd ∙ David Demchuk for his novel The Bone Mother, published by ChiZine Publications ∙ Joel Thomas Hynes for his novel We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night: A Novel, published by HarperPerennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd ∙ Andrée A. Michaud for her novel Boundary, published by Biblioasis International Translation Series, translated by Donald Winkler ∙ Josip Novakovich for his story collection Tumbleweed, published by Esplanade Books/Véhicule Press ∙ Ed O’Loughlin for his novel Minds of Winter, published by House of Anansi Press ∙ Zoey Leigh Peterson for her novel Next Year, For Sure, published by Doubleday Canada ∙ Michael Redhill for his novel Bellevue Square, published by Doubleday Canada ∙ Eden Robinson for her novelSon of a Trickster, published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada ∙ Deborah Willis for her story collection The Dark and Other Love Stories, published by Hamish Hamilton Canada ∙ Michelle Winters for her novel I Am a Truck, published by Invisible Publishing
of the 12 books, i had only read one - Transit, so... i had some reading to do. i totally expected an eccentric list from this particular jury, but i am only interested in a few of the books nominated: robinson, redhill, o'loughlin, hynes, and chariandy. i had not even heard of winters' book, but once i became aware of it, i was keen to read it. so that's where i started.
unfortunately, it didn't do much for me. i did love the arcadian setting, and appreciated both the musical references and franglais sprinkled throughout. there was potential as i read, which kept me turning the pages... but it was just too peculiar for me. the writing was fine, but didn't WOW me as a giller nominee. (the way The Lonely Hearts Hotel did earlier this year, and for which i am gobsmacked over its lack of inclusion on this year's giller longlist. le sigh!)...more
sigh. okay -- those who know me, know i really struggle with atwood. given my predisposition to disliking her (save for Survival, which is NF and whicsigh. okay -- those who know me, know i really struggle with atwood. given my predisposition to disliking her (save for Survival, which is NF and which i like a lot), i REALLY tried to keep my mind open while reading -- i was fully prepared to be wowed by her writing, but that didn't happen. the ideas she presents in her story are fascinating, and so friggin relevant right now in this messed up world. but i found the writing really... lacking. i give props, too, for offred, this unreliable narrator. but, i wish it had come together as a much better read for me. my in-person book club chose it as our august read, and we will be discussing it ranting on saturday night. #MoreWine...more
i just don't know about this one. i found the pacing really off... so much set-up took up the first + of the book, and then a crap-ton of stuff was cri just don't know about this one. i found the pacing really off... so much set-up took up the first ⅔+ of the book, and then a crap-ton of stuff was crammed into the last ⅓ of the story. it felt very off balance as i was reading. there is a charm to the story, as well as lots of heart, but i was wanting more depth to the characters instead of so much plot. but that's just me. this is a 'nice' book, so if you need a bit of a break from heavier novels, or want something for a vacation read, this could be a good choice. this also is one i can see being adapted for screen in some way....more
the soweto uprising of 1976 was a series of demonstrations that came to a head in mid-june, when protesting black students (children ranging in age frthe soweto uprising of 1976 was a series of demonstrations that came to a head in mid-june, when protesting black students (children ranging in age from public school through high school) were gunned down by police officers. the violence continued to escalate, and affected so many and rippled through south africa. bianca marais -raised in south africa, now a resident of toronto - gives voice and perspective to this time through her two main characters: robin, a 10yo white child in johannesburg, and beauty, a 50-ish yo black school teacher from rural south africa, who ends up in soweto in search of her 19yo daughter. through incredible tragedies, robin and beauty become integral in each other's lives. robin is a delight and has a bit of harriet the spy-ishness going on as she fancies herself a top notch detective. beauty is fierce and wise and a calming centre for robin, even though beauty has so much chaos going on in her fractured life. i found this to be a wonderful read, and a very impressive debut. robin and beauty are great characters! the lens of apartheid-era south africa provides a relevant commentary on racism and hatred (marais also touches on homophobia and anti-semitism in her story), through a sensitive voice. the only reason i have not given it five stars is because i found an aspect of the ending a little disappointing. (view spoiler)[ there is a bit of a few months later thing, with a "that is a story for another time." comment, (hide spoiler)] which felt like a let down after such an emotionally engaging and moving read. this is a pretty minor complaint on my part... (view spoiler)[ and maybe there will be a followup novel in which marais continues robin's and beauty's stories??? that'd be cool! (hide spoiler)]...more
this is a re-read for me. previously, i loved the story. this time, i LOVED it. i'm going to make a mash about trying to review this novel... so apolothis is a re-read for me. previously, i loved the story. this time, i LOVED it. i'm going to make a mash about trying to review this novel... so apologies upfront for the hot mess that likely follows. :/
to me, this is a perfect novel. carol shields was a literary force and i miss her all the time. unless was her last novel - published in 2002. diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in december of 1998, shields was receiving treatment (which included surgery, radiation and chemotherapy) while she was writing unless. sadly, she passed away from the disease on july 16, 2003. i include this information because this novel takes a sharper tone and expresses anger in a way that isn't quite as pronounced in some of the other works i have read from her. unless is also a bit of a 'life's big questions' story (though this was something shields often pursued with her writing). i have no way of knowing whether shields's illness and the emotions navigated during that time found their way into her book. as i was reading, i did think on this question quite a bit. illness is a brutal part of life. dealing with chronic or terminal disease always affects the person living with one. and how any individual chooses to handle their illness is, apart from a learning opportunity for others, a time for our respect, our empathy, and our understanding. this is a long ramble of an opening paragraph and a bit of a tangent, but it's tied in to my feeling that shields, with unless, has given a master class in so many different things.
but... back to the book. :) shields gives us so much with this story, and so many ideas and layers to unpack. and she does it so cleverly. perhaps too cleverly -- i think it would be easy for some readers to dismiss this novel based on its surface. i hope you won't do that if you decide to read it.
"I like to think of this book on these four little legs: this idea of mothers and children; the idea of writers and readers – I wanted to talk about the writing process; I wanted to talk about goodness; and then I wanted to talk about men and women – this gender issue, which interests me so much and has actually been a part of every book I've written. I think I am always writing about this. --Carol Shields from the interview “Ideas of Goodness” with Eleanor Wachtel, published in Random Illuminations: Conversations with Carol Shields
the story begins when we learn that reta winters's 19yo daughter, norah, has dropped out of university and sits, silently, on a busy city street corner with a sign that reads 'goodness'. reta, her husband tom, and their 2 other teenaged daughters do what they can to support norah, to help her, respect her, and get her back home. there is a mystery as to why norah has made these choices, and we will get the answer, slowly. the chapter headings are all prepositions or conjunctions. small, simple words which carry a lot of weight when considered more deeply. i truly found this novel to be a profound meditation on life and reality.
"Unless is the worry word of the English language. It flies like a moth around the ear, you hardly hear it, and yet everything depends on its breathy presence. ... Unless you're lucky, unless you're healthy, fertile, unless you're loved and fed, unless you're clear about your sexual direction, unless you're offered what others are offered, you go down in the darkness, down to despair."
this may sound very dark and heavy... and certainly there are these moments in the story. life, human beings, are not a tidy, happy species all the time. yet there is also a quietness as reta excavates her life, trying to figure out why norah is on the street. it's an incredible balance achieved.
alright... i guess i'll stop here for now. i know this 'review' hasn't done much justice... but i hope it, at least, makes you curious to check out carol shields's work, if you are not already familiar with her....more
i think this is the first time with any series (save for perhaps...Elena Ferrante), where i have given 4-stars for the first 3 books. (ferrante and khi think this is the first time with any series (save for perhaps...Elena Ferrante), where i have given 4-stars for the first 3 books. (ferrante and khan are very different writers, doing very different things so that's not a comparison of them... just for how strong khan's series is. does that make sense?)
book #3 takes us away from toronto, to iran. the change of location didn't actually diminish the khattak-getty partnership at all and, in fact, allowed them each to develop a bit more, as well as allow a bit of time and development to a few of the recurring toronto-based secondary characters too. as with the previous books, khan does a great job incorporating history, struggles, and devastations. this time focused on political unrest in iran, and the evils of evin prison, located in tehran, which is a particularly cruel and deadly place for political prisoners.
khan does a wonderful job heightening the tension in among the ruins. every move, interaction, or curiosity - no matter how innocent - can be viewed as suspect. khan also does a terrific job bringing her settings and characters to life. it's all so vivid and visceral.
this is a very smart series, and khan brings to it a big heart and a lot of sensitivity....more
this was a good read, but i found the flow and continuity inconsistent and disjointed. as well, characters and storylines were underdeveloped in somethis was a good read, but i found the flow and continuity inconsistent and disjointed. as well, characters and storylines were underdeveloped in some cases. but the premise and characters were interesting and i was mostly engaged with the book and entertained. hill tried to cover a lot of ground here and while it didn't all come together wonderfully, it did help shine a light on many issues that are still problems today.
this is hill's first novel, and i liked very much seeing what his first outing as a novelist was like. i appreciate that the three books i have read from him (incl. The Book of Negroes and The Illegal) are all so different from one another. it's impressive when an author can do this and not always sound the same.
the "p.s." materials included at the end of the novel are terrific! ...more
waffling a bit on the star rating... 3.5, if we could. not quite a 4-star read for me.
vaillant is a very good writer. i was riveted by his book The Tiwaffling a bit on the star rating... 3.5, if we could. not quite a 4-star read for me.
vaillant is a very good writer. i was riveted by his book The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, so was keen when the golden spruce was chosen for my in-person book group. the book club discussion was very good, and the group was divided on hadwin's fate - a testament to vaillant's writing and the structure of the book, leaving readers open to form their own ideas and opinions.
there is a lot of information and history presented and so much of it was fascinating. there were three main issues that kept niggling at me as i read, and kept me from giving the book a higher rating:
* wondering how this story would have been told through an indigenous author's voice and perspective; * feeling distracted at moments when inferences or suppositions were made; * concerns around the portrayal of hadwin's mental health/wellbeing.
these points aside, the story is very engaging - though i wasn't quite as riveted as with the tiger. vaillant really does have a way of creating nonfiction page-turners, and he made me truly care about so many aspects of this story.