CanadianContent discussion

110 views
Archives 2018 > November 2017: Bellevue Square

Comments Showing 1-50 of 65 (65 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 4275 comments Mod
Good morning readers! The group has spoken, through the poll, and Bellevue Square will be our November group read as we get ready for the Giller's! I picked this one up at the Grimsby Author series (I had steeled myself that I was NOT going to buy another book but after listing to the author speak couldn't help myself) and am looking forward to delving into this book which certainly sounds unique!


message 2: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 625 comments the reviews are hilarious
both the lovers and the haters found it baffling, which indicates to me that their opinions were more about whether they were ok with uncertainty than the book itself.
which interests me
Our local library has it on order, but there are many other lib


message 3: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 625 comments oops...just wanted to add that its available elsewhere and no problem placing a hold. It will be fun to see how people in this group react!


message 4: by Diane (new)

Diane (Tvor) | 548 comments Oooh that's one of the three I bought from Kobo so I'm in


message 5: by Emmkay (new)

Emmkay | 383 comments Terrific! I snagged a giveaway copy, and am looking forward to participating.


Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺ (allisonhikesthebookwoods) | 2056 comments I won a copy too @Emmkay! Count me in for sure.


message 7: by Rainey (new)

Rainey | 831 comments I am on hold at the library. Hopefully it will come in on time.


message 8: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Penney | 787 comments If I get my library hold on time consider me in.


message 9: by Heather(Gibby) (new)

Heather(Gibby) (heather-gibby) | 569 comments I placed hold at the library , they have 17 copies and 44 holds.


message 10: by Diane (new)

Diane (Tvor) | 548 comments I've just finished it. I agree with a few reviews I've seen that say "What did I just read?" It should prove to be quite the discussion! I'll join in when I can but I'll be away the first three weeks of November.


message 11: by Alan (new)

Alan | 626 comments Going to be reading another Redhill-Consolation for a books in Toronto book club. So I will be in the vicinity of Redhills Bellevue Square but not quite there yet.


message 12: by Mj (new)

Mj | 1195 comments Just noticed my Bellevue Square copy was in transit. Yay!! Wasn't expecting it in time for next month's discussion. It seems however that many others might not be as lucky.

I realize the Scotiabank Giller announcements don't take our book club into account but I thought the idea of choosing Monthly Group Read book titles 3 months in advance as others suggested in a poll for 2018 Monthly Reads was a good one. A longer lead time should help ensure that more people are able to borrow the books to read so they can participate in the monthly discussions. I'd be fine with 6 months as well. There are tons of books more than a year old that many of us haven't read and would fit nicely into many of the Monthly Book Club topics. :-)

Fingers crossed that many others get to the top of the wait list as well.


message 13: by ❀ Susan (last edited Oct 22, 2017 05:54AM) (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 4275 comments Mod
@MJ - we will do quarterly picks (but monthly reads) going forward. Waiting for the Giller short list delayed our start. :)


message 14: by ❀ Susan (last edited Oct 22, 2017 06:33AM) (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 4275 comments Mod
Here are some details of the actual park: http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2017/06/c...


message 15: by Mj (new)

Mj | 1195 comments ❀ Susan wrote: "@MJ - we will do quarterly picks (but monthly reads) going forward. Waiting for the Giller short list delayed our start. :)"


Thanks ❀ Susan. I did understand that Giller caused a bit of a pushback. Appreciate all your time and contribution as moderator.


Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺ (allisonhikesthebookwoods) | 2056 comments Here's my two cents worth: that was the worst book I've read in a long time. If it wins the Giller, I won't know what to do with myself.


message 17: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 4275 comments Mod
LOL - I thought the writing lulled you along in the first half of the book but I have to admit that I am still puzzling on this one. I enjoyed it but wonder if it would have been more clear had I read any of his Inger Wolf books. It does make me want to have a wander through Bellevue Square the next time I am in Toronto although it seems that it is under construction.


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan | 941 comments I felt compelled to keep reading it, so it succeeded for me in that respect, but I was also second-guessing everything about the book as I went along. I’m still not sure I understood it 100% and I wonder if a reread would make any difference.


message 19: by Anna (new)

Anna (iudita) | 62 comments Bellevue Square didn't work for me at all. I typically like a book that makes me work and think and put things together but in this case it just left me frazzled. It is clearly the author's intent to keep the reader off balance but this book takes unreliable to a whole new level. I also didn't care for the writing style. It was too plain for me. I thought it lacked craft and style.


message 20: by Mj (last edited Nov 20, 2017 06:09PM) (new)

Mj | 1195 comments Guess we're all different. Makes the world go round.

Just finished up Bellevue Square and was engaged from the get go. Definitely confusing from the beginning but I was hooked to find out just what was going on.

What I found fascinating was that despite my wondering what was happening and not understanding everything......I thought the writing was terrific and was very impressed that Redhill could write about a subject matter I knew nothing about....and yet due to his talent with words kept me glued to the page and wanting to know and read more.

Not typical of what I read but I quite enjoyed it. I also enjoyed all the Toronto references (not that I'm from there but have been there enough to be familiar with many places mentioned in the book.)

Liked the mental illness theme. Thought Redhill did a good job of showing how so called "normal" people view those who are different and homeless. Redhill got a lot into quantum physics and what is "reality" as well. Was confused in places but learned lots and feel a second read for that portion would be helpful.

I frequently stopped to think about issues he raised - memory, perceptions to name just a few. I also found Redhill's language and word choices to be A++.


message 21: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Penney | 787 comments I'm really enjoy the writing so far, but the story is starting to go off kilter. I'm not quite sure I like that feeling. (It may be situational because so many things are up in the air. I'm taking that into account personally.) As of today. I'll keep reading and see what reactions transpire as I go.


message 22: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 625 comments Amazed to come here at last and find no discussion now that the thing has won the Holler. I was hoping to get in on the commiserations 😶
Finally read this thread through. I Allison in the backwoods, sure hope you are ok. Do not harm yourself please! have to admit that I cracked up when I read your message: just got home from a long day in the city, the night ferry is always iffy and get home to find all the power is out in the area. I finally see the value in e-reading! And i needed the laugh, and I know exactly what you and almost everybody mean, and all expressed so well.
And bravo Mj for the dissenting voice and the astute observations. It's for those reasons I gave the book 4 stars. In fact, I was flipping between 2 and 5...but it's turning out that I am feeling a little resentful, a lititle like I've been toyed with.


message 23: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 625 comments you know I didn't write Holler, but just to be clear spllcheck, it's the Giller were talking about here.
To me, it felt like he started out doing a bang up job for a man writing from the pov of a woman. As Natasha observed the credible storyline Peters out somehow with Kristinas absolutely pointless murder.
Then it seems bits of writing that start somewhere else. And Susan, where I really disengaged was right there, where he brings in Inger Ash Wolf.
So, is he, in his book about disorientation, attempting to create that feeling in the reader? Or was he himself disoriented, letting the plot get away on him? Or, is he just having a lark?
Trying to make sense when there is none to begin with


Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺ (allisonhikesthebookwoods) | 2056 comments Magdelanye wrote: "Do not harm yourself please! have to admit that I cracked up when I read your message"

No worries lol!


message 25: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments There are so many differing opinions on this book; I enjoyed reading a few reviews today. Now I can`t wait to read it for myself. I had put it on hold at the library when the shortlist was announced and it became available a week or so ago but I ran into downloading problems with my ereader and returned the book in frustration, then put it back on hold again. I am now next in line, and lucky for me because since Monday when the announcement was made, the waiting lists at my various libraries have all grown exponentially.


message 26: by Mj (new)

Mj | 1195 comments @Louise - It's great that you're next in line for a copy of Bellevue Square. Dislike or like it, it doesn't matter. People's differences of opinion make for great discussion.

While the 15th of the month usually means no spoilers are required, for this group's Monthly Read Discussion I'm wondering since it was a 2017 Scotiabank Giller winner and more people might be joining in much later tham usual, maybe even a few months from now...that it might be a good idea to use spoilers alerts in this thread.

I know I had a few spoiler-type questions myself to ask others early on but was holding off until after the 15th. I've been too busy since the 15th to post....but am thinking of posting some questions now but using the spoiler-alert function since I don't want to ruin anyone's fresh read.

It's one of those books "with a number of surprises" and a book that seems to be rather polarizing in terms of people's opinions making it a perfect Book Club Discussion Choice -the diversity of opinion is a great source for discussion.

All opinions are good opinions. The best Monthly Reads are good discussions where everyone of differing opinions learns a lot from other discussion contributors.

Am looking forward to your comments Louise and to those from others who have not posted yet or have only posted a brief comment. I'm sure the wealth of insight and opinion from members and voracious Can-Lit Readers, either yeah or nay, will make for one terrific group discussion.


message 27: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments I think it is sooooo much easier to discuss a book when you can discuss the whole book so as I’m reading, if I don’t want spoilers, I simply avoid the thread until I’m done reading the book.


message 28: by Elizabeth (Beth) (new)

Elizabeth (Beth) | 10 comments Not sure if anyone else has come across this connection. I'm a quarter of the way in and and Jean keeps referencing Port Dundas. Curious to see if this was the Dundas/Hamilton or someplace else I'd never heard of, I came across this literary mystery: https://torontoist.com/2008/03/the_my...

(Also found a Port Dundas in Scotland which boasts an excellent single malt. I'm enjoying the book thoroughly so far, but from the previous comments it sounds like I might need some by the time I get to the end?)


message 30: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 4275 comments Mod
Thanks @Elizabeth - it makes me think that I would have had a more fulsome experience reading Bellevue Square if I had read some of his other novels.

Here are a few details from the Grimsby Author Series event. https://ayearofbooksblog.com/2017/11/...


message 31: by ✿✿✿May (new)

✿✿✿May  | 990 comments Just finished the book today. I think it was confusing because it was written from a 1st person perspective of a woman suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder? I have to admit, I got more and more confused at the end :(


message 32: by Mj (new)

Mj | 1195 comments I agree May. I found the ending in particular confusing (might warrant another post.)

For this post however, I have a specific question that I'd be interesting in reading what other people think.

I watched the Scotiabank Giller Announcements live and unfortunately the last time I looked to rewatch, while the repeat videos of the livestreams were listed, they were still not available to view on-line.

"If' I remember correctly, when Mary Walsh asked Michael Redhill questions - he mentioned (paraphrasing what I remember) that he liked to keep his books off-balance and keep readers wondering. I'm surmising this was the reason that a lot of the confusion (including the ending, and in fact especially the ending) was deliberate.

Am curious to hear from Canadian Content members based on what I've read from readers' reviews - how many of you are ok and enjoy books by authors that keep you off balance and wondering deliberately.....and how many of you don't like this technique and consider it negative and manipulative and deliberating toying with readers?


message 33: by ✿✿✿May (new)

✿✿✿May  | 990 comments @Mj, thank goodness I am not the only one!
Bellevue Square with its proximity to CAMH is a hub for the mentally ill to hangout, and the Kensington Market community is the cocoon that accommodate this special group of people.
I personally like my books to have a tidier ending than what is being offered here. However, I also think this book, like Fifteen Dogs, is one you either hate or love.


message 34: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments Did anyone listen to it on audio? I was going to but after reading reviews and skimming the posts here, it seems to be a confusing book so I'm thinking I'm better off reading it instead. But I'm curious if anyone has tried the audio version and what they thought about it?


message 35: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments I have only just started (about 60 pages in) and I can’t help but think of the whole Bellevue Square as actually being a psychiatric hospital. « Square » being a euphemism or metaphor for “hospital”. For some reason the word Bellevue makes me think of a psychiatric hospital so I googled Bellevue Hospital and sure enough it exists and is the oldest hospital in the US. According to Wikipedia it also says: “a pavilion for the insane—an approach considered revolutionary at the time—was erected within hospital grounds in 1879. For this reason the name "Bellevue" is sometimes used as a metonym for psychiatric hospitals. “ So I’m going forward in this book with the assumption that we are actually inside a psychiatric facility.


message 36: by Anna (new)

Anna (iudita) | 62 comments Louise wrote: "I have only just started (about 60 pages in) and I can’t help but think of the whole Bellevue Square as actually being a psychiatric hospital. « Square » being a euphemism or metaphor for “hospital..."

Well that is a very interesting observation on your part. I won't comment on your thoughts because I don't want to give anything away but you seem to realize that things are not exactly as they seem. It took me awhile to reach that point. You seem to be in the right frame of mind for this story...hopefully you will enjoy the book more than I did.


message 37: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments At 100 pages I no longer think we’re in a psychiatric hospital but this is an “unreliable narrator” at its most obvious. I feel like I’m Alice in Wonderland and I don’t know what is real and what is not. It kinda puts the reader in a dreamlike state, but I’m enjoying it so far.


message 38: by Emmkay (new)

Emmkay | 383 comments It is a novel with a lot of layers - very oniony! I didn't exactly manage to peel it, to continue the metaphor, but it's interesting to try.

Here's a link to a blog post about Bellevue Hospital: http://www.boweryboyshistory.com/2013...


message 39: by Anna (new)

Anna (iudita) | 62 comments Emmkay wrote: "It is a novel with a lot of layers - very oniony! I didn't exactly manage to peel it, to continue the metaphor, but it's interesting to try.

Here's a link to a blog post about Bellevue Hospital: h..."


Ha-ha - Love the onion metaphor. You are absolutely right about that. This was not one of my better reading experiences but I did admire the author's skillful construction of the story and I was not surprised or disappointed when it won the Giller.


message 40: by Mj (last edited Dec 10, 2017 09:01PM) (new)

Mj | 1195 comments Bellevue Square Park, where Redhill set much of his story, is also the name of a real park in Toronto near Kensington Market in Toronto. The descriptions of the park and the people who visit and spend time there seem pretty representative of the area. It's downtown, pretty urban, fairly mixed socio-economically and not particularly upscale. My sense is that like any densely populated middle-poor downtown area, there is a great diversity of population living there, with numerous issues (drugs, mental illness, poverty, homelessness, accessible education, etc. and a conflict between the haves moving in (wealthier newer residents) and the have-nots that the newer residents want moved out - many of the issues that Redhill discusses in his story.

At the end of last year, the City of Toronto started to spend a lot of money trying to bring Bellevue Square Park into the modern world to make it more accessible and a better place for area residents to visit. See attached article

http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2017/06/c...

I don't doubt that there is a Bellevue Square Asylum in the U.S. and a number of other places around the world with Bellevue and Square in their name, but I'm pretty certain that Redhill was setting his book in Bellvue Square Park in Toronto (without necessarily inferring other places.) In his acknowledgements, he makes a particular note of thanking the City of Toronto for their foresight in bringing Bellevue Square Park into the modern century, which is why I googled it and found out about the link above that mentions Toronto recently starting to modernize the park.

Part of what I enjoyed about the Book Bellevue Square was its setting in Toronto and references to places, streets, hospitals and buildings I was familiar with. I think it's pretty local to Toronto in terms of geography but very universal in terms of the issues it deals with.

Note to Louise - hadn't seen your 2nd post (#37) when I posted this. I think suspending expectations of discerning what is real and what is not real....and just going with the flow....is the best way to enjoy and get the most out of this book.


message 41: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments Oh I wasn't saying it wasn't based on the real Bellevue Square. I know that it is, but it can have other meanings too.


message 42: by Emmkay (new)

Emmkay | 383 comments Like you, @Mj, I enjoyed the Toronto-specific setting - I'm not from Toronto but have lived in it for a number of years, and I still get a bit of a thrill when reading books set in the city. I thought Redhill did an excellent job making the city truly central to the story (while also engaging universal themes). I am curious, though, as to how the focus on the city came across to readers who aren't so familiar with Toronto?


message 43: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments Ha, so on page 200, it says "Why Bellevue Square?" and then goes on to talk about the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in NY. So I guess I was onto something after all. I just finished the book and loved it. Will go read all the comments now.


message 44: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments ❀ Susan wrote: "It does make me want to have a wander through Bellevue Square the next time I am in Toronto although it seems that it is under construction. "

He said in his acknowledgements that Bellevue Square was razed to the ground in the spring of 2017.


message 45: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments Magdelanye wrote: "So, is he, in his book about disorientation, attempting to create that feeling in the reader? Or was he himself disoriented, letting the plot get away on him? Or, is he just having a lark?..."

I haven't read all the messages yet but has anyone considered that he was killing off his nom-de-plume Inger Ash Wolfe with this novel? That is how I interpreted the ending.


message 46: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments Mj wrote: "how many of you are ok and enjoy books by authors that keep you off balance and wondering deliberately.....and how many of you don't like this technique and consider it negative and manipulative and deliberating toying with readers?
..."


I'm okay with it if it's well done, and it was well done here. I didn't find it as confusing as others but it did keep me thinking and paying attention throughout. I think all the scenes with Ingrid, Inger, Katerina, Paula, etc. were being played out in Jean's mind. Those with her kids, her husband and Dr. Morbier were real. That is my take on it at any rate.


message 47: by Louise (new)

Louise | 1585 comments May wrote: "However, I also think this book, like Fifteen Dogs, is one you either hate or love. .."

Agreed!


message 48: by Mj (new)

Mj | 1195 comments I "think" someone can still visit Bellevue Square Park if interested - it's just a new improved Bellevue Square Park. The insides of the park were razed as they were about 40 years old and showing signs of aging (washrooms, water feature, children's play area etc.) but all were replaced. The designer's rendering of the final concept is shown in link 40 plus there are other interesting stories on the web about the renewal of Bellevue Square Park. The razing was the first step in its revitalization to make it more people friendly.

I hope the Hills are considering the site for a Project Bookmark Canada. I think it might attract a lot of attention and visitors....so close to Kensington Market and after Redhill's book won the Scotiabank Giller Prize.


message 49: by Emmkay (new)

Emmkay | 383 comments I think it's still under construction - the city's site says it's closed until January for that reason. But then it will be back!


message 50: by ❀ Susan (new)

❀ Susan G (susanayearofbooksblogcom) | 4275 comments Mod
check out message 14 - there is a link to some details about the park. :)


« previous 1
back to top