What Canadian Literature are we Reading in 2023

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What Canadian Literature are we Reading in 2023

jan 21, 2023, 12:47 pm

I thought it was time to post a thread for this year. So far I've read:
And Then is Heard No More by Raye Anderson which is a murder mystery set in the theatre community in Winnipeg. As a Winnipegger it was lots of fun to figure out the real places she was giving different names to. Plus I didn't guess who the murderer was until it was revealed
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom is one of the books that caused me to post the discussion about defining "Canadian Literature". It is an historical novel set on a plantation in Virginia with slaves and indentured servants. It was good but I thought it could have been more tightly edited.

jan 21, 2023, 12:50 pm

My first Canlit of the year will be Last Leaves, by Stephen Leacock.

jan 21, 2023, 2:31 pm

I just finished Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson. It was on the Giller list last year so it must be Canadian, but this would really go to the 'what makes a Canadian book/author' discussion. Nothing about the book hints Canadian, not that that matters. It is currently in the Tournament of Books 2023.

I won an ER book back in 2008 by Wilson, The Interloper and it was a great little thriller/unreliable narrator book, so I definitely had that in mind as I read Mouth to Mouth. This was a short, good read. I would not have thought 'prize caliber', but entertaining for sure.

jan 24, 2023, 10:20 am

jan 25, 2023, 12:16 pm

>4 LynnB: That's a great book but then I've loved everything Itani has written.

jan 25, 2023, 12:21 pm

I just finished listening to Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots. It was discussed by the Canada Reads panel in 2021 but didn't win. It didn't really appeal to me then so it wasn't one I tried to read for the discussion. Then a friend read it and said she thought I would like it so when I saw a copy available as an audiobook from my library's digital collection I downloaded it. It did keep my interest and I thought it was an interesting way to look at superheroes. Anyone else read it?

jan 25, 2023, 12:48 pm

>6 gypsysmom: I loved Hench! I didn't think it was a good choice for Canada Reads, but for spending a few entertaining afternoons, loved it. You always hear the good about superheroes - this tongue-in-cheek look at the darker side of crime fighting tickled my funny bone.

jan 25, 2023, 1:17 pm

>6 gypsysmom: I read Hench! only because it was a Canada Reads finalist. Not my thing. I found it difficult to identify with characters who have super-powers or are human/machine mashups.

jan 25, 2023, 1:20 pm

>5 gypsysmom: My favourite of Frances Itani's work remains Leaning, Leaning Over Water

jan 25, 2023, 4:25 pm

>6 gypsysmom: I have this out from the library and plan to read it soon! I like the concept.

jan 25, 2023, 4:39 pm

I'm very much enjoying Superfan: How Pop Culture Broke My Heart by Jen Sookfong Lee.

jan 31, 2023, 4:31 pm

Since my last post I have read two more books written by Canadians:
Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel which is a YA novel set in Toronto and, as you might guess from the title, involves ghosts.
The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen which is a dual timeline novel set in France mostly with a little bit in England. The two timelines are 1943 and 2017. None of the major characters are Canadian but my library has put the red maple leaf sticker on the binding.

I would say the Oppel book is definitely Canadian literature although some might argue that a book about supernatural beings isn't really literature. And I'm going to say The Paris Apartment is Canadian literature even if the only attachment to Canada is through the author. I'd love to know your comments.

And, yes, I enjoyed both of them. At the end of February I will get to meet Kelly Bowen as this is my book club's pick for February and she lives in Winnipeg so has agreed to come to our meeting.

feb 2, 2023, 11:40 pm

Last Winter / Carrie Mac
3.5 stars

Early in the book, we learn that 5 children died in an avalanche. One adult also died. 8-year old Ruby was one of 2 children who made it out alive, along with one other adult.

Leading up to the avalanche, we follow Ruby, her mother Fiona, who has a mental illness, and Ruby’s father Gus, who is a former Olympic snowboarder and now runs a backcountry guiding company and was one of the adults on the trip when the avalanche happened. Fiona and Gus’s relationship is in bad shape and they fight a lot. Fiona often does not take her medication, so is quite shocking in some of the things she says and does with friends.

It took me a long time to get “into” the book. It was hard to follow for the first 1/3 to ½ of the book, as there were a lot of characters I had trouble keeping straight (who was who, and how are they “related”?). There were also a couple of shifts in time that I struggled with. Fiona was extremely unlikable; I guess I should try to have more sympathy, but it’s hard when she won’t take her mediation. But, the book really picked up in the second half as the avalanche hit, along with the aftermath.

feb 4, 2023, 4:04 pm

I've finished French Exit by Patrick deWitt, an offbeat, dark comedy with a dash of spiritualism. I can see why it would not be everyone's cup of tea, but I loved the sleek, elegant characters and their unapologetic ways.

feb 12, 2023, 10:41 pm

The Broken Girls / Simone St. James
4.25 stars

At Idlewild Hall, a boarding school in Vermont in 1950, a girl is returning (early) from a visit with family off-campus. It’s night, and no one was expecting her back early. As she walks across the schoolyard, something catches her eye. Scared, she starts running, but she never makes it back.

In 2014, Fiona is a reporter with bad memories of that school from 1994 (though the school closed in 1979) – Fiona’s sister was murdered and her body found in the schoolyard. Although, the guy was caught, convicted and is in jail, Fiona just can’t get past this. When she learns that someone has bought the school and wants to refurbish it and reopen it, she gets permission to do a story on it. Her investigations lead her to not only discover what happened in 1950, it puts her in danger as she also learns more about her sister’s murder.

This was really good! The 1950 portions of the story are told from four different points of view – four friends/roommates at Idlewild Hall. In these portions, we learn the backstories for each of the girls, plus we follow them for a month or two leading up to the disappearance of the one returning from her off-campus visit. There is creepiness all around the school. Although Fiona’s story doesn’t initially sound as interesting as the girls in 1950, I really liked both timelines and thought it all came together really nicely at the end.

feb 18, 2023, 10:04 am

For Black History Month, I'm reading Petit traité sur le racisme by Dany Laferrière, a beautiful mix of prose, poetry and history. Laferrière has an amazing ability to describe simply and poignantly some terrible stories without dramatizing nor minimizing events. I'm learning a lot... and feeling a lot.

feb 18, 2023, 10:07 pm

Just finished Hench, by Natalie Zina Walschots. I liked it a lot; I like a story that puts a new spin on superheroes and supervillains.

feb 18, 2023, 10:22 pm

>17 Cecilturtle: I've read two books by Laferriere, How to Make Love to a Negro and The Return and I agree he is a talented writer. Are you reading en francais?

>18 rabbitprincess: As I said above, I listened to Hench earlier this year. I too enjoyed it quite a bit. You're right that it gives a new look to the idea of superheroes and supervillains. It was quite well done.

feb 19, 2023, 4:47 pm

>19 gypsysmom: I am reading it en français and I really hope it is available in English soon for Anglophone readers. I've read a few of his books and this one is just stellar! I learned so much, and the language is so easy and accessible, I just kept asking for more. Highly recommend it!

feb 20, 2023, 6:22 pm

I'm re-reading Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay for a book club.

feb 20, 2023, 8:59 pm

I'm reading The Lonely Hearts Hotel and remembering why I love Heather O'Neill

feb 20, 2023, 9:24 pm

>22 Nickelini: She is fantastic, isn’t she.

feb 21, 2023, 2:52 pm

>22 Nickelini: As Yells said, Heather O'Neill is a fantastic writer. I read When We Lost Our Heads last year and persuaded my book club to read it. Word of caution: there is a lot of discussion of pornography and some pretty steamy scenes in it so if you are offended by that it may not be the book for you.

Redigeret: feb 21, 2023, 11:17 pm

>24 gypsysmom: what a funny comment. when We Lost Our Heads is the only Heather O’Neill I have left to read. I would expect nothing less of course

feb 22, 2023, 7:50 pm

It's Freedom to Read Week in Canada and, at the library's recommendation, I picked up Cet été là by Mariko et Jillian Tamaki (This One Summer) set in the Muskokas. Two young teens meet the way they have for many summers. But this year is different: despite Windy's baby fat and Rose's gangling limbs, they've switched their attention to their changing bodies and the world around them. With sexual awakening, an unwanted pregnancy, reference to a "lesbian day camp" and a miscarriage, I guess there's plenty to ban. But what a mistake that would be. I loved this coming of age story of two young girls straddling childhood and adulthood, too old for one and too young for the other.
The pictures are soft and evocative... I devoured the 300+ pages in one sitting!

feb 22, 2023, 10:43 pm

The Barren Grounds / David A. Robertson
2.25 stars

Morgan and Eli are indigenous kids, foster kids in a white home. Morgan is a sulky teenager, always in a bad mood, and Eli is younger. When they hide in the attic one day, Eli has a drawing he puts up on the wall that comes to life and pulls them through to another world of talking animals and learning of their indigenous culture.

Fantasy, talking animals – definitely not my thing. At first, I really did not like Morgan (sulky, complaining teenagers), but I would have been happier with a story in the real world. I listened to the audio and tuned out much of the other world stuff. I had a gist of some of what was going on, but it just wasn’t that interesting to me. And… talking animals. No.

feb 22, 2023, 11:00 pm

>26 Cecilturtle: That sounds fun. Do you read in French?

feb 23, 2023, 10:49 am

>28 Nickelini: Yes, French is my mother tongue. I learned English when I was six and try to juggle both in my readings. This year I'm making a deliberate effort to read more in French because I realized I tend to favour English (more accessible and cheaper in Ottawa).

feb 23, 2023, 7:28 pm

>29 Cecilturtle: I'm always impressed / envious when someone can read in more than one language. Good for you for keeping it up

feb 27, 2023, 10:58 pm

A Death at the Party / Amy Stuart
4.5 stars

In the first chapter, we learn that the hostess of our party has killed someone (but we don’t know who!) in the basement as the party happens upstairs. We then back up to the start of the day and progress until we find out what happened and who died and why. Nadine is our hostess, married, with two teenage kids. Nadine’s mother (Marilyn) is a famous author and it’s her 60th birthday.

Nadine insists on hosting a party for her, although Marilyn isn’t that excited about parties, and not only that, Nadine’s aunt/Marilyn’s younger sister (Colleen) was found dead at her mother’s 30th birthday party (Colleen was only 15 at the time – there was a 15 year difference between the sisters and Nadine was closer in age to Colleen than Marilyn was). Throughout the story, we not only lead up to the birthday party, we flashback in time to learn about Nadine and Colleen’s relationship and what happened 30 years ago.

I really liked this! I was pulled in right away and wanted to keep reading (and mostly did – I finished the bulk of the story in one (weekend) day!). It was hard to know if Nadine herself was reliable, though. She had had an accident previously, and though primarily it was her hip that was injured, she had head injuries, as well, that she was still recovering from. There was one twist that I feel like I should have seen coming, but I just didn’t. (But it’s always more fun NOT to figure it out first, anyway!)

feb 28, 2023, 7:47 am

>31 LibraryCin: I'm intrigued. And I've never heard of this author. Do you have any more info about her? And has she written other books?

feb 28, 2023, 12:10 pm

>31 LibraryCin: that sounds like a really awesome book!

feb 28, 2023, 3:22 pm

Finished Lonely Hearts Hotel, which I loved but understand it's not for everyone, and now I'm starting Hotline.

Redigeret: feb 28, 2023, 3:53 pm

>32 gypsysmom: She has apparently written a trilogy "Still..." Something.

Had to check, looks like the first one is called Still Mine.

(I have not read them! That's not to say I won't. I certainly liked this one enough to look into them!)

mar 1, 2023, 11:54 am

>35 LibraryCin: I looked up her web page. The trilogy is Still Mine, Still Water and Still Here. She says they are chronological but could be read in any order since the cases are all separate. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three boys. She worked for many years as a high school educator. Her other love is ice hockey (how Canadian is that?) and she is a certified coach for the GTHL which I presume is the Greater Toronto Hockey League.

mar 1, 2023, 4:31 pm

>36 gypsysmom: Oh, cool! Thanks for the extra info!

mar 1, 2023, 10:34 pm

Chief Piapot: I Will Stop the Train / Vincent McKay.
3.5 stars

In the late 19th century, Chief Piapot lived, mostly in Southern Saskatchewan (or what became such), through the coming of guns, the extinction of the buffalo, white man coming to take the land, the NWMP (North-West Mounted Police) coming, and the train coming to the West. He liaised between the Assiniboine, Cree, Sioux, and Blackfoot peoples. He knew a few languages (including French and English) and negotiated with the Canadian government for the treaties.

I grew up in Southern Saskatchewan, so I recognized names of places that had been named after some of the people (including a town called Piapot), and I recognized names of people who were historically in the area (Sitting Bull probably being the most well-known, and Gabriel Dumont made a few appearances). It appears the author did a lot of good research and seems to have portrayed him well. I have to say the end was pretty exciting, when Piapot really did stop the train!

mar 4, 2023, 4:09 pm

I'm re-reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel for Canada Reads.

Redigeret: mar 4, 2023, 7:35 pm

I finished La Brume by Mireille St-Pierre, a homage to the narrator's unborn baby, lost during a miscarriage. Its soft, dark pictures feel wispy like the lost little girl that haunts her parents' heart. It's incredibly moving and touching, and describes without restraint life before and after the pregnancy, the joy, the depression, the hope, the grief.

The couple in the story is Quebecois, but most of the story happens in New York. The text is both in French and English, and I really liked that there was no translation: it gave a really authentic feel to the words; there was no hiding behind another's words like a shield or a screen. I believe it's also a great trust in the author that the Canadian audience is sophisticated enough to understand the story in Canada's two official languages.

mar 4, 2023, 11:11 pm

The Wagoner / C.A. Simonsen
3.25 stars

It’s the late 19th century. Ott has lost his grandfather and he had promised to take his body to rest with his grandmother somewhere in the Plains of the U.S. He takes his old mule, Sir Lucien, who has to pull the wagon with the coffin and they set out from (what would later become) Southern Saskatchewan to likely somewhere in South Dakota to deliver his grandfather. He bumbles his way along and meets many characters on the way there and back, including picking up a dog.

To be honest, I was bored through the first third or so of the book. For some reason, the way to drop off his grandfather just didn’t peak my interest at all. But it picked up and got better for me as the book continued on, when Ott first ended up at a brothel as he turned around to head home.

From there, he continued on and met up with various Indigenous peoples, Metis, a thief, a runaway slave from Louisiana (though technically free, her master didn’t seem to agree), and more. And it was harsh, travelling back on foot and by mule (by the way home, his wagon had disintegrated). I think his concern for his animals helped pull me in, eventually, too. It’s another book where (being originally from Southern Saskatchewan), I did recognize some place and people names, which is always kind of fun.

mar 7, 2023, 6:48 pm

mar 10, 2023, 7:49 am

I'm reading Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah for Canada Reads.

mar 10, 2023, 11:13 am

>43 LynnB: I just finished that. I'm glad I read it

mar 12, 2023, 1:18 pm

I'm reading Greenwood by Michael Christie for Canada Reads.

mar 12, 2023, 2:43 pm

>40 Cecilturtle: Thanks for this review. It sounds really interesting especially the two language use. I'm going to see if my library has this.

mar 12, 2023, 2:50 pm

I recently finished The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert Sawyer. It takes place during World War II and afterwards and involves the US race to manufacture an atomic bomb and the subsequent lives of the scientists involved especially J. Robert Oppenheimer. Although the action all takes place in the US Sawyer is a Canadian science fiction writer who has won all the big sf awards in his time. He didn't win anything for this book and I have to say it wasn't his best in my opinion but it is really well researched. I've been fascinated with anything involving the US race to develop atomic bombs ever since visiting Los Alamos in New Mexico. It is still a question in my mind if the bombs had to be dropped on Japan to end the war and this book explores that really well. As someone says in the book, if the US had lost the war after using atomic bombs on Japanese civilians they would have been convicted of war crimes.

mar 13, 2023, 10:56 pm

Talking to Strangers / Malcolm Gladwell
3.75 stars

In this one, Gladwell looks at how we communicate (or not) with people we don’t know. Or really, how well (or not) that communication is. Generally, people assume other people are telling the truth. But what if they aren’t? Drinking changes communication and how we read (or don’t) other people. Police interactions. Spies. Crime and safety. And more. Of course, there are studies that show us some surprising results.

So he actually started off with what was the least interesting to me of all the stories – the spies. But the rest of the stories were of much more interest to me. I listened to the audio and he did it (so he said – I don’t really listen to podcasts) similar to a podcast where he used recordings of the people themselves talking or he used actors to reenact what someone said. Although some of the recordings were sometimes hard to hear, I quite enjoyed it done that way. So an extra ¼ star for the audio.

mar 14, 2023, 1:34 pm

>48 LibraryCin: I always find nuggets of information from Gladwell's books that I refer to frequently. Like from Outliers the information about how many NHL players were born in January and February. Supposedly that meant that they were bigger and better co-ordinated than their team mates when they were learning how to play and so they excelled in their formative years.

I have the audiobook of Talking to Strangers stored on my external hard drive I believe. I should try to listen to it shortly.

mar 14, 2023, 10:40 pm

>49 gypsysmom: I'm glad to hear you'll be doing the audio. :-)

Redigeret: mar 15, 2023, 8:42 am

>49 gypsysmom: >48 LibraryCin: I've read both and I'll admit I'm a bit of a fan. I know Gladwell's been accused of oversimplifying and not presenting the "con" argument enough, but, like you, gypsysmom I always find nuggets.

apr 13, 2023, 6:04 pm

I've been posting on last year's thread!

I've read The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr and The Lover, the Lake by Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau and am starting the Spoon Stealer by Lesley Crewe

apr 14, 2023, 2:44 pm

>52 LynnB: Thanks for moving your reads over to this year's thread. How was The Lover, the Lake? Is it now available in English or did you read it in French?

apr 15, 2023, 10:59 am

>53 gypsysmom: It was amazing! This plot is a typical love story...Wabougouni, an Anishnaabe woman, meets Gabriel, a Metis man, they fall in love, they are separated, they find each other in the end. But wow! What beautiful writing, so poetic and sensual. We follow Gabriel to his home community where he deals with racism, and to World War I. We learn about traditional values in Wabougouni's community and about the abuse flowing from colonization. This short novel is so powerful on so many levels. I recommend it.

I read it in English...and am now kicking myself because my Mom is French-Canadian and I am bilingual. But the English version was a complete joy to read.

apr 15, 2023, 3:58 pm

The Son of a Certain Woman / Wayne Johnston
3 stars

Percy was born with FSS (Famous Someone Syndrome), where his hands, feet, and lips are all oversized; he also has an extremely large wine-red/purple “stain” on his face. He lives in St. John’s, Nfld with his beautiful single mom and her boarder, who also teaches at Percy’s school. A frequent visitor to their house is his mom’s friend, Medina. He also realizes there will never be a girl/woman who will love him or have sex with him; he figures his only hope is his mother. The story follows Percy from about 5 years old to 15.

Ok, as distasteful as that is, the story itself wasn’t bad. Initially, it reminded me of John Irving. It was pretty slow, though. It did pick up for me as I continued on, so I temporarily thought I might rate is just a bit higher, until something at the end of the book brought my rating back down to “ok”. It was apparently set in the 1950s and 60s, but I don’t recall if that was explicitly stated in the book. There was some humour and plenty of criticism of the Catholic Church.

apr 18, 2023, 12:56 pm

>54 LynnB: Thanks; you've convinced me to put a hold on it at my library. Do you think it would make a good book club book? My book club will be picking our books for 2023/24 in a couple of months and I'm trying to decide on a book to suggest. We read all types of genres. Usually we get our books from the library so it's a consideration to choose a book that has multiple copies available. There were 3 copies in the system which is a little low for our group of 9 but possible if we schedule it a little later in the year.

apr 19, 2023, 7:47 am

>55 LibraryCin: Like I said, there isn't much plot to talk about. It's more about the writing. For a book club, I'd suggest The Sleeping Car Porter, Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy or Greenwood by Michael Christie

apr 19, 2023, 1:46 pm

>57 LynnB: Okay, thanks. I've already read the last two and I like to find something I haven't read but that I know has good reviews. The Sleeping Car Porter is a good suggestion and I actually have my own copy.

apr 20, 2023, 11:35 pm

I finally got around to reading Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. Canada's shame. Not exactly illuminating prose but it's the stories that grab at your heart.

apr 21, 2023, 12:31 pm

>59 ted74ca: I read it last year when it was chosen for Canada Reads so it took me a while too. Haunting story.

apr 22, 2023, 10:30 am

>59 ted74ca:>60 It also took a slightly different perspective....young people recently released from the schools trying to find their way in the City. So many books take place in the schools or many years later.

maj 7, 2023, 1:52 pm

I'm reading a lovely series of vignettes and personal reflections called Un café avec Marie by Serge Bouchard. These are short ponderings based on the author's life in Montréal.
I'm learning some about Montréal and Québec's history.

maj 7, 2023, 2:02 pm

I finished Sun Down Motel by Simone St James. Nothing Canadian about the book, but the author is Canadian. Her books are mysteries with a touch of paranormal/ghostly stuff.

I have just started The Story of Us by Catherine Hernandez. I loved her Scarborough and this is her newest release. Nothing at all like Scarborough but I'll see how it goes.

maj 7, 2023, 5:35 pm

>63 raidergirl3: But it was a good book (The Sun Down Motel)! At least I thought so. Hope you liked it, too!

maj 7, 2023, 7:02 pm

>64 LibraryCin: oh yes! It was the third book of St James I’ve read and all were good, if somewhat similar. Present-past story lines, paranormal activity, non-police types looking into an old death.
Whereas every Shari Lapena book I’ve read drove me more and more crazy.

maj 7, 2023, 9:02 pm

>65 raidergirl3: It was the first I'd read by St. James, though I've read a 2nd one since. Really liked both!

But then, I also like Shari Lapena. It's possible I've only read one by her so far (but I plan to read another this month).

maj 8, 2023, 10:50 pm

Beneath the Faceless Mountain / Roberta Rees.
2 stars

This was set in the Crowsnest Pass in Southern Alberta near the British Columbia border. During the early 20th century, there were a few interesting happenings in the area, but none was the focus of the book, though they were mentioned (a rock slide and a couple of coal mine disasters). I think the bulk of the story(ies?) - maybe all? - seemed to happen during WWII.

I initially thought it was short stories as I started reading – there were different characters in each chapter (at first); I also thought there were different time periods, but one of the characters from (what I thought was) one time period appeared in another later on. So, either time travel or I was mistaken on different time periods? Unlikely it was time travel! There were weird random pages/paragraphs (in different font) referring to “you” – none of that made sense to me. I thought this book was odd, and despite being in an area not too far from where I am and somewhere I’ve been, I did not like this. Likely a good reason for that is the writing style.

maj 9, 2023, 12:28 pm

>67 LibraryCin: That's disappointing as I find it difficult to find good fiction set in Alberta. I'll try to remember to give this book a pass if I ever see it on a book sale table.

maj 9, 2023, 12:46 pm

I finished the last of the short list for Canada Reads, Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah. I quite enjoyed this portrayal of a Lebanese woman who came to Canada with her son after her husband (who had started the immigration process) was kidnapped and presumed dead. A French teacher, Muna Heddad, thought she would be able to find employment as a teacher in Montreal but none of the schools she approached wanted an immigrant teaching even though she had excellent skills. About to run out of the money she came to Canada with, she took a job as a telephone consultant for a diet food company. She and her son lived meagerly in a one bedroom apartment near McGill University. Due to her working hours, her son spent several hours at home alone until Muna got off work. (Perhaps because this book was set during the 1980s this didn't seem to be a cause for concern but it made me worried for his safety.) As winter came to Montreal they had to spend more and more time indoors. Some of the descriptions of the weather were just what I've always imagined new immigrants would think during their first winter. Amazingly, Muna got on well at the call centre and the clients responded to her really well. But as worries about money recede Muna relives her short married life and dreams that her husband is really in the apartment. I found this aspect of the book the most interesting since the author is male. He said at the end of the book that he based this in part on his mother's experiences. He must have a very close relationship with her.

maj 10, 2023, 2:11 pm

maj 14, 2023, 12:15 am

Seven Fallen Feathers / Tanya Talaga
4.5 stars

There are all kinds of issues on indigenous reservations in Canada. Education is just one of them. In 2000(?), a group of indigenous people built and started running a high school in Thunder Bay, Ontario for those students living north who didn’t have a high school to go to. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before some of those kids – many who were away from home for the first time, who had never been in a city before, a new culture, a new language, no (or not many) family or friends to help – started disappearing. And dying. Over 11 years, seven teenagers died.

The Thunder Bay police did very little to help, often not even contacting the families on the reserves to let them know their kids had disappeared. In some cases, they went too long before starting to look for the kids. Five of the kids were found in the river, and in most cases, just written off as “no foul play suspected”. But the indigenous people running the school, the families and friends question this. It was so unlike these kids to just get drunk and drown in the river. It has never really been figured out what exactly happened to these kids.

Wow, this is so sad. And aggravating that not enough is being done to help the indigenous kids and their communities. It’s an eye-opener and definitely worth reading. There are some repetitive bits and the author kind of went all over the place sometimes – between telling the kids’ stories, then working in other information about other people or communities. But really worth the read.

maj 14, 2023, 12:36 am

Beautiful Joe / Marshall Saunders
3.5 stars

Beautiful Joe was a dog (apparently a real dog) who was abused by his owner (along with his mother and siblings, who were all killed), but was rescued by some local kids after Joe’s owner cut off his ears and tail. Joe hit the jackpot with his new family, especially soft-hearted Miss Laura who took good care of Joe and all the other animals the family had. When Miss Laura went off to a relative’s farm for a summer, Joe went with her and learned about the farm animals, as well.

The book was told from Beautiful Joe’s point of view. I enjoyed this (mostly), but it did get preachy at times. I completely agree with it all, but even so, it still felt a bit preachy to me. Many of the characters in the story were almost too good to be true, but at the same time, I think the book (originally published in 1893) was trying to teach kids not to be cruel to animals – they have feelings and feel pain, too. Interesting that it is actually a woman who wrote this: Margaret Marshall Saunders.

maj 15, 2023, 12:18 pm

>71 LibraryCin: I listened to the audiobook of Seven Fallen Feathers; I think it was even more touching that way than it would have been in print. Either way, I agree that it is definitely worth reading.

>72 LibraryCin: Beautiful Joe was one of my favourite books when I was a youngster. I was especially taken by using the dog as the narrator.

maj 15, 2023, 4:39 pm

I recently read #3 in the Roxanne Calloway mystery series, Down Came the Rain by Raye Anderson. This series is set in Manitoba with a female RCMP officer as the protagonist. As a person who has lived in Manitoba all my life I find this an interesting series. This particular book is set in the Interlake area where Sergeant Calloway is in charge of the Fiskar Bay (a fictional town that I think of as Gimli) RCMP detachment. The former head sergeant is found dead in a ditch in early spring and a suspicious death investigation is launched. Lots of local colour mixed in with red herrings and police procedure. Fun (in a grim sort of way).

maj 18, 2023, 3:59 pm

I'm reading VenCo, the latest by Cherie Dimaline

maj 18, 2023, 4:03 pm

Reading The Manticore, second book of Robertson Davies' Deptford trilogy.

maj 19, 2023, 10:49 am

>76 Cecrow: Is this your first time reading The Manticore? I am a huge fan of Davies' writing but I have to admit that one took me some time to get into it. I'll look forward to seeing what you thought of it.

maj 21, 2023, 9:15 am

maj 21, 2023, 12:55 pm

I'm reading For the First Time, Again by Sylvain Neuvel who has become one of my favourite science fiction writers. And he's Canadian. This is the third book in a series and I would advise reading them in order or you'll be lost.

maj 21, 2023, 7:08 pm

Just finishing short stories Old Babes in the Wood Margaret Atwood.

maj 22, 2023, 11:02 am

>80 mdoris: How was it?

maj 22, 2023, 11:09 am

>81 gypsysmom: It was hit or miss for me (mostly hit!). Her interest and use of language is always so impressive. Some themes left me dry but others moved me greatly. She is at a stage of her life to be looking at grief and its impact and that was reflected in the stories and she understands teenaged girls ( I have had 4 of those so I can relate). She has major concerns for the future, well we know that she does.

maj 23, 2023, 11:10 am

maj 24, 2023, 1:11 am

maj 26, 2023, 4:08 pm

maj 26, 2023, 6:00 pm

I listened to Sarah Polley read her memoir/essays Run Towards the Danger and I really liked it. Incredibly smart and progressive, her essays are well written and thoughtful. I saw her interviewed around the time of the Oscars; must watch the movie that was nominated, Women Talking, based on the Toews book.

maj 26, 2023, 10:10 pm

>86 raidergirl3: You have reminded me to try to see the movie and also to read or listen to the book. I'll have to see if my library has the digital audiobook.

maj 26, 2023, 11:01 pm

Currently reading The Acrobats, Mordecai Richler’s first novel. Set in Franco’s Spain after WW II. Had literally never heard of it until I attended a lecture on the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, Canadians who fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. An undiscovered gem, already displaying Richler’s strengths as a novelist.

maj 26, 2023, 11:12 pm

She's a Canadian author

An Unwanted Guest / Shari Lapena
4.5 stars

I see this as a cross between The Shining (isolated inn in the mountains during the winter) and And Then There Were None (only two staff, along with 10 guests in the isolated inn… and people are being murdered). James owns the inn, and his son Bradley helps out; because of the storm, they are the only two staff around on this cold wintery weekend. The guests: Candice is an author; David is a criminal defense attorney; Ian and Lauren are a fairly new couple, Henry and Beverly are a longer-married couple having trouble in their marriage, Matthew and Dana are planning their wedding; Gwen and Riley are long-time friends trying to reconnect. They all come with their own baggage and secrets. Who could be slowly murdering the others…?

I loved the cold wintery setting of this one! And I loved (what I saw as) the combo of The Shining with And Then There Were None. Although there were a lot of characters to introduce, I was able to figure them out pretty quickly and was interested from the start. I wasn’t sure if there would be a twist at the end (or how that would happen), but there was one and I think it was done well!

maj 27, 2023, 8:30 am

>86 raidergirl3: Movie has women, and they talk. Improv structure leads to considerable repetition. Have a pot of coffee nearby. Would be interested in others’ take on the only man in the picture, the recorder of the proceedings. He strikes me as a sympathetic man as imagined by a woman who had never actually met any men. Strange.

maj 27, 2023, 12:15 pm

Just finished The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr and thought it was a good, important to read, novel.

maj 27, 2023, 3:46 pm

>88 booksaplenty1949: Thanks for talking about this book. I have also never heard of it and it sounds like something I would like to read.

Redigeret: maj 29, 2023, 5:21 pm

Just finished Louise Penny's post pandemic book in her Gamache series The Madness of Crowds and wasn't really impressed. It seemed in much need of a severe editing-went on and on stating the obvious, and there was very little suspense. This is the second of her books I've read this year-think it's time to take a hiatus again. (All those choppy little partial sentences were really driving me crazy by the middle of the book1)

maj 30, 2023, 9:52 am

I'm reading Fayne by Ann-Marie MacDonald

jun 3, 2023, 7:37 pm

I've finished Subdivided by Jay Pitter and John Lorinc, eds, a series of essays on managing diversity in Toronto. It was written in 2016 but I think that most of it still applies today. I liked how it broached a variety of topics from access to services (health, transit, schools), to policing and governance. There are some common themes, but each essay has its unique view point.

jun 4, 2023, 12:14 pm

>95 Cecilturtle: Do you think the book would apply to other cities besides Toronto? Those are certainly issues in many cities.

Redigeret: jun 6, 2023, 12:29 pm

I just finished The Company We Keep by Frances Itani. It was just the kind of book I needed right now-2 weeks into suffering from a terrible cold. This is a gentle, kind, thought provoking book.

jun 6, 2023, 5:38 pm

>97 ted74ca: What a horrible time to have a cold. But a book by Itani sounds like just the thing to curl up with. My book club read The Company We Keep last fall. Unusually for us, everyone liked it.

Hope you feel better soon.

jun 6, 2023, 7:52 pm

I've had The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud on the TBR shelf for over a decade. It just never seemed to make it to the top of the pile until now. I'm still not sure what I think of it so I haven't done my review yet. It won the Giller Prize in 2010 when one of the other shortlisted books was Annabel which I read when it was nominated for Canada Reads. I liked Annabel a lot but it perhaps isn't as "literary" as The Sentimentalists. The story is about a father (Napoleon Haskell) and his two daughters. Napoleon left the family behind when the children were young but as adults the daughters are in touch with him. The girls decide that he needs help and they come up with a plan to move him from Fargo, ND to a friend's house in Ontario. This friend is in a wheelchair and has a part-time nurse. When the friend (Henry) is first mentioned there is no clue as to who he is or why Napoleon would feel free to move in with him. The explanation to that is the bulk of the novel; suffice it to say that Napoleon was in Vietnam with his son who was killed there. The book has an interesting structure and writing style. I sometimes lost the narrative when reading and had to go back but maybe that's just me.

Redigeret: jun 6, 2023, 10:27 pm

Currently reading Obasan by Joy Kogawa, long overdue. I clearly remember seeing it on the book rack in my elementary school in the 1980s, so it's startling to discover how adult it is.

>99 gypsysmom:, I remember hearing through CBC that there being some kind of kerfuffle around its Giller Prize, a questioning of the manner The Sentimentalists was championed and thrust into the winner's circle. I've been a little suspicious of it ever since.

jun 7, 2023, 11:25 am

>100 Cecrow: I hadn't heard that about The Sentimentalists. It's not the only Giller Prize winner that just didn't do it for me. Reproduction by Ian Williams was a tedious read for me but it was another one of these "literary" books that obviously appealed to the judges.

Congrats on reading Obason.When you have finished you might like to read Itsuka which is a continuation of Naomi's story.

Redigeret: jun 7, 2023, 5:59 pm

Listening to Bury Your Dead on CDs. Thirteen years on, I wonder if separatism is still much of a force in Quebec society. However, I was excited to find the plot had considerable reference to Charles Chiniquy, author of The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional, a book I bought recently for its lurid cover. Now I know how to pronounce his name!

jun 8, 2023, 10:50 am

>102 booksaplenty1949: That's one of my favourite Inspector Gamache books, perhaps we see Gamache and Beauvoir trying to deal with the trauma of the factory shooting and they seemed more vulnerable.

jun 10, 2023, 5:11 pm

Tell it to the Trees / Anita Rau Badami
4.25 stars

Varsha is 13-years old (or 12?) when her half brother, Hemant, is born. Varsha’s had a tough life until now: her mother was leaving her father when she was in a car crash and died. Not long after, her father headed to India to bring home a new bride. Varsha is so scared of her new Mama leaving that she hides Suman’s passport so she is unable to.

Why might Suman want to leave? Abuse. It’s why Varsha’s mother tried to leave. When Vikram (Varsha’s father) decides to rent out the little house behind theirs in this tiny rural area in B.C. a former classmate (whom he does not remember), Anu, comes from NYC in hopes of getting some writing done. While there, she befriends Suman and Vikram’s mother, Akka. And slowly figures out something is wrong with the family.

This was told from many different points of view, including Suman, Anu, Varsha, and Hemant, so we got to see almost everyone’s perspective of what was going on. Varsha became very possessive – she was very controlling (reminiscent of her father?); I initially felt badly for her, but came to quite dislike her. And the end? I liked it although many might not due to it being open-ended, so we don’t really know how it continues or what happens, though I suppose we can guess. I think this would make a good book club book with lots to discuss.

jun 11, 2023, 1:28 pm

>104 LibraryCin: I really enjoyed that one too. I love Badami's writing.

jun 11, 2023, 2:03 pm

>105 Yells: I liked this one best of the three I've read. I also really enjoyed Can You Hear the Nightbird Call. The other I read was The Hero's Walk and though (I think) I rated it "good", it didn't like it as much as these other two.

jun 11, 2023, 3:36 pm

Returning to Pierre Berton's history of Canada - I think this is my 13th or 14th of his, now - in Prisoners of the North.

jun 12, 2023, 12:08 pm

>104 LibraryCin: This sounds interesting and yes, it does sound like a good book club book. Too bad my book club has already cut off suggestions for next year. Let's see if I can remember it to suggest next year.

jun 12, 2023, 12:52 pm

>96 gypsysmom: sorry for my late response, I've been away. Yes, this would definitely apply to other cities.

The focus was broad (there are over 10 essays): welcoming new immigrants, BIPOC (with all sorts of different lenses), LGBTQ+ folk, persons who are economically disadvantaged, but also families, single people, in-coming residents, long-standing residents etc. Obviously, one person can fit in many in these categories - and all communities have this type of diversity now. Big cities have complexity in the sense that systems that had come into some sort of balanced are continuously being challenged with increased diversity.
I live in Ottawa and certainly saw it relevant for my city despite it being significantly smaller.

jun 12, 2023, 9:36 pm

>108 gypsysmom: If I was one to reread books, I would probably use this in my book club, as well.

jun 13, 2023, 1:59 pm

>110 LibraryCin: My book club quite often reads books that I've read before. In fact this month the book is The Midnight Library which I read last year. I always think I should reread the book but I really never do because "too many books, too little time". I have a copy of The Midnight Library out from the local library and I will maybe skim it to remind myself of certain themes but I won't reread it in its entirety.

Redigeret: jun 13, 2023, 2:04 pm

>109 Cecilturtle: Thanks for responding but it doesn't appear in my library's catalogue. I guess they didn't think it was important enough for Winnipeg readers.

Redigeret: jun 13, 2023, 9:33 pm

>111 gypsysmom: If it's a book I've read before, I weigh whether or not I want to spend time rereading. Depends how much I remember liking it (or not!). Also, if I can get it in a different format, I might try it that way.

ETA: But I personally don't suggest books I've read before.

jun 13, 2023, 11:29 pm

The Second Life of Samuel Tyne / Esi Edugyan
3 stars

In the 1960s, Samuel and his wife Maud live in Calgary, Alberta. They had immigrated from Ghana (or the Gold Coast, as it was called when they lived there when younger, and as they still call it). When Samuel’s uncle (in small town Alberta) dies and leaves his house and land to Samuel, he up and moves his family (they also have twin daughters) to this small town. The twins are 12 or 13-years old and bring their “friend” (really, an acquaintance, as they don’t really have friends), Ama, with them for the summer while her parents are in France.

This was pretty slow-moving, but it was better than I expected. I didn’t like the first book I read by this author (can’t currently recall the title), but I decided to give this a try, anyway. Wow, those twins… something a little (a lot) wrong in their heads. Did not like the twins at all. In fact, none of the characters were particularly likable (oh, Ama’s likable, but that’s about it; felt really bad for her, actually). But the story was ok, better than expected.

jun 14, 2023, 11:47 am

>113 LibraryCin: Further to your ETA: I also try not to suggest books that I've read but sometimes I'll read one that just cries out to be a book club discussion.

jun 15, 2023, 9:56 am

jun 15, 2023, 12:59 pm

>116 LynnB: Me too! (Or at least, I should be as it was due to the library yesterday). I hope to finish tonight - enjoying it so far. Definitely a country I know little about.

jun 16, 2023, 7:44 am

>116 LynnB: That's fun! Two weeks ago, my sister and I were reading the same book, Fayne. It's 722 pages, and we were within 10 pages of each other. She lives 3,000 km away. We kept texting things like "Page 115: I'm starting to think Mae isn't dead"....more texting than reading that day!

jun 16, 2023, 8:44 am

>118 LynnB: Love it! I ended up buying the e-book and returning it to the library (so the poor soul waiting for it could have a turn). I hope to finish it this weekend and I will back check in to compare notes :)

jun 16, 2023, 11:05 pm

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be / Farley Mowat
3.5 stars

In the 1930s, Farley Mowat and his parents moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They wanted a dog. His father wanted a hunting dog, but since that was too expensive, his mother just bought a dog a little boy was selling for cheap door-to-door. They called him Mutt. This book includes stories that mostly focus on Mutt.

Actually my favourite chapter was the one with the two owls (Mowat used those owls in his fictional kids’ story, “Owls in the Family”). The book was more like short stories, but that’s ok. Mutt was a character. A lot of people seem to consider this a children’s book, but I didn’t think it read that way. A boy and his dog, sure. I suppose that would appeal, but it didn’t seem particularly written for kids. I’m rating it good.

jun 17, 2023, 7:53 am

>120 LibraryCin: I read The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be several times as a child—-but I also read Gone with the Wind several times as a child, so I am not typical. I picked up the Mowat book because my mother was reading it with great enjoyment, so I think its appeal is pretty universal. Still remember vividly the scene where the narrator’s father goes into a general store to buy a pair of driving goggles and then starts trying them on the dog, to the storekeeper’s astonishment. Then he remembers he needs to buy a new razor….

jun 17, 2023, 10:25 pm

>121 booksaplenty1949: You have a good memory!!

jun 17, 2023, 11:12 pm

>122 LibraryCin: As I say, I read the book several times. A common practice in childhood although we seem to grow out of it.

jun 17, 2023, 11:35 pm

The Golden Tresses of the Dead / Alan Bradley
3.25 stars

Flavia’s sister, Feely, is getting married. Unfortunately, she discovers, in her wedding cake, a severed finger! Flavia quickly ports it away with the intention of finding out who it belonged to and how it got into her sister’s wedding cake. When Flavia and Dogger are invited to tea, they come across the dead body of who would have been their host.

I listened to the audio for this, again. I love Jayne as Flavia, but it’s more the characterization that I love. Like many other audios, unfortunately, it doesn’t keep my attention, so I did miss much of the story. I wanted to try at least one ebook in the series, rather than audio, to see if it held my attention, but (at least this time) my library only had the audio, so audio it was! The mysteries do not seem to be front and centre in any of the books in the series. I’d like to rate it higher, but I think I just missed too much of what was going on to do so.

jun 17, 2023, 11:35 pm

>123 booksaplenty1949: Ah, true. I did used to reread books, but it's rare now.

jun 18, 2023, 9:00 am

>123 booksaplenty1949: >125 LibraryCin: I read many classics as a teenager...lots of Dickens, the Bronte sisters, George Eliot, etc. Re-read most of them in my 30s and they were totally different books! I'm 65 now and sometimes muse about reading them again.

Redigeret: jun 18, 2023, 9:51 am

>126 LynnB: Yes, you certainly cannot step into the same book twice. When I first read James’ The Ambassadors when I was 22, the 38-year-old Mme de Vionnet was a predatory older woman turning poor young Chad away from his responsibilities back home. When I re-read the book fifteen years later Mme de Vionnet was the epitome of charm and sexual attraction and Chad’s ultimate decision to dump her in favour of taking over the family firm, manufacturing some item too embarrassing to ever be specifically identified, revealed him as a cad unworthy of her attention or our respect.

jun 18, 2023, 1:39 pm

Of course just as we have the rereading conversation, I've just started listening to the audio of The Shining. This is one I read as a teenager. There are a few Stephen Kings I'd like to reread, actually. If I can find the audio, it's nice to try them in that format instead.

jun 19, 2023, 7:40 am

>127 booksaplenty1949: Your experience with that book reminds me of the TV show All in the Family. When it first aired, I was a little younger than Mike and Gloria. It re-ran when I was a little younger than Archie and Edith. My reaction was quite different....except to the racism, of course.

jun 19, 2023, 8:43 am

>129 LynnB: I read James’ The Bostonians for the third time recently apropos of some random LT reading challenge. Even the second time I read it, perhaps 25 years ago, the explicitly sexual attraction of the older woman for the younger in the book was opaque to me. I guess in some corner of my mind I felt that same-sex attraction was a niche phenomenon dealt with in niche books, not a potential plot point in a mainstream work of 19thC lit, when sex itself had barely been invented, for heaven’s sake. Reading it in 2023 was an eye-opener.

jun 19, 2023, 3:04 pm

I'm reading Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote, a memoir. It's a great mix of Coyote's experiences, memories - many very difficult - as a non-binary person. It's also punctuated with small moments of grace, allies in unexpected places, which uplift the book and turn it a very touching and emotional story.

jun 20, 2023, 1:11 pm

>124 LibraryCin: The narration of those books was so good. I understand what you said about audiobooks not keeping your attention but I actually never found that with those books. It's a shame that Bradley stopped the series after this book. I really would like to follow Flavia's career as a professional investigator.

jun 20, 2023, 2:38 pm

>130 booksaplenty1949:, I haven't read Bostonians yet but looking forward to it, and you've given me something to watch for. Henry James is believed by some biographers to have been homosexual, so that would explain why he'd be interested in exploring it. Probably not to the same degree Proust did though, lol.

jun 20, 2023, 3:20 pm

>133 Cecrow: I think there is no doubt James was gay, but also think that while Proust was attempting to explore themes relevant to male homosexuality under a cloak of some kind of fantasy lesbian culture, James is writing a story that is genuinely about what it purports to be about: a woman and a man competing for the affections of a woman.

jun 25, 2023, 4:27 pm

Correction Road / Glen Dresser
3 stars

Alberta is a rat-free province (this is true), and to be that way, there are people staffed at the Saskatchewan border to kill them when they are found. It’s 1979 and Hugh is one of those people. Joan, who works at the liquor store, is his girlfriend, though neither seems really interested in the other. In fact, when Joan meets Walt, who works at the museum, she doesn’t act on her interest in him, but it’s there. And it’s mutual.

This is a pretty slow story. Not much to it. Overall, I’m rating it ok, though. I’m not thrilled about rats being poisoned at the border. None of the people were terribly likable or interesting. I was a child in 1979, so some of the 70s references (tv, music, etc) were kind of fun. Also, my grandparents, then parents sold farm equipment, so it was interesting for me to read about the different farm equipment, though this is unlikely to be of interest to many.

jun 25, 2023, 4:52 pm

>135 LibraryCin: I grew up hearing about Alberta stopping rats at the border but I could never figure out how they could actually do that. It's interesting that there were people paid to do it. I presume the title of the book refers to the little jog that is made every so many miles on a north-south road to ensure the road lines up to the proper longitudinal measurement. I grew up calling that the correction line. This book seems like it would give a good feeling for prairie living; let's face it, life on the prairies could be pretty slow.

Redigeret: jun 25, 2023, 9:37 pm

>136 gypsysmom: let's face it, life on the prairies could be pretty slow.

Good point! You are correct (having grown up in rural Saskatchewan, myself).

I grew up hearing about Alberta stopping rats at the border but I could never figure out how they could actually do that.

And having lived in Calgary almost my entire adult life, I never really thought about it, but I think I heard about how a few years back.

And yes, re: "correction road"/"correction line". That is what it is referring to.

jun 25, 2023, 10:56 pm

Final Assignment / Linwood Barclay
4 stars

Chandler wrote an essay for school that he was suspended for. It was violent and when the story seems to come true, he is, of course, suspected of the crime. Cal, a private investigator, was originally called by Chandler’s mother to help fight the school suspension, but ends up helping solve the crime instead.

This is a short novella as part of Barclay’s “Promise Falls” series and I thought it was really good. I don’t always enjoy short stories, and although (like many other short stories), I would have liked this to be longer (in this case, to draw out the suspense a bit), the mystery was still done really well, though it was much sped up. Barclay continues to be one of my favourite thriller writers.

jun 26, 2023, 7:41 am

Reading A Trick of the Light, with my usual ambivalence. Have met several other anti-fans who agree with all my reservations about this series while admitting that, like me, they keep on reading Louise Penny in some ritual of self-hating chauvinism. Being a Canadian is complicated. At least this time I will avoid reading review by KatherineGregg giving away the murderers(s). Masochism has its limits.

jun 26, 2023, 8:03 pm

>139 booksaplenty1949: 🤣 😂 best description ever! I was just about ready to give up, then I tried listening and I liked that a bit better. I was very disappointed that Jean-Guy wasn’t exiled to France. Is it the characters, or the writing?

jun 26, 2023, 8:25 pm

>140 raidergirl3: Well—-news flash—-the characters don’t exist. So it has to be the writing, broadly speaking. There is a long wait for the (paper) books at the local library, and I can’t bring myself to contribute to Ms Penny’s royalties, so to fill in the gaps between the books I own I borrow the CD versions and listen to them in the car, and that seems to go okay. Was distressed that an English narrator had Canadian characters pronouncing the last letter of the alphabet as “zee.” Is nothing sacred?

jun 27, 2023, 9:13 am

>135 LibraryCin: >136 gypsysmom: I think I'll pass on Correction Road but I did enjoy The Dominion of Wyley McFadden by Scott Gardiner. The premise is that a recently unlicensed doctor hears on CBC radio that Alberta has no rats and drives from Ontario to Alberta with enough rats in the back of his truck to correct this imbalance. Kind of like his personal take on equalization. Things happen along the way and we find out why the doctor lost his license, neither of which have anything to do with rats. It's a good read.

BTW, the book explains that keeping rats out of Alberta isn't that difficult. The population is so sparse around the southern border that rats don't live there, because they live where people do. Rats cant climb the Rockies, so the western border is easy. And the northern border is similarly sparsely population and has (historically) been too cold. So, there's just a portion of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border that needs to be patrolled.

jun 27, 2023, 11:33 am

I finished the third of the Cahiers trilogy by Michel Tremblay, Le Cahier bleu. I had read his plays before but these 3 novels blew my mind and this last one is just a masterpiece. His writing is so much part of the novel I don't know how it would translate in English, but I just love how he combines Canadian French with precision and poetry to generate so much emotion.

jun 27, 2023, 12:16 pm

>143 Cecilturtle: I attended a performance of Forever Yours, Marie-Lou once, in French. There were some introductory remarks by the director in (standard) French which I could understand easily and I was beginning to think I had been unnecessarily cautious in selecting a performance with surtitles. Then the play started. Turns out joual is a whole different ball game. I would have been totally lost. Have also seen some of his other plays done in English, and enjoyed them, but the original language added a new dimension.

jun 27, 2023, 12:18 pm

>141 booksaplenty1949: I listened to one of the earlier books that was set during wintertime so, of course, characters were wearing and taking off and putting on toques. The narrator, who was quite renowned, kept pronouncing toque as toke and it upset me a lot. I don't think I've listened to one of the books since then.

jun 27, 2023, 12:20 pm

>142 LynnB: Well, that does sound interesting. And thanks for explaining about the rat-free question.

jun 27, 2023, 1:02 pm

>145 gypsysmom: Yes, annoying. Presumably narrator thought he knew how the word was pronounced and there was no one to correct him. In another book he pronounces “Abitibi” to rhyme with “a bit o’ me,” presumably for the same reason. But as an Englishman he should know that there are national distinctions in the pronunciation of the last letter of the alphabet, so no excuse for not checking.

Redigeret: jun 27, 2023, 9:59 pm

>142 LynnB: LOL! Ok, that's sounds amusing!

And yes, this book also mentioned why only the SK border needs people to patrol, but I could remembering the reasoning for north and south borders. I could guess the north is probably too cold for them? And I remembered the mountains, but wasn't sure why they weren't coming in from the US to the south.

jun 28, 2023, 9:59 pm

A Trick of the Light: not so bad! Constant allusions to Stevie Smith’s “Not waving but drowning” kind of getting up my nose, but it’s a great poem, so things could be worse. Assume AA interest is first-hand on Penny’s part, based on Wikipedia bio. My observation is that as writers get established they become less receptive to editorial discipline, but this seems to be superior in novelistic terms to previous efforts. Hope we're on a roll.

jun 29, 2023, 4:09 pm

jun 29, 2023, 5:39 pm

>149 booksaplenty1949: Your post caused me to go back to my reviews of all the Gamache books. Although I've enjoyed them all from the first it seems that they get better with time. I actually gave the highest rating to A Great Reckoning which came out in 2016 when Penny was dealing with her husband's worsening Alzheimer's Disease condition. I was amazed at the time (and am still amazed) that she could find the time and energy to write at all let alone write a superb mystery.

jun 29, 2023, 8:49 pm

>151 gypsysmom: Encouraging news. I’m determined to press on to the end of the series, regardless, but good to hear it gets better.

jul 5, 2023, 1:01 pm

>153 LynnB: Have you finished it? If so, what did you think? O'Neill is a bit of a conundrum for me. She tells interesting stories but there's always that fantastical or magical reality edge to them that are not really my cup of tea. Still, I'll keep reading her books.

jul 6, 2023, 10:08 am

>154 gypsysmom: I'm about half way through, and I'm enjoying it but it isn't "wowing" me. I absolutely loved When We Lost our Heads though.

Redigeret: jul 6, 2023, 12:11 pm

I recently finished two Canada-related books, The Lost Wilderness: Rediscovering W.F. Ganong's New Brunswick and The Monthly Epic.

The Lost Wilderness is a must if you are interested in natural history or Canadiana or both. The physical book is very handsome, benefiting from beautiful color photographs well-reproduced.

The Monthly Epic might seem esoteric (except for a Canadiana junkie like me!), but this is a terrific and very absorbing read for anyone the least bit interested in journalistic and publishing history, or in Canada generally.

Serendipitously, just a few days before the Canadian wildfires hit the US news big-time, I started reading The Chinchaga Firestorm: When the Moon and Sun Turned Blue. That occurred in upper Alberta and British Columbia in 1950, the largest fire complex recorded in North America up until that time. It also dumped massive amounts of smoke into the atmosphere, with global effects.

jul 6, 2023, 11:53 am

>153 LynnB:, >154 gypsysmom:
I adore Heather O’Neill, even when I think I’m not going to like the topic. I can see how she’s not for everyone though.

I’m enjoying the Glass Hotel at the moment

jul 6, 2023, 2:17 pm

>153 LynnB: Heather O'Neill is an author that I love, but her books are usually the type I don't like. Something in them works for me, and I'm not even sure why! She's on my Must Read Everything list.

jul 8, 2023, 3:25 pm

>153 LynnB:, >157 Nickelini:, >158 raidergirl3:
Further to our discussion about Heather O'Neill, my local paper had a small article about her teaming up with The Montreal Gazette by serializing a new novel. "In May the first of 30 instalments of Mystery in the Metro appeared in the paper and within weeks a subscription spike was notable. The novel, about a woman who works at a shop in a metro station, is accompanied by illustrations by O'Neill's daughter, Arizona O'Neill, and photographs of the Montreal metro by newspaper staff. For more information, see wfp.to/NZt" (That wfp link takes you to a longer article in Quill & Quire.

I love this idea. Perhaps every larger newspaper could get a local writer to write a serialized book set in the city or province.

jul 8, 2023, 3:38 pm

^ That is exactly how Armistead Maupin got started. I think the first three books in the Tales of the City sequence were serialized.

jul 8, 2023, 4:05 pm

>159 gypsysmom: Very cool. Also good to know a new novel will be coming.

When Stephen King's The Green Mile came out, it was serialized, with a novella size edition every few months. My sister or I would buy it and then mail to each other waiting for the next book.

jul 8, 2023, 4:11 pm

Just finished The Invasion of Canada, by Pierre Berton. My parents have a small Berton collection and I’m always meaning to dip into it when I visit them.

jul 9, 2023, 9:41 am

>159 gypsysmom: What a wonderful idea!

jul 13, 2023, 9:50 pm

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest / Charles de Lint
3.5 stars

Lillian is 12-years old and lives near a forest with her aunt. When she is in the forest looking for fairies, she is bitten by a snake, and in order to save her, some of the cats she has been feeding help by magically turning her into a cat. And now, Lillian can talk to the cats and the other animals in the forest. But her aunt doesn’t recognize her and she can’t explain what happened because her aunt only hears meowing. What to do!?

I enjoyed this! It is an expansion of de Lint’s “A Circle of Cats” (which I did read a long time ago, but don’t recall). There are some nice illustrations throughout.

jul 15, 2023, 10:48 am

Coming up on the final chapters of J.M.S. Careless’s Canada: A Story Of Challenge, the revised 1970 edition. Not the name I would want as a historian 😏 , but Careless was good. This is is the second comprehensive history of Canada that I have read, after Roger Riendeau’s A Brief History of Canada, 2000 edition.

I love thinking about geography, and one of my retirement goals is to know the INTERNAL geography of countries much better. Lately I’ve been working on Italy, the UK, Australia, trying to get the counties, regions, features more firmly fixed in my mind. So I appreciate that Careless opens with a consideration of the geographic regions of Canada. I have really never thought much about the Canadian Shield, or even been aware of the water-logged Hudson Bay Lowlands, so this is wonderful material. YouTube travel and geography videos, if used very selectively, can help with the visualization.

jul 15, 2023, 2:33 pm

jul 16, 2023, 2:24 pm

I have done very little reading this summer, but did finish The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill. While I didn't dislike it, it didn't really push a lot of buttons for me, so it was pretty slow going.

jul 16, 2023, 3:06 pm

>167 ted74ca: I'm not sure if you saw the Heather O'Neill discussion above from 153 to 161 so I thought I would draw it to your attention. We seem to be having a Heather O'Neill moment here on Canadian Literature.

jul 16, 2023, 5:13 pm

I’ve done a little local reading- The Porridge is Up and The Cows are Out by Dale McIsaac, and Helen MacDonald of Glenalladale: Miss Nelly by Genevieve MacDonald. Genevieve’s daughter, Catherine was the editor who finished the book when Gen died suddenly of a stroke a few years ago. Catherine and Dale both teach with me and I have connections that go back 35 years with both of them. PEI is small, lol. And the books were very good!

I was out for a tour of Glenaladale, the historic house that had been rejuvenated to celebrate the Scottish settlers as talked about in the book. It is amazing the history displayed!

jul 17, 2023, 7:10 pm

>164 LibraryCin: I've always wanted to read de Lint because he's from Ottawa and a friend of mine told me his novels are set in Ottawa. I'm not a big fan of fantasy though and never finished the novel I started. Maybe it's time to try again.

Redigeret: jul 17, 2023, 10:16 pm

>170 Cecilturtle: I'm not a big fantasy fan, either, but it does depend on the type of fantasy.

I'm not sure I'd say what I've read by him is set in Ottawa, though. I think it's mostly a fictional town/city (Newford?). Much of his stuff (at least what I've read) is urban fantasy.

One of my favourites that I've read by him, going on memory, as except for this recent one, it's been a while since I've read others by him, is Memory and Dream.

jul 19, 2023, 10:04 pm

Everyone Here is Lying / Shari Lapena
4 stars

Nora and William have been having an affair, but when Nora tells William it’s over, he heads home assuming no one will be there. Unfortunately, his willful 9-year old daughter, Avery (with ADHD and something else) is there; she has been sent home early from school. William loses his temper with her, hits her, and apologizes. Next thing you know, Avery is missing.

This was quite good. It didn’t take long to get moving and everyone – it seems – has something to hide! I was surprised that something was revealed about half-way (?) through the book (maybe a bit more), so earlier than I would have expected, but there was, of course, more to come. The story came out via following many different characters, including one of the detectives. Wow, Avery was a pain in the butt – sure didn’t like her. I wasn’t crazy about the end – it seemed almost unfinished; I certainly would have liked to know what happened after.

jul 20, 2023, 9:56 am

I'm reading Some Unfinished Business by Antanas Sileika

jul 20, 2023, 12:49 pm

>173 LynnB: I wasn't familiar with the author's name so I clicked on the touchstone. It seems he has written a number of books. Have you read any others?

jul 20, 2023, 12:50 pm

>172 LibraryCin: Lots of people seem to think Lapena writes a good thriller but I haven't read anything by her. Any suggestion where to start?

Redigeret: jul 20, 2023, 4:47 pm

>175 gypsysmom: Looks like I've read 2 others by her. I gave this one and one other one (The Couple Next Door) both 4 stars, but the 3rd one, I gave 4.5 stars, so that one is An Unwanted Guest. I seem to really enjoy cold/wintery settings and this one has that. It felt like sort of a combination of "The Shining" and "And Then There Were None".

jul 21, 2023, 9:59 am

>174 gypsysmom: This is my first book by him. I heard about it in the Walrus magazine. I'm enjoying it so far.

>175 gypsysmom: >176 LibraryCin: I read An Unwanted Guest and liked it even though I'm not generally a mystery/thriller fan.

jul 21, 2023, 12:34 pm

>176 LibraryCin: Thanks. I just checked my local mystery bookstore and they have a used copy of An Unwanted Guest in stock so I've ordered it. Yay!

jul 21, 2023, 9:57 pm

>178 gypsysmom: Really hope you enjoy it!

jul 23, 2023, 12:43 pm

The Morningside Years by Peter Gzowski

I was a devoted fan of listening to Morningside on CBC Radio. Since its demise, I just don't listen to CBC as much although when I do I find there are some programs that are worthwhile, just not quite the same calibre as Morningside. So it was wonderful to sit down with this book and read author interviews with Canadian icons like Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood and more. So, even though this isn't strictly literature, there is lot for Canadian literature fans to appreciate in this book.

jul 25, 2023, 5:31 pm

I'm about to start A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart

jul 25, 2023, 9:32 pm

>181 LynnB: Ooooh, hope you like it!

jul 26, 2023, 12:19 pm

I just finished Wednesday's Child by Peter Robinson. Although it is set in the Yorkshire area of England I consider Robinson to be a Canadian writer and thus this is Canadian literature. Robinson died last year but I have quite a few of his back list books so I won't run out of them for a while. This book is about a young girl who was taken from her mother by a couple claiming to be social workers. It was only when they didn't return her the next day that the mother called the police. Shortly after, a body is found in an abandoned mine but it isn't the young girl's. Instead, it's the body of a man who had been working as a gardener for a man who made his fortune in the diamond industry in South Africa. DI Banks is in charge of the murder investigation while his boss heads up the search for the missing girl. But, as is usual in these types of books, the cases converge.

jul 27, 2023, 9:38 am

The Canadian Thomas Murtha (1902-1973) never got a collection published during his lifetime, and his best work was buried in old magazines (some quite obscure), one anthology, and in his manuscript papers. His family spearheaded a re-launch of his writing, Short Stories by Thomas Murtha (1980).

It’s a terrific book. These stories of quiet desperation in 1920s/1930s Canada make an unusually unified impression, demonstrating that Murtha truly had a voice of his own. The hitherto unpublished stories are every bit as good as the previously published ones. The introduction (by Murtha’s son) is very informative.

There must be many similar story writers who have not received even this much posthumous justice. Novels at least are almost always BOOKS, with a physical dignity and potential findability. A great short story hidden in an old magazine - that is another level of obscurity.

It is possibly too much to hope that any of Murtha's several unpublished novels might see the light of day, but his stories can now form a permanent part of Canadian literary history.

jul 27, 2023, 9:43 am

>185 PatrickMurtha: Any relation to you? I have an author in the family. She says she's self-published, but she did it with my money so I tell her she's sister-published.

jul 27, 2023, 10:01 am

>186 LynnB: I thought of that too. I should ask my sister the amateur genealogist to look into it; she has traced our family back hundreds of years, and has had DNA testing done also. We have (takes deep breath) Irish, English, Welsh, Scottish, French, Breton, German, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, Lithuanian, Slovak, and Hungarian ancestry. The European Union, c’est moi.

“Murtha” is a corruption of Irish “Murtaugh”. Probably many Murthas in North America are at least distantly related. I should love to be related to Thomas, he was a fine writer. I wish his novel The Shore Road in particular might be published, it sounds very good.

jul 27, 2023, 1:07 pm

>185 PatrickMurtha: I see from the little blurb about Murtha that accompanies the information about the book from the University of Ottawa (publisher of the book) that Murtha was a classmate of former prime minister Paul Martin and also of Morley Callaghan. Pretty decent company!

My local library main branch has a special room of all books published by Manitoba authors, many of which are out of print now. But I don't know that they have any unpublished manuscripts. That would be amazing.

jul 27, 2023, 1:39 pm

>188 gypsysmom: Callaghan is quoted extensively in the book’s Introduction.

Redigeret: jul 27, 2023, 2:02 pm

I own a copy of The Provincials by John Cornish and Miriam of Queen’s by Lilian Vaux MacKinnon, the former a thinly disguised dishing of the dirt at the University of British Columbia and the latter ditto, at Queen’s University, Kingston. Have not read either, although read another okay novel by Cornish, Sherbourne Street, written after he moved to Toronto. I have linked a contemporary review of The Provincials from the UBC alumni magazine on Cornish’s author page. An acquaintance with ties to Queen’s has read the MacKinnon novel, which was pretty feeble as a novel, I gather, but fun if you have the inside scoop.

Redigeret: aug 1, 2023, 12:30 pm

I'm reading a thriller, murder-mystery, espionage combo... the plot threatens to be a bit complicated for my liking but so far so good: Bain de sang by Jean-Jacques Pelletier, set in Montréal.

aug 2, 2023, 11:43 am

When is a Western not a Western? When it’s a Northern!

The Wikipedia article on this subject is quite good:


“The Northern or Northwestern is a genre in various arts that tell stories set primarily in the late 19th or early 20th century in the north of North America, primarily in western Canada but also in Alaska. It is similar to the Western genre, but many elements are different, as appropriate to its setting. It is common for the central character to be a Mountie instead of a cowboy or sheriff. Other common characters include fur trappers and traders, lumberjacks, prospectors, First Nations people, settlers, and townsfolk.”

Some authors that are associated with this genre are Jack London, Rex Beach, Robert Service, Ralph Connor, and James Oliver Curwood. I am reading Beach’s The Spoilers at the moment, famously filmed five times (1914, 1923, 1930, 1942, 1955), the highlight always being an epic fist-fight towards the climax. The novel is rousing good fun, based on an actual incident of corruption during the Yukon Gold Rush * , which Beach had witnessed first-hand.

* The key malfeasor was Alexander McKenzie (1851-1922), whom I encountered in my recent reading in North Dakota history. A very nasty guy and machine politician who served prison time for corruption. He conspired, in collaboration with officials he helped place in office, to cheat Alaska gold miners of their winnings by fraudulently claiming title to their mines.

aug 2, 2023, 4:09 pm

>193 PatrickMurtha: I've heard it said that, in a Western, the hero makes it. In a northern, the hero makes it back.

Redigeret: aug 2, 2023, 5:43 pm

>194 LynnB: That’s a great line!

I think that Westerns that take place in winter / snowy conditions shade into Northern territory, even if they’re set farther south.

aug 3, 2023, 9:27 am

>193 PatrickMurtha: Interesting observations. James A. Michener wrote a book set in the north about a group of men trying to make it through Canada to the Klondike Gold Rush, Journey. Apparently, he had originally included a story about them in his novel Alaska but cut it from the book because he already had a chapter in Alaska about the gold rush. The royalties from the book were donated by Michener to fund the Journey Prize which is given annually to a Canadian writer for the year's best short story.

aug 3, 2023, 9:30 am

>196 gypsysmom: When I worked at a Doubleday bookshop in NYC in the early 1980s, our quip was, “Alaska - the state as big as its book!” That Michener was HEAVY.

aug 3, 2023, 12:03 pm

>197 PatrickMurtha: LOL! He did write epics but usually very readable.

aug 3, 2023, 12:33 pm

>198 gypsysmom: Michener’s works seem to sneak on to the “Literary Classics” shelves in used book stores; presume that means there's still a readership for them. Or people need doorstops.

aug 3, 2023, 1:04 pm

The Michener I should read (first), since it fits in with a lot of my interests, is Tales of the South Pacific.

aug 3, 2023, 2:44 pm

>200 PatrickMurtha: Probably the closest he comes to a “literary classic.”

aug 3, 2023, 4:03 pm

>201 booksaplenty1949: That would be my guess, too. And although I’m not the biggest prize guy, it WAS a Pulitzer winner.

aug 4, 2023, 11:56 pm

13 Ways to Kill Your Community / Doug Griffiths, Kelly Clemmer
3.5 stars

The author (Griffiths) of this book is a politician (and former teacher) representing a rural riding (at least he was when he wrote the book). He expanded a speech he often does to help rural communities revitalize their towns. It’s a bit of a reverse psychology thing similar to what he once used with his high school students, so the “ways to kill your community” is obviously not what he’s really getting at, but the opposite. He uses examples of things that people do that do prevent communities from growing.

The topic is not really my interest (though I grew up in a small town, so it was somewhat interesting from that perspective), but I think for what it does/recommends/suggests, it is a good book. I think it’s a worthwhile read, particularly for people who live in rural areas, whether they are “leaders” in those communities, or business owners, or just the people who live there (assuming they do not want their communities to die).

aug 5, 2023, 12:52 am

>202 PatrickMurtha: Touché. I do like to point out the prizewinning duds that sank without a trace but of course many other prizewinners are great by any standard.

aug 7, 2023, 4:57 pm

I finished Un café avec Marie by Serge Bouchard, a series a vignettes where the author describes the small moments that compose our lives. Some are excellent, others a bit preachy. His epilogue in which he describes Marie's passing, his partner, is very moving.

aug 10, 2023, 9:35 am

I finished Bain de sang by Jean-Jacques Pelletier, a detective-fiction with espionage sprinkled in. It is set in Montréal where a grizzly murder catches the media's attention. Dufaux's quirky team is on the file but Internal Affairs keeps getting in the way, when a CSIS agent comes swooping in. Sound complicated? It is. Add the Russian mafia, the Ukrainian mafia, and biker gangs, and you start to wonder if you should write down all the protagonists.
The ending, however, is predictable and what is supposed to be a grand revelation really isn't.
While I enjoyed walking down the streets of Montréal and rubbing shoulders with CSIS, the plot was overly complicated and the outcome rather disappointing. A good read to pass the time.

aug 10, 2023, 2:12 pm

I've recently finished two Canadian novels: Back to the Garden by Megan Wykes and The Drowning Woman by Robyn Harding

aug 10, 2023, 2:52 pm

>206 Cecilturtle: I think you probably mean 'grisly' murder as opposed to 'grizzly' murder because as far as I know the grizzlies don't roam as far east as Montreal. Still, it would be an interesting plot; maybe an escapee from the zoo?

aug 10, 2023, 3:30 pm

>208 gypsysmom: LOOOL, Cocaine Bear Montreal-style! Yes, Grisly! and neither Grizzly or Gristly! Every once in while I get presumptuous by saying I'm the most bilingual person I know - it's nice to have a humbling moment ;)

aug 10, 2023, 4:49 pm

>209 Cecilturtle: You are certainly the most bilingual person I know. I'm pretty sure there are unilingual English speakers who would make that same error.

aug 10, 2023, 10:52 pm

>208 gypsysmom: Thank you for clarifying that! LOL! Because I pictured a grizzly bear!

aug 11, 2023, 12:37 am

It is easy to get homophones mixed up or similar sounding words. I was in my early 20's before I realized what I had always heard as a "lonely' child was really an "only" child, a single child born to parents.

aug 11, 2023, 7:44 am

Reading, or rather listening to, Bachelor Brothers’ Bed&Breakfast. Do we think they were the inspiration for Olivier and Gabri, owners of the BnB in Three Pines which features in Louise Penny’s mystery stories? The brothers’ backstory is quite weak, I think; they would make much more sense as a middle-aged gay couple. Otherwise find book entertaining but not the endearing, LOL-inducing classic its many LT reviewers seem to have encountered. Oh well. I actually hate The Little Prince, and Love You Forever, so this is a step up.

aug 11, 2023, 10:43 am

>208 gypsysmom: >209 Cecilturtle: >211 LibraryCin: >212 mdoris: It works both ways. Growing up with Montreal slang, I moved to Vancouver when I was nine and then found out that "ma tante" was two words. Ditto re "mon oncle". In Montreal, it wasn't uncommon to be told to "donne un bec a ta ma tante". (give a kiss to your my aunt)

aug 11, 2023, 3:35 pm

>213 booksaplenty1949: Hmmm, I read Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast so long ago to really remember much of it, but I do remember being utterly charmed. I actually forgot they were brothers because they seemed like a middle-aged gay couple. I loved the Gulf Islands setting, a place I know, and where I've stayed at B&Bs run by middle aged gay couples ;-)

For the record, I detest The Little Prince and Love You Forever.

aug 11, 2023, 8:20 pm

>215 Nickelini: O Nickelini, how happy I am to hear that I can add you to my virtual support group regarding those two books. Actually there is or was a website called “I Hate ‘Love You Forever’ “ which I found quite helpful. It was noted there that Robert Munsch had issues around his/his wife’s inability to have children, and was bi-polar, an alcoholic, and a cocaine addict, so perhaps the OTT emotional tone of his dreadful book is not unexpected. Not sure what the explanation of its best-sellerdom is, however.

aug 13, 2023, 10:53 pm

Twopence to Cross the Mersey / Helen Forrester
4 stars

This is the author’s memoir of when she was a child. She was the oldest of seven siblings, and at 12(?) years old, her well-off parents declared bankruptcy. It was the 1930s, and they moved to Liverpool, where Helen’s father had grown up, but there was a crazy amount of unemployment there. The family was very poor for a long time and Helen (though she should have been in school until 14) was kept home to look after the youngest kids while her mother first got over an illness, then went to work herself.

Oh, how frustrating were those parents, especially Helen’s mother! How irresponsible of them! They were renting pretty furniture for the living room, while their kids (and themselves) didn’t have enough to eat. And they didn’t have proper beds, clothes, or blankets, either. Helen, though, seemed to be the worst off for food. Even her mother got more (though not always) because she needed to be presentable for work; this is also why the others got more – they needed to be presentable (as much as possible, anyway) for school.

When Helen was finally able to get a job (though that took a lot of fighting on her part, as her parents (particularly her mother) still wanted her to stay home with the younger kids), and she eventually managed to hold on to a little bit of money to buy herself some new clothes (well, new to her), her mother would often either “borrow” them and wear them out herself, or she would just pawn them, often to pay the people coming to collect on what they were owed.

I’ll add that this actually included a second part to the memoir called “Liverpool Miss”. It did end a bit abruptly, though with an epilogue by Helen’s son to explain where Helen eventually ended up (in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) and how she got there. But with regard to the abrupt ending to Helen’s part of the story, it does seem there is a continuation. I will be putting it on my tb

aug 14, 2023, 11:35 am

>217 LibraryCin: Interesting! Sounds a bit like The Glass Castle as I just wanted to throttle those parents for their neglect of the children.

aug 14, 2023, 9:53 pm

>218 gypsysmom: Good point! It's been a long time since I read "The Glass Castle", so I hadn't thought of that, but yup, now that you mention it...

aug 16, 2023, 11:06 pm

The Book of Cold Cases / Simone St. James
4 stars

Shea is a blogger with a focus on true crime. Her day job is in a doctor’s office, and when she recognizes a woman who walks in, she can’t help but follow her in hopes of talking to her. Turns out the woman is Beth Greer, who was on trial and acquitted of murdering two random men back in 1977. In 1975, her mother died in a car crash; in 1972, her father was murdered in a home invasion. It’s been almost 40 years, but Beth agrees to talk to Shea… at Beth’s home. Beth’s home hasn’t changed a bit since the 70s and it’s creepy. Not only that, weird things happen when Shea is there.

So, there’s actually more going on in the book than in my summary, but I didn’t want to give it all away. I really liked it. It was a bit of a mash of “true crime”/mystery plus horror/ghosts/supernatural going on in the book, but it’s all stuff I like, so it was all good.

aug 17, 2023, 3:11 pm

I have done very little reading this summer but finally finished The Son of a Certain Woman by Wayne Johnston. I have mixed feelings about this book-I really liked the central story and the characters and the dialogue, especially the humour, but grew a bit tired of reading about the constant sexual fantasies of the main character, Percy. I'm no prude and don't mind at all sexual references or "controversial" topics such as lesbianism, etc. in a book, but Percy's obsession with bedding his mother just became plain tedious after a while. This was definitely not my favourite Wayne Johnston novel.

aug 17, 2023, 10:49 pm

>221 ted74ca: I would agree with your comments on this.

aug 19, 2023, 10:30 pm

Anne: An Adaptation of Anne of Green Gables (Sort of) / Kathleen Gros
3.5 stars

This is a graphic novel adaptation of “Anne of Green Gables”. It’s also set in a more current time period. Most of the characters are in it, and many of the events, but not all. There is more diversity in this one.

The characters had pretty much the same personalities (as in the original), but it was a bit odd to have Matthew and Marilla living in an apartment (called the Avon-Lea) in a city. It was good, but it’s just so hard to live up to the original. That being said, it’s probably not the original book in my mind (I have read it twice, but it’s been a while), but the CBC miniseries from the mid-80s, which remains one of my all-time favourite movies. I liked the artwork.

aug 20, 2023, 9:10 am

Does Malcolm Gladwell count as Canadian Lit? I note that he remains a Canadian citizen despite long-time residence in NYC, and has received the Order of Canada. I am greatly enjoying Talking to Strangers. Slighting articles—-I would not classify them as reviews—I have seen about it, and his writing, seem the product of naked envy of his best-sellerdom. Sad.

aug 20, 2023, 2:55 pm

>224 booksaplenty1949: I count him as Canadian.

aug 20, 2023, 3:00 pm

>224 booksaplenty1949: I also count him as Canadians. I've listened to most of his books which he narrates himself. The audiobook of Talking to Strangers includes voice clips for many of the stories. It was very interesting. I doubt Gladwell loses any sleep over those negative articles.

aug 20, 2023, 3:41 pm

>226 gypsysmom: Yes, I’m also listening to the audiobook. Original voice clips a nice addition. I noted that NYT interview on the book, done by a woman, was less of a put-down of Gladwell than most others. No surprise there.

aug 21, 2023, 11:49 am

I've recently finished two Canadian novels both of which I enjoyed.
Anangokaa is about Selkirk settlers that came to Upper Canada in 1804. Being from Manitoba I am familiar with the Selkirk Settlers that came here in 1812 but I didn't know about Selkirk's other endeavours. The land at Baldoon in what is now Ontario was basically a swamp. Many of the original settlers died of disease (possibly smallpox or malaria) soon after their arrival. This book features Flora, one of four sisters, who contracted the disease but survived. Her parents and a sister were not so lucky. Flora's older brother and sister were the parental figures now. Soon after the settlers arrival a few Indigenous locals came to visit and to trade. One in particular, Niigaani, speaks English and he and Flora's brother, Hugh, become friendly. Later Hugh takes Flora to Niigaani's home. Flora and Niigaani start to meet during days when the rest of the family are away and, although nothing physical happens between them, they start to have feelings for each other. Niigaani calls Flora Anangokaa. There are some wonderful descriptions of the natural surroundings. All in all, a very interesting book.
A World of Curiousities is the 18th (!!!) Inspector Gamache by Louise Penny. It is set back in Three Pines where a hidden room is found above the bookstore. The room contains a huge painting that is derived from a mysterious painting in England but contains modern touches. The painting piques the curiosity of all the Three Pines inhabitants and as they explore it further they discover more curious connections. We also learn of the occasion when Gamache and Beauvoir met which has been hinted at before. Penny also works in references to the Montreal Massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique. It kept me up past my bedtime last night to read the last 100 pages.

aug 21, 2023, 12:20 pm

Sad to finish Peter Robinson's last Inspector Banks novel, Standing in the Shadows. I've been reading his novels for decades now and will really miss his books.

aug 30, 2023, 2:40 pm

Redigeret: aug 30, 2023, 4:51 pm

>229 ted74ca: Fortunately, I started reading his books about half way through the series so I have a lot of the back list to read. Plus there are some non-series books that I hope to read in the future. Should keep me going for a while.

aug 30, 2023, 5:07 pm

This is probably a stretch for this group but the CBC did include one of Cory Doctorow's book on the list of 100 YA books that make you proud to be a Canadian. So I am going to mention Red Team Blues here which I just finished reading. I didn't like it as much as other books by him but it's mostly because I am not fully cognizant of the subject matter which involves cryptocurrency and money laundering and digital security. I was at a loss for the first couple of chapters; after that the story became more like a thriller with spies and bad guys and a beautiful woman thrown in.

sep 1, 2023, 4:07 pm

I am re-reading Monoceros by Suzette Mayr having recently read and loved her newer novel, The Sleeping Car Porter

Redigeret: sep 3, 2023, 11:17 am

I just finished Tomson Highway's memoir, Permanent Astonishment and I think I'm in love with him. What a great outlook on life he has. He was the 11th of 12 children born to a Cree trapper/fisher and his wife. They lost 5 of those children before they turned 10, all due to pneumonia. Tomson, two weeks premature, was actually born in a snowbank as his parents were returning to Brochet from trapping further north. Fortunately, a Dene family was on the same island and one of the women was a midwife. His father and mother wanted something better for their children than they had so they sent all of them to a Catholic residential school. Tomson was abused by one of the priests there but he doesn't dwell on that. Instead, he fills this memoir with mostly happy experiences including his achieving the highest marks ever in a residential school and learning classical music from one of the nuns. He also treasured the two months of summer when he returned home and went out with his parents wherever they had established their fishing camp for the summer. The memoir concludes when he graduates from grade 8 and goes to Winnipeg for high school. I certainly hope he writes about the next chapter in his life.

sep 2, 2023, 6:36 pm

>234 gypsysmom: I have seen some of his plays but did not know his life story. Memoir sounds well worth reading.

sep 4, 2023, 8:10 am

I'm reading Look for Me by Edeet Ravel

sep 6, 2023, 3:19 pm

>234 gypsysmom: Tomson Highway is a person I have so much admiration for, not only his resilience but his grace - this incredible ability that he has to translate his culture in his plays in English while introducing Cree and Dene, making it both accessible and strange to settler ears. His partner is Francophone so he also dabbles in French. He's a hero to my little Translator heart!

sep 8, 2023, 1:57 pm

>237 Cecilturtle: I had seen (and loved) a few of his plays but never read anything until this book. I agree that he is a real hero for our times.

sep 8, 2023, 2:07 pm

I just finished So Many Windings by Catherine Macdonald who is a Manitoba writer. Her previous book was set in Winnipeg but this one takes place in Scotland where a group of men and women take a bicycle tour of the Highlands. Did I mention this all takes place in the late 19th century? Someone is out to do bodily harm, perhaps even murder one of the participants. Nice little historical mystery with lots of details of the Scottish countryside thrown in.

sep 9, 2023, 11:07 pm

Crows: Genius Birds / Kyla Vanderklugt
4 stars

This is a graphic novel aimed at kids, this one with a focus on crows. Crows (along with other corvids) are extremely smart. They are also very social creatures. The “story” in this graphic novel has a crow breaking a dog out of his yard. As the crow tells the dog all about crows, the dog helps the crow get to food in the green bins along the street.

This is so well done and I think anyone can learn from these. There are things crows do that remind me of humans. And that is commented on in the book. One thing I didn’t know that crows are very good imitators (with sounds!). It’s part of a series called “Science Comics” and it is so good. This is the 2nd book I’ve read in the series (and I plan to read more) and they’ve both been very good and I have learned things! The illustrations are also very well done, including images of a couple of things in their actual size.

Redigeret: sep 10, 2023, 7:22 pm

>240 LibraryCin: I assume crows share imitative skills with ravens. Re-read Barnaby Rudge in COVID times as part of a deep dive into the Dickens fringe and was delighted with the character of Grip, a raven apparently based on Dickens’ own pet, now stuffed and on view in Parkway Central Library in Philadelphia. Favourite phrase, reportedly, “Polly put the kettle on, we’ll all have tea.”

sep 10, 2023, 10:37 pm

>241 booksaplenty1949: I suspect so, yes. Ravens were mentioned a few times in the book, as well, being part of the "corvidae" family. They did mention that crows can imitate human speech, as well, so I wouldn't be surprised if ravens can, as well. That's pretty cool, really!

sep 13, 2023, 2:35 pm

I'm reading Les têtes à Papineau by Jacques Godbout. A child with two heads, Charles and François, is about to have his heads separated to form one head. Charles-François wants this separation: his heads just can't get along. It is, of course, a bizarre allegory for Canada: what would Canada look like if separated, how painful, how awkward and, fundamentally, what would remain and survive?

There is an image that struck me, though. Young Charles-François meets a doctor who is mesmerized by him: two heads thinking independently, looking from two pairs of eyes, expressing different emotions, and the incredible advantage that this child has over one regular thinking head.

It's a very odd story and I'm not overly enthusiastic about the two-headed child, but it is a homage to Canada and I'm curious to see where it leads.

sep 13, 2023, 7:21 pm

Recently read Volkswagen Blues, by Jacques Poulin, in the English translation by Sheila Fischman.

sep 14, 2023, 9:24 am

>244 rabbitprincess: I think Ms. Fischman is a very good translater.

sep 15, 2023, 8:55 pm

>245 LynnB: Normally I read French books in their original language because otherwise I keep trying to back-translate. Sheila Fischman's translations are the exception.

sep 16, 2023, 12:21 pm

I finished Niré by Aki Shimazaki. Shimazaki is of Japanese origin but now lives in Montreal and writes in French. This gives a delightful mix of French Canadian in a Japanese style with Japanese peppered through it. She writes short but lovely novels (3 pentalogies so far). This is the latest in a new cycle but it can be read independently of the others.

sep 19, 2023, 10:22 am

sep 19, 2023, 1:04 pm

I read a new Gordon Korman middle grade book, Mixed Up. I was in grade 5 when the first Bruno and Boots book came out and he was definitely my favourite author for a number of years. I enjoyed revisiting such a favoured author. It's amazing to see how many books he has written. (But nothing will ever top I Want to Go Home!)

sep 28, 2023, 12:32 pm

Just finished The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr which won the Giller Prize last year. Set in the 1920s and featuring a gay black man, it's a remarkable portrait of what it was like to work on the trains in that time. The casual racism, the sleep deprivation, the unfair labour practices (such as charging the porters for their meals while working on the train), the way gay men had to hide their sexuality and find sexual partners in dark alleyways or other hidden places; these all are presented with feeling. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Canada's treatment of its people of colour.

Redigeret: sep 28, 2023, 10:06 pm

I would be interested to see what this book adds to the section of Home to Harlem that deals with the narrator’s experiences on the Pennsylvania RR as a cook in the 1920’s. Author Claude McKay was a bisexual man. Also reminded of the story in Gabrielle Roy’s Rue Deschambault involving a Black sleeping car porter who rents a room in her parents’ house in the Francophone St Boniface section of Winnipeg and subsequently “walks out” with her sister, to the great consternation of the neighbours.

sep 29, 2023, 6:01 pm

>251 booksaplenty1949: There are certainly correspondences with those books. There is also the book No Crystal Stair by Mairuth Sarsfield which deals tangentially with black porters. Also, wasn't there a TV show a few years ago about black railway porters? Seems like there may be a sub-genre here. Anyone know of any others?

sep 30, 2023, 12:51 am

>252 gypsysmom: I assume the title is courtesy of Langston Hughes


Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Langston Hughes, "Mother to Son" from The Collected Works of Langston Hughes. Copyright © 2002 by Langston Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates, Inc.

okt 1, 2023, 12:42 pm

>253 dianeham: Yes, that's exactly what the reference is. For some reason, I always thought it was a song and I still think it would be good set to music.

okt 2, 2023, 11:44 am

>234 gypsysmom: Tomson Highway’s novel Kiss of the Fur Queen is one of my all time favourites. Based on your outline of his memoir, it’s autobiographical

okt 3, 2023, 5:07 pm

okt 3, 2023, 7:19 pm

Did someone here recommend Donna Morrissey’s Pluck? If so, thank you. I very much enjoyed it, and ended crying on my walk as I was finishing the book, lol. I’ve only read Kit’s Law and now I’d like to reread it, knowing much would be based on her life. It was delightfully read by the author with her Newf accent.

okt 4, 2023, 11:42 am

I've done basically no reading this summer, but I read this very short erotic novel yesterday and loved it. The lover, the lake by Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau. Such lovely language, very moving. I read the English translation, btw.

okt 4, 2023, 1:42 pm

>258 ted74ca: I liked that one, too.

okt 5, 2023, 11:12 am

>255 Nickelini: I really need to read that book, it came out at a time when I was starting a new career and I didn't have much time to read. Looking at the online blurb I would say it certainly seems to be autobiographical.

okt 14, 2023, 10:47 pm

This Place: 150 Years Retold / Misc authors
3.5 stars

This is a graphic novel consisting of several short stories by different authors. In its totality, it covers colonization of Canada/Turtle Island, but from the perspective of the Indigenous peoples. There are stories of Metis and Inuit included, as well as ones that focus on specific people and events. It goes in chronological order.

As with many short story anthologies, there were some stories I liked better than others. I wasn’t as interested in the first couple. There were a few I just didn’t understand and a couple that didn’t really end; that is, they just abruptly stopped (I thought). I really liked the stories of the WWII Indigenous soldier, Meech Lake/Oka, the Sixties Scoop, and the environmental one of the pipeline running through Dene Territory (the NorthWest Territories). The illustrations were in colour, and again, I liked some more than others.

okt 15, 2023, 11:39 am

>261 LibraryCin: That sounds interesting and your reaction to some of the stories is somewhat like mine for most short stories which is why I tend to steer away from books of short stories unless I know the author is a good one, like Margaret Atwood or Alice Munro. So, see my next post to see what I thought about Atwood's latest book of short stories.

okt 15, 2023, 11:50 am

Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood
4.5 stars

I listened to this book which was read by various people including Atwood. I believe the stories were mostly written after her partner, Graeme Gibson, died. So, many of them dealt with widowhood and grieving and sorting through the deceased's belongings. Those stories were very poignant and more personal than many of Atwood's stories. I think my favourite story, though, was one earlier in the collection called The Dead Interview in which Atwood talks with George Orwell through a medium. It's also one of the pieces narrated by Atwood so it has that characteristic laconic tone.

okt 15, 2023, 12:38 pm

>263 gypsysmom: Wow, I'm impressed, given your comments here >262 gypsysmom:!

In all honesty, I also feel the same way about most short stories collections - some are better than others, so the anthologies usually average out to a 3 or 3.5 star book, overall, for me.

It's a good way to learn Canadian history from another perspective, for sure. I also left out a few things that I probably should have included (there is a short "introduction" to each story, plus a timeline, which was also informative). I liked that.

I have too many places I post my reviews to update them all, but maybe I can do that on the main page for the book...

okt 16, 2023, 6:13 pm

okt 16, 2023, 7:06 pm

I read the latest Emma Donoghue book Learned By Heart. Set in early 1800s in a girls boarding school in England, it is based on letters of a relationship between two girls. I enjoy her historical fiction and her research is deep. Over all I am more impressed than moved.
More like Frog Music or The Wonder than The Sealed Letter or The Pull of the Stars. The first former are fascinating slices of history while the latter drew me into the characters and made me feel more emotion. Luckily a lower level Donoghue is still a pretty good read!

okt 18, 2023, 4:27 am

I read Gin , Turpentine, PennyRoyal, Rue by Christine Higdon last month and I really loved it . Gave it 5 stars. It takes place in 1920's Vancouver BC, and it about 4 working class sister in Vancouver. I wrote a review on the main page. I really recommend it.

I just finished Chop Suey Nation by Ann Hui. It was okay, but I preferred a couple of other books on the same topic, Midnight at the Dragon Cafe by Judy Fong Bates and books by Wayson Choy. However, I read it for a library book club and the others in the group seemed to enjoy Chop Suey Nation much more than I did.

okt 18, 2023, 10:16 pm

>267 vancouverdeb: I liked "Chop Suey Nation" when I read it (listened to it).

I guess what I remember best, though, was the stop in Calgary at the Silver Inn Restaurant (where ginger beef was invented). Unfortunately, I think it was about a year ago now(?), the Silver Inn closed. I used to live closeby, but oddly never tried it back then. It was only after I moved away that I got there a few times and really liked it!

okt 18, 2023, 10:19 pm

>267 vancouverdeb: My book club read Chop Suey Nation a few years ago and we enjoyed it, especially the person (not Chinese) whose parents had run a restaurant. She saw a lot of similarities between her family's experience and that of the Chinese families in the book.

okt 18, 2023, 10:38 pm

I just finished The River by Helen Humphreys. I have probably enthused on here before about Helen Humphreys but this book is a class above in my opinion. It's a little work of art wrapped around essays and short stories about a river that Humphreys had a cottage beside. She explores the history, the flora, the fauna, the geography. There are illustrations and pictures throughout the book that enable the reader to visualize what she writes about. Even the cover is beautifully done. In many ways it reminds me of an older book by Humphreys called The Frozen Thames which I also loved.

As far as I can tell, Humphreys has not ever been on the short list for the Giller or Governor General's Awards although she did receive the Rogers Writers Trust Award for Fiction in 2000 for Afterimage. Am I the only one who appreciates her?

okt 19, 2023, 9:30 am

okt 23, 2023, 2:10 pm

>252 gypsysmom: Finished The Sleeping Car Porter. Thank you for putting me on to it. Interesting to read a book written almost entirely in the present tense. Appropriate for a description of a train journey, one which clearly symbolised Baxter’s life to that point, focussed on a destination and proceeding towards it with all the intensity he can muster.

okt 24, 2023, 2:21 pm

I heard Michael Crummey on a radio interview yesterday, talking about his latest book, The Adversary. It is a parallel story to The Innocents set in the same time and general location. I loved The Innocents so am very intrigued by this new book. He described The Adversary as Cain and Abel, siblings fighting with power versus The Innocents as Adam and Eve, siblings bound by love.
I'm looking forward to the new book!

Redigeret: okt 26, 2023, 9:48 am

Not literature, but a Canadian author: Elliot Page with Pageboy, which I'm reading in French.

It's an interesting series of episodes from Page's already rich life. I'm about halfway through and he talks of his upbringing, professional experience, various relationships and, of course, his sexuality which he had such a hard time embracing. I picked up the book to better understand trans-sexuality and body dysphoria (and anything else I might learn from it). Page does a really good job of explaining what he was feeling, how he was received and his consequent mental battles, from anxiety to anorexia and more.

The book, however, is not fabulously well written and the translation is worse - as a former translator, I can tell it was done quickly with no knowledge of a Canadian context. It's definitely not helping the reading experience.

okt 24, 2023, 4:29 pm

>272 booksaplenty1949: I rarely register what person a book is written in and now I see that I don't pick up on the tense either. Thanks for pointing that out especially since my book club will be discussing this book.

okt 24, 2023, 4:38 pm

>273 raidergirl3: I liked The Innocents as well so I'm sure I'll be reading The Adversary. My local paper, The Winnipeg Free Press, just had him featured in their "On the Night Table" section. He mentioned his wife's book Message in a Bottle which sounds pretty interesting. Her name is Holly Hogan and she's a wildlife biologist. This book according to Crummey is "...partly memoir, about her life at sea and working on seabird colonies. It's a beautiful evocation of the ocean and the natural world. But her reason for writing it was to explore the whole issue of plastics, marine plastics, what that's doing to the ocean environment..." And that's also a book I would like to read. As my husband says, I'm going to have to figure out how to read 24/7 in order to get to all the books I want to read!

okt 24, 2023, 10:42 pm

A Book in Every Hand: Public Libraries in Saskatchewan / Don Kerr
3.5 stars

This is a history of public libraries in Saskatchewan, with a focus on the regional library system that helped bring books and libraries to rural areas. Saskatchewan once had one of the worst library systems in the country, but it made real efforts to bring it up to one of the best (according to the author and the stats he interpreted).

It doesn’t sound like a super-exciting read, and probably for a lot of people, it may not be. It is probably more of interest to librarians and/or people from Saskatchewan who use or once used their public/regional libraries. I am both a librarian and I grew up in rural Saskatchewan and used our local branch of the Chinook Regional Library. I did find it interesting (mostly) to read about how the different regional systems were formed, the politics, etc. There were a lot of stats and economics included, as well, which all sounds not overly exciting, but it’s written in an accessible way. I did recognize a couple of names, even. Overall, I’m rating this good, but it’s likely to appeal to a pretty specialized audience.

okt 25, 2023, 8:15 am

>275 gypsysmom: Several scenes of male homosexual sexual encounters written from Baxter’s POV, by a woman author. I guess the etiquette of “cultural appropriation” is more complicated in some instances than others. I got pushback when I expressed surprise, apropos of Woman of Ashes and The Last Flight of the Flamingo which I read for the Africa Novel Challenge, that a white (African) man was writing from the POV of indigenous Africans. A Canadian who attempted the equivalent would attract criticism. In any event, issues around person and tense are big deals to former English majors.

okt 25, 2023, 1:28 pm

>275 gypsysmom: At least the author is gay herself. However, she is neither male nor Black. I struggle with where to draw the line. Should only women write about female characters? Gay men about gay men? Sometimes the line is clear, in my mind, like when Joseph Boyden allowed everyone to think he was Aboriginal. But most of the time, it's fuzzy.

okt 25, 2023, 1:29 pm

I've just started Everyone Here is Lying by Shari Lapena.

Redigeret: okt 25, 2023, 6:58 pm

>279 LynnB: It’s not a question of writing “about.” No one would expect a novel to involve only characters in the same demographic as the author. It’s a question of writing in the first person *as* a woman, First Nations person, homosexual, whatever. Of course Joseph Boyden went beyond writing in the first person to presenting himself as a Native Canadian in real life.

okt 26, 2023, 10:25 am

>281 booksaplenty1949: Well, that's a very helpful distinction. Thank you.

Redigeret: okt 26, 2023, 11:06 am

>282 LynnB: You’re very welcome. BTW, according to the scholars of Wikipedia, Mayr is of “German and Afro-Caribbean background.” In this interview https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thenextchapter/suzette-mayr-explores-black-queerness-jo... she identifies as Black.

okt 26, 2023, 2:09 pm

>283 booksaplenty1949: Another thing I didn't realize! This is a good day for learning.

I'm reading Huge by Brent Butt

okt 27, 2023, 10:28 am

Speaking of cultural appropriation, recent CBC story on Buffy Sainte-Marie was pretty depressing. In the process of looking for more background I discovered that Maria Louise Cruz aka Sacheen Littlefeather was also a Pretendian. What a world.

okt 27, 2023, 10:30 am

>284 LynnB: Are you enjoying Huge?

okt 27, 2023, 12:07 pm

>285 booksaplenty1949: I don't believe Buffy Saint-Marie isn't Indigenous. Just because she doesn't know her birth parents doesn't mean she can't claim Inidigenous heritage. Just looking at her would confirm it. I went to University with Indigenous people from Saskatchewan and they looked much like Buffy.

I have been staying out of the conversation about cultural appropriation because I believe that if people write about only their own people we would miss out on a lot of great literature. Shakespeare probably never visited Italy or Denmark but he certainly wrote captivating plays about people from there. One of my favourite books is Clara Callan written by a man but so well done I had to keep checking his bio. On another book discussion this morning we were talking about the Flavia de Luce series. If you've read any of those you have to admit that Alan Bradley captures the young English girlhood of Flavia perfectly. So if playwrights can bring people from other countries to life or men can capture women's experiences I don't see why people with appropriate research and sympathy can't write about people from other cultures or backgrounds.

okt 28, 2023, 10:05 am

>286 booksaplenty1949: I'm nearly done Huge. It's a page-turner. I love stand-up comedy so am enjoying reading about three comedians playing one-nighters in rural Manitoba and Ontario. I think Mr. Butt draws on his own experience for the main character, Dale. So, yes. It's not great literature, but it's a good story and well written.

okt 28, 2023, 10:11 am

>287 gypsysmom: >283 booksaplenty1949: and others: I hope someone writes a book on the Buffy Saint-Marie story. From what I heard on The Current on CBC, it sounds like she is not Indigenous...but there are still plenty of unconfirmed allegations on both sides. I definitely want to know more. As far as appearance, that can be misleading. I've worked with enough Indigenous people to know that.

okt 28, 2023, 10:58 am

I've just watched the CBC documentary on Buffy Sainte-Marie and recommend it to others who are interested in this story.

okt 28, 2023, 2:19 pm

>288 LynnB: I'm glad to hear this! Although I'd intended to, it looks like I missed adding it to the tbr. Am doing that now!

okt 28, 2023, 3:15 pm

>287 gypsysmom: Appearance means nothing. Look at Rachel Dolezal. Oops, I mean Nkechi Amare Diallo. No one questioned that she was a Black woman until her family blew the whistle. Sainte-Marie’s story that her Saskatchewan birth certificate was lost in a hospital fire seems particularly dodgy. If she doesn’t know exactly when/where she was born, how can she know the hospital had a fire? Before we get to the fact that birth records are stored by the province you were born in, not in a hospital, as anyone knows who’s applied for a passport.
As I noted before, writing *about* people from another place or time is not “cultural appropriation.” That’s when you write *as* someone you are not, especially if your narrator is a member of an oppressed group. If you then go on to falsely identify yourself as a member of that group you can expect serious pushback. Just ask Joseph Boyden.

okt 28, 2023, 3:19 pm

In view of the Buffy Sainte-Marie controversy, I've pulled Yellowface by R.F. Kuang off the TBR shelves. This is not Canadian literature, but given our discussion, I'm posting it here. This novel is about an author who pretends to be Asian American. The book blurb says it "grapples with questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation, as well as the terrifying alienation of social media."

okt 28, 2023, 3:23 pm

>293 LynnB: Looks interesting!

okt 28, 2023, 6:47 pm

>288 LynnB: Will put it on the list. I loved Corner Gas.

nov 5, 2023, 1:12 pm

My sole read in the last couple of months finally finished, but it wasn't the fault of the book-it was good: When We Lost Our Heads by Heather O'Neill

nov 8, 2023, 2:51 pm

Kukum by Michel Jean is the fictionalised biography of the author's grandmother.

Almanda Siméon is a French Canadian married to an Innu who completely adopts the Innu way of life. In her lifetime she will have learnt the language, the traditions and the techniques; she will have borne 9 children and she will see her great-grand-children; she will also see the changes brought by the colonisation.

This short, beautifully written book, really helped me appreciate how within barely two generations Indigenous communities were wrenched from their ancestral ways and traditions. I had never realised how swift and brutal it had been. This book was a true eye-opener, and yet it remains gentle with a glimmer of hope. A must read.

nov 8, 2023, 4:02 pm

>297 Cecilturtle: Thanks for your review. It does sound good. The title is interesting. I presume Kukum is the Innu word for grandmother and that's so close to Kookum which is the Saulteaux and Cree word for grandmother. Was there any discussion of the overlap.

Redigeret: nov 8, 2023, 5:50 pm

>298 gypsysmom: Yes! That's exactly what it means :)
No discussion on the overlap, but the author does mention that the Cree and Innu territories are neighbouring, so it makes sense there are linguistic commonalities. The Innu (and I imagine other communities) travelled so broadly that there was no doubt overlap.

nov 9, 2023, 9:34 am

nov 13, 2023, 4:34 am

Currently reading The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr for a library book club.

Redigeret: nov 17, 2023, 7:22 am

Redigeret: nov 21, 2023, 7:13 am

>302 LynnB: I hope you enjoy Gin, Turpentine, Pennyroyal , Rue as much as I did earlier this year.

nov 21, 2023, 9:23 am

>303 vancouverdeb: I sure did! Have you read her first novel, The Very Marrow of our Bones? It was excellent.

nov 22, 2023, 5:20 pm

>304 LynnB: No, I've not read The Very Marrow of Bones yet, but I did purchase it, so it is my TBR . Thanks!

Redigeret: nov 22, 2023, 5:21 pm

I finished The Sleeping Car Porter and it was not so much to my taste . A bit to repetitive for my liking , and I felt that characters where shallowly drawn. But I know many people enjoyed it.

nov 22, 2023, 10:46 pm

Up Ghost River / Edmund Metatawabin
4 stars

8-year old Indigenous boy, Edmund, was forced to go to a residential school in Northern Ontario in the 1950s and ‘60s. He didn’t want to go but his mother insisted. His mother was very Catholic and trusted that they would take good care of him. Of course, while at St. Anne’s school, the nuns and priests were abusive to him and others. I was going to mention some of the abuses, but I’ve decided not to; a couple of things were not things I’d heard previously. And for Ed, it got worse after he left for high school in a bigger city.

He did marry and have children, and get a university degree, but he also became an alcoholic. In this memoir, Ed details all of this and more.

As mentioned in my summary, despite having read quite a bit about residential schools, there were still a couple of surprising things (not good surprising). Of course, when he finished school, he had issues (the alcoholism), but it was good to see how he got himself better and is doing good to help others, as well. I thought this was really good.

nov 23, 2023, 9:10 am

>307 LibraryCin: I had the privilege of working with Ed on the Indian Residential Schools settlement. He is a wonderful man. When I knew him, he was still suffering from the abuses but also had found the strength to work to help other former students. I, too, read his book and admired him all the more for having the courage to write about what happened to him.

nov 23, 2023, 1:00 pm

>307 LibraryCin: >308 LynnB: With that double endorsement, I now have no choice but to add this one to the pile. Sounds like the book was a good therapeutic exercise for him and helped him get to a better place today. I hate that books like this even need to be written, but I am very glad that people are writing them. Formidable courage indeed!

nov 23, 2023, 4:29 pm

>309 Yells: I was thinking the same thing about needing to find a copy to read. I'm struggling with Truth Telling by Michelle Good. I started it over a week ago and then put it aside to read something lighter. I really liked Five Little Indians by Good but she seems to take a more strident tone in this non-fiction outing. I'll continue it soon but I just needed a breather from feeling guilty for things I really didn't have any control over and which I have tried to make up for in my own small way.

Redigeret: nov 23, 2023, 10:35 pm

>308 LynnB: Wow! Guess I never expected someone I "know" to actually know him!

nov 24, 2023, 10:16 am

I got back into reading Truth Telling and I am finding it much more to my liking now. She is still talking about disturbing events in Canada's history but either I've changed my reaction to her tone or her tone has changed because I'm not feeling as personally attacked. Horrified, appalled, and incredulous, yes, as I continue to read. I think I will end up with an appreciation for the book.

nov 25, 2023, 4:05 pm

I was delighted to read in the Winnipeg Free Press that the Matt Cohen lifetime achievement award of the Writers' Trust has been given to Helen Humphreys. I'm sure I have talked before in this group about what a great writer I think she is. It seems the Writers' Trust selecion committee agrees with me. This is what they had to say in making this award:
"Helen Humphreys has said that writing a novel is like trying to break out of the prison you’ve created by your idea. In that sense, Humphreys is an accomplished escape artist, having written twelve novels, five books of poetry, and five books of nonfiction.  
In her most recent work, such as Machine Without Horses and the forthcoming Followed by the Lark, she explores the fertile territory in the overlap between fiction and nonfiction, and between nature and the human experience. Humphreys’ quiet brilliance has made her one of Canada’s most beloved writers. In book after book, she has led her many readers into ever new and exciting territory. "

nov 25, 2023, 4:33 pm

>313 gypsysmom: Excellent News! And well deserved, she’s a wonderful writer.

nov 26, 2023, 7:46 pm

>302 LynnB:, >303 vancouverdeb: Gin, Turpentine, Pennyroyal, Rue is on sale at amazon.ca for 3.99. I'd been watching and planning to get it so this deal was great! Can't wait to get to it.

nov 27, 2023, 9:13 pm

I'm re-reading The Antagonist by Lynn Coady for a book club.

nov 28, 2023, 10:32 pm

Kids on a Case: Hunting Black Dragon / Tony Peters
3 stars

This is book 2 in the “Kids on a Case” series. When Daniel comes to Tyler, the “ringleader” of the group of kids (around 13 years old?) who once solved a kidnapping case, looking for help, Tyler can’t say no to his friend. Daniel’s dad has been kidnapped and Daniel is scared to go to the police because he and his mom were threatened not to. However, Tyler was warned last time that he should bring anything to the police that he knows about, so he and his group of kid sleuths do just that. The police, after getting permission from the kids’ parents (supposedly), have Tyler and his friends help them with this case. They know it’s the dangerous gang, the Black Dragons, behind the kidnapping.

It was ok. Although Tyler is the “I” in the story, much of it follows other characters, as well. I might have enjoyed it a bit more if I had had it in a better format (pdf can be read on a Kobo, but it’s awkward). Obviously not even close to realistic, though.

Redigeret: dec 3, 2023, 4:34 pm

I finished Ces enfants d'ailleurs by Arlette Cousture (1993).
I was looking forward to this book: Cousture's intention was to describe the life of a family before it arrived in Canada and the immigration experience, in this case a Polish family after WWII.

Cousture was one of French Canada's first big commercial successes abroad in the 1980s, especially in France, and I had enjoyed her first trilogy, Les Filles de Caleb, which was even turned into a televised series.

Anyway, either my tastes have evolved or this style of saga has gone out of fashion (probably both), but I really struggled with the second part as it became more and more melodramatic and moralistic. The last 200 pages were just painful (yes, 600 altogether!). Sigh. At least it's done.

dec 4, 2023, 12:03 pm

>318 Cecilturtle: Thanks for your review. Perhaps it's a case of a successful writer not being carefully edited as often happens in my opinion. Quel dommage!

dec 5, 2023, 3:27 pm

I'm reading The Circle by Katherena Vermette, the last in her series about the Traverse and Stranger families.

dec 6, 2023, 3:03 pm

>320 LynnB: I've got that on my TBR pile to read in 2024. The other two were amazing so I hope this lives up to them.

dec 6, 2023, 4:18 pm

The Hunter and the Wild Girl / Pauline Holdstock
2.5 stars

There is a feral girl stealing from local people in a village in France. They try to catch her, but she gets away and ends up another village over. A farmer(?) there, Peyre, is intrigued by her. Peyre tries to entice her to come, as he’d like to see if he can “tame” her. He sees his son, whom he’s lost a while back, in her.

This started off really slow and I wasn’t interested. Parts I didn’t like and just skimmed through were mostly Peyre’s background (though I eventually got the gist of at least what happened with his son and wife). It was only the last half or 1/3 of the book, which focused more on the girl, where I was a bit more interested in what was happening. The ending was open-ended, so I wasn’t a big fan not really knowing what had happened there.

dec 6, 2023, 8:39 pm

>313 gypsysmom: Hi Gypsymom Thanks for the update about Helen Humphreys. i love her books and so glad she is getting the well deserved recognition.

I just finished The Adversary by Michael Crummey. He too is a very talented and interesting writer. I loved it!

Redigeret: dec 8, 2023, 3:02 pm

As part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign, I'm reading Resilience is Futile by Julie S. Lalonde.

Women's and social justice advocate, Lalonde talks about her personal experience in an abusive relationship which resulted in years of stalking and intimidation. It's a very raw, unvarnished and authentic account of what happened. It feels particularly close since Lalonde lives in Ottawa and these events happened while she was a student at Carleton.

Today, Lalonde teaches bystander intervention and is a public speaker on harassement and gender violence. She is affiliated with Right To Be. I highly recommend attending this one-hour free course.

dec 8, 2023, 9:17 am

>324 Cecilturtle: I read that book a while ago after hearing Ms. Lalonde speaking on CBC radio. I'll check out the course.

dec 8, 2023, 3:03 pm

>325 LynnB: It's simple techniques that are available to anyone. I hope you like it!

dec 15, 2023, 7:11 pm

dec 16, 2023, 11:27 am

I just finished listening to the audiobook of In the Upper Country by Kai Thomas. It won the Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Prize for Literature this year. It's Thomas' first novel but, hopefully, not his last. It chronicles the experiences of black people in Canada before the time of Confederation, focusing on two women. One is a young journalist living in a fictional town called Dunmore, a town of free blacks. The other is an old woman who fled from slavery in Kentucky to Ontario. A bounty hunter tracked her to a farm near Dunmore. Determined not to be sent back to slavery, the woman shot and killed the bounty hunter. The journalist was asked to tell her story and, in doing so, discovered her own history.

The narration, done by several people, was great.

dec 16, 2023, 11:35 pm

I just finished reading A History of Burning by Janika Oza and it was excellent!

dec 17, 2023, 2:03 pm

>329 vancouverdeb: That one has been on my radar. Thanks for posting.

dec 19, 2023, 5:04 pm

I'm reading The Widows by Suzette Mayr, who has become a favourite author.

dec 20, 2023, 11:34 am

>331 LynnB: Was that written before The Sleeping Car Porter?

dec 20, 2023, 4:35 pm

>332 gypsysmom: Before. It's her second novel. I've just finished it and found it pretty good. I really liked Sleeping Car Porter and Monoceros

Redigeret: dec 20, 2023, 4:36 pm

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

dec 21, 2023, 9:55 pm

Country Roads: Memoirs from Rural Canada / Pam Chamberlain (editor)
3 stars

This is a collection of nonfiction essays by various (celebrity?) Canadians. Mostly authors (and many of these essays have been published previously elsewhere), but also (at least) one hockey player, one actor, one artist, one reporter, one musician. Recognizable names include Rudy Wiebe, Sharon Butala, Wayne Johnston, Pamela Wallin, Brett Sutter, George Fox. All of these people grew up (or at least lived while younger) somewhere in rural Canada. Many of the stories were on the Prairies and in the Atlantic Provinces, with a few in BC, Ontario, and Quebec (but fewer in these provinces, I think).

Like with short stories, some of these were more interesting to me than others, so this results in a middle-of-the-road 3 star (ok) rating from me. Many of the ones more interesting to me were the Prairie ones, since I grew up in a small Saskatchewan town, though not on a farm (as did many of the people here).

dec 29, 2023, 4:06 pm

Greenwood / Michael Christie
4 stars

In 2038, Jake works on Greenwood Island in British Columbia; it’s one of the only truly livable/habitable places left with its giant trees. A biologist, Jake loves living here, though she’s not as enamoured with the job, touring around “Pilgrims” (tourists). Unfortunately, she’s also discovered a couple of trees that appear to be sick; these trees are hundreds of years old.

Her ex-fiance (a lawyer) shows up and books a private tour with her to tell her she might actually “own” the island, given her family history and the history of the island (that is, it may be part of an inheritance for her). The book continues by backing up in time through a few generations of Greenwoods to when Jake’s grandmother was a baby… and one generation earlier in 1908 when Jake’s great-grandfather was a kid (along with his brother). The brothers were very different: Everett ended up a vagrant and in jail; Harris was hugely wealthy via his lumber business, cutting down all the beautiful trees that Jake loves so much.

The bulk of the story followed Harris and Everett and that’s what I liked the best. Have to admit it took a short bit for me to get interested and to figure out what was happening and who the different characters were as we went back in time. I liked the way this one was done: we actually started in 2038, and gradually made our way to 1908 through the generations, then moved forward again back to 2038.

dec 29, 2023, 5:12 pm

>336 LibraryCin: I really liked this book when I read it. But I was surprised by its appearance on the list of the top 10 best-selling Canadian books that was on CBC: https://www.cbc.ca/books/the-top-10-canadian-books-of-2023-1.7069754
Maybe it was because it was on Canada Reads in 2023 although the only other book from Canada Reads that made the list was Ducks and since it won I would have been surprised if it wasn't on the list. I wonder if people bought it as presents after reading it themselves.

dec 29, 2023, 9:38 pm

>337 gypsysmom: Oh, I hadn't realized it was one of the top selling Canadian books! That's cool. And yes, I would guess it's because of Canada Reads

dec 31, 2023, 6:22 pm

I'm reading Someone You Know: An Unforgettable Collection of Canadian True Crime Stories by Catherine Fogarty. It's for bookclub. Ugh. I have always refused to read true crime because to me it feels opportunistic, voyeuristic and sensationalist. I decided to read it to give it a chance. It has only reinforced my bias. It should make for a vivid discussion at least.

Why do people read true crime? If you're a fan, I'm genuinely curious.

jan 1, 9:30 am

>339 Cecilturtle: I like true crime where it is written by the victim. If they choose to tell their story, I don't feel like I'm voyeuristic. For example, Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz tells how she returned to a small town in Oregon to try to find out who tried to run her and a friend over with his truck and why.

I also like stories about how DNA evidence has helped solve cold cases. The Bulldog and the Helix by Shayne Morrow was good, and Canadian, too!

jan 1, 12:38 pm

>340 LynnB: My best friend loves true crime too. He told me there was a cathartic element for him too, a release from his own fears and anxiety.
I can see all these points of view, and I definitely agree that a victim telling their story or even an in-depth telling can provide insight in what was a horrific situation.
Thanks, Lynn, and Happy New Year.