Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm Having A Book!

Thought I would just pop back in here to share my good news. My first novel The Last River Child is being published in the fall 2009 here in Canada by Second Story Press. One of the reasons I took a leave of absence from this blog was to devote more of my time to writing. Happily, it seems I'm not wasting my time! If you are interested in reading about the adventures of a first time author I've started a new blog to document that. You can find it here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Taking a Break

It happens sometimes. Life gets too busy and you just can't do it all. Which is what is happening with me at the moment and it means I'm going to have to stop writing this blog. Maybe it will only be temporary, or maybe I'll move on to other things. Right now I don't know. But I want to thank everyone who ever read, or commented, or contacted me. I am always thrilled by the way the Internet connects people who would never meet otherwise. I have started a new blog for people who write fiction or would like to. If that interests you, please join me here.

Thanks and happy reading!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Giller Prize

Congratulations to Joseph Boyden for winning the Giller Prize for his novel Through Black Spruce. The Giller Prize, more properly called the Scotiabank Giller Prize, is Canada's most talked about literary prize. Though that is probably only because it is worth the most money (a whopping $50,000). But it is also broadcast on TV, takes place in a fancy hotel and everybody gets dressed up. Kind of like if the Oscars were in Canada and it was books not movies winning the prizes. That's right, it is sort of dull, but trying hard not to be.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Sea Lady

I'm a big Margaret Drabble fan so it is hard for me to say I was disappointed by The Sea Lady. Humphrey Clark and Aisla Kelman met as children by the seaside in England. Now in their sixties they are on their way to meet again - one of them unwittingly - by the same seaside.

They were very different sorts of children and, unsurprisingly, became very different sorts of adults. Humphrey grew up to be a marine biologist, while Aisla became one of those people well-known through their books and television appearances but famous for their shocking opinions and flamboyant publicity stunts. This is the story of their two lives, the ones they lived between the two bookend meetings of this novel.

Drabble told the story she set out to tell quite well, as she always does. The trouble was it wasn't the story this reader most wanted to read. I was more interested in what would happen to Humphrey and Aisla now that they had met again, rather than all that preceded this meeting. Unfortunately I wanted this story to begin right at the spot it ended.

First line of The Sea Lady by Margaret Drabble: "The winning book was about fish, and to present it, she appeared to have dressed herself as a mermaid, in silver sequinned scales."

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Gathering by Anne Enright

The Gathering by Anne Enright is not a happy book. It is a good book - but not a happy one. Veronica lives in Dublin with her successful husband and two young daughters. Veronica has come up in the world: she lives in a nicer house, drives a nicer car and has more money than her nine brothers and sisters. But when the sibling closest to her, Liam, commits suicide, Veronica is pulled back through memory, to their childhood and the secret she and Liam shared.

I found this to be a beautifully written story about the secrets and betrayals and love within a family. The language was lyrical and original, the story compelling. I felt is deserved the 2007 Man Booker Prize and look forward to reading other novels by Anne Enright.

(This is just a quick review because I actually read this over a month ago and it is fading a bit from memory. I wanted to mention it here because it was a good book. And despite saying it is kind of a downer, it does have an upish sort of ending. In case you were worried.)

First line of The Gathering by Anne Enright: "I would like to write down what happened in my grandmother's house the summer I was eight or nine, but I am not sure if it really did happen."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Down to a Sunless Sea

Earlier this year I read an interesting book called How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead by Ariel Gore. One of the topics covered was self-publishing so I was excited by a book sent to me to review that took that route. (I could very easily get way off topic now and start preaching about the wonderfulness of the DIY movement but I'll save that for another time.)

The book is a short story collection called Down to a Sunless Sea and was written by Mathias B. Freese. Nine of the fifteen stories in this slim volume have been published in literary journals so this book nicely straddles the two worlds of publishing. As well as being a writer Mathias B. Freese is a psychotherapist and it shows in many of these short stories. Freese is most interested in the inner workings of his characters and deftly handles examinations of their thoughts and reasonings. He is particularly gifted at inhabiting the minds of those who feel on the margins of society, such as the crippled narrator in "I'll Make It. I Think."

The strange and universal land of childhood is also richly explored in this collection, sometimes by narrators who are children, such as Herbie, the wannabe shoe shine boy desperately trying to please his father in the story "Herbie" or by adult narrators remembering incidents from their childhoods, as happens in "Alabaster" the story of a man recalling his meeting with a concentration camp survivor years previously. Freese understands the allure and mystery of childhood. As the narrator of the story "Echo" states: "In hindsight, which is how we live our lives, not how we make sense of them..."

In case you can't read the stickers on the book jacket in my photo, Down to a Sunless Sea was awarded an Editor's Choice Award from Allbook Reviews and was a finalist for the Indie Excellence Book Awards. Wow! Congratulations to Mathias. If he keeps this up he'll be a famous writer before he's dead! To learn more about Mathias B. Freese and his books visit:

First line of Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese: "While a young child growing up in Brighton Beach, Adam would go shopping with his mother on Brighten Beach Avenue."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Le Clezio in The New Yorker

Remember Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio? The guy that just won the Nobel? The New Yorker has published a short story of his in the October 27th issue. The haven't got it posted online or else I'd link you to it. To read this one, you're going to have to buy a copy.