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."