Monday, January 24, 2011

Recent Reads including 2 Canada Reads Selections

It has been a while since I last blogged about books I have been reading. You can rest assured that I have not given up reading Canadian Lit. I continue to be surprised and elated over the quality of fiction that is out there by Canadian authors. I am at a loss over the names of the many books I have read since June, but here are a few of the more recent ones, that I would highlight recommend you buy from your local bookseller. Locke Street's Epic Books has been keeping me well stocked!
Practical Jean by Trevor Cole. In this novel Cole once again weaves a story featuring a unique character with a flair for some dark "practicality". After taking care of her suffering mother who ultimately dies from her illness, Jean begins to ponder life and its inevitable conclusion. She conjures up a plan to spare those who are closest her from a similar fate and what happens is almost unbelievable and keeps you reading on. Cole is a master of the tragic comedy and this is an excellent example of how to take that to the limit. I would highly recommend this read. To hear an interview with author Cole from the CBC about this novel go to If you haven't already, I would recommend you read his other 2 novels which I loved - Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life and The Fearsome Particles.

The Bay of Love and Sorrows by David Adams Richards. Written in 1998, this novel is set mainly within a small rural area along a bay between New Brunswick and PEI. It follows the return of a judges prodigal son as he returns to this small community and hooks up with a number individuals who all get tangled in the web of Everette Hutch, a violent man with a terrible scheme that ends in tragedy and loss. This is definitely worthy of recommending! When searching for the cover art for this novel I found out that a movie was produced in 2002 for this novel. See for information and a review. Sounds like reading the book would be a better bet!

Essex County by Jeff Lemire is the first graphic novel to be included in the selections for Canada Reads. To say that I loved this collection of Lemire's intertwined stories of characters in Essex County would be an understatement. I literally could not put the book down and despite its weight, I carried this book with me until the last page was read, including the amazing "extras" at the back. As one who has read graphic novels before, it didn't take me long to get back into the rhythm of following the images and dialogue. Lemire is not only a supremely talented artist but a great storyteller. It is amazing how much he could say with one drawing. The character development is fantastic. It looks like Jeff is keeping busy .... check out his blog at I think I'll pick up Sweet Tooth and start following it ... or maybe wait for the compilation again.

The Best Laid Plans written by former Liberal strategies Terry Fallis is another one of the contenders for this year's Canada Reads and is a must read. If you are in any way a Canadian political junkie you will be sure to love this book as I did. Even if you aren't, the antics in this book will keep you hooked. Again this was another book I couldn't put down. The book is narrated by one of the main characters David Addison who after discovering his girlfriend in a compromising position with her MP boss, decides to leave his job as a senior writer for the Leader of the Opposition to teach at the University of Ottawa. But his teaching career gets put on hold and he is unexpectedly thrown back into politics. I don't want to be a spoiler so just pick up this gem. You may even recognize some of the "characters"!.

I will continue on my journey of completing my reading of the Canada Reads selections by reading The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou. This year I only have 3 to read as I have already read The Birth House and Unless. Then onto Giller Prize winner The Sentimentalist.