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Pickle Me This

March 9, 2008

Better late than nevah-evah

I’m now reading Michael Redhill’s Consolation, the book chosen for Keep Toronto Reading One Book 2008. Which, of course, was in February. I am never terribly good at these communal reads– like Canada Reads, just barely mentioned here though it went on last week (and was very well documented by others). Though I do delight in them– bookishly saturated media and all that– and so I’m a bit ashamed to never take part.

But then not ashamed enough to start (alas the Tournament of Books will have to go on without me.) I blame the weather, mostly. I use up too much energy trudging through snow and slipping on sidewalks to be so focussed. I suspect that any Bookish Extravaganza during sunlit months might enthrall me, but now I’m just too tired. Further, I’m pretty choosy about what I read. You may notice the overwhelmingly-positive nature of my reviews, which is a product of me never ever reading books I don’t want to read, or books I think I should.

Finally, my t0-be-reads are stacked to the roofbeams (note: oh wow, in my new bedroom roofbeams will no longer just be metaphorical!). I’m pretty inflexible when it comes to said stack (someone once loaned me a book without asking and I almost had a nervous breakdown). I don’t have a lot of space to play with bookwise, my life span being limited and the number of brilliant books out there decidedly not.

So yes, I am blaming my own mortality for me not having read Consolation when I should have. And indeed, I should have read it in February, not only because The Toronto Public Library is my world favourite institution, but because the book is wonderful. I was a bit apprehensive because I’d thought it was historical fiction. (I don’t like historical fiction. This annoys people, as does the fact that I refuse to read books containing dragons. I am way more willing to bend on the historical fiction, however.)

However Consolation turns out to be about the engagement between modernity and its history– my most beloved literary pre-occupation! (The reason I love British fiction). And you get so little of that stuff, really, in CanLit, perhaps there not being quite enough history yet to go around yet. (The few exceptions I can think of are books I didn’t like). Sure we are focussed on our past here– you can’t go 5 miles without falling over a pioneer house– but only in the sense that it’s “there”, set up behind a velvet rope. Whereas in Consolation, history is right here– almost literally, in my case. Which is something I find tremendously exciting.

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