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January 16, 2011

Canada Reads Independently 2011: Update 1

So the reading has begun, and though the internet has been abuzz with readers planning to read along so I’d be reading a little less independently, I’ve only caught sight of a review or two so far. Last week, I finished Thomas King’s Truth and Bright Water, which I enjoyed very much, and would recommend to almost anybody as it’s a book to be appreciated on so many levels. I’m now reading Stacey May Fowles’ Be Good, which is a very different book, but not so different that I won’t be able to draw on connections between the two– the connections are there and they open each both books even wider, and one of my favourite parts of the Canada Reads model is comparing these books you might think have nothing to do with one another… We end up having conversations you never would have imagined.

Earlier this month, Sara from the blog Read and Bead read Stacey May Fowles’s Be Good in tandem with Carol Shields’ Unless, and she was surprised to find two strong connections between these books– both, in very different ways, focus on notions of “goodness”. Sara goes on, “The other interesting thing is that they are both similar in size and shape roughly 5×7 inches.” Be Good made her uncomfortable, though not disturbed, but she found it took her to a place she didn’t really wish to go. “It’s not always pretty, and lives are full of things left unsaid, hurt feelings, and longing.” Which, though not a ringing endorsement, is certainly a testament to the book’s impact.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Rosenblum reviewed Lynn Coady’s Play the Monster Blind. Rebecca writes, “[The collection is] very very funny, without being in any way “light.” It’s such a hard balance to walk, especially because a critical perception of “lightness” can sink a book like a lead balloon (abandon metaphor). There is humour in theses characters’ lives because there is humour in everyone’s life. We don’t (usually) laugh at the characters but with them–because we all know that life is funny and cruel and weird.”

She also can’t help sharing numerous excerpts, then becomes frustrated because their brilliance is not readily apparent out of context, and then just implores us to just go and read the book for ourselves. “The problem with Coady’s writing is that any random bit of it looks easy and delightful, and it’s only when you get to the end that realize how much you’ve experienced in the story.”

(Any reviews I missed? Any plans to get reading soon? Email me links to your reviews, or send the reviews themselves if you’re not posting them online, and I will feature them in the next Canada Reads Indies update).

One thought on “Canada Reads Independently 2011: Update 1”

  1. Chad Pelley says:

    Before you start reading Still Life with June, I should forewarn you that the first 15 pages or so, to some readers, might feel unfocussed and iffy or “gritty,” and do not necesarily represent the novel. If you are among that demographic of readers I’d forewarn, Just, hang in there ;)And I look forward to your take on it, good or bad. As a writer, I’m always drawn to innovation and mechanics in a novel, and wonder how that stacks up to the rest of it in a reader’s mind, when I recomend a novel based on craft and the writing more than anything else.

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