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Pickle Me This

January 20, 2014

Consolations & Translations

for-surePeople have been so kind in response to my sadness over the closing of my beloved local bookstore. Anyone who thought I was being melodramatic and ridiculous has kept that information to himself. This is a loss that has been experienced by many avid readers in the last few years, and I really appreciated their sympathy and understanding. I am operating with an optimistic spirit, that Bloor Street won’t be bookshop-less for long. And in the meantime, venturing further afield for my book-buying pleasures will a) possibly save me thousands of dollars and b) allow me to not take for granted such things. I am hoping that good things are ahead also for the Book City employees too, and that each will find a place where his/her skills and expertise are valued.

And in the meantime, I went shopping. In a few weeks, the shelves will be bare and all will be depressing, but there is still plenty to choose from so I allowed myself a rare pleasure for a bookish sort like me who always knows exactly what she’s looking for. Last week, I bought the new Jane Gardam novel, The Ice Cream Store by Dennis Lee, and this wonderful book of maps for kids. Buying discounted books at the going-out-of-business store made me feel like a vulture, but I was assured that I’d earned the right to do so without compunction by having tried my darndest to spend as much money there as possible this past while. So I went back today and got Pitch Black by Renata Adler (because they didn’t have Speedboat, and I am intrigued by Renata Adler), and Molly Ringwald’s book because Molly Ringwald wrote a book and it’s even meant to be good, and 30% off is a good excuse to find out if that’s true. Then two more books by Rebecca Solnit, because I want to read everything she ever wrote.

And finally, because reading books in translation was my New Year’s reading resolution, I bought two books to get me started: For Sure by France Daigle (French-Canadian) and Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone (Italy). I’ve been inspired to do so after reading the Penelope Fitzgerald bio and realizing how limited is my perspective on the novel with such a focus on Englishness. It’s like only ever looking at a shape from just one side. So I am going to challenge myself and my sensibilities, first as a reader, but also as a writer. I’ve made a renewed commitment to writing fiction this past while (which has led to an acceptance letter the other week! Hooray. I’ll have a story forthcoming in The New Quarterly this spring or summer), and I want to write stories that seek to do things that are new. I think translations will show me what other possibilities there are.

And I am particularly excited about another book in translation, Sanaaq by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk, which was stupendously reviewed by Keavy Martin in the Globe and Mail this weekend. It was such an inspiring, incisive piece which dares to challenge readers: “Yet rather than attempting to draw large (and largely inaccurate) conclusions about Inuit culture, southern readers might instead try to enjoy this humbling state of non-understanding.” I am willing to take her up on this, and I’m looking forward to it.

3 thoughts on “Consolations & Translations”

  1. But it *is* so sad. I’m glad nobody’s been suggesting that you should feel otherwise. (And, yes, to wanting to read everything Solnit has written.)

  2. Giulia Greco says:

    I am happy that you are reading translations now! Did you know that I am a translator :-)?

    1. Kerry says:

      If you have translations to recommend, Giulia, I’d gladly receive them!

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