The idea of this blog is to facilitate the love of reading by collecting news about new books, or sometimes good old books. It is also dedicated to stamping out the scourge of e-books, Kindles, Kobo's, i-Pads, and all other such abominations.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Heart Matters by Adrienne Clarkson

In her memoir, HEART MATTERS, Adrienne Clarkson, tells her story beginning with her life in Hong Kong and her family's escape from the Japanese occupation. Growing up in Ottawa, studying in Toronto and Paris and finding her vocation as a broadcaster helped to shape the women who became Governor General.
Clarkson's relationship with her parents had much to do with the person she would become. She adored her father who inspired her. Her complicated relationship with her mother was challenging for her.
Clarkson assumed the role of Governor General, applying her language skills, her knowledge of the country and her understanding of the role of the Governor General. She and John Ralston Saul used Rideau Hall to showcase the artists and writers of Canada. They travelled the length and breadth of the country giving Canadians an opportunity to be seen and heard by their Governor General. Finally they carried the message of Canada abroad.

I have admired Adrienne Clarkson and was looking forward to her story. I believe she understood the role of Governor General and truly carried out her mandate. It was unfortunate that she was caught up in the politics of the time and was treated unfairly. It is true that no undertaking of the Governor General happens without the approval of the government.
This is an informative look at the role of the Governor General in Canada.

The Friends of Meager Fortune by David Adams Richards

What a remarkable read this is. THE FRIENDS OF MEAGER FORTUNE, by David Adams Richards is written in almost biblical form and shares many of the elements of other Adams stories. He understands the poverty-stricken souls of small, insulated communities. The characters in THE FRIENDS OF MEAGER FORTUNE are larger than life loggers, working in New Brunswick in the first part of the 20th century. I am not a "horse person" but I was awed by Adams descriptions of horse logging on one of the most dangerous mountains in New Brunswick at a time when teamsters drove great black Perchons, Clydesdales and teh Belgians, small, tough draft horses. In this novel, the loggers, the teamsters and the horses do the impossible.

The Jamesons, Will, the older son who is well-suited to the world of logging and is now as the "great Will Jameson" dies suddenly at a very young age. His younger brother, Owen, bookish, not meant for logging, returns from World War II, with an injury, and must take over the business. A prophecy made at the time of Will's birth drives the story.

In a novel of less than admirable characters, Meager Fortune stands as a force for good, caring for all.
One of the great gifts of this book is the depiction of logging. Canadaa's strength and wealth has come from our natural resources. Richards brings to life the heroic work performed by flawed souls.

Pettiness, waywardness, betrayal, selfless caring and a doomed love story. You'll find it all in this magnificent novel.

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures: Stories by Vincent Lam

Lam's book, BLOODLETTING AND MIRACULOUS CURES, winner of the 2007 Giller Award tells the story of four individuals, Ming, Fitz, Chen and Sri, bound for a career in medicine. We follow them through their preparations for medical school, their training and ultimately their practices. We are introduced to the lab, where students dissect a human cadaver. We experience the impossible world of the emergency room doctor and begin to understand the juxtaposition of traditional and modern medicine. The pressures of the training and the practice of medicine colour the lives of each of the doctors. This is a gripping read that keeps one turning the pages.

Home Schooling by Carol Windley

If I had to choose the best book I have read in the last few months, it would be
Carol Windley's HOME SCHOOLING. Selected for the Giller Prize short list, it is an exceptional collection of seven short stories steeped in the landscape of Vancouver Island and the West Coast. --"Graeme made it as far as the ravine, a strange geological feature, an abruption cutting deep into the earth. He was looking down at huge moss-covered erratics, rocks deposited here centuries ago, at the end of the last ice age, and the luxuriant bracken fern, downed trees, mossy and rotten--nursery trees they were called--host to an astonishing variety of life forms: hemlock and maple seedlings, ferns and lichens and fungus.

The characters in these stories are in states of transition; families are in disarray often dealing with loss, upheaval and sometimes tragedy.

The story "What Saffi Knows" is remarkable. Saffi, 7 years old, is aware of a great tragedy. A young boy has disappeared and she has seen him hidden away. She is sure that her parents won't hear her if she tells them what she has seen and she also is aware that if she doesn't say what she knows, perhaps it might not be true.
As an adult, she comes to terms with the haunting memory through dreams.

Windley's stories are not without hope. Characters often find resolution, often in unexpected ways. The stories are beautifully crafted.

From The Globe and Mail:
"HOME SCHOOLING, is nothing short of an exceptional collction of beautiful words and resonant insights. Every single story is worthy of reading, and once read, returned to, whether for ambience or intelligence of thought and language, Carol Windley's gift with narrative and images give truly inspired meaning to "creative writing" "

Carol Windley was born in Tofino. She attended Chemainus Secondary and graduated from Malaspina College, where she later taught Creative Writing. She has worked as a radio station copywriter, and as a librarian. Her short stories have appeared in 1995: Best Canadian Short Stories (Oberon) and the fifth Journey Prize anthology. She won the first prize in CBC's Radio Literary Competition for the short story. Her first collection VISIBLE LIGHT (oolichan 1993) was shortlisted for a Governor General's Award, a BC Book Prize and won the Bumbershoot Weyerhauser Publication Award. One of her stosries set in the Pacific Northwest for HOME SCHOOLING, received the Western Magazine Award for Fiction in 2002. Windley lives in Nanaimo