August 16, 2008

Challenge Update: Canadian Books, Eh?

The 2nd Canadian Book Challenge is well underway, and I am progressing well toward my goal -- well, sort of. I'm doing well with the reading of books. I'm not doing so well with the reviewing, or with reading the books I originally set out to do. But, I am sure that John Mutford will be lenient (right, John?) as I am providing a comprehensive mid-challenge update here!

To begin with, here's my original list of picks:

  1. The Sacrifice, by Adele Wiseman

  2. The Wars, by Timothy Findley

  3. Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood

  4. Solomon Gursky was Here, by Mordecai Richler

  5. The Stone Diaries, by Carol Shields

  6. Two Solitudes, by Hugh MacLennan

  7. The Roaring Girl, by Greg Hollingshead

  8. Divisadero, by Michael Ondaatje

  9. The Loved and the Lost, by Morley Callaghan

  10. The Book of Secrets, by M.G. Vassanji

  11. Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, by Vincent Lam

  12. Late Nights on Air, by Elizabeth Hay

  13. A Good House, by Bonnie Burnard

Here's what I've read from that list:

  1. The Wars, by Timothy Findley

Um ... that's it. But I haven't been avoiding Canadian fiction. On the contrary, in fact. Here's what else I've read since the July 1 kick-off:

  1. Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro

  2. Great Canadian Short Stories, ed. Alex Lucas

  3. The Fire-Dwellers, by Margaret Laurence

  4. Yellowknife, by Steve Zipp

That brings me up to 5 Canadian books total since July 1, of the 13 to be read before the next July 1. I'm almost halfway done! But more important than the numbers game, I've definitely enjoyed the ride.

Great Canadian Short Stories, as I mentioned in a recent monthly wrap-up, is exactly what the title promises: short stories which are both great and Canuckian. There are twenty-seven, and while they're all at least thirty years old (exactly, in fact; it's a collection from 1978), the editor, Alec Lucas, chose the stories that most struck his fancy rather than by any specific criteria. It's not a collection that tries especially hard to treat all provinces equally, or all themes equally, or such. It's just a collection of really good stories. I enjoyed it very much.

I just reviewed Yellowknife and I will direct you there, because it is wonderful (the book, I mean, not necessarily my review).

As to The Wars, I can't imagine why it's taken me so long to read this. It is amazing. Timothy Findley kicks some serious literary butt -- if I can use so inelegant an image for so precisely-constructed a novel. It's gorgeous.

Hmm ... great, really good, wonderful, amazing, gorgeous ... it clearly must be Mellifluous Adjective Day here at shereadsbooks. Well, so be it. I don't want to stint on my prose, because theirs is good enough to deserve such lauds.

Next up! The Fire-Dwellers, by Margaret Laurence -- which I just noticed I had put down as written by Margaret Atwood, which is kind of an awful mistake to make. Margarets Laurence and Atwood, I apologise. You're both much too enjoyable to get confused with other writers. I read The Diviners last year, but I think that I liked The Fire-Dwellers even more. This might be a good one to start with if you're new to Laurence.

I also quite enjoyed Lives of Girls and Women, but Alice Munro -- more I think than Who Do You Think You Are? (although, interestingly, that question does also  come up in Lives of Girls and Women as well). It may not be coincidence that I'm enjoying the books I'm reading in the summer more than those I read in the school year for a very dull class...

Coming up next for this challenge I'll be reading The Road Past Altamont, by Gabrielle Roy, and Amnesia, by Douglas Cooper. I am excited.

6 comments:

Mrs. Micah said...

I'm reading Jeanne, Fille du Roy about une jeune fille who emigrates from France to Nouvelle France. It's Canadian. I actually bought it in Toronto once.

But in my French reading, it's been preempted by La Quete de Despereaux which is just so darn cute!

Mrs. Micah said...

(Looking at it, it's silly to say "bought it in Toronto once." That would imply I have multiple copies. Or have bought it more than once. Which I haven't. I think I lose 2 points.)

Christine said...

Jeanne, Fille du Roy is one of my favourite books ever! Of course, I've only read the English version. But it is one of the best books of my childhood and I usually read it at least once or twice a year.

Mrs. Micah said...

I've read it twice...but then it's much much slower going. ;) I really do love it. I've wondered at times how I ended up with such a good book if I was picking books in French (so much less able to evaluate), but I suppose you must have recommended it to me!

Alice said...

Actually, my dear, I recommended it to your mother and we all went to the French bookstore specifically to buy it (and whatever else it seemed you might read -- Garfield, was it?). We had a bit of trouble finding it because we only knew the English title (The King's Daughter) and it was only when we described the story to the clerk that she knew the book.

Katie V said...

Speaking of Canadian books I recently read Vandal Love, a beautiful book that follows a family from Quebec; half are born runts and half giants. The Canada Reads book "Not wanted on the Voyage" is a completely new take on the Noah's Ark story (not religious) and well-written.

Katie V’s latest blog post:Staying Current