Blog # 125…January 2022
Here we go again, launching a new year with high hopes in the face of grim circumstances…never more important to take refuge in the joys and sorrows of a good story. And what a wealth of stories our Canadian writers have to tell!
They live in every corner of the country and come from every corner of the globe…they’re old, young and in between and from a range of ethnicities and genders. They tell true stories, their stories, and the stories of others, real and imaginary, set here and elsewhere. If you feel like a laugh or need a cry, you’ll find it in between the covers of a book. And Bruce Cockburn has some advice ”Pay attention to the poet, You need him and you know it”.
I’m grateful to books that have helped me process personal emotional conflicts over the years. My name in the front of The Alexandria Quartet is written in a tentative small script that reflects the way I felt in my early 20’s, when it helped me understand that the world is full of very different people and no one really fits in. More recently the Mummy Noir genre has given me a sense of the real joys, but also the hard and ugly feelings involved in motherhood. I’m still struggling with understanding life and each book I read urges me along.
I haven’t taken up bread making or weaving or learning a language this past year and have spent most of the time reading…here are some of the things I’ve enjoyed. I now give myself the luxury of abandoning something I’m not liking, so this is the cream of the crop.
First, although I love fiction, some nf sometimes creeps in…I was intrigued by an interview with Kamal Al-Solaylee, a writer and professor at Ryerson (wish they’d get that name change going) about the notion of returning to home. He left Yemen as a teenager and has lived in Egypt and England, settling in Toronto several decades ago, losing his fluency in Arabic along the way. Recently, he’s started thinking of leaving Canada’s safety, health care (and winters) to return to a cabin that he knows is really a figment of his dreams. Prompted to examine other returns, real or imaginary, he speaks to individuals who have gone back to Jamaica, the Basque counties, New Zealand, Ghana, Taiwan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, discovering the unique qualities of each return (the book's name btw).
And the fiction I’ve loved: Watching You Without Me by Lynn Coady; And Miles to Go Before I Sleep by Jocelyn Saucier; Fight Night by Miriam Toews; A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson and Louise Penny, punching above her weight with The Madness of Crowds.
Books by Canadians looking at life through the lens of another culture: Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez; We Have always Been Here by Samra Habib; What Strange Paradise by Omar Al Akkah: Butter, Honey, Pig, Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi and How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammasonga.
A nod to two American women, Samantha Power for The Education of an Idealist and Stacey Abrams for a great thriller - While Justice Sleeps - the latest in about a dozen books - when did she have time for politics…and a life?
This is a partial inventory rather than reviews and this year I have no intention of learning a language, baking bread, weaving or doing anything other than reading more books!
HAPPY NEW YEAR, see you in February when it’ll be lighter later.