“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” W. Somerset Maugham
Monday, 27 May 2013
Last post for May...
After a weekend of lovely sunny weather, during which I did little reading (shame on me!), I am enjoying this cool, sunny morning with CBC Radio, a cup of Chai tea and a slice of homemade Date Bread… mmm!
I’m three days into the readings from John Lukacs’ Five Days in London: May 1940, that non-fiction title I mentioned last week about the meetings in the War Cabinet in London at the beginning of WWII, where decisions made changed the course of history. I must say, as a non-history person and a non-non-fiction reader, reading these sections on particular days reminds me a bit too much of homework, where students are assigned certain chapters on certain days. I’m not in high school any more! But the sections are short, and not too difficult to read, although the few non-fiction titles I have read generally read more like novels than non-fiction works, whereas this one would never be mistaken for a fiction title. Having said that, I’m enjoying this interesting reading experience, and look forward to reading the sections for today and tomorrow, and then the last section, which I assume is a summing up of the outcomes of the decisions made by Churchill and his government.
I also read The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks last week. That is the next selection for our “friends” book club, which will meet on June 6th. The way we selected this rather old title (1991, I think), is that, at the last meeting, when we discussed Tell It To The Trees by Anita Rau Badami, we checked online to see if Merritt’s Point, the small town where the novel is set, really exists. It does not, but Merritt, BC, is a real place, and also the location where the film “The Sweet Hereafter ” was shot. We then got talking about the film, which was based on the book, and voila!, a book selection was made. This book tells the story of a school bus accident in a small New York town in which 14 children were killed. Lawyers come on the scene trying to encourage the grieving families to sue someone or some organization, the town or the school board or the bus company, for negligence, and the town becomes divided. Told in chapters narrated by different characters, this novel may seem deceptively simple at first glance. The stereotypical small-town mindset is applied heavily and the narrative styles of each character are far from complex and educated. But the structure of the novel, told in these individual narratives which follow on the heels of the previous section to continue the story while also filling the reader in on the backstory of the narrator, is like a string of pearls that pulls the reader along and leads him/her deeper into the makeup of the community and into the role and purpose of blame in a crisis that affects a small town. I know I read this novel around the time that it was first published, but I’d forgotten what a fabulous novel it was, simple yet complex, where reality is much more than initially meets the eye, things are not black and white, and judgment must be reserved until the final page and beyond. I’m curious what the others will think of this novel; I wonder if they will find it a bit dated, although I feel that it deals with the universal human condition and so the essence of the story is timeless.
And I’m going to the library today to pick up a novel by Andrew Pyper, a Canadian novelist whose first book, Lost Girls, I read a number of years ago, but whose following books I have neglected to read for various reasons. I saw him read at Words Worth Bookstore last week, along with Robert Rotenberg, author of Old City Hall, whose new book, Stranglehold, is currently available. I’ve read the first two novels by Rotenberg, but I now have a renewed interest in checking out Pyper’s earlier novels as I wait for a copy of his latest, The Demonologist, to come into the library for me (I’m also on hold for Rotenberg’s new novel). Anyway, I’m hoping to read Pyper’s novel by the weekend, and then move on to Peter Robinson’s Before the Poison, which is the selection for my next volunteer book club meeting on June 7th. So many books…
Bye for now!
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