August 29, 2009

Classy Alice

My review of the new Alice Munro collection, Too Much Happiness, is in today's Montreal Gazette and online here.

In case you don't feel like clicking through, I might as well tell you that I loved it, and I was really thrilled to have it assigned to me! (As absolutely ludicrous and surreal as it seems to for me to be reviewing the Master, but that is sometimes the way things work.)

The Globe has the excellent Anne Enright reviewing it, though she only has a few paragraphs about this collection, the rest of the review taken up with more general (but very eloquent) praise.

McClelland & Stewart also announced yesterday that Alice Munro requested Too Much Happiness not be submitted for consideration for the Giller, a prize she has already won twice, in order to leave the field open for younger writers. I think that this is an extremely classy move, though if you read the comments on Bookninja here and on CBC here you will find some other opinions (e.g. it's an arrogant move to assume her book will win, it taints the prize for anyone now who does win, etc., etc.).

August 23, 2009

how long is your to-read pile?

I had an Amazon order arrive not so long ago, and I'm feeling just a wee bit guilty about the purchase considering all the books I have piled up, still unread, from the past two years or so. A lot I purchased new, some second-hand (but still in beautiful condition), and some were gifts. A number of them, I'm afraid, are by people I know --- but I will leave those off this list for the time being, since that shame is of another, greater kind, and in any case I intend to read those ones first, and very soon.

Here then is the list of books purchased with the intention of reading in the very near future, sitting still unread:

Sylvanus Now - Donna Morrisey
Kit's Law - Donna Morrisey
The Book of Beasts - Bernice Friesen
The Savage Detectives - Roberto Bolano
October - Richard Wright
The Culprits - Robert Hough
Mercy - Alissa York
Deafening - Frances Itani
The Line of Beauty - Alan Hollinghurst
Blindness - José Saramago
The White Bone - Barbara Gowdy
Where Has She Gone - Nino Ricci
The Girls - Lori Lansen
Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl
The Secret History - Donna Tartt

Then I have a few books I won from various Twitter giveaways on the 'net:

The Outlander - Gil Adamson
Fear of Fighting - Stacey May Fowles & Marlena Zuber
The Disappearance of Seetha - Andrea Gunraj
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz

My latest Amazon purchases, selected in a fit of Parisian longing after looking at too many "Summer Reading" booklists online:

Bonjour Tristesse - Francoise Sagan
The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery

I should say that these are all relatively recent purchases. No sense in getting into the all-time list of unread books, as there simply isn't time.

Where to start??

August 21, 2009

vacation satiation

Now that a week has passed since my vacation, I'm ready to look back on it with nostalgia, rather than as the source of dehydration (too much sun) and achy legs (too much walking) and sleep deprivation (too many late nights and early mornings). Actually, all that was a meagre price to pay for good times with good friends, outrageously good food, and a little time in one of the world's great cities (NYC, though Boston's no slouch either).

Boston's North End.
I walk more purposefully when carrying a box full of pastry (specifically, ricotta cannoli).

This time we skipped the Strand, since I have
too many books still unread, and hit up Williamsburg and Coney Island instead, which was just as fabulously weird as I had been led to expect. I'm not sure whether it was the recorded messages blaring invitations to the 50-cent freakshows or the disgusting corn dog I ate, but it was just seedy enough to make us want to leave in a hurry.

Sometimes I think that mostly the reason I leave home at all is so that I can be reminded all over again how lucky I am to live where I do. And there's something to be said, too, for enforced separation from a writing project -- such that you're daydreaming about it and longing to get back to work.

On Brighton Beach. Beaches are a novelty for this Montrealer.

August 19, 2009

The Benefits of Leaving Town

One of the perks of leaving town for a few days is coming home to a pile of linky goodness on Google Reader and Twitter. Is there anything more satisfying and relaxing than zoning out with a cold glass of soda water in front of a metric ton of new blog posts? (Well, possibly. But not during a heat wave.)

Annabel Lyon has been posting lots on her blog (her last entry includes a link to an excerpt) for her brand-new novel about Alexander and Aristotle, The Golden Mean. I can't wait to read it! It and February by Lisa Moore are the two books I'm most excited about that I haven't gotten my hands on yet.

Ami McKay just posted this very cute and fun kids magnetic poetry site on her Twitter feed.

Hannah Sung at the CBC Book Club linked to a Times Online list from Adrian McKinty of the 10 Best Lady Detectives. Glaring omission (to my mind): Veronica Mars! (I'm still crushed that that show -- my favourite since Buffy -- was cancelled.)

The Guardian Book Club takes on Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha -- a book I loved when I first read it in Grade Twelve but which I haven't yet had a chance to revisit.

I think that's all the sharing I can manage before facing the fact that my little vacation really is over. Back to work!

August 14, 2009

laptop anxiety

I'm heading out this morning for four days to Boston and then New York City, leaving my laptop behind. These are my parting moments with the machine with which I spend, for better or worse, many of my waking and virtually all of my working hours. So it's a temporary goodbye to both work (completely) and the internet (mostly), and both prospects make me a little panicky. But it'll be good, right?? All my characters will be making the trip with me, anyway, at least in my mind.

Er, but I'll avoid mentioning that to the border guard.

Hope everyone makes it through the heatwave weekend without melting!