Eileen Doyle Evans. DESCANTS. sp, Chilliwack, 2010.

Lovely collection of poems by a friend, Eileen. Local settings, familiar scenes, and universal experiences of love and loss. 


Jen Sookfong Lee. The End Of East. Knopf, 2007.

The End of East is Vancouver. This novel was a good read to complete on BC's Family Day. The story of immigrants from China, three generations of a family, coming over, living in Vancouver. Moving from Chinatown to East Van. The grandfather a barber, the son an accountant. Subtexts involving the importance of sons and the challenges of mother-daughter relationships. 


Peggy Blair. The Beggar's Opera.

Second selection for the Hawthorne Book Club. Peggy Blair is an Ottawa-based writer, former lawyer, who writes about crime and police inspector Ramirez in Havana, Cuba. I was interested in exploring this setting and the novel does not disappoint. Although it is told from the Canadian tourist perspective, we still get a lot about Cuba, the economy, the different laws, etc. And how so much of the crime comes from outside the island. A complicated plot centering around the death of a beggar boy, pedophilia, marital discord, and secrets, the twists kept me reading for both the surprises and the resolutions. Will definitely want to read the next installments. 


Paulo Coelho. The Zahir. 

I wanted to read another Coelho for a wider impression. Brida was not a favourite, and The Alchemist was coming-of-age. The Zahir is the story of an older man trying to find his wife who left him mysteriously after ten years. Set in Paris, and travelling to Kazakhstan, the protagonist moves from lauded writer to the street people of Paris, to the deserts of Asia, looking for wisdom and the reason people he loves choose to leave him. Obsession. Creativity. Epilepsy. An interesting combination of the things we need to learn and the people who are sent to help us do so. 


Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist. Harper, 1993.

First selection for the Hawthorne Book Club. Glad to get the opportunity to read such a world-wide popular author. This story of a boy's quest and coming of age reminded me of The Little Prince. The style seems to me to be "comforting," telling the reader what the protagonist sees, hears, thinks, and feels. 

The Swan's Road

December 7, 2017

Garth Pettersen. The Swan's Road. Tirgearr, 2017. eBook.

The Swan’s Road is local writer Garth Pettersen’s enjoyable historical action adventure novel, a balance of armour and amour, following the travels of a Danish youth, Harald, on the Swan’s Road to Rome, in 1027 AD. A fast-paced, character-centred tale with cinematic scenes of accidents enroute, encounters, ambushes, arm-to-arm combat, in the context of familial and romantic longings. Loyalties are contested and identities in doubt as Harald rushes to meet up with his father King Cnute at the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor.
Personally, I also enjoyed the author’s Historical Notes at the end of The Swan’s Road, about the process of researching and writing, the historical accuracies and additions, and the careful vocabulary choices consistent with the development of the language used in Engla-lond at the time. Looking forward to Garth Pettersen’s next installments about the politics of Europe and the romance…


Nick Mount. Arrival: The Story of CanLit. Anansi, 2017.

In spite of my passion for CanLit (or maybe because of it), I held off reading this book – Arrival: The Story of CanLit.  Maybe if he had changed the title to The Story of CanLit in the 1960s I’d be a bit less critical.
I avoided reading because I knew it would make me mad. It would be T-O-centric and phallo-centric. And it is. Moreover, it is the tone. That overly confidant mansplaining talk which presents opinion as if it were fact. I blame that tendency for the false news fad which we are fighting today. Rather than blame myself, and other teachers and former teachers, who have failed to stress, teach, develop the skill of being able to differentiate opinion, fiction, from fact. Or worse, we failed to help groom students who care about the difference, the ethics of opinion. The responsibility of speaking in the public forum.
You can sort of imagine how this book grew. First, everything starts in Toronto. With a bit of bleed from…