Sunday, July 3, 2022

HACKS

Donna Brazile. HACKS: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House. Hachette, 2017.

A democratic party worker and pundit who becomes acting chair of the DNC, trying to work with the Hillary Clinton election team. Learning on the run about computer hacking generated from Russia. 

The busy-ness and the responsibility and the amount of travel involved. I really felt for the negative impact upon the environment.




REACHER SAID NOTHING

Andy Martin. REACHER SAID NOTHING: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me. Bantam, 2015.

An academic, journalist, writer shadows Lee Child as he writes his 20th Jack Reacher novel. Very interesting depiction of one writer's process. He may have a title. He has no plot, other than knowing that Reacher will survive.




Saturday, June 11, 2022

SPLINTER THE SILENCE

Val McDERMID. SPLINTER THE SILENCE. HarperCollins, 2019. 

I am so happy to have been introduced to this Scots crime writer equally as entertaining as Ian Rankin, and with female protagonists too. My selections have been in the Carol Jordan /Tony Hill series. In this one, Carol finishes re-doing the barn, gets arrested for drunk driving, and heads the new re-MIT major incident (crime) team. As a practice-run, they uncover a previously unknown serial killer. 




SCARBOROUGH

Catherine Hernandez. SCARBOROUGH. Arsenal, 2017.

Winner of CBC Canada Reads this year, 2022. Voices of students, parents, teachers, and administrators in a Toronto suburb. Although I am not usually a fan of stories told from a child's POV, this book is the exception. Revealing and moving.



Evelyn Evelyn

Palmer and Webley. EVELYN EVELYN. Dark Horse Books, 2011. 

A graphic novel about the unfortunate life of Siamese twin girls, Americans, who end up in Manitoba. 



Sunday, May 29, 2022

CANADA

 Mike Myers. CANADA. Penguin Random House, 2016.

This is a love letter to Myer's homeland, written for Canada's sesquicentennial,150 years of confederation since 1867. Who knew that he grew up in the low-rental high-rises in North Toronto and Scarborough? 

It is fascinating as a study of nature and nurture, of how a creative person creates a career. Born into a family of recent immigrants from Liverpool. To a father whose highest expectation was finding the humour, making people laugh. Who made connections -- dance lessons to commercials. Who honed skills in work and in schools designed to nurture the arts. Who toured with Second City as a teenager. Went to England for what? The experience. The challenge. To a six year contract on SNL where he was "the Kid". He does not get into his later successes with movies, Wayne's World, Austin Powers, but that's probably because he has already written books about those years.

He doesn't spend a lot of time on the bad "learning" experiences except for his father's illness and death. He focuses his grief instead on his beloved Canada's seeming to lose its way, to abandon its dream of being the next great nation, of figuring out who we are and who we want to be and articulating those in a mission statement. It is inspiring in a way although perhaps dating too easily because of its seeming emphasis on the "great man" theory of leadership, that someone, some great leader, is required before progress can be made. It also suffers from his being so absent and unaware of current issues, especially the on-going challenge to correct the relationship between Canada, the people, the government , and the Indigenous peoples. Not even mentioned, and the cause of much grief up here.

All in all, an enjoyable and enlightening read.





Tuesday, May 24, 2022

PRINCE CHARLES

Sally Bedell Smith. PRINCE CHARLES: The PASSIONS and PARADOXES of an IMPROBABLE LIFE. Random 2017.

My Victoria Day weekend project, 507 pages on the life of a complicated man about whom I have always been interested because I was born 32 days after he was. I refused to accept this book until I was assured that it is not another trash piece. I was pleasantly surprised by the biographer's clear-eyed grasp of the mental health issues behind the failure of Diana to emerge as a suitable supportive princess wife. I like how Smith portrays the positives in Camilla's character and the importance of her as a source of love in an otherwise barren-seeming landscape of castles and duchies. Smith seems not to appreciate Prince Philip's role in setting the family tone, nor the Queen's dilemma in feeling that her duty to the monarchy had to be put before her parental responsibilities. Smith also seems to have no concept of Canada or of Elizabeth as our Queen. Nor does she seem to recognize how most of Charles' unfashionable passions (with the possible exception of homeopathy) have come full circle are are now dominating geopolitics. Most notably, environmentalism and climate change, but also the importance of spirituality in developing a love and respect for nature, and all other forms of life. And for the importance of the lived built environment, buildings and cities, to be human and community-centric.  

It also strikes me that all the things we hate about on-line culture--personal attacks, lack of focus on issues, hiding behind anonymity, using rumour and scandal-mongering as click-bait, presentation of opinion as if it is fact--are all part of the tabloid press so destructive in Britain and America. 



HACKS

Donna Brazile. HACKS: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House. Hachette, 2017. A democrat...