Sunday, April 30, 2017

Night School

April 30, 2017

Lee Child. Night School. Delacorte, 2016.

It is 1997, before Y2K and 9/11. Jack Reacher, after being awarded another medal, is sent inexplicably to Night School, to learn “inter-agency cooperation.” They end up in Germany. The mission it to keep something (lost fifty years before and recently found) from getting into the hands of dangerous people. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Gift

April 24, 2017

The Gift: Poems by Hafiz, The Great Sufi Master. trans. Daniel Ladinsky. Penguin, 1999.

I wanted to reread Hafiz, looking for wisdom. And looking for the source of the phrase "turning into light." Found it [p.159] in "Is it true that our destiny / Is to turn into Light / Itself?" Found more wisdom closer to the end: "I wish I could put the swaying splendor / Of the fields into words." [p. 305] and "Plant / So that your own heart / Will grow." [p.330]

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Desire In Seven Voices

Desire In Seven Voices. Ed. Lorna Crozier. Douglas and McIntyre, 1999.

The books I read function as a kind of divination. What is it I am needing now, at this moment, this station in my journey? They come to me, they arrive, comfortably pre-read, as gifts, as loans, by word-of-mouth, or by serendipity, falling at my feet off the shelves of thrift stores and secondhand book stores which form the trap line of my urban life. I cannot afford to buy books new. Library due dates create too much anxiety. But "used" suits me fine. I read and enjoy. Some I adopt, squeezing them in to existing rows. CanLit. Poetry. First Nations. Non-Fiction. History. Art and Design. Others I return, or pass to a next reader, or donate, or recycle.

Yesterday's find is Desire In Seven Voices. Six essays and one story, by seven accomplished Canadian female writers--Dionne Brand, Bonnie Burnard, Evelyn Lau, Shani Mootoo, Susan Musgrave, Carol Shields, and Crozier herself. I love the female perspectives, the stories of awakenings, confessions, even gossip. And the explorations of other desires besides the sexual.

Crozier's essay--"Changing Into Fire"--is my favourite. Possibly because our backgrounds are most similar. Possibly because she seems, she and Shields seem, most aware, most evolved, if you think of that pyramid of self-actualization. Seeming to have the greater understanding. Beyond rebellion. Beyond working out unresolved childhood "issues." I love her line: "How did I learn to love myself and then love you?" [p.66]

Because the goal seems to be to explore rather than to define, I am left feeling teased yet still unsatisfied. This, I suspect, is the goal of this little jewel of a volume. Experiential. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Loving A Woman In Two Worlds

April 11, 2017
Robert Bly. Loving A Woman In Two Worlds. Harper & Row, 1985.

Poems about mature love. The two worlds seem to refer to this and another. Somehow, rereading Bly 30 years later, nice, but he doesn't take me there with him. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

No Sad Songs Wanted Here

Raymond Souster. No Sad Songs Wanted Here. Oberon, 1995.

Raymond Souster, 1921 - 2012, Governor-General's Award-winning Canadian poet, published dozens of volumes. The poems in No Sad Songs are accessible. I like accessible. They are crafted from every-day experience by a man who loves: Toronto, chocolate, jazz. A veteran who observes birds, trees, weather, who watches baseball, basketball, and the news on television, who pays attention to his dreams.

A Confederate General from Big Sur

April 9, 2017
Richard Brautigan. A Confederate General from Big Sur. Grove, 1964.

Brautigan's first novel. Set in the late Fifties, published in 1964, before Trout Fishing In America. Two men at loose ends, Lee Mellon and Jesse, the narrator, camp out on Big Sur. They are visited by free-spirited women and a crazy insurance salesman. To me, it seems that this is a story about vulnerability--economic, sexual, psychological. And about the tentativeness of identity. I know it is not fair to do this, but it's as if Brautigan foresaw his own future.

This Cake Is For the Party

April 6, 2017
Sarah Selecky. This Cake Is For the Party. Thomas Allen, 2010.

Scrumptious. I like that the stories are female-centric. No old men trying to seduce young girls. They are about relationships and entanglements. They are about trying to survive without a government job. They are about why we are who we are.


Katherena Vermette. THE BREAK. Anansi, 2016.  Book Club selection for our January meeting. Style-wise, a tour de force , telling a story ...