The 2nd Canadian Book Challenge is well underway, and I am progressing well toward my goal — well, sort of. I’m doing well with the reading of books. I’m not doing so well with the reviewing, or with reading the books I originally set out to do. But, I am sure that John Mutford will be lenient (right, John?) as I am providing a comprehensive mid-challenge update here!
To begin with, here’s my original list of picks:
- The Sacrifice, by Adele Wiseman
- The Wars, by Timothy Findley
- Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
- Solomon Gursky was Here, by Mordecai Richler
- The Stone Diaries, by Carol Shields
- Two Solitudes, by Hugh MacLennan
- The Roaring Girl, by Greg Hollingshead
- Divisadero, by Michael Ondaatje
- The Loved and the Lost, by Morley Callaghan
- The Book of Secrets, by M.G. Vassanji
- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, by Vincent Lam
- Late Nights on Air, by Elizabeth Hay
- A Good House, by Bonnie Burnard
Here’s what I’ve read from that list:
- The Wars, by Timothy Findley
Um … that’s it. But I haven’t been avoiding Canadian fiction. On the contrary, in fact. Here’s what else I’ve read since the July 1 kick-off:
- Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro
- Great Canadian Short Stories, ed. Alex Lucas
- The Fire-Dwellers, by Margaret Laurence
- Yellowknife, by Steve Zipp
That brings me up to 5 Canadian books total since July 1, of the 13 to be read before the next July 1. I’m almost halfway done! But more important than the numbers game, I’ve definitely enjoyed the ride.
Great Canadian Short Stories, as I mentioned in a recent monthly wrap-up, is exactly what the title promises: short stories which are both great and Canuckian. There are twenty-seven, and while they’re all at least thirty years old (exactly, in fact; it’s a collection from 1978), the editor, Alec Lucas, chose the stories that most struck his fancy rather than by any specific criteria. It’s not a collection that tries especially hard to treat all provinces equally, or all themes equally, or such. It’s just a collection of really good stories. I enjoyed it very much.
I just reviewed Yellowknife and I will direct you there, because it is wonderful (the book, I mean, not necessarily my review).
As to The Wars, I can’t imagine why it’s taken me so long to read this. It is amazing. Timothy Findley kicks some serious literary butt — if I can use so inelegant an image for so precisely-constructed a novel. It’s gorgeous.
Hmm … great, really good, wonderful, amazing, gorgeous … it clearly must be Mellifluous Adjective Day here at shereadsbooks. Well, so be it. I don’t want to stint on my prose, because theirs is good enough to deserve such lauds.
Next up! The Fire-Dwellers, by Margaret Laurence — which I just noticed I had put down as written by Margaret Atwood, which is kind of an awful mistake to make. Margarets Laurence and Atwood, I apologise. You’re both much too enjoyable to get confused with other writers. I read The Diviners last year, but I think that I liked The Fire-Dwellers even more. This might be a good one to start with if you’re new to Laurence.
I also quite enjoyed Lives of Girls and Women, but Alice Munro — more I think than Who Do You Think You Are? (although, interestingly, that question does also come up in Lives of Girls and Women as well). It may not be coincidence that I’m enjoying the books I’m reading in the summer more than those I read in the school year for a very dull class…
Coming up next for this challenge I’ll be reading The Road Past Altamont, by Gabrielle Roy, and Amnesia, by Douglas Cooper. I am excited.