Wednesday, November 26, 2008


In this collection of short fiction, the Booker Prize-winning writer invites you into the intimate lives of men and women in contemporary Ireland. Here characters struggle with love in all its forms: platonic, romantic, familial. Sharp, tender and rarely predictable these stories hold up the mirror and ask who are you, really?

Monday, November 10, 2008


This dual narrative follows Will Bird and his niece Annie as the two of them struggle along separate paths of self-discovery, both of which are fraught with obstacles physical and emotional.

Will is a legendary Cree bush pilot, lying in a coma in a hospital near his hometown of Moose Factory. His niece Annie, a beautiful and resilient young woman, has returned from trying to find her missing sister Suzanne down south where she disappeared into the maws of Toronto, Montreal or New York, a victim of the drug trade and a career as a high fashion model, it would seem.

At her uncle's hospital bedside, Annie confesses all and articulates some truths about herself for the first time, hoping that all of her chatter will keep Will's brain flickering and encourage him to wake up, a possibility increasingly remote the longer he remains unconscious.

This is a story of traditions and of true love. I will not be surprised to hear Joseph Boyden's name called this week as the winner of the 2008 Giller Prize.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

GOOD TO A FAULT by Marina Endicott (2008) Broadview Press

This first novel from a new small Canadian press made it to the short-list (named by Margaret Atwood, Bob Rae and Colm Toibin) for this year's Giller Prize. It is a gem. Even if it isn't the prize-winner on November 11th, go out and get yourself a copy.

Clara Purdy is a 40-something insurance adjuster who in a moment of distraction causes a car crash with incredible personal fallout. The Gage family, whose innocent lives Clara has accidentally interrupted, was on its way to build a new life in the relatively prosperous working class town Fort McMurray, living out of their delapitated Dodge Dart along the way. None of them is horribly injured, but the Mom, Lorraine, is diagnosed with cancer. Unable to cope with this shocking reality, her husband Clayton flees, leaving Clara to accommodate each of them into her single life.

The kindness of strangers and prairie warm-heartedness combine to create stability for Lorraine's young family as she is faced with chemo, radiation and eventually a bone-marrow transplant. Clara welcomes the new challenge in her life in caring for Dolly, Trevor and Pearce and enlists the help of her neighbour and her cousins and even her pastor, Paul Tippett to do so. Recovering from her own divorce and lack of purpose, Clara finds real meaning in her life, but not before she is faced with emotional loss of her own.