This past few years I've explored more Canadian authors; especially Mystery writers, as I've branched more and more into that genre. I love a well-crafted mystery. There are many wonderful and talented Canadian mystery writers. I'll list a few of my favourites in the latter portion of this Blog entry.
This year as one of my Goodreads reading challenges, I decided to explore Canadian writers, so my 12 + 4 Reading challenge was made up only of Canadian authors. I finished that fairly quickly and am now about half way through an add-on 12 + 0 Reading challenge, once again focussing solely on Canadian authors.
So with that as a frame of reference, I've decided to add my Top Ten List of favourite Canadian books. Please recognize that my frame of reference probably isn't all that deep, but I think the list highlights some excellent books and writers. So here we go, from #10 to #1, my Top Ten Canadian books.
"Scar Tissue, in its simplest form, is the story of a man trying to deal with his mother's descent into mental incapacitation through what I presume is Alzheimer's, although that name isn't specifically used. It's the story of his relationship with his father, mother, brother and wife and family as the disease progresses and of his ability or inability to cope with it and them. In some ways, it's a very straightforward story but at the same time, it can strike many chords with the reader. There were many moments when it reminded me of my own mother's struggles with Alzheimers and it made me respect my father and sister's constant caring for her, while I, who lived across the country, only visited once or twice a year. It's a very short story but an excellent one."
"The synopsis of this book compares the style to Kurt Vonnegut and J.G. Ballard. I can see that somewhat, especially JG Ballard. However, I find the characters more sympathetic and easy to relate to than those in the Ballard books I've read up to now. I also can compare the story and feeling somewhat to Emily St Mandel's Station Eleven, without the scope of her story.
In Player One, you have basically 4 people; Rick, Karen, Rachel and Luke and also the narrator, a computer game voice of Player One, all trapped in an airport cocktail lounge by a world-wide crisis. This crisis involves the sudden drastic increase in the price of oil and a series of explosions, etc. The four are in the cocktail lounge for various reasons; Rick as the bartender, Karen, just having flown in to meet an internet companion to see if they can strike up a relationship, Rachel, trying to meet a man to make her feel human and Luke, a parish priest on the run. Player One is the unseen voice, elaborating on the events of the previous hour and expounding on what will happen in the next.
The story is set over 5 hours and in each hour, the four humans and Player One tell what they are thinking and what is occurring. It's an interesting concept and each person is well-crafted for such a short timeframe and the story is engrossing and draws you in. I could easily have given this a 5-star rating, but I think a solid 4 is fair. I enjoyed this story very much and found myself being drawn back to it to see how it would all resolve. Excellent and surprisingly good."
"The dumplings were children. They couldn't tell right from wrong, or keep themselves clean; but they could fly or float on the wind, freeze a river or fry a man alive. Hideously mutated reminders of a nuclear explosion, they were kept hidden from an unsuspecting world in a secret electronic 'dump' that even their terrifying Psi powers couldn't penetrate. Until the night they decided to go out and play."
(You might also like to check out; O Master Caliban, A Judgement of Dragons, Emperors, Swords and Pentacles and Son of Morning and Other Stories.)
"I've read a couple of Margaret Millar's stories before; they can be hard to find. I enjoyed them quite a bit, as she has a very accessible writing style. The Soft Talkers, also published under the name An Air That Kills, was a pleasure to read. It was a perfect little mystery.
Millar has such a smooth writing style, even little details like "she buttoned up her sweater to the very top", fill the story and make it even better. The story basically deals with the disappearance of Ron Galloway, who is supposed to meet his buddies at a cabin he owns north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He never shows up and the rest of the story deals with the follow-on reactions of his friends and family and the follow-on search for him.
The story is told from the perspective of his various friends and of his wife and there are also even small sub-stories by side characters. Even these sub-stories are interesting and so well-written. It's a story that I just enjoyed reading and the ending had a nice surprise that I actually didn't see coming. Being Canadian, I enjoyed the setting; the city of Toronto and cottage country north of Toronto. The story was written in 1957 and in some ways reminds me of some of the Patricia Highsmith stories I've read, just better. Such a simple but entertaining book; clear, concise and intelligently written. I highly recommend."
"I loved Station Eleven. It was one of those books that I wanted to finish to see how it ended, but, at the same time, I wanted to continue exploring the lives of the characters. Does that make sense?
It brought out so many emotions; sadness, anger, tears (in both a good and bad way), happiness, encouragement, etc. In some ways it reminded me of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, but it wasn't so consistently dour and scary. Probably part of the reason for that may be that Station Eleven had more characters and it also didn't just situate itself solely in the dystopic (am I spelling this right?) future.
I particularly liked how the story moved along, starting in their present (our future), introducing the Travelling Symphony and highlighting the new way of life of people trying to survive, then wandering to other characters, explaining where they were when the Georgia Flu caused this world-wide destruction and following their adjustments to the post-flu life.
I liked how the main characters are slowly linked up, such as how Kirsten came to be in possession of Miranda's comic, Station Eleven, even how this comic may have impacted The Prophet. The Prophet introduced a very scary element into the whole story. Was he not utilized enough? Maybe but, personally, I think his appearances were just sufficient enough to provide a negative counterpoint to those trying to live safe lives. More of him might have put a completely different tone to the overall story. How people coped with this new future is what was most interesting.
There were so many nice touches. I liked Kirsten especially but every character was excellent and their personalities developed just to the right amount. I could go on and on. Suffice it to say, it's an excellent story and well worth reading. I think the ending left the story open - ended enough to provide a continuation story to show us how the future continues to unfold, should Emily St. John Mandel so desire. Maybe?? Please.. "
"This is the 3rd book in the Cornish trilogy. I enjoyed the first, The Rebel Angels, very much. It had been most enjoyable to get back into Robertson Davies. The second book, What's Bred in the Bone, while interesting, didn't hold the same level of enjoyment that the first did. So The Lyre of Orpheus had sat on my shelf for a couple of years now.
I'm so glad that I finally dusted it off and got back into this trilogy. It was excellent. I loved everything about this; the writing, the characters, the story. The basic story is that the Cornish foundation, run by Arthur Cornish and his lovely wife, Maria, and assisted by a loose collection of directors, agrees to use Cornish foundation money, to fund the doctoral work of a young music student, Hulda Schnakenburg. She is trying to complete an unfinished opera by Hoffman, the Story of Arthur of Britain. A concurrent story has Simon Darcourt, old friend of Francis Cornish and of Arthur and Maria, seeking to complete a biography of Francis Cornish.
The investigation into this biography, to find out the missing middle of Francis' life and the development of the opera, are both fascinating stories. The characters, from the main ones, as well as Schnak and the others brought in to help with the creation of the opera, were lovingly written and so interesting. I won't say I'm an opera fan, but watching the creation and development and the ultimate presentation of this opera, was a joy to read. Throw in asides by ghostly Hoffman, throughout the story, as he watches from Limbo and waits to see what the ultimate result will be, and you've got a wonderfully rich story. Sex, cuckoldry and just downright entertainment, a truly fantastic, wonderful story. A perfect ending to this trilogy."
"First published in 1985, The Handmaid's Tale is a novel of such power that the reader is unable to forget its images and its forecast. With more than two million copies in print, it is Margaret Atwood's most popular and compelling novel. Set in the near future, it describes life in what once was the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead. Reacting to social unrest, and a sharply declining birthrate, the new regime has reverted to -- even gone beyond -- the repressive tolerance of the original Puritans. Offred is a Handmaid who may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant because she is only valued as long as her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now."
So there you go, my Top Ten Canadian books. I was going to continue this thread with my list of favourite Canadian mystery writers, but this has taken longer than planned. Besides, it'll give me something to write tomorrow.