Saturday, 24 December 2016

Top Ten Lists 2016 - #2 (AKA The Penultimates)

Yesterday, we finished decorating our Christmas tree and putting up our decorations. The tree looks lovely, as always. The missus has a great sense of what works. I treated her to BBQ'd hamburgers for supper and, maybe it was the fact that I was BBQ'ing in December or that it was nice and frosty outside, but they were probably the best I've made in a long time. So it's now Christmas Eve. Today we'll wrap each others' gifts and maybe treat ourselves to breakfast downtown. I'll check with Jo when I finish this Blog entry.

Today, I list my Top 2 song and book selections of 2016. I might save the #1's for Boxing Day. Depends how early of a start we get tomorrow. So, on that note, my #2's

Song Selection

Clean Bandit - Rockabye
I discovered the music of Clean Bandit a couple of years ago. They formed in Cambridge, England and feature a great mix of classical and electronic sounds. They regularly feature excellent vocalists on their songs. It's from them that I also first heard Jess Glynne sing, such a fantastic voice. Rockabye came out in 2016 and features Sean Paul and Ann-Marie. (You can hear the song by clicking on the title under their photo)

Book Selection

My #2 selection comes from Canadian writer, Mordecai Richler. Back in my university days, I'd read The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, St. Urbain's Horseman and his children's book, Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, but then I basically stopped reading his books. I heard about Solomon Gursky Was Here from a book on Canadian authors and literature that I'd received for Christmas a couple of years ago. When I decided to do a Canadian Literature challenge this past year, this was a book I decided to try. It was excellent. Richler is such a great story - teller. My review of the book is below.

"What a joy to read! How do you describe Solomon Gursky Was Here? In its simplest form, it's the story of Ephraim Gursky, a minor crook and forger, who escapes from prison in England and tricks his way onto the ill-fated Franklin expedition, and manages to survive the disaster.
He roams the Arctic, becomes a religious leader to a band of Eskimos; in some way he persuades them they are one of the 12 tribes of Israel. He eventually finds his way to Saskatchewan, starts a family and then the story follows his three grand-children; Solomon, Barnie and Morrie and their children. The grand-sons found a successful liquor business, built partly on smuggling booze to the US during their prohibition; then settle in Montreal.
The other aspect of the story follows one Moses Berger, son of poet LB Berger, who worked for the Gursky families. Moses travels through this story trying to find out the truth about Solomon Gursky; a trickster like his grand father, who died in a plane crash in the North of Canada.
That is the story in its simplest form. It meanders from the past, following Ephraim, then his grand sons and their kids; also following Moses, now a drunk and a failed writer as he explores the Gursky family. There are so many lovely tidbits, humour, and just great, entertaining story-telling. It's an excellent read and it winds up in such a satisfying manner. I highly recommend. It's been many years since I read something by Mordecai Richler and I'm going to have to find Barney's Version next."

Ed note. In fact, I did find Barney's Version and I hope to read it in 2017. If you take a chance on Solomon Gursky, you might want to write down the various family trees. It can get confusing, but then again, I didn't and once I got into the flow of the book, I remembered who all the characters were.

So either tomorrow or Boxing Day, I'll provide my #1's.

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