Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Canuck Book 6 - This All Happened by Michael Winter

Another of my faves, This All Happened is a novel as journal chronicling 365 days in the life of Gabriel English, Michael Winter's fictional alter-ego. I must admit I have a thing for novels that tell their stories differently - from the epistolery novel (like Richard Wright's Clara Callan) to stranger works (like Leanne Shapton's Important Artifacts. . . ). As such, it should come as no surprise that I love this strange book.

The novel is exactly what I said - 365 journal entries following the life of Gabriel Winter. While the book does follow the disintegration of English's relationship with his girlfriend Lydia, it can't be said to have a plot as such. Things happen. Things don't happen. Friends get together. Friends break up. Some of the best passages of the book involve nothing more than English observing the world around him. I've read this book three times and I'm still finding things to love.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Because buskers are one of the joys of city living

I've been a very bad blogger of late. I'm not going to get much better right now as work and life are both a little hectic but at least I'll offer up this post.

Check out the link for a profile of one of my favourite buskers. I've talked to her a few times always enjoy listening to her in the Union subway station:

Bob Snider is a classic. I love to watch him when he takes to the sidewalks of Kensington Market:

Now it's time to head to bed. Good night all.

Monday, December 07, 2009

All Around These Northern Towns

It's easy to forget Toronto is a northern town. We do all we can to ignore the changing seasons. We shuffle across slippery sidewalks on sneakers and hang out on patios almost until the snow flies. When bad weather does hit we have to admit that it's nothing like they get up north or out west or face the ridicule of all those people who live in the 'real' north.

But the fact remains that Toronto is a northern town. I was reminded of this yesterday when I took the following pictures:

Not bad for 4:30 in the afternoon.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Canuck Book 5 - When I Was Young and In My Prime by Alayna Munce

Well, it's been a bit longer than I'd hoped since my last post. Between long stretches of work and technical difficulties (I wouldn't mind meeting the writers of a certain virus in a back alley, if you know what I mean), I'm just now getting back to the blog.

Well, there's also the fact that I spent a lot of my spare time plowing through Stephen King's latest, the amazingly good Under the Dome. It's not often one can say that a 1000+ page book moves quickly but this one does.

When I first thought of spending this Canuck book challenge revisiting old favourites, one of the books I was most looking forward to rereading was Alayna Munce's When I Was Young and In My Prime. I picked it up originally on a whim and was surprised by the beauty and truth it held.

This is a poet's novel. Or a novel poem. In a lot of ways, it seems more like a fictional journal than anything else. It's a book that tells its story through thoughts and feelings rather than action. I guess the best way to describe it is that it is a story that is told through the spaces between actions rather than through the actions themselves, if that makes any sense at all. It does to me, but that could just be because I've read this novel twice and been captivated by it both times.

The story weaves the tale of young married woman living in Parkdale with that of her grandparents, one-time farmers who moved into town. Perspectives shift. Narratives entwine as the story is told (and sometimes retold) by the protagonist and her grandparents.

This is a novel to sink into. It's not just the story it tells; it's the way Munce tells it. Beautiful sentences and images abound. I strongly recommend it.

I wasn't really sure what I was going to read next for the challenge until I started looking at this book more as a journal as novel. That sent me diving through the stacks of books to pull out Michael Winter's This All Happened, a most definite journal as novel following 365 days in the life of Winter alter-ego Gabriel English. At the same time, I found a nice hardcover copy of Morley Callaghan's That Summer In Paris at Ten Editions Books this afternoon so I think I'll give that a go, as well.

Seeing as I'm on the topic of re-reading Canuck books, I might as well put it to you, the readers: What one Canuck book do you most want to read? Why?

If you're interested, the National Post's book blog, The Afterword, is looking for suggestions for an alternative to this year's old and kind of dull Canada Reads selections. It's an interesting idea. The books need to be less than two years old, which sadly rules out the Munce book or Andrew Kaufman's All My Friends are Superheros. Intead, I suggested Maggie Helwig's Girls Fall Down.