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.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I don't know this book at all, but it sounds quite beautiful and lyrical.

I didn't realise that the National Post entries had to be less than two years old. That certainly narrows my list down.

And I am still pleased to see Generation X on Canada Reads.

John Mutford said...

I was a little disappointed that they stuck the 2 years or less restriction, too. I still came up with something...