Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Canuck Book 10 - The Diviners by Margaret Laurence

I'm going to keep this one simple - If Margaret Laurence must be taught in high schools, then this is the book to teach, not The Stone Angel. Don't get me wrong. The Stone Angel is a very good book. The problem is I couldn't accept that fact until I was in my mid-20's. In high school, I hated the book because it just didn't seem all that relevant or interesting.

Now, I'm not sure that The Diviners would be a great fit for high schools, but it would be better than The Stone Angel. I wish I would have read it in high school but I've always been a little bit different that way.

The Diviners is one of my all-time favourite books. It's one of the few books I do go back and reread every now and again because it has never stopped amazing me.

This time was no exception.

Canuck Book 9 - Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler

The great thing about spending much of this challenge re-reading books is that I feel I've had a chance to become reacquainted with some old friends. It's interesting to see how they've changed for me over the years. Sometimes I've forgotten things, sometimes I've remembered things differently. The past is such a fluid thing, even for books.

This is especially true with the fictional memoirs of Barney Panofsky. Barney is writing his memoirs to refute the soon to be published memoirs of his one-time friend turned enemy Terry McIvor. Divided into sections named after his three wives, the novel jumps back and forth between the past and the present while Barney gives his version of his life, including the disappearance of his best friend Boogie (for which Barney was tried and acquitted of murder). It's a shambling mess of a tale with myriad digressions and asides.

But that's the thing. Rereading this book, I see how well Richler put the tale together. The second time around, it's easier to see how much thought was put into each digression, each outburst. Richler takes the reader for one hell of a ride with just the right number of drops and twists to keep the reader going until they come up against an ending that killed me even the second time around.

Barney's Version is an incredible book and one that leaves me seriously divided. On the one hand, you read this book and wish that Richler had finished one more book. On the other hand, it's great to see that he went out in fine form, shouting and punching and landing more than a few good ones.

Friday, March 05, 2010


I have to admit my initial reaction wasn't much different from the last guy on the video. This got me to thinking about how strange our perceptions and prejudices can be. I've had no problem over the years eating this product knowing it comes from a female cow. When it comes from a female human, however, I'm a lot less enthusiastic. Weird. Even now, the best I could say is I might try it, but not without a little squeamishness.

Of course, this could lead to a digression about how strange the whole dairy industry is - the fact that we are constantly being bombarded with ads telling us how essential milk is to our lives when it is really only essential if you happen to be a baby cow - but I won't go there.

In other news, it's looking like we are going to have a beautiful weekend here in the city. Time to get truly acquainted with my new camera.