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Search tags: lit-fiction-canada
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review 2016-06-04 22:01
The Eagle and the Raven (Rediscovered Classics) - Pauline Gedge

I love my Pauline Gedge, but of her novels, this has to be my least favorite. Note that it is not a bad novel.

Part of the problem with me is the blurb, there really isn't much Boudicca in it. Additionally the characterization isn't as good as her later novels.

But mostly, I think it would be a much better novel if told from Aricia's pov. Yes, yes I know. But everyone is bad mouthing her and all, but still. I think it would more interesting. In fact, the book is most lively with Aricia and Galdys

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review 2015-11-20 17:03
BROADCAST JOURNALISM 101 - TORONTO (CANADA) 1986
If It Bleeds, It Leads - Laura Di Battista

The author of this novel, Laura Di Battista, I had known about previously because of her work as a journalist with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) in Toronto. She had been the host of a popular local radio show, "Here and Now" that I listened to online from time to time. So, I was surprised and curious when I had learned earlier this month that she had penned a novel. And now, having freshly finished reading "IF IT BLEEDS, IT LEADS", I so enjoyed the experience.

 

The novel begins in 1986 in a TV newsroom in Toronto. Cara Angeli is a 25 year old young woman out of university who has been trying for months to make inroads into the news business. She shares an apartment with her best friend Cheryl, who works as a waitress in a downtown restaurant. Ever since she was a child, Cara had wanted to be a broadcast journalist. So, when opportunity beckoned, Cara accepted an entry-level job as a production assistant. Cara's colleagues, as fleshed out by the author, are like a cast of characters in a Shakespearean drama. Each of them are so compellingly real that any reader will be able to relate to them through reflecting on his/her own work experiences. Cara soon learns that she is in a newsroom full of lecherous and sexist bosses. The broadcast news business at that time was still very much a "old boys' club", dominated by men. But Cara perseveres and begins her steady climb up the career ladder. Along the way, she experiences love, happiness, and heartbreak. I won't go into details about any of that. I will leave it to the reader of this review, if I have managed to pique your curiosity in any way, to read this rollicking, funny, deliciously sexy, thoroughly entertaining and compelling novel.

 

For a debut novel, Laura Di Battista has succeeded brilliantly in evoking a story that encapsulates the essence of life in the 1980s for a budding journalist in a city (Toronto) that I love so well. Hope she writes another novel.

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review 2015-08-02 16:18
A Fairly Good Time - Mavis Gallant

What's a woman to do when her French husband leaves her?  All sorts of things apparently.  I have to say that I found Gallant's short fiction to be better, but there are some beautiful passages in this novel about Shirley as she tried to find her way in Paris as she moves among confusing French people.

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review 2015-07-25 18:07
Re-read again
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

This is my review from 2012 and an update:

 


HT was not the first work by Atwood that I read, that was a short story or two in a Canadian Lit class, but it was the first novel by Atwood that I read. I read it over the summer, over the length of a day, torn between the story and the World Cup and walking the dog. It's a favorite novel, though not my favorite Atwood, that isThe Robber Bride.

HT apparently has moved to the current events section of several libraries, moved from the fiction section. Women protesting anti-abortion laws in Washington DC have dressed up as Handmaids. The novel has been adapted both as a movie and an opera.

Perhaps the future that Atwood depicts in this novel won't come to past (we do seem to be past the date, yet even with the doubt (or knowledge) that such future will not exist, yet we see echoes of it in today's world. Events of the novel seem to happening regardless.

Okay, maybe not the dressing in red and blue, but the other issues. Women forbidden to work and read, women who can't own anything not even thier bodies, women who must produce a child or be cast aside, young girls married off to men they don't know. Even if those places were equality reigns women still, on average, earn less than men for the same amount of work. Atwood's Gilead is at once far off and too near, a point that all good literature has. (The blame on Islamic terrorists is a very intersting connection to the current day).

While the book is feminist, it is also humanist. Offred might be passive but in the characters of Luke, Offred's mom, and Moira we have the feminist voice. If anything, the book is a caution about either type of extreme - extreme religion and extreme sexual freedom (Feels on wheels, Pormomarts) - both of which seem to be, to various degrees, not good.

Additionally, Atwood deals with the issue of complancy. Offred is less feminist than her mother, than Moira. And while we admire both mom and Moira we think we might be more like Offred, because nameless Offred (of Fred) is the Everywoman in this Everyman parable.

Perhaps this is the reason why this story is so timeless, why it stands the test of time, why it would've made Atwood's name even if she never wrote anything else. The questions it raises about gender, women, society, life, and family are still one we debate today, are still definitions we debate today - what is a family, is abortion about life or control of a woman's body, why the differences standards for women and men?

This is a great book that is always timely.

Updated review (7/25/2015) - Still importance. Impressive watching a whole class get caught up in it. I have to wonder, however, why inner-cities students respond to it far more deeply and enjoy it far more. And I mean students, the men were just as into it.

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review 2015-04-02 20:52
Sanaaq: An Inuit Novel (Contemporary Studies on the North) - Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk,Bernard Saladin d'Anglure,Peter Frost

 

                This is a different type of novel.  The plot of the novel is life, and the point of the novel is illustrating the life of a people as opposed to simply a life of person.  The title character, Sanaaq, is a widowed mother who, along with her family, deals with everyday life and changing circumstances.  It is not a “first people met the white man” novel though religion and modern society do play a role towards the end of the book.

 

                Because of this it is a rather good book.  It is a look at culture by a person who lives in that culture and wants to educate about that culture.  But it is not education in terms of lecture and now that I think of it, relating seems to be a better word than educate.   Regardless, the novel is done in such a way that the characters seem they can – well – walk off the kindle screen in my case.

                There is one problem with the Kindle edition.  It would be easier for the reader if the words were linked to the glossary.

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