Tuesday, March 12, 2013



The AverageAmerican Male
            —one of the things I love about vacation reading is the variety of books that come my way. I doubt I’d have gone out of my way to get ahold of this book, but as it turned up on the shelf, as it were, I thought what the hell and gave it a go. The cover is stark white with black letters. It mentions in the corner somewhere that it’s the book that’s “responsible for the viral video” (and no, I haven’t checked it out). In the acknowledgements at the back the author thanks his parents for being them and such, mentioning that his mom was responsile for encouraging his creativity and writing and he’s just sorry it’s culminated in a book she’s not going to want to read. Someone says on the back blurb that they’re not sure if this is a send-up of anti-male feminist attitudes or what. So. Once I got used to "fuck" being every other word (and it’s not like I don’t use it myself) and to women being mostly referred to as “bitches”, I have to say I almost enjoyed the read. The dialogue was very believable, or at least I think it was; it’s not like I hang around at parties with the protagonist’s age group, so what do I know? It’s written in first person, the narrator being a guy in his later twenties who breaks up with his egregious girlfriend, starts boinking a new girl, the old one announces she’s pregnant, he commiserates with a gay friend and a straight friend, and eventually he sort of sorts things out. Sort of. Some of the scenes are laugh out loud funny. Okay, a lot of the scenes. Definitely not for everybody.

            Jason Heroux
                        —phew! Back to  poetry, and what an elegant little book this is. It turned up in the Helping Hands second hand book store, here in La Manzanilla. Heroux can really turn a phrase. How about Your voice is a hospital where words/recover from their injuries, from A Twenty-Year-Old Love Poem. Or have a taste of  all our gloves desire/to be left behind lost/on the back seat of a bus, from Four Desires. Leaves often appear in his poems. Graveyards, too. And ants; lots of ants. And crayons—at least, I thought they did. Now, looking through the book to see if I’m remembering correctly, I can only find one crayon reference, but it’s huge so perhaps that’s why I think it’s another of his recurring images. The poem is Elegy, and it’s just three lines:

            The night before you died, the full moon appeared buried
            under sunlight’s soil; you lay awake, listening
            to the tiny crayons of crickets colouring everything dark.

One of the poems mentions a shut-down parliament, and sure enough, we both have poems in a 2010 anthology published by Mansfield Press (who also published this collection), Rogue Stimulus: The Stephen Harper Anthology for a Prorogued Parliament.

            Tracy Chevalier
                        —this is the second novel by the Girl With A Pearl Earring writer. Written from the points of view of several of the characters (if you’re a character in this book, sooner or later you get to have one, even if it’s short), it’s set in England at the beginning of the 20th Century. It’s divided into months and years and I found myself thinking, “that’s would have been when Dad was one” or “that happened just before Aunt Nancy was born”. We meet two families, one a tad better off than the other, but basically both are families of privilege. Much of the story takes place in a cemetery and you get to learn a lot about grave digging in those days. One of the plotlines has to do with women trying to get the vote. This was just over a hundred years ago…we’re really not all that evolved as a species when you get right down to it. An enjoyable read.

            Lawrence Block
                        —and this is the book I’m leaving on. Leaving La Manzanilla, that is. A quick, enjoyable read, a mystery about a burglar who runs a second-hand bookstore. It’s funny and sends up poetry, especially Kipling's. Cringe. If you read my previous post you'll know what I'm getting at. As an aside, I recently read that fifty new Kipling poems have just been discovered somewhere. I was thinking maybe I could slip my two-month attempt at an abysmal poem that reminded me of Kipling into that mix. Kidding. The Man Who Liked to Quote Kipling was a wonderful book on which to end my reading marathon. And yes, it was the paper version, as were all four of the books mentioned here. But we're flying tomorrow so I expect the Kobo will be back in service for that.

So, since mid-December that's 34 books, 24 hard copy and 10 on Kobo. Thanks for reading! No, really. Reading anything. I do!


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