Monday, March 31, 2008


Quickie Recap: Having witnessed a gruesome accident, a woman flees her fast-paced life to recover...but the more time she takes for herself, the more she realizes she has to confront injuries stemming all the way back to a bizarre childhood that has left her with some odd habits and a questionable relationship with sanity.
Quickie Review: Does it make me sound too easy if I flat-out say I adored this book? It's exactly what makes my book-senses tingle. It made me hungry for more. I've heard Kotapish likened to Sebold and Atwood, both authors I have praised and relished myself, but I always feel like you're not giving someone their due by comparing them to others. All on her own, Kotapish is a force. I hope I write like her.
Quickie recommendation: Although I have a problem on principle with unnamed protagonists, I still have to stick up both thumbs for this book. It hooked me good, and that ending, that ending that left out everything and nothing, that ending will keep me smiling a secret smile all week.

Monday, March 24, 2008

King Leary

Quickie recap: Percival Leary is crowned the King of hockey, but not without costs to his friends, his family, and ultimately himself. Luckily, he lives to be an old man, and if he doesn't quite atone for his sins, at least he comes to recognize them.
Quickie review: Canadians love a book about hockey. I, however, am not so easily impressed. But Paul Quarrington? He's the boss. Whale Music left an insane impression on me - and for a girl who has read more books in her short lifespan than most 20 people will read in their entire lives, I think that's saying a lot. He just has a way of making you think about things differently. He's a graphic writer, and I don't say this too often, even about the people I most admire, but I actually think I might like to meet Mr. Quarrington, see what interesting things I can absorb by osmosis.
Quickie recommendation: Can I resist the obvious hockey cliches - Quarrington has "scored" - or, god forbid, achieved the elusive literary "hat trick" ? Yes, I can resist. Quarrington has written a veritable slam dunk of a book. Haha. I'm such a pathetic cheeseball. But seriously, I felt like this was high-brow hockey at its finest.
p.s.: Go Leafs!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bang Crunch Stories

Quickie recap: A small collection of short stories that are wise and fairly pared down, definitely original (although believable in their everyday settings), surprisingly funny in parts, melancholy in others, and above all, well written.
Quickie review: I wasn't prepared for how well or how much I would like this author and these stories. Right out of the gates, the first story, 'Isolettes', it quietly throttles you. It's the kind of story that tiptoes around you, and before you know it, it's got you by the balls. 'Scrapbook' is achingly a propos. The writing is tight. And as for 'The Butterfly Box' (by far my favourite) - well, it's an event. It was for me. It reminded me that you don't know anything until the last word is read. The last word can change everything. The last word can make you immediately flip back to the first word and begin again to get a fuller appreciation. The stories are outwardly unassuming, they're not fantastical or attention-grabbing, but they simmer. They give you little light bulb moments. They're what people mean by 'the joy of reading.'
Quickie recommendation: Yeah, I liked em.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith

Quickie recap: Born in the small but proud nation of Efica to a beautiful actress and her young, handsome lover, Tristan Smith's birth announcement should have shouted A Star Is Born. But Tristan isn't quite what everyone expected. He still manages to live of a life of espionage, adventure, and surprising stardom while observing a world that isn't quite what it should be.

Quickie review: Dare I call this a comedic political satire? Or just an epic work of impressive imagination? Or just another stunning piece of art by Peter Carey? Take your pick, you can't lose. It's a bit brutal. Tristan is a bit unforgiving. By the end, even the reader becomes a tiny bit more cynical for having spent time in this world not wholly unlike our own, next to Tristan who brings out the best and the worst of people. I've quite liked Carey in the past, but I let this book sit on my dresser for a while, because I had high expectations and don't like them to be dashed. They weren't. I laughed, I cried, I held my breath. I wanted to hold Tristan's hand. I wanted to shake Carey's. Splendidly done.

Quickie recommendation: Long live Peter Carey.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Fraction of the Whole

by Steve Toltz.
Quickie recap: Spanning 3 continents and 3 generations, the Dean family recounts the outlandish thoughts and misplaced actions that amount to a crazy lifestyle and a heck of a story.
Quickie review: As the title suggests, the story is indeed fractured, and the whole is a bit on the bloated side, but that said, almost every page has something worth reading. The transitions are a bit stilted, but there's a pay-off in the end that's worth hanging around for. But you have to have patience, not just to thumb through the many pages, but for the distaste of some of the characters. Toltz treats them sympathetically (sometimes too much so), but I guarantee you there will be paragraphs that make you want to slam the book down in disgust (and then inevitably pick it right back up, because curiosity is a powerful thing, and Toltz knows how to lead the reader on). Right out of the gate, we know that Martin Dean is dead, and his body will never be found. It takes many fractions of the whole to understand how, and even then, the motivations and circumstances are so extraordinary but so casually executed that the reader is constantly shaken and abuzz.
Quickie recommendation: Interesting, and so historical that you catch yourself almost thinking that it's "based on a true story".