I just finished my first ebook, The Beggar’s Garden, a collection of short stories by Michael Christie (who is from Northern Ontario, you know the place, who wouldda thunk?). I enjoyed the writing, very much, there was wit, sadness and a very good reflection of the human spirit, ugly and beautiful as it is.
After completing the book, I found myself a bit troubled. Most of the stories revolved around some element of Vancouver, more often than not what has become affectionately known as the downtown East Side or, at least, qualities that have become synonymous with that area. Addiction, poverty and mental illness are driving forces for Christie’s characters and he writes about them with a skill that at once shows their humanity, weaknesses and occasionally finds the humor in what could otherwise be treated, as it often is, with a removed quality if not distain.
This is what leads me to finally commenting on a book after a long absence from this blog. What troubled me was my own reaction to the characters. I was unsure as to how to interpret them and their troubles and stories; whether to feel sorry for them, upset or blame them for being the agents of their own destructive behaviours. I believed, to my embarrassment, that I was grappling with the same cultural malaise that affects modern society when it comes to viewing those that society recognizes as “down and out.”
A long time since posting. Forced renovations on our rented space moved us into family’s abodes, and an apparent lack of readership shifted priorities from Personal Mythologies. What I forgot is that I started this blog for me; the ‘us’ is by extension (no offence).
I have a couple of posts to catch up with. most pertinent is my finishing of Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner, winner of the Canada Reads contest. Continue reading
After being subjected to the sequel to Dracula, I took a moment to recall the good vampire stories I had read. The most recent was The Night Wanderer by Drew Hayden Taylor, one of Canada’s most prolific indigenous authors. A good book, enjoyable read and an interesting blend of First Nations (Anishinaabe) mythos and standard vampire fare. This was my first introduction to Taylor and made note to track down some of his other work.
Now that the connection and recommendation are out of the way, I made good on reading something else of his, an award winning 1993 play, Someday. Simply brilliant. Continue reading
I got out today to follow up on a desire to see Beyond Eden, a play by Bruce Ruddell. The desire was spawned by a write up that hailed the play as a good play to see, perhaps the play to see this season. This review was also backed up by my mother-in-law, whose opinion on such matters I respect a great deal. Being a musical, I wondered about how it would deal with the presentation of such a weighty matter of the removal of the totems of Haida Gwaii.
Medicine River is classic Thomas King. Set in Alberta, it focuses on the relationships established by the main character, Will. Will moves back to the community that lies just outside of the reserve, after education and working as a photographer in Toronto. As much as Will makes out to be stoic, not needing to involve himself in the relations of others, he pays attention his pal, Harlen, who is the centre of all the goings on and gossip on the reserve.
So the 2010 Season of the CBC’s Canada Reads is upon us. The panelists are making a case for their favourite Canadian books over the next three months. It is through this literary event that I have been introduced to some incredible Canadian talent, that, perhaps eclipsed by the Margarets, may have gone unnoticed by me.