Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman

Some authors write beautifully. Others write sparingly or in a flowery fashion or have a style you can't quite name. Howard Norman writes simply and it works well for his latest, What Is Left the Daughter.

Set in a small Nova Scotia town during World War II, What Is Left the Daughter is really two love triangles laid atop each other and peopled with a small cast of odd but likable characters (the always-blunt Cornelia McTell was my favorite). The author could have written a 'village' novel, one in which we get to know and love the quirky characters of some little town along with their faults, foibles and families, their hopes and heartbreaks.
To his credit, he didn't. What he wrote was a story of murder, obsession, and suicide that is engaging, sad, and funny. It's a story of how people get lost and how they find themselves again.

There were times where it was a little hard to believe--the main character's occupation near the end and the series of coincidences that help shape events were a little too coincidental. Still, this is small beer because the story works. I will be certain to read Howard Norman again.

Favorite line:
"I could write a book--if I could write a book"

Sunday, May 09, 2010

James Beard, Sid the Kid, and Damon Wayans walk into a bar and order a pastrami sandwich...

*A great big mazel tov to author David Sax whose delightful book, Save the Deli, won a James Beard award.  Here's his acceptance speech:  
My two cents, or two cents plain, as it were, can be found here:
Besides, any author who checks the email on his website and then actually replies is okay with me.

*With all the talk about Ipad, Kindle, e-books and their effect on book publishing, let's not forget Google. I thought this informative article gives an idea what's just ahead:
Despite my deep disdain for Messrs Bezos and Jobs, I'm okay with Google taking over the world.  Google founders Larry & Sergey just seem less bloodthirsty.  Maybe I'm a sucker.

*Got a wonderful care package from my friend, Jen, filled with books about hockey and baseball.  Especially since my team, the brilliant Pittsburgh Penguins, are one game away from clinching the second round of the playoffs, I'm all over the hockey titles (More about the baseball books in another post):

First off, a novel by Bill Gaston entitled The Good Body, due out in August from House of Anansi Press.  Hockey-themed and well-blurbed, I'm looking forward to starting it.

Hockey Night in Canada has put out two absolute beauties: By The Numbers: From 00 to 99 and My Greatest Day: 50 People, 50 Great Moments, both by Scott Morrison.  These are fantastic, four-color books loaded with photos, facts, trivia and opinion.  My hockey knowledge increases with each trip to the bathroom.

The Year of the Penguins by Andrew Podnieks is a chronicle of, you guessed it, the winning season that led to their Stanley Cup Championship.  This is a game-by-game analysis of all eighty-two regular season games, as well as a look at the entirely-too-long playoffs and finals.

The capper is My Day With the Cup by Sidney Crosby, captain of the Pens and arguably the greatest hockey player on the planet.  After a team wins, the members of the team get to "take the Cup home", and this is a photo chronicle of Sid the Kid's return to his hometown, Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.  I can honestly say what should have taken 20 minutes to page through took me three days because I kept getting so choked up with emotion.  There is something about Crosby and the team and their incredible season that just gets me right in the ganektagazoink.  Reed Next?  Sentimental?  Who knew?

Go Pens! 

*I leave you with an item of deep concern.  Could this be the fourth horseman of the apocalypse?  If not, it's gotta be damn close: