Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Travelling with the Kobo

What a way to travel!  Load up your Kobo with your picks from the long lists of the Giller and the GG's and you never have to search for the elusive bookshops of the USA

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick de Witt A Western marvelous romp, tender and clever and very funny.  The plot is excellent all through but the ending must be one of the funniest in Can Lit.  The brothers find gold, lose it, get pummeled by vengeful whores and more. A distinctive voice animates this fine novel. Giller short list.

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. A marvelous book, very humanistic and a hymn to friendship so strong that you feel an urge to reconnect with all your absent friends. Three young boys spend three enlightening weeks on an ocean voyage, getting into mischief but also watching the adults around them and forming the ideas that will animate their future lives. Giller short list

A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe. A fine book with a good story, great characters, excellent history and that feeling about it, the lure of a good story, that pulls you in, in this instance into the Old West, and you want to stay there or return quickly whenever you put the book down.  The characters stand out: Dunne, the villain, Ada Tarr, the prickly widowed school marm, Wesley Case, a man of intelligence but who makes mistakes and sometimes apologizes for them. The portrayal of the historical characters such as RCMP Major Walsh and Sitting Bull is magnificent. 

The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott Three sisters try to break into small town vaudville with the help of their mother, a long-ago performer.  Endicott's writing is so intense and her characters so alive, that we find ourselves hanging on every sentence. Just a wonderful book. Governor General's short list

If I were on the Giller committee I would immediately resign.  Who can chose a winner from novels as excellent as those on the short list?  What criteria could you use to pick "the best"?    It cannot be done. 

Michael Ondaatje
Author of The Cat's Table.

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