Archive | November, 2011

The Giller.

7 Nov

I regret to say, that I have not had the chance to read any of the titles that made the Giller shortlist. Sadly, any reading that I do these days is work related. Nevertheless, I spent some time this afternoon reading the first few pages of each title on the Giller Prize Shortlist website in hopes that I could brush up on my Giller prowess. Scanning the summaries of each title, I was instantly drawn to The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. The thought of absorbing a literary western with a unique and ferocious spin made me foolishly grin from ear to ear. Without having read a single word, I was sold. Or so I thought. Keep in mind, I was only privy to the first few pages…but still, I must admit the introduction to the narrative left me, well, kind of cold. Perhaps the hype killed any chance of an organic approach to this book? Not to say that I will not give it a go. I will most definitely take another stab at this book. Perhaps I am spoiled when it comes to literary westerns? Two books come to mind: Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang and Michael Ondaatje’s Collected Works of Billy the Kid. If you have not read either, please make a point of doing so. Whatever my initial impressions are of deWitt’s book, the hype is very real. If I am to go solely on the buzz, I would say that he is a shoe in for the Giller this year. Looking at the other titles on the list, my next bet would be The Antagonist by Lynn Coady. After reading a mere three pages, I was ready to throw caution to the wind and rush out and purchase this book. I wish I had. Instead, I spent the afternoon daydreaming about all the possible outcomes for her protagonist, while I researched American editors for an up and coming submission. Moving on; another strong contender is Ms. Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues. Just like the reviews claim, her prose reads like jazz. And that is a literary feat in and of itself. I have added her title to my wish list, and I doubt I will be disappointed. After reading snippets from each author, I would be hard pressed to select an obvious winner. Well, that is not entirely true. If Mr. Ondaatje hadn’t already won a Giller (Anil’s Ghost), I would say that the obvious winner would be his beautifully crafted The Cat’s Table. With that being said, I doubt they will award him a second Giller when there are so many other fantastic titles up for the award. The last two titles, The Free World and Better Living through Plastic Explosives were not my cup of tea, but that does not mean that they are not worthy of the award and recognition that follows suit.Each and every title on this list holds merit, but in my biased opinion, I would absolutely love to see Ms. Coady or Ms. Edugyan come out in front. The Giller Light Bash is tomorrow evening, and so we do not have long before the winner will be revealed to us. With the Giller and the Canada Reads contest, this is truly an exciting time in the Canadian lit scene.

We read to know that we are not alone.

5 Nov

Since I can remember, I have been drawn to the world of fiction. As a child, I had an insatiable appetite for reading. I spent most of my days, tucked up in my room with my nose in a book. Lacking any initiative to make friends, or play sports, I found nothing as enchanting as losing myself in a narrative. Possessing no social skills, I took comfort in the idea that reading allowed me to share in a communal experience, without having to actually brush elbows with a fellow human being. Like T.S. Eliot said: We read to know that we are not alone. This has been true in my case for as far back as I can remember. As it is for plenty of others I am sure. As I entered my adolescent years, I was still terribly fond of the fictional narrative. I thought there was nothing more brilliant than inventing a world where the line between truth and fiction could forever be blurred. And as much as I enjoyed the creative freedom of fiction, I especially loved trying to suss out the autobiographical aspects of the plot. Writers write what they know. Fiction is almost always based in reality, and as far fetched as the plot may seem, there are always traits and dressings that stem from a familiar place. Finding these ‘truths’ was essential, as these were the bits that as a reader I was able to relate to. These recognizable features are what drew me in, and kept me in. Being socially inept, and knowing that others were experiencing the same kinds of plights and joys as me, was what kept me connected to my peers in a way that no other creative outlet could. Eventually, the fictional narrative was not enough, and I started to build my own narrative with others that shared my passion for books. As much as reading allowed me to live inside my head, it is also responsible for catapulting me into the real world. It inspired me to form relationships with others, and lent me an articulacy in my own use of language that bred confidence in me. I also owe my current role as a literary agent to that fictional realm that played such a pivotal role in my formative years. In my life, my affair with literature has always been all-consuming. At the end of my days; however burdened I am with regrets, I can safely say that this love affair with books will not be one of them.