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THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt

5 Feb

“Use Grammarly’s online proofreader because your other option is auto-correct, and it’s error-atic at best.”

It’s been a long time coming. Both this book, and my review of it.

In fact, I waited over a decade for Ms. Tartt to publish the follow-up to her acclaimed novel The Little Friend. When I discovered via PM that her new book The Goldfinch was slated to be published at the end of 2013, I was ecstatic. I quickly made note of the publication date, and started to count down the days until I would have her new book in my hands. There was some trepidation with regards to whether or not I should allow myself to get so excited about her new work. She hadn’t published anything in over a decade, and I was worried that the book would not stand up to its hype. Fortunately, my anxiety was all for nought. By all accounts, The Goldfinch is Ms. Tartt’s best work to date. The eleven year wait was well worth it, and I would gladly wait another decade for her next book if it is anywhere near as engaging and entertaining as her latest.

When I refer to The Goldfinch as being Ms. Tartt’s best work to date, I am referring to the fact that there is a maturity to the work that wasn’t present in her last two books. Not just a maturity to the writing itself, but to the characters as well. Not to imply that her previous characters were one-dimensional in any shape or form, but rather her latest work stars characters that are fuller, fleshier in the space they take up on the page. These characters have truly lived. They are marked by a beauty and tragedy of life in a way her previous characters were not.  And it makes sense. Ms. Tartt has lived more herself. And in the way her own person has been marked by a fuller life , so too have her characters.

I do not wish to reveal any of the plot for those who have not read the book yet. All I will say, is that by far the character that stole the show for me was Boris. In my opinion, he drove the narrative and stole the limelight in every scene he starred in. There were only a few points in the book where the plot started to lag, and whenever I would start to feel myself pulling away from the narrative, Boris would appear on the scene and catapult me right back into the thick of things. Speaking of the beauty and tragedy that can be found in life, Boris was the epicentre; in that his life was built on equal parts of all that is beautiful and tragic in this world. And therein lies the tragi-comedy that makes The Goldfinch such a spectacular read. When you recognize the world for what it is, you can’t help but laugh. And although The Goldfinch has its fair share of somber moments, there is a strong undercurrent of humour pulsating throughout the entire novel with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

These are characters you emotionally connect with, and form attachments to. I shared in Theo Decker’s anxiety as he navigates the seedy underbelly of the art world. I felt my heart break on numerous occasions for both Theo and Boris as they leave their messed up adolescence behind and attempt to forge new lives for themselves in their adulthood. And every time they falter, you wish you could step in and steer them in a better direction. I would go so far as to say that we all have a bit of Theo and Boris in us, and in the people we know in our real lives. We’re all broken in our own way, and it was refreshing to see such heavily flawed characters honestly portrayed on the page.

Just buy the book. You won’t regret it.

All Hallow’s Read

31 Oct

As it is Halloween, I thought I would share some literary treats for you to enjoy!

First up, we have a series of morbid, yet beautiful poems via Flavorwire. Get cozy in an armchair and lose yourself in these poems about death & dying. The perfect way to celebrate the day of the dead! http://flavorwire.com/422783/10-beautiful-poems-about-death/view-all/

Immediately after reading these hauntingly tragic poems, I recommend inserting some comic relief into your day by perusing these hilarious ‘Shopping for groceries with the romantic poets’ sketches by cartoonist Jason Novak. http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2013/10/25/shopping-for-groceries-with-the-romantic-poets/

And if sharing + scary books are  your thing, you should definitely check out Neil Gaiman’s Halloween initiative to get scary books into the hands of children, which he hopes will become a Halloween tradition in the years to come. As a kid, I would have loved to have received some scary books/comics while trick or treating. I think it’s a great idea, and I hope it takes off! http://www.allhallowsread.com

And because I love Henri — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_fUsssnHPw

Q

25 Oct

I am very excited to announce that my author Todd MacLean, Editor-in-Chief of Global Chorus, is going to be interviewed by Jian Ghomeshi on Q!

The interview will be done in front of a live hometown audience in PEI on November 7th at Confederation Centre, and aired on Friday, November 8th.

I am thrilled by the fantastic coverage Global Chorus has been receiving, and I can only imagine that Todd’s interview with Jian is going to catapult the project into the limelight on a much grander scale. An important book like this deserves an international spotlight on it. This is a book that has the potential to inspire change and make a real impact on an  environmental and global level, and I am so proud of Todd and all that he has accomplished! It’s been such an honour being involved on such an important project.

But don’t just take my word for it. To learn more about Global Chorus, tune in on the 8th!

http://www.cbc.ca/q/blog/2013/09/12/q-live-in-pei/

http://globalchorus.ca

Global Chorus finds a home at Rocky Mountain Books!

18 Sep

I am very pleased to announce that Global Chorus has found a home with the West Coast Canadian publisher Rocky Mountain Books http://www.rmbooks.com

Global Chorus contains contributions from some of the world’s most renowned leaders such as David Suzuki, Jane Goodall, Nelson Mandela, and Stephen Hawking, who have come together to give their honest opinion on the fate of the planet and whether or not there is still indeed hope for a healthy and reciprocal relationship with our planet earth. The individual essays are framed as a set of 365 daily meditations, thereby providing a practical means for readers to ingest this diversity of thoughts and ideas. In this way, Global Chorus is sure to be shocking in its truths and predictions, as well as inspirational and motivational in its messages of hope and optimism.

We are at a critical point in our civilization; garnering the appropriate knowledge to shield ourselves is no longer enough: we must apply it. We need to adopt a more minimalistic approach to our lives; strive for that reciprocal relationship with the planet: tread lightly. E.F. Schumacher was absolutely correct when he stated that ‘ the concentration and expansion of needs is the antithesis of wisdom; it is also the antithesis of freedom and peace’, and that ‘Ever bigger machines, entailing ever bigger concentrations of economic power and exerting ever greater violence against the environment, does not represent progress: they are a denial of wisdom.’ This sentiment brings to mind the great Law of the Iroquois that states, “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impacts of our decisions on the next seven generations.”

Global Chorus is not only going to highlight these issues; the individual essays are there to act as a guide for readers on how to build a more sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship between themselves and the planet.

This is our most pivotal hour. What we need most is to spark imaginations, to ignite our passions. We need to raise our voices in a global chorus.

My Heart Is Not My Own hits bookshelves…

5 Aug

Michael’s book hits bookshelves across Canada starting tomorrow, and I cannot stress how beneficial it would be to you and your bookshelf if you were to acquire a copy of My Heart Is Not My Own.

I think it’s safe to assume that everyone who worked on this book is super excited to see the end result hit bookstores tomorrow. Beyond the excitement, I know we are all (Penguin, and The Rights Factory) of the opinion that this book is special and deserving of attention, and we are hopeful that the readers will share in our enthusiasm. I truly do foresee great things for Michael and this book!

To better promote My Heart Is Not My Own, Penguin has launched some book events out West. As his agent, I wanted the book to receive some coverage in the Toronto area, and so our agency is hosting a book launch for Michael at Type Books on September, 23rd. If you are interested in attending the event at Type, please drop me a line at drea@therightsfactory.com and I will add you to the mailing list for the official evite.

To further promote the book, Michael is going to be a contributing editor to the National Post for four articles starting August 6th and running until August 9th. I will be posting the links on here and via Twitter.

I am just so thrilled for Michael, and am so happy that we’ve had this opportunity to work together. I am also incredibly grateful to Adrienne Kerr over at Penguin for spotting the potential in M’s work and taking the time to work with Michael to make the book the best that it could be. I will no doubt be rushing into several of Toronto’s bookstores tomorrow to see where the book has been placed (and maybe pulling a Celeste, and moving the book to the staff picks area) and have already pitched the book as a fall read for multiple Toronto based book clubs who seem eager to get their hands on a copy.

My Heart Is Not My Own can be found in all good Canadian bookstores starting August 6th, 2013. The book will also be available for purchase on Amazon. But I would urge you to buy a copy from your favourite indie bookstore. Please support the independents, and keep the indie bookstores doors open.

Speaking of independent bookstores, this is a video Type Books created last year. I think it is going to be the perfect venue for the launch! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKVcQnyEIT81002584_353942654736428_1672091179_n

My Heart Is Not My Own

1 May

It’s official, my author Michael Wuitchik’s debut novel will be out on bookshelves this August!

http://penguin.ca/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780143187981,00.html?MY_HEART_IS_NOT_MY_OWN

If you might recall, the book had originally been under the title Three Stone Fire. The renaming of the novel came about after a lovely phone chat between myself, Michael, and his editor Adrienne. It was our mutual feeling, that the current title did not do the story justice. Michael’s wife Shelley had made reference to a particular line in the novel, and it was unanimously agreed that she had hit upon something special.

It was in that instant, the emotionally charged, and perfectly apt title My Heart Is Not My Own was born.

As soon as I heard it, I knew it was the right title for Michael’s novel. In my mind, a title like this speaks to readers on both an emotional and cerebral level. Not only does it immediately tug on the heart strings, it also leaves the meaning of the contents of the novel open to subjective contemplation. Adding a level of mysteriousness to the novel; piquing the curiosity of the readership.

And if the title is not enough to spark your interest; the lovely endorsements that are coming in for Michael’s novel should suffice in persuading the readers of the world to dive right in.

“My Heart Is Not My Own is not an easy read. But books that compel us to leave
the comfort of our worlds to understand the humanity of others seldom are. It
is a testament to the strength of Wuitchik’s courageous characters that we are
not left without a sense of hope. This is a book worth spending time with.”
—Yejide Kilanko, bestselling author of Daughters Who Walk This Path

As will the gorgeous cover that Penguin has designed. Visually, it is stunning. (see above link)

All in all, I think Michael’s book contains all of the key elements that make for a great book.    I am just so grateful I had the opportunity to work with him on it, and see it through to publication. It’s been such an amazing journey, and I look forward to keeping on down this path with him.

Canada Reads 2013: Turf Wars

9 Dec

Canada Reads is nearly upon us, with the debates airing on February 11-14. This year, to shake things up a bit, Canadians were asked to vote for the book they thought best represented the literature from the region they live in. Broken down into five “turfs”, voters nominated the best of the best from: BC and the Yukon, Prairies and North, Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces.

The nominated contenders + titles are:

1. BC and Yukon: Carol Huynh defending Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

2. Prairies and North: Ron MacLean defending The Age of Hope by David Bergen

3. Ontario: Charlotte Gray defending Away by Jane Urquhart

4. Quebec: Jay Baruchel defending Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan

5. Atlantic: Trent McClellan defending February by Lisa Moore

I applaud CR for narrowing in on the varying regions of Canada, as I hope this will aid in breaking down the myth that Canadian Lit is homogeneous in nature. By reading all of these titles, it will become very clear to the reader that the literature coming out of the East Coast is of a predominantly different ilk than the literature coming out of the West Coast and so on and so forth. It is true that Canadian literature has always had deep roots in its own culture, but with the drastic differences of climate/politics/landscape/inhabitants from province to province, it’s ridiculous to assume that the works being produced throughout the entire country could ever be one and the same. And this will also give readers the opportunity to gain insight into the relevant topics that are impacting and inspiring ways of life for Canadians in other regions than their own. The nominated Quebec title Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan is a prime example of this, as it focuses on the pertinent divide between the French and the English in this country.

Looking over the list, I am convinced this is going to be the most engaging ie. competitive Canada Reads to date. Not only will the contenders be defending their particular titles; they will also be defending the territory in which they themselves live. A sense of acute regional pride should be at play during the debate. Being from Ontario myself, one might assume that my allegiance will be with Urquhart’s title. Having lived in other parts of Canada, I do not seem to possess that regional pride that so many others exhibit. Not to say that Urquhart’s Away is not worthy of being in the race. It certainly is. It’s a beautiful novel, with sensuous prose. And being of Irish descent, I was engrossed by her portrayal of the Irish immigrant adapting to the Canadian landscape. Even if Away does not win, it is a book that should be read. That goes for the other four books as well. Not to say that you will enjoy reading all five books, but you will no doubt learn something valuable of the people + history of that region.

I have read three of the five titles so far, and out of those three I have selected a title to which I am currently tentatively cheering for. I use the term tentatively, as my mind could very well change once I have read the final two books. And even once I have settled on a winning title, my decision could be further swayed based on one or more of the impassioned campaigns of the contenders. This is what makes the debates so exciting!

The debates are still months away, and yet I am already looking forward to tuning in. I would recommend my readers do the same. And if you are from the Toronto area, certainly try and attend one of the live debate sessions. I love CR because not only does it celebrate Canadian literature, but it gets Canadians excited about reading Can Lit. Canada is home to some amazing talent, and I always think it is a shame when Canadians are not familiar with the works that are being produced in their own backyard.

And for anyone interested in winning all five books, go to this CBC link: http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads/win-a-set-of-the-canada-reads-2013-books.html