I like what the LRC has done in the July/August issue, ie. offering up a list of thirteen books that epitomize each province and territory—as chosen by writers from said locale.
Not saying I’m going to read every one of them (and why exactly not? I ask myself…) but I’ll keep the list handy. I am, however, very intrigued with two of the titles. Joan Thomas’ choice: The Two-Headed Calf, by Sandra Birdsell, representing Manitoba, which interests me because—ever since, a couple of years ago, I was hugely and pleasantly surprised by what Winnipeg has to offer (extraordinary art gallery, especially its collection of Inuit carvings; smoked fish, best eaten with thinly sliced red onions, rye bread, and washed down with ice cold vodka; great restaurants in very funky neighbourhoods; Fringe Festival; fabulous kids’ theatre arts program; annual lit festival: Thin Air; the North End; the downtown library; the freaky and beautiful Masonic architecture of the Legislative Building; the Forks, especially Tall Grass Prairie Bread Co. & Deli)—I’ve been very into that province generally.
Also want to read my friend Steven Mayoff’s PEI choice—My Broken Hero and Other Stories, by Michael Hennessey, about which he says, in part:
“Hennessey’s prose adopts an easy, anecdotal tone…There are also dark streaks of violence… complex undercurrents thrumming beneath what is widely known as the ‘Gentle Island'”.
And because I also love B.C.—and occasionally spend part of my year there nestled in a small trailer in the woods—I may also have to read Lee Henderson’s choice: The Invention of the World, by Jack Hodgins.
Because how can I resist this—
“…about B.C., but also about the bigger ideas of heaven and earth, earning a living, human nature and the supernatural. It is a portrait of the B.C. way of being and one awesome read.”
Then there’s Denise Chong’s pick: Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, which I’m embarrassed to say I have never read. Madeleine Thien’s choice for Quebec is also intriguing. And I know nothing about New Brunswick and Saskatchewan and I want to know more about Newfoundland (Lisa Moore suggests Michael Winter’s The Architects are Here) and the Yukon and NWT and Nunavut. And how could I not want to read the definitive book of Nova Scotia? I love NS.
And let’s not forget Alberta, a province I lived in for three years and know practically zippity doo dah about except it’s a 40 minute flight from Edmonton to Calgary.
So, yeah, I’ll keep the list handy.
But I’m not saying I’ll read every book.
I’m really not saying that.