Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.
Anyone can participate in Haliburton County Public Library’s Online Book Club by choosing to read one or more of four books selected each month. You don’t even have to read from a particular month’s selection you can simply go online and make comments about books and reading in general.
August’s online book club theme is staff Canadian Literature picks Vicki from the Dysart Branch picked The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak, Erin picked Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh, Sherrill picked Crow Lake by Mary Lawson, and my pick was The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.
Today on Library Moments Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will each talk about a staff Canadian Literature pick.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: My great-grandmother Morrison fixed a book rest to her spinning wheel so that she could read while she was spinning, or so the story goes. And one Saturday evening she became so absorbed in her book that when she looked up, she found that it was half past midnight and she had spun for half an hour on the Sabbath day. Back then, that counted as a major sin.
And so begins Mary Lawson’s Crow Lake, my pick for favorite Canadian literature and also my pick for one of my favorite books ever. Set in a fictitious farming town in Northern Ontario, Lawson’s description of surface tension in water made me look at the river running in front of my house in a different way, seeing things I hadn’t noticed before. Crow Lake also validated feelings I have had for some time on the necessity, or not, of furthering education when your heart simply lies in the land and your home.
At the age of seven, Kate lives with her family in Crow Lake. Her father has a good job at the bank in the next town. She is the oldest daughter, with a baby sister, Bo, and two older brothers. Luke, nineteen, has just been accepted to teacher’s college but Matt, seventeen, is the truly brilliant one of the family. He has a passion for the world around him and he and Kate spend many happy days at “their pond”, observing insect life and the natural world.
Then, tragedy darts into their lives to change their paths forever. Their parents are killed in a car accident. In an effort to keep the family together and give Matt his chance at further education, Luke gives up his place at college to stay home with Bo and Kate and allow Matt to finish high school. As Kate’s narration slowly unfurls this history, interrupted with peeks into her present where she prepares to return to Crow Lake to celebrate her nephew’s eighteenth birthday, it begins to be clear that Matt has never left Crow Lake.
Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: Imagine everything you had – your career, your well-being, your sense of self – hinged entirely on the fact that you were beautiful? Then imagine losing that, and everything attached to it, in an instant. This is what happens to the narrator in The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. A man who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, but later rose to fame as a pornographer loses everything when he is drives off the road late at night after seeing a drug and alcohol fueled hallucination – a volley of firy arrows streaking through the sky towards him. His car catches fire and he is left horribly burned. While recovering in the burn ward and contemplating finishing off what the accident started, he meets the strange but beautiful Marianne Engel, a mental patient who claims to know him from a previous life, and begins to tell him about their lives together in 14th century Germany. The story Marianne tells him cannot be real, but he finds himself wondering if it may indeed be true. As she draws him out of his despondency he begins to grapple with falling in love with Marianne, and grappling with the demons of his past. And Marianne discovers that her 700 years of purgatory on Earth may be coming to an end. The Gargoyle is a fascinating and bizarre tale that spans moments and centuries, and crosses continents to reveal forgotten lives.
Bessie: Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self. Now he’s a hitman. In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to tap into a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. His new job is not that different from his old one: waste disposal is waste disposal. He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box cutter. But when his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, his unadorned life is upended: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has a sordid agenda far beyond a simple kill. Spademan must navigate between these two worlds — the wasteland reality and the slick fantasy — to finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground. Erin’s pick, Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh is written in sparse prose with surprisingly well developed characters. Sternbergh lives in New York City but was born and raised in Canada, so we call him our own. Thanks to Erin for leading me to this quirky but worthwhile read.
To join the online book club, look for the Social Media links on our homepage at www.haliburtonlibrary.ca. Click on the “g” for Goodreads and it’ll take you right to the Online Book Club page. That’s it for this week’s Library Moments, thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.
**Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM.