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.
October’s online book club topic is “Small Town Gothic” and is based on one of the themes associated with our One Book, One Community choice, Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. By identifying read-a-like themes as we have done here today we are creating a “reading map”. You can pick up our Fifth Business reading map at any branch of the library or view it online. Other themes we have included are last month’s theme, Running Away with the Circus, as well as, Fateful Events, New Identities, Sinners and Saints, and the School of Robertson Davies.
Today on Library Moments Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will each talk about a book in which, much like the fictional town of Depford from Fifth Business, the novels are about small towns that focus on the dark, surreal, and grotesque elements of rural living.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: In the novel Tell It To The Trees, the opening page reads:
One of the searchers spotted two ravens yanking at something and walked over to investigate. I watched as he squatted and peered down at the ground, raised his arm and waved the others over. They had found her. The birds, they told us later, were tugging at her red and gold earring that was glinting up at them. We also heard she’d taken her jacket off even though it was thirty below that night. Sounds like a crazy thing to do, but I know it’s true. It’s what happens before you die from hypothermia, the blood vessels near the surface of your skin suddenly dilate making you think you are on fire and so you tear off your clothes to cool down. It’s quite a paradox really: the body starts to feel too hot before it dies of cold. But by that time your brain is hallucinating, creating images of longed-for warmth, making you believe all kinds of weird things. I think it would be right to assume she died happy, believing she was in the tropics, warm as toast.
The body that has been found on that opening page is Anu Krishnan. Anu had been seeking refuge from city life and had become a tenant of the seemingly happy, tightly-knit Dharma family in a small northern town in British Columbia. But the Dharma family holds secrets which begin to spill out, brought on by Anu’s presence, and lead to tragic consequences.
Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: In 1950’s Morgan Hill, Tennessee Ivorie Walker has resigned herself to a life of spinsterhood. As she tends to the farm that her parents left to her, with only her dog Sally as a companion, she becomes lost in loneliness. When she finds something has been raiding her garden, and that something is a small, starving, wild boy, her life takes on a new purpose as she starts to try and befriend him. She soon finds out that horror the boy has endured, and takes him in as her own. In doing so, she inadvertently threatens to unearth long buried secrets in the town of Morgan Hill.
Donna VanLiere is best known for lighter fare including her Christmas series. The Good Dream, while still a bit lighter than some of the other Small Town Gothic selections, it still describes some pretty disturbing occurrences in the small southern town of Morgan Hill. However, rather than being just traumatic, the book describes a journey of hope rather than tragedy.
Bessie: Our Daily Bread by Lauren B. Davis is described as “Backwoods Noir” at its best. For generations the Erskine clan has lived in poverty and isolation on North Mountain, shunned by the God-fearing people of nearby Gideon. Now, Albert Erskine comes down off the mountain hoping to change the future for his brothers and sisters and sets in motion a chain of events that will change everything. This book was inspired by the true story of the Goler Clan who lived together in two shacks in a remote wooded area outside of Wolfville, Nova Scotia . Our Daily Bread is the deeply compassionate story of what happens when we view our neighbors as “The Other,” as well as the transcendent power of unlikely friendships. A word of caution, although an excellent book, it the is most graphic child abuse I have ever experienced on the printed page, not for the faint of heart.
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. Watch for more themed read-a-likes in our online book club next month.
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, October 25th – 31st, 2015.