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.
November’s online book club topic is “New Identities” 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, Small Town Gothic, as well as, Fateful Events, Sinners and Saints, Running Away with the Circus, 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 Paul Dempster’s character in Fifth Business, the main character is grappling with their identity or has assumed a new identity.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development:Chuck Palahniuk’s ominous first novel Fight Club is clearly not for the faint of heart. The unnamed narrator of Fight Club struggles to define who he is and experiences many rebirths. As he makes his living investigating accidents for a car company in order to assess their liability, he is combating insomnia, and a general sense of alienation, by attending a steady series of support-group meetings for the grievously ill even though he isn’t sick. At one meeting he meets a young woman named Marla. She and the narrator get into a love triangle of sorts with Tyler Durden, a mysterious and gleefully destructive young man with whom the narrator starts a fight club, a secret society that offers young professionals the chance to beat one another to a bloody pulp. Mayhem ensues, beginning with the narrator’s condo exploding and culminating with a terrorist attack on the world’s tallest building. Writing in an ironic deadpan and including something to offend everyone, Palahniuk is a risky writer who takes chances galore, especially with a particularly bizarre plot twist he throws in late in the book. The 1999 big screen adaptation starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton found critical and commercial success with its dvd release, which established Fight Club as a cult film.
Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: In 1988 Neil Peart – best known as drummer and lyricist for the band Rush – embarked on a cycling tour of Cameroon and would document this tour in his book The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa. Billed one of the most difficult cycling tours in the world, Peart would spend a month cycling through the rural landscape of Cameroon with 4 strangers: David, the leader of the tour; Leonard, vietnam vet, engineer, and African-American; Elsa, 60 year old pacifist; and Annie, 30-something scatterbrained administrative assistant. During this time Peart would learn as much about himself and his cohorts, and would come to realize that we all have a mask we present to each other of the person we want people to see us as, but when faced with the challenges of cycling in Cameroon – the heat, the terrain, the culture shock, the politics, and a few unsavory characters – those masks become much more difficult to keep in place. Masks or not, Peart’s journey proved to be an enriching experience, traveling across a country of contrasts at people speed.
Bessie: For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu features Peter, the prized only boy in his Chinese-Canadian family. But inside, he knows he is a girl. Unfortunately for Peter he is the exalted only son in a family of daughters, the one who will finally fulfill his father’s dreams of Western masculinity. But Peter has different dreams: he knows that he is a girl. Peter and his sisters–elegant Adele, shrewd Helen, and vibrant Bonnie–grow up in a house of many secrets, then escape small-town Ontario to spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter’s own journey is obstructed by playground bullies and the ever-present shadow of his father. This is Kim Fu’s debut novel and is a coming-of-age tale like no other. For Today I Am a Boy shows us an unforgettable struggle: the story of a person trying to reconcile their gender, but also trying to come out from underneath the cultural confines of their Chinese heritage.
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, November 22nd – 28th, 2015.