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A MONSTER CALLS

A Monster Calls is a book that should have fallen through the cracks of my life. My children are adults and my grandchildren still too young for this gripping and mournful tale. But that’s the thing about great stories: they’re ageless. Even though you’ll find Patrick Ness’s novel in the Young Adult section of your local library or bookstore, it belongs on everyone’s bookshelf. Ness’s novel called to me. The hardcover edition is a gorgeous object, and I think that matters here, more than in most stories. It may be the perfect union of words and images, because just one … Continue reading A MONSTER CALLS

IN SEARCH OF A BETTER WORLD

I was very fortunate to tune into CBC radio’s The Current one morning last November. That’s how I found myself listening to the composed and soft-spoken responses of a man being interviewed by Anna-Maria Tremonti. Beyond the voice, it was the ideas, the values and the vision of this man that enthralled me. I was listening to Payam Akhavan, the author and presenter of the 2017 Massey Lecture series titled: In Search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey. I’m so grateful for this inspired choice. I’ve since listened to the interview a second time, read its transcript, and … Continue reading IN SEARCH OF A BETTER WORLD

DISGRACE

Even as my list of “New books to read” grows longer every day, I’ve recently found myself looking backward at novels that I could have read and wanted to read years ago, but never quite got to. One of those is J.M. Coetzee’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Disgrace. From the moment it was published, it got the literary world’s attention. I remember that. I remember how the reviews of Coetzee’s eighth novel were unanimously laudatory. I also remember how I was convinced at the time that it was a book I would find both riveting and very painful. I imagined Coetzee’s … Continue reading DISGRACE

FIERCE KINGDOM

One of my favourite movie scenes—it’s iconic— is from James Cameron’s Aliens. It’s near the end, when Ellen Ripley, a towering character, emerges from behind giant pressure doors, driving a power loader that gives her the appearance of a mechanical monster, looks straight at the hideous Alien Queen whose ferocious, acid dripping jaws are threatening Newt, the young girl Ripley has taken into her heart and will not abandon, and rages: “Get away from her you b**ch!” I don’t know that there’s anyone, anywhere who hasn’t been pulled right out of their seat during that scene at the movie’s climax, … Continue reading FIERCE KINGDOM

READING KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD

Until very recently, the name and work of Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard were, for me, a sort of disturbance, a noise out there on the periphery of the literary world, or at least that part of it that I dip into regularly. What had reached me was off-putting: he was a phenomenon; he was making waves with a magnum opus that had caused some reviewers to squirm and hiss with disapproval and others to gush and rave. He seemed to have divided the literary world. He was referred to as a “writer’s writer”, prone to solipsism. He was a … Continue reading READING KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD