Lori's Book Nook

Archive for June 2009

Well, it’s happened again…I’ve received another box of books to review (here’s a list of the previous batch, and the one before).

This time they look like a lovely mix: 4 books of short stories, 1 memoir, 1 poetry/novel, 2 novels.

Short Stories

Cobalt Blue by Mary Borsky (Thomas Allen Publishers) — Judging this book by its cover, I’d say it’ll be mighty good. Lovely hand-holding size, good design, a trade paper with useful jacket-flaps. (A note to the publishers — your page for the book didn’t google well.) (Reviewed at Quill and Quire here.)

Silent Girl by Tricia Dower (Inanna Publications) — Wow. A quick google of this book title exposes me to something new, unexpected: A moving book trailer on YouTube.

I’m absolutely flumoxed. Tricia, me girl, that was inspired. I’m now terribly eager to read the book. (Book publishers/authors, take note: this woman knows how to market a book on the Internet!).

Out of Cleveland by Lolette Kuby (Véhicule Press) — A slim book with a very simple, unpretentious cover. I’m a sucker for short stories by women about women, so add that to the author’s background as a poet, I’m looking forward to this collection too.

I must admit, this post is turning into a “Who wins on the Internet marketing front?” — and here’s one that has almost no presence. To get anywhere, you have to put the title in quotes. Publisher — pay attention! I had to search for your site separately! (Hopeless, as web-un-savvy as this group is, they will likely not see this post. Unlike Tricia, above, who will be visiting me shortly, I’m sure!)

Red Rooms by Cherie Dimaline (Theytus Books) — Theytus Books is a small publisher, but all of the books I’ve seen are beautifully designed. I’m a little biased, as this publisher is in my town. Being from them, I do know that the author must be First Nations — and looking at the jacket, the stories are about the “urban Native people.” Another book to look forward to.

Memoir

The Way It Was: Vignettes from My One-Room Schools by Edith Van Kleek (University of Calgary Press) — Beautifully designed cover, readable text, nice heft to the book…I know I’ll enjoy this one. The author wrote notes throughout her career, and her daughter has now edited them into this book. (On the Internet marketing scale, this one doesn’t even rate. Note to authors — don’t expect a university publisher to market your book!)

Poetry/Novel

The Given by Daphne Marlatt (McClelland & Stewart) — I would expect Daphne Marlatt, who’s been writing poetry and novels for years, to have a good publisher (which she does)…and that publisher to have decent web-savvy (and they do). Even with the name of this poetry novel being rather common, the book’s page googled up on the first page. Of course, I’m looking forward to reading this offering.

Novels

The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee (Vintage Canada – Random House) — I would expect Random House to be up-to-date on the whole web marketing issue, and they are. Search the phrase end of east and it’s the first hit. Well done! 2nd place prize to Random House. The novel itself looks lovely — a generational piece on Vancouver’s Chinatown. Can’t wait.

Living with the Dead by Karen Armstrong (Random House) — Armstrong has a series of her Otherworld books out, and while I’ve not read any (yet), I have heard of her. Random House didn’t do as well for this author, but her own website is informative, listing her books. Bronze medal for web marketing.

I will try to post something other than my first impressions as I read the books. Please feel free to ask me directly for feedback.

And Tricia? Stop and say hi! 😀

The Badger Riot

Outside of Canada, even outside of the Maritimes, not much is known about the 1959 riot in Badger, Newfoundland. It might be something that a someone might have mentioned once, maybe in a discussion of strikes gone bad, a reminiscence from your old uncle perhaps.

But get your hands on a copy of The Badger Riot by J.A. Ricketts, published 2008 by Flanker Press in Newfoundland and you will never forget that little 1950s town where the 3 rivers meet.

Now, I got my copy from my buddy who is co-owner at Flanker Press. He’d been crowing about this book all over the Internet, so I stuck up my hand and said “Hey man, throw a copy my way!” (If you’ve been here before, you know I’m always up for a free book.)  To be honest, my mouth started watering when I read the absolutely glowing review from the Globe and Mail, entitled A Lovely Labour of Death:

“The Badger Riot is, on the surface, a novel about an important event in Newfoundland labour history: a three-month loggers strike in Badger, led by the International Woodworkers of America (IWA).

But it is much more than a run-of-the-mill strike drama. The Badger Riot is also a vivid portrait, beautifully rendered, of Newfoundland in the 1950s. Ricketts fashions a scrapbook, sharing with the reader snapshots of the countryside, the people, the architecture, the smells and the history. Ricketts even captures the Newfoundland accents in the dialogue.”

So, as you can see, this is not a book to shy away because you think it’s likely to be dry history — it’s actually a riveting piece of fictionized history that will have you turning pages, caught up in the building tension. I heartily agree with the reviewer:

“A word of friendly warning: Once you start reading the last third of The Badger Riot , you will not be able to stop. Set aside plenty of time. The prose carries you from chapter to chapter like a bobsled.”

The author was one of the children who unwittingly witnessed the riot itself, standing on a snowbank at 14 years old with her friends…as the clarity of the descriptions can attest to. This is not some maudlin’, over-wrought prose — the language is spare and honest, with moving points-of-view to capture a feeling of the whole community.

A book 50 years in the making. Unfortunately, like a special dinner one slaves over for hours, it is devoured quickly.

Thank you, Jerry. It was delicious.

(*Astute readers will note that, yes, this is the first time I’ve used images in a post. I just discovered that WP has made it virtually idiot-proof!)


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!