Lori's Book Nook

Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

Yikes! I’m 23 days into the #95books challenge (my first post on that), and only 7 books in…and no real theme to my reading. But that’s not new – and I fully intend on following my nose from book to book.

Continuing the list:

#5 – Julie Powell‘s Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. I enjoyed the movie – the pseudo-biopic with the delightful Meryl Streep as Julia Child – so thought that reading Powell’s memoir of cooking through Child’s classic cookbook would be fun. It feel off a thrift store shelf into my hand, so that was an easy decision, honestly. In the end, it an amusing bit of trifle, with a lot of honesty and personal anguish: “And as the week progressed the throbbing of my biological clock syncopated with my crepe anxiety until they formed one jazz rhythm.”

#6 – Carol Shields’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Unless. Again, a novel that dropped off a shelf in the thrift store that I’d been meaning to read. Shields’ prose is smooth, deceptively simple, the story carrying the reader along until you realize that you’re deep into it, unable to leave it. The link above is to a Salon review that has a line that struck me as being very descriptive of the experience:

Shields’ fiction has always had this sort of stealth spikiness, like soft fish that, when bitten into, turns up a web of bone, or like that sweet middle-aged lady next door when you were growing up, who turns out to have been watching you more shrewdly and understanding you more completely than you ever suspected.

#7 – Kurt Busiek & Cary Nord’s graphic novel of Richard E. Howard’s stories Conan: The Frost-Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories. Yes! A graphic novel is a book. An early set of stories by Howard, this lovely collection of comics was a hardcover gift to my husband at Christmas. It’s a good yarn, and the story reminds us to beware of what we wish for – always a good lesson.

So…what’s next on the pile to be read? I’ll let you know soon enough!

Where do you pile your books? My hubby and I have piles on our bedside tables mostly, then some in the living room, the kitchen, the dining room…and they all live in the basement library/movie/party room (technically the ‘family room’).

The other day I was tidying the bedroom, and emptied the already-read and not-going-to-get-read-soon books off the two bedside tables:

Putting books away...

Then, I pulled books from the living room and kitchen to complete the tidy:

More books being put away..

This post for your voyeuristic enjoyment.

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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! 😀

As I have pointed out before, I’ve been reviewing books for the Canadian Book Review Annual for years. Recently, they underwent a bit of upheaval, as they closed their doors due to the prohibitive cost of putting out the annual, but then were taken over by the Dundurn Group.

So, this year was a letter telling me that CBRA was folding, followed by another saying, “No, sorry for that…we’re back on! Expect your books soon!” Yippee!

Without further ado, the books, in no particular order:

  1. Universal Communicator from Ulysses — A small, itty-bitty little book to fit in your back pocket while traveling, with no words. Point to pictures to express your basic needs/desires. Actually quite brilliant.
  2. Shirin and Salt Man by Nilofar Shidmehr (Oolichan Press) — I’m looking forward to this one…albeit the format is new to me. It’s a novel in poetry about Iran.
  3. A Song For My Daughter by Patricia Jean Smith (Oolichan Press) — Absolutely lovely cover, if one can judge books that way. Another Oolichan press book, from Vancouver Island.
  4. The Sherpa and Other Fictions by Nila Gupta (Sumach Press) — Short stories by an Indo-Canadian woman.  I do like short stories!
  5. My Estruscan Face by Gianna Patriarca (Quattro Books) — Even if I didn’t know this was poetry, the cover design screams that fact. The poet, with the amazing name, is award-winning, so I’m looking forward to this one as well.
  6. As Fate Decrees by Denysé Bridger (EDGE SF and Fantasy Publishing) — A truly horrible cover, with a fraught painting that more or less depicts the story. But then, I’ve already read this fantasy based in ancient Greece, and it’s quite good. Despite the cover.
  7. Pretenders and Righteous Anger by Lynda Williams (EDGE) — Parts 2 and 3 of the Okal Rel Saga. Gads, do I need Part 1? Anyway, from the same publishers as #6, the covers of these are just as awful. And it looks like they have the corner on melodramatic cover artists and designers, because all three books have different people in those positions. I’m assuming they will read better than they look. I’ll keep you posted.
  8. Personal History by Roo Borson (Pedlar Press) — This seems to be an artsy memoir.
  9. We are not in Pakistan and English Lessons and other stories by Shauna Singh Baldwin (Goose Lane) — Two books of short stories with beautiful covers. (Not that I’m looking!)
  10. Lift Up Your Hearts by Laurel Buck (Shoreline) — A slim memoir (one of many, so it seems) by a woman who appears to be a storyteller. (Keeping an open mind…)
  11. Under the Holy Lake: A memoir of Eastern Bhutan by Ken Haigh (UofA Press) — Gorgeous-looking book, a possibly  substantial memoir. By its very ‘luck’ at being at the bottom of this list, I may read it next.

Well there you go. If you have any experience with any of these, if you’ve landed here because you’re tied to them in some ways, please pause and comment.

(If you are one of the cover artists at EDGE, please be aware that I can barely draw a stick figure. Your paintings are great, just not suited to book covers.)

How long has it been since you read Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid? Disney ruined it by giving it a happy ending, of course.

Reading it now, I realize it must have been years and years and years since I read it…but I did, because I just came to a section that I remember vividly:

At last she reached her fifteenth year. “Well, now, you are grown up,” said the old dowager, her grandmother; “so you must let me adorn you like your other sisters;” and she placed a wreath of white lilies in her hair, and every flower leaf was half a pearl. Then the old lady ordered eight great oysters to attach themselves to the tail of the princess to show her high rank.

“But they hurt me so,” said the little mermaid.

“Pride must suffer pain,” replied the old lady. Oh, how gladly she would have shaken off all this grandeur, and laid aside the heavy wreath! The red flowers in her own garden would have suited her much better, but she could not help herself: so she said, “Farewell,” and rose as lightly as a bubble to the surface of the water.

The eight oysters attached to her tail — Oh, how I felt for her when I was 7! Now, as an adult, I wonder just how aware of the trials and tribulations of women Mr. Andersen was…

So I’m reading a short story, Expiation, by Edith Wharton…probably, unfortunately I realize now, the first piece of her writing I’ve ever read, and a line just makes me burst out laughing:

“Though the trials of married life have been classified and catalogued with exhaustive accuracy, there is one form of conjugal misery which has perhaps received inadequate attention; and that is the suffering of the versatile woman whose husband is not equally adapted to all her moods. Every woman feels for the sister who is compelled to wear a bonnet which does not “go” with her gown; but how much sympathy is given to her whose husband refuses to harmonize with the pose of the moment?”

I love my husband dearly, but he does sometimes lack a sense of what’s really going on…So I can commiserate!

I’m going back to continue reading this story — had to pause to share this with you all.  Very good so far, in that Victorian fiction tone of understatement and false modesty. Wonderful.

I picked up a book of short stories the other day, The Victoria Reader: A Treasury of Timeless Stories, edited by Michele Slung.
In it are a lovely collection of relatively happy, amusing stories. Nothing dark and dreadful, nor sorrowful — just a delightful mix of fun.

…including Mark Twain’s story The £1,000,000 Bank-Note. And here it is online, for your reading pleasure!

Other fun stories:

The Inconsiderate Waiter by J.M. Barrie

The Lady and the Flagon by Anthony Hope


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!