Wednesday, July 30, 2008

#47 - How To Be Single

Zesty and I went to Costco the other weekend and I bought a lot of stuff. Well, not a lot of stuff, but I was kind of like a kid in a candy store because I'm not a regular Costco shopper. So, for the bookish girl, seeing giant stacks of books incites a certain kind of glee, so of course I piled a bunch of 'off the list books' (ones that we don't publish or that I can't get reading copies for) into my cart. The first one I tackled was Liz Tuccillo's How to Be Single. (Yes, I'm still on the chicklit kick). What a disappointing book. It's stereotypical, bland, relatively plotless and utterly unbelievable.

The premise -- five single women in NYC in their mid-to-late 30s love, redemption and self-satisfaction -- falls short of actually driving the action of entire novel, so Tuccillo invents an entirely ridiculous 'adventure' for her main character, Julie Jenson. See, Julie's unhappy being a publicist at a publishing company so she decides, on a whim, to march into the publisher's office and pitch a book about "How to Be Single." Julie will travel the world and meet all kinds of single women from all kinds of different countries and then she'll write a book. It's Eat, Prey, Love in spades. Only it's not because what it means is that Julie, THE MAIN CHARACTER AND NARRATOR, introduces the action and her four best friends who only know one another through her, and then LEAVES THE CITY. But she still TELLS THE STORY.

So that means all the stories are told from Julie's point of view, even though she's not anywhere near the action of the other four characters: lawyer Alice (who left her job to be on permanent "man" hunt); Georgia (whose husband recently left her and the kids to take up with a samba teacher); Ruby (overweight and depressed about her dead cat); and Serena (a hippie cook who works for a famous family only to leave to try and become a swami). The whole book is full of situations that are completely and utterly unbelievable. Of course, Julie meets a wonderful man in Paris with only one hitch; he's married, but wait! It's an open relationship! Yawn.

And we could run through the bland things that happen to the other four women but it's not worth the energy it would take for my fingers to type it out. Not one aspect of the book (until we get to the VERY end) is about the women living happy and fulfilled single lives. They're hysterical, depressed, somewhat crazed, and on the hunt for the "right" man the entire time. Tuccillo doesn't break down a single cliche or take the story in any remotely original direction. And, I've got to say, it's honestly some of the worst dialogue I have ever read on paper. For the most part, I wasn't remotely interested in what happened to a single one of these women. Because they didn't feel real. They didn't feel passionate. They were stereotypes of women I see in sitcoms. They were Rachel and Monica, Miranda and Carrie, and with none of the quirks that make those characters endearing or original.

I have to say too, that the premise of the novel, when you first pick it up, is interesting, and I would have enjoyed it a lot of there was a whiff of these women embracing their single lives and actually growing from beginning to end. I've already given my copy away and I don't want it back.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ranting And Raving

There are days where I wish I was back to being quite anonymous. That way I could say all the things that are swirling around in my mind right now about work, about life, about the glorious weekend we just had, without worrying who might read it or who might see it. It's not that I have to confess. I need to vent. I need to rant a little about how I'm tired of certain things (and, I'll admit, certain people in my workplace). But who doesn't go through the same stuff every now and again? The feeling annoying with people you work with, the feeling invisible at work, the frustration with the work. And it's not like it happens all the time or everyday. For the most part, I'm incredibly thankful to have such a great job, and to work with the people that I work with, but today is an exceptionally rough day and I'd much rather be at home watching Mad Men.

But really, would this job be any better? Perhaps not.

Monday, July 21, 2008

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

An Alternate Title: The 18 Pound Challenge

The rain has been unceasing the past few days, which was actually a blessing considering I hadn't watered the garden for the couple of days leading up to the big storms over the weekend. Storms indeed. Stormy moods, stormy weather, stormy clouds in my head, but I managed to shake some of it off this evening after work. The elation of being of the medication has been followed by a period of a bit of panic. There's not a single part of my health that's unaffected by the disease, from the tips of my toes to the roots of my hair (mainly grey; nicely covered), and it's tedious sometimes worrying about it all. The latest? My cholesterol remains sky high, despite having already lost some weight and not really eating anything that causes said heights. The result? The doctor has ordered me to lose a total of 18 pounds. It seems impossible. I've been fighting with my body for months, years even, and the pounds just stay stuck like tree sap to a window.

However, now that I'm off the drugs, I'm convinced that at least it's a goal I can achieve. Now that the methotrexate is no longer wreaking havoc on my system, hopefully my body will just rebalance itself. He's given me three months to lose the first five and if I can make that goal he won't put me on the medicine. That's a good motivator. I really need a break from medicine. Four years and then some is a long, long, long time.

Soooo, after a week I've already lost about three pounds. That's just from cutting out sugar and biking to work. And hummmmm, stopping the meds maybe? My Super-Fancy Disease Doctor will never admit that the meds are the sap in the tree-sap-to-window ratio, but it's something I honestly believe. We're also making a conscious effort to eat a little better and not snack as much. At least if I can make it to the 18 pounds, I can forgive the disease even for a little while and simply concentrate on living my life.

Annnywaaay, shaking off the glums was impossible yesterday so we bunkered down and watched a world of Law and Order repeats before falling asleep. I've started to read How to Be Single and it's simply okay. But more on that later once I'm actually done. But today, shaking off the glums was accomplished by hitting the garden out back. The weeds! The weeds! The weeds! But also, the growth, the growth, the growth. I've been re-reading chapters of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle tonight just so we can deal with the overload of zucchini (in pasta, grilled this weekend, in muffins, in cookies). And above? The massive zucchini I harvested today compared to the ones that you'd usually find in the grocery store. One of these things is not like the other, indeed.

What's growing? The beans (all three varieties), the squash, the cucumbers (I had two for dinner; they are delicious), the watermelon, the tomatoes, two teeny cherry tomato plants, the winter squash, the calendula (one lone plant, but still!), the rapini, and I think some of the basil (at long last). We're overgrown in the lettuce department but I'm eating it every morning for breakfast (cashew butter and lettuce on a bagel) so at least I'm making my way through it. And the tomatoes haven't even started to ripen and I'm already thinking about how I'm going to have to convince my RRHB that we'll need to can a bunch of sauce this fall (a whole bunch of photos on Flickr).

I had promised myself that I would grow out of hating gardening. And when I peeled back the heavy, prickly skin of my cucumbers and chopped them up so I could eat their cold, lemony goodness, I knew it was all worth it. The dirty nails. Pulling the weeds. Planting and replanting. Because it's so true, it just tastes so much better when it's grown in your own backyard.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Moment When You Have Too Much Technology

Packing up my bag moments before Zesty picked me up for a trip to Costco (the first time I've been in many, many years), I through an electrical gadget in there beside my wallet thinking it was my blackberry. Indeed, it was my Sony Reader. Very helpful for lineups, not so great for phone calls. Very indicative of the fact that I have too much technology in my life. Isn't that grand?

TRH Movie - The Dark Knight

Our summer hours were a blessing yesterday as I managed to get home after getting my hair cut well before six, which meant we were at the movie theatre in time to buy tickets and then line up for decent seats for a 7 PM show of The Dark Knight. It's not something we normally do, and I felt a little like a teenager as my RRHB and his friend Nathan went off to pay video games and I held our place in line. (Don't worry, I had a book, on my Sony eReader, which is AWESOME!).

The film is long but doesn't feel that way, action-packed without being overwhelmingly violent (although it's not suitable for the 5-year-olds that were in the audience), and utterly satisfying on every level. There are unavoidable cliches, the romance-that-cannot-be, the stoic-good-guy-cop, the moral dilemmas of a superhero, that could have weighed the whole film down. But what The Dark Knight does that Spider-Man (despite how much I loved the second one) and Iron Man somewhat fail to do, is that it approaches the tedious, necessary plot and/or character developments with an unflinching sense of honesty and commitment that rises above the usual.

It's one hell of a good movie. The story is complex, riveting and engaging. The acting is superb. And the action is, well, really good without all kinds of CGI that sometimes turns other superhero films into cartoonish parodies of themselves. Christian Bale, as Jesse Wente said yesterday morning, might just be the best actor to ever have played Batman. But considering a) I never read the comics and b) I actually kind of enjoyed George Clooney, Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer each in their own ways, I think it's more than him being 'the best.'

He takes the role to a whole other place. He takes the character to a whole other place. He's just as believable as the playboy as he is the superhero. And there's a brilliant scene that I won't spoil between he and Gary Oldman (who I think is the undersung star of the film) toward the end that exemplifies both their skills. What's impossible, as well, is not knowing the tragic circumstances around this being Ledger's last role, and have that not be on your mind the entire time you're watching his tour de force performance. And man, is he absolutely frightening, entirely brilliant and not in the least bit hammy (Lords of Dogtown, that's all I'm going to say).

The movie picks up almost right where Batman Begins left off. With the caped crusader cleaning up the streets of Gotham, the citizens have never been so safe. Add to that the appearance of the new D.A., Harvey Dent (played to perfection, as well, by Aaron Eckhart), and crime might just be on its way to extinction. Enter the Joker (Ledger) whose particular brand of menace can't be understood. In short, he doesn't act like a regular criminal, but more like a terrorist. And he's holding all of Gotham hostage. Now the Batman, Dent and Gordon have more to contend with than an angry bunch of criminals -- they have one utterly unpredictable one who doesn't quite play by the rules. The battle between good and evil, right and wrong, sways all kinds of definitive lines, and the end result is a superhero film that's evolved to finally meet the times in which its playing.

That said, the only problem with so many of these movies is the tragically misused 'love' interest trope of a character. Rachel Dawes is no different. Sure, she's a lawyer and fighting for her own brand of justice, but like Gywneth in Iron Man and Liv in Incredible Hulk, their lives are there simply to be put in danger as impetus for the hero to either act or not act. Would it be that difficult to write a less contrived female character? What a waste of talent in all of those women to be playing such one-sided roles. It's almost as if the writers have worked so hard to update the male characters and bring them securely into this century and have simply left the women behind. Sure, they dress them up in pretty heels and give them jobs, but they're not really doing anything.

Regardless, The Dark Knight not only lives up to the promise of the first film, but utterly surpasses it. It could very well be the best film of the summer. I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

#46 - Loose Girl

Kerry Cohen's Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity took me a little by surprise. It's not often a book manages to catch me off guard, but from the minute I read the first few sentences of this excerpt, I couldn't put it down. So, I took the whole book with me to the cottage and read it in an evening. I was reading when I should have been sleeping and the rain fell all over the cabin as passionately as rain tends to do in the summer. With my RRHB securely asleep beside me, Cohen's story couldn't help but remind me of all my mistaken times when I confused the wrong kind of attention for the right kind of intimacy.

Told in a writing style that's almost a form of literary short-hand, it's a swift memoir (just over 200 pages) that recounts Cohen's tumultuous tween, teen and young adult years. Conflicted about her parents's divorce, caught between her mother's ambition and need to better her own life, and left behind by friend and foe, she falls deeper into her life of promiscuity.

Navigating adolescence is never easy, and for young girls who grow up traumatized in any way, I'm guessing it gets even harder. No, I know it gets even harder, when there's no one you can really turn to for help. Wanting love is different from wanting any kind of male attention -- but that's a hard lesson for Cohen to learn, one that comes at a great cost to her burgeoning sense of self. She yearns for a boyfriend but never seems to find a boy who'll stick around after sex. And when the nameless, faceless, can't remember hims add up and add up, she needs to come to terms with the fact that all the sexual acts aren't remotely satisfying.

The book, however, is deeply satisfying. Cohen recounts her story with a clear and crisp voice, allows the reader to feel deeply empathetic for what she went through, and there are moments when it's impossible not to see or feel yourself in her shoes. The ending is a little abrupt, but it's not necessarily awkward. It's more that I was enjoying the story so much that I wanted to read on and on -- to see the resolution vs. just imagine it from her implications. Regardless, it's a seductive piece of work for all the right reasons.

Free At Last

This morning was a great bloody morning. I rode my bike to work. Now I know I'm late in doing this but I simply couldn't get my sh*t together before this morning. My timing, however, couldn't have been more perfect as I had totally forgotten I needed to see the Super Fancy Disease Doctor at 9:30. Which meant that I hopped back on my bike and pedaled myself over there just in time for my appointment with one minute to spare.

The good news?

I no longer have to take ANY disease medication!

None.

No needle.

No pills.

Nothing.

It's just for three months. If he sees any disease activity whatsoever they'll put me back on a low dose of prednisone or maybe even back on the needle, but for now, I'm disease and medication free.

The sun is certainly shining.

Monday, July 14, 2008

#45 - Away

The first book in my For the Ladies Canadian Book Challenge of 2008-2009 is Jane Urquhart's Away. The first few moments of this book truly captivated me. I started reading it and didn't want to stop, not for work, not for my favourite TV shows, not for my RRHB, anything. The multi-generational tale of Irish-Canadian settlers powers along like a captivating storm on a summer day. An important story needs to be told, from grandmother to granddaughter (which we find out cryptically that this is new knowledge; for a lot of life the granddaughter believes herself to be a grand-niece) about the history of the family.

The book's title refers to the matriarch, Mary, who becomes Moira one morning after she discovers a young man washed up on the shores of a small island off the coast of Northern Ireland. The experience of him, of his perfect shape and lovely form just before he dies, carries Mary "away." The man whispers, "Moira" to her just as his last breath leaves him, and she falls in love with him, in love with his voice of the sea, in love with this other person she becomes, in love with the water from which he comes. The rest of the first half of the novel concerns itself with the ways Mary comes back from being away. She marries and then has a child they call Liam. And then the famine hits. Her husband, Brian, a schoolteacher and farmer, agrees to let their landlords, two English quasi-fops, send them to Canada.

The pair has another child, a girl named Eileen, and she and Liam become the focus of the story once they're in Canada. The landscape has changed but the epic nature of the novel hasn't and the journey for Eileen and Liam to their new farm near Lake Ontario. There's so much mixed up in the novel that sometimes I think it gets a little lost in its own epic-ness. Characters get swept up in politics and then conflicts are completely forgotten, entire generations are skipped, whole backstories are simply lost, and main characters go off on long journeys and are never heard from again -- but somehow, the novel holds your interest.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book terribly, as my mother would say, warts and all. The mystical nature of being 'away' -- of being at once lost and found to your inner self, is an interesting theme around which to circle a novel. The dichotomy between the old world and the new, of Irish and English, of men and women, of right and wrong, all shift in Urquhart's book. In a way, that's what makes Away such a perfect product of Canadian literature. If I were well back in my M.A. and still studying post-colonial writing, I would probably write one hell of a paper about this book. But I'm not, I'm doing my Canadian Book Challenge and it's a pretty darn perfect title to include in said challenge.

PHOTO IN CONTEXT: I have a beautiful, collector's edition of the novel that McClelland & Stewart released for their 100th anniversary. While I'm not crazy about the dust jacket design, I do love the cloth treatment with its tender title stamp and pretty grey colour. (Blogger's giving me trouble uploading the photo, so I'll have to try again later -- the link above is to Flickr).

READING CHALLENGES: #1 for the Canadian Book Challenge. I'm already well ahead of last year.

WHAT'S UP NEXT: A review of Kerry Cohen's Loose Girl, and Runaway by Alice Munro.

THE SOUNDTRACK: Currently playing, "You Don't Understand Me" by The Raconteurs. Oddly fitting, I think. The recording of the song allows you to hear the cool, almost-squeaking like sound of fingers going up and down the neck of the guitar (I think?) to hit the different chords (I think?) which kind of reminds me of all the beautiful flaws in the book itself.

Friday, July 11, 2008

TRH Updates - Summer Hiatuses

Seems I can find less and less time to post here these days with the craziness of summer, and then we go up to the cottage for the weekend, which means even less time to post. However, I think I'm going to go back to my page-a-day challenge (I have a couple of projects in mind), and that should get me going here too. Here's a list, anyway, because I have a headache and feel life can only be in short form when one has a headache:

1. I've been reading Jane Urquhart's Away and absolutely loving it.

2. TomGreen.com kept me awake and alert this week at work. I wish they had TomGreen.com radio, too, and not just TV.

3. We are obsessed with So You Think You Can Dance. My RRHB more so than me. But yesterday when they had the Alvin Ailey troupe perform, I was gobsmacked. A major American dance troupe not relegated to PBS, Bravo or TVOntario. It's amazing and I hope it continues to spotlight dance in this way for the masses. Although I'm not 100% sold on the whole "contemporary" as a format -- I think I'd love to see them all have to perform a piece of classical modern choreography, something from Merce Cunningham or Martha Graham, something that can show the masses where contemporary comes from.

4. A very good friend of our family passed away this week, and the funeral was yesterday. Up until my mother had her accident, the two of them were thick as thieves. The same, but different, neighbours but also kindred spirits. Us kids grew up together. And even though much time has passed since I'd seen anyone in the family, it doesn't mean that I am not profoundly feeling the loss. A friend said that it's maybe a little bit of me losing yet another connection to my mother. And it is that, for sure, but it's also the loss of someone who had a powerful influence upon me when I was a child. It's also knowing what her daughter is going through right now, as I said in an email, all that empty space and unfinished sentences, where your mother used to be -- it's not something you get over.

5. Headaches suck more than any other kind of everyday ache.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Summer Movie Showdown

The TRH movie reviews have been lax as of late. I'm not reviewing any films for anyone professionally right now so I haven't had any screening passes. Are reviews still valuable when the films have already been out for weeks? Perhaps, because they'll still be coming out on DVD, right?

Wanted

We decided at the last minute yesterday not to go to the cottage because my RRHB didn't feel like driving, which was fine with me because I've been on the move a lot lately and, as much as I adore the cottage, it might be good to spend a weekend at home too. For some reason, we have no bedsheets. They've all simply disappeared. How does that happen? Annnywaaay, we went out for dinner yesterday afternoon and then drove out to the Queensway to see Wanted. It's a rare movie, one that both my RRHB and I want to see, and so he didn't need much convincing, as he kept telling our friends we met on the street, "It's got Angeline Jolie for me and James McAvoy for her; it's perfect."

But the movie was just okay. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but the plot and/or story was so utterly implausible (um, Loom of Fate anyone?) that it kind of made the good parts of the film, the first half, which was really funny feel kind of out of joint. James McAvoy stars as a dreary cubicle drone who hates his life, knows his girlfriend is cheating on him, and has massive panic attacks. So when Angeline Jolie shows up at the pharmacy to tear him out of a dangerous situation (his father, whom he hasn't seen since he was seven days old, which means, um, he's never really seen him) and gives him the chance to join a secret fraternity of assassins, well, he does so, and takes many, many wicked beatings in the process. See, silly, right? There's a lot of mumbo jumbo about who killed his father and is it his real father and who's lying to whom, but it's all just set up for some pretty spectacular special effects and the whole bullet bending thing. Both McAvoy and Jolie are excellent, and like I said, even though it has a goofy premise, there are some truly comedic parts to the film that had us both laughing, and the action, whew, my shoulders are still sore from clutching them up around my ears.

The Incredible Hulk
We went to see The Incredible Hulk when we were in New York with my RRILs. To be perfectly honest, it was much, much better than I expected it to be mainly because Ed Norton does such a great job as Bruce Banner. I might be one of the few people on earth who actually enjoyed the Ang Lee version, but I also appreciate how they took care of the heady stuff, how he becomes the Hulk, at the very beginning of the movie, which opens the picture up to the dealing with the consequences of his actions. When we first see Bruce Banner, he's hiding out in Brazil working a menial job in a menial pop factory. Of course, the military chases him; of course, he's got the whole love interest thing hanging of his head; and of course, there's that little trouble with controlling his temper. But Norton does such a nice job of playing the guy on the run, that man whose whole life is turned upside down, and the push-pull between him and the military, run by William Hurt (who employs a super soldier, a super-scary, Tim Roth, to track him down) is effective.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I adore the Indiana Jones movies. My mom and dad would take my brother and I to see them at the old Runnymede theatre (where we also saw Raiders of the Lost Ark) when we were little and it wasn't a Chapters. So it's no wonder that my RRHB and did something we never do and went to go see a film on a week night (it was our only opportunity!) when we both had work the next day. I wasn't entirely disappointed, and it was great to see the characters again, but on the whole I felt as if the story needed a little bit more. Again with the implausibility, with that forced feeling when the filmmaker wants to go somewhere but has to get the characters there, and parts just didn't work for me (like Shia's whole "greaser" persona). That said, like Wanted, I still enjoyed the film immensely overall, but it's not my favourite of the series.

Sex and the City
Goodness, it took Sam and I about three times to find the one night we could see Sex and the City. By now, everyone's seen it at least twice (except me!) and all I'm going to say is that the trouble with the film is that it's an entire season of episodes crammed into one rather long movie. You can feel the half-hour bits as it progresses and the story doesn't flow as naturally as you'd expect if it were a film and not a film based on a television show. However, it's Sex and the City, and even if the movie was terrible, I'd probably still see it three or four times (by the time it gets to DVD) because I love the characters so much.

We also went to see Iron Man on opening weekend, but that was months ago, and I can barely remember what the movie was about, I just remember thinking that they couldn't find Gwyneth some shoes she could actually walk in?

So, we're barely into the beginning of summer and it feels like an pretty spectacular summer in terms of the overall quality of the movies out there (all solid Bs, I think). But what's missing is that dramatic Oscar-bait-type film, that counter-programming, that gives Entertainment Weekly something to talk about while reviewing all the popcorn-sellers. Oh, and we need more girlie movies Hollywood -- can't you see that? Women are going to see Sex and the City two and three times because there's nothing else out there for us. Nothing. What are you all going to see in the multiplexes this summer?

Friday, July 04, 2008

What's Growing Up!

My forays into gardening have been semi-documented here. Mainly it's been me saying over and over again how much I hate gardening. But then we went away for a few days, it rained like mad, and things have started to grow! Like: the beans, the squash and the pumpkin! I still haven't seen any trace of the rapini, the corn, the spinach or the basil, but I still have hope that they'll sprout soon. It's a wonder anything grew at all the way I just pushed the seeds into the ground and preyed.

The Canadian Book Challenge 2008

So, after much thought, I've decided that I'm going to read 13 books by Canadian women this year. I'm calling it "for the ladies." I've got 10 books at home on my shelves just waiting to be read and have chosen three more that I'd like to tackle all before this time next year. In no particular order, the books for my Canadian Book Challenge 2008 are:

1. Runaway by Alice Munro
2. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
3. The Almost Archer Sisters by Lisa Gabriele
4. Once by Rebecca Rosenblum
5. Away by Jane Urquhart
6. Help Me, Jacques Cousteau by Gil Adamson
7. The Boys in the Trees by Mary Swan
8. The Sad Truth About Happiness by Anne Giardini
9. The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels
10. Whetstone by Lorna Crozier
11. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
12. Quick by Anne Simpson
13. A Hard Witching by Jacqueline Baker

It's late so forgive me if I've spelled anything incorrectly. With our summer hours, who knows, maybe I'll tackle one this weekend and actually get a jump start on this year's challenge.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Canadian Book Challenge (#42, #43, #44)

You'll just have to take my word for it that I finished on time (4 PM on June 30th) for this year's Canadian Book Challenge. I had one province (New Brunswick) and one territory (Nunavut) left and was pleased with exactly one of the two. Here we go:

#42 - The Lost Highway - David Adams Richards

I don't know why I do it to myself. Keep reading Adams Richards, that is. I know he's a lauded Canadian author who's won piles of prizes and even more acclaim, but his work is just not for me. This book was beyond hard to get through and I wouldn't have finished it had it not been for the challenge. The repetition contained within his writing style makes me crazy. It's as if he finds two or three key elements to each character and continually reminds the reader of them over and over again as the novel progresses. One part murder-mystery, one part typical East Coast depressing drama, and two parts nothingness jammed in to fill up the pages, The Lost Highway is about a warring rural New Brunswick family (there's a shock) living in a town that pretty much runs the length of, you got it, a road.

The patriarch, a misery of an old man named Jim Chapman, metes out punishment to all around him, including his bumbling, quasi-lost nephew, Alex. A former student of philosophy who can't seem to do anything right, Alex gravitates from hating his uncle to loving his uncle, from brash irresponsibility to regret, from whimsical romance to stalker, from bumbling fool to calculating criminal throughout the novel. And every five minutes, we get a lecture on what it means to be ethical from the "narrator" who makes a confusing appearance at the end of the novel. I found the setup to be preposterous, the writing tedious, and the story unbelievable. I was captivated for about fifty pages somewhere in the middle of the book where the action heats up, but for the rest of the time I plodded my way to the end trying to find any spare moment so I could just get through the damn book. I know I like to find good things in every book I read, and I just need to remind myself that it's not that Adams Richards isn't a good writer, it's just that his books are for another kind of audience (that doesn't include the likes of me).

Alas, but all pages do lead somewhere and so I cross New Brunswick off the list.

#43 - Unsettled - Zachariah Wells

Wells's undeniably charismatic and utterly engrossing book of poetry, unlike the above, held me tightly all through my reading of it. I spent most of Monday with my nephew, a gregarious, spirited little guy who kept me on my toes all day (and who refused to nap). And even though I was tired, I sat down and read the entire book in one sitting, and then went back and re-read a lot of the poems a second time because I liked the titles so much. Having never been to the North, I think the part of his poetry I enjoyed the most is the clash between how you imagine the landscape to be and the writer's human interaction within it. I also enjoyed the "freight" poems and could definitely see the Milton Acorn comp from the book's back blurbs. His talent feels raw but the words are obviously chosen very carefully, and that's my favourite kind of poetry, pieces that feel tossed off by the tips of ingenious fingers that read so easily but you know there were most likely draft upon draft before the author came to the final incarnation. All in all I can't say enough how powerful I felt the poems to be and if I hadn't left my copy at home I'd put in some quotes (to be added later).

Huge props to Kate S. for suggesting it and super kudos to Insomniac for sending it priority post so I could take care of Nunavut by the Canada Day deadline.

So that's it for this year! Now I have to do some thinking about next year's challenge, which is technically now this year's challenge because it's July 3rd today. So. Yeah. Thirteen more Canadian books by this time next year. What to do, what to do.

I do think I'm going to count Night Runner as my first (it's a YA novel we're publishing this fall that I read on Canada Day eve and Canada Day after finishing Unsettled) because it's a book I just adored from start to finish (#44). Anyway. An entire list tk.