HOME  |  CONTACT US  |
 


Book Reviews in April 2003 Issue

Note from Editor
Editor's Note
by Olga Stein
With the April issue, we say goodbye to Don Bell, our Founde Bookes columnist. Don passed away on March 6. He managed to complete the installment we publish here, "The Blue Notebook", in late February. It is as wonderful as all his other columns. Daniel Bell, his son, has written a parting column for us which will appear in the May edition. Maryse CondT and the Blue Metropolis Books in Canada is pleased to present "Spotlight on Maryse CondT".
Read more...

Hardscratch Row
by Anne Cameron

Harbour Publishing
378 pages $37.56 cloth
ISBN: 1550172905
Book Review
Scratching Hard but with Dignity
by Kerry Riley
West coast writer Anne Cameron has, in her new book Hardscratch Row, focused her clear and earthy gaze on the self-assured, middle-class Canadian mentality. She's gone traipsing down its corridors, wrenching open old doorways long since papered over with complacency and surface politeness, to probe fusty interior cavities and shadowy compartments, unearthing hoary tribal taboos, class prejudices and social stigmas
Read more...
The Understanding
by Jane Barker Wright

Porcupine's Quill
189 pages $19.95 paper
ISBN: 0889842426
Book Review
A Wicked Kind of Flowering
by Steven W. Beattie
The Understanding, the second novel by Vancouverite Jane Barker Wright, is a maddening little trifle. For most of its 198 pages, it appears to be another in a long line of Canadian domestic dramas, examining the life of Isobel Whitechapel, mother of nine, who as a young woman longs for passion and art, but finds herself sacrificing her bohemian ideals for the routine and ordinariness of familial domesticity
Read more...
Nonrequired Reading
by Wislawa Szymborska

Harcourt
235 pages $24 cloth
ISBN: 0151006601
Book Review
Cat Music
by Kenneth Sherman
For several decades now, Wislawa Szymborska has written a column on books called "Non-Required Reading" for the large Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. One marvels at the freedom Szymborska's editors allowed the future Nobel Laureate in Literature, and at the luck of Polish readers who for years have been provided a steady diet of her prose. Rather than closely reviewing a book, Szymborska allows it to serve as a springboard for her own ruminations.
Read more...
The Romantic
by Barbara Gowdy

HarperCollins
371 pages $38.95 cloth
ISBN: 0002005050
Book Review
Love Unto Sickness ¨ Subverting Romance
by Linda Morra
Barbara Gowdy is apparently captivated by humans who fall, literally and metaphorically, as demonstrated in the opening sequences of two previous books: in "Resurrection" of Fallen Angels (1989), Jim's wife loses her balance on the roof of their house and plummets to her death, prefiguring at least one other fatality and resonating figuratively throughout the work; and in Mister Sandman (1995), Joan Canary tumbles "head-first onto the floor" at her birth, causing brain damage that (paradoxical
Read more...
The Edge of Home Milton Acorn from the Island
by Milton Acorn. Edited by Anne Compton

Island Studies Press
121 pages $15.95 paper
ISBN: 091901335X
Book Review
No Man is an Island
by Harold Heft
The canonization of Milton Acorn is long overdue. Undeniably, he is among the most original, impassioned and politically engaged poets in Canadian literary history. Best known today as "The People's Poet" (a term coined in protest by his fellow poets after his 1969 volume I've Tasted My Blood failed to win the Governor General's Award), Acorn built his reputation in the 1960s and '70s as a poet representative of the impoverished, marginal and disenfranchised in Canada.
Read more...
Volta
by Susan Gillis

Signature Editions
74 pages $12.95 paper
ISBN: 0921833865
The Adultery Poems
by Nancy Holmes

Ronsdale Press $13.95 paper
ISBN: 0921870981
Book Review
Freezing in Fire and Burning in Ice
by Graham Good
What accounts for the longevity of the sonnet? This little box of intricate rhyme patterns still seems to attract contemporary poets more than any other traditional form. Odes are a rare find these days, though that form was favoured by a poet as contemporary as Auden. And of course the ode has a much longer history overall, reaching back to Pindar and Horace.
Read more...
The Penguin Book of the Sonnet
by Edited by Phillis Levin

Penguin
448 pages $26 paper
ISBN: 0140589295
The Oxford Book of Sonnets
by Edited by John Fuller

Oxford University Press
362 pages $25.99 paper
ISBN: 0192803891
101 Sonnets From Shakespeare to Heaney
by Edited by Don Paterson

Faber and Faber
129 pages $12.99 paper
ISBN: 0571197329
Book Review
Sonnets From Sea to Sea
by Richard Sanger
"So who wrote good sonnets in English?" It was 1984, I was in a restaurant in Seville just up the street from the second-largest cathedral in Christendom, and Spain's top poet was testing me, his willing translator (and reluctant catamite). We'd been talking about Eliot and Byron and Auden, whom he loved and knew better than I did then, but now Jaime Gil de Biedma was set to prove there was one game at which Spain could beat the Anglo-saxon world.
Read more...
Windward Heights
by Maryse CondT

Soho
348 pages $13 paper
ISBN: 1569472165
Tales From The Heart True Stories From My Childhood
by Maryse CondT

Soho
147 pages $31 cloth
ISBN: 1569472645
Desirada
by Maryse CondT

Soho
260 pages $14 paper
ISBN: 2266086979
Book Review
Spotlight on Maryse CondT
by Joan Givner
Maryse CondT, the winner of the Literary Grand Prix awarded at Montreal's Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, was born on the French/Creole-speaking Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. She was the last of eight children, and the mythical stories of her birth induced a strong sense that she "had not been desired." She grew up proud of being black, and especially of being French, but aloof from Creole culture
Read more...
The Rush for Second Place Essays and Occasional Writings
by William Gaddis. Edited with Notes and Introduction by Joseph Tabbi

Penguin
182 pages $20 paper
ISBN: 0142002380
Agapd Agape A Novel
by William Gaddis. Afterword by Joseph Tabbi

Viking
113 pages $34.99 cloth
ISBN: 0670031313
Book Review
Plaintive Last Act, Full of Jagged Rhythms
by Jeff Bursey
"...[W]e are all in the same line of business: that of concocting, arranging, and peddling fictions to get us safely through the night," writes William Gaddis (1922-1998), comparing fiction writers and the religious. It is likely that more readers of U.S. fiction will have heard about Gaddis' concoctions than have read them. His first novel, The Recognitions, came out in 1955, and critics typed Gaddis as a difficult writer.
Read more...
Nobody's Perfect Billy Wilder, A Personal Biography
by Charlotte Chandler

Simone & Schuster
352 pages $43 paper
ISBN: 0743217098
Book Review
A Life in Hollywood
by Nancy Wigston
Rather than taking the standard biographical route to the life of film genius Billy Wilder, Charlotte Chandler has culled the myriad interviews she taped over twenty-odd years with Wilder, and made them the centrepiece for this portrait of his life. The result is a readable, charming visit to the Wilder oeuvre¨a word that the down-to-earth Viennese would doubtlessly loathe. The book resembles a conversation more than anything else, as Wilder recounts memories from a very long life.
Read more...
Off to the Side A Memoir
by Jim Harrison

Atlantic Monthly Press
288 pages $40.95 cloth
ISBN: 0871138603
Book Review
Witty, Passionate Insights as good as Poetry
by Lee Lamothe
When Jim Harrison dies and they autopsy him they'll find a piece of trout, a stripper's garter, a bloody chunk of venison, and the cork from a bottle of some fine old 1961 Lafites.
Read more...
Equals
by Adam Phillips

HCP/Basic Books
224 pages $37.95 cloth
ISBN: 0465056792
Book Review
Instead of Poetry, Psychoanalysis
by Michael Kinsella
In the lecture room he seemed to sit apart and be absorbed in something else, as if the subject suggested thoughts to him which were not practically connected with it. He was often in the subject and out of it, in a dreamy way. Henry Stephens remembering Keats as a medical student Adam Phillips has often been praised for his elegant essays. A new book by him is 'a literary event', as author and psychotherapist Anthony Storr has suggested
Read more...
Available Light
by HermTnTgilde Chiasson. Translated by Wayne Grady

Douglas & McIntyre
174 pages $22.95 paper
ISBN: 1550549596
Losing North Musings on Land, Tongue and Self
by Nancy Huston

McArthur & Company
96 pages $19.95 paper
ISBN: 1552783154
Book Review
Canada's Two Solitudes
by Michael Greenstein
Nancy Huston's trajectory from Calgary to New Hampshire to Paris forms part of her "musings on land, tongue, and self." She begins with T.S. Eliot ("Home is where you start from"), Gerard Manley Hopkins ( "not live this tormented mind / With this tormenting mind tormenting yet"), and Sviatoslov Richter ("I do not like myself. Yes."). All of which add up to self-hatred, Huston's point of departure.
Read more...
Darlington's Fall A Novel in Verse
by Brad Leithauser

Knopf
313 pages $30 cloth
ISBN: 0375411488
A Few Corrections
by Brad Leithauser

Vintage
288 pages $20 paper
ISBN: 037572558X
Book Review
When Truth Can't Be Found in the Details
by Jerry White
Brad Leithauser's work gives American literary postmodernism a good name, and God knows that's no easy task. I know, I know, postmodernism is famously all things to all people; if modernism was too often a lazy shorthand for "icy and utterly baffling," postmodernism too often seems to stand for "basically meaningless, but kinda cool." That's not what I think is going on in Leithauser's work
Read more...
The Shape of This Dying
by Harold Heft

Mosaic Press
64 pages $15 paper
ISBN: 0889627711
Book Review
A Paean to Bercovitch
by Alex Boyd
One person can be many things to many people, and in The Shape of This Dying, Harold Heft gives us a book of poetry that demonstrates this. Heft divides the book into twelve chapters that examine, from different angles and through different voices, the painter Alexander Bercovitch. Born in the Ukraine in 1891, and educated in Russia, Bercovitch eventually emigrated to Montreal. He died of a heart attack in 1951, while walking to the first exhibition of his work in over a decade.
Read more...
Afterglow A Last Conversation with Pauline Kael
by Francis Davis

Da Capo Press
134 pages $27.5 paper
ISBN: 0306811928
Book Review
Theatre
by Keith Garebian
Pauline Kael was often said to be more entertaining than the movies she reviewed. From her first collection, I Lost It At the Movies, to her final one, Movie Love, she remained cracklingly witty, uncompromisingly tough-minded, and aggressively alert to the tiniest details of filmmaking. Amazingly, she had no interest in seeing a movie more than once. She loved movies even at the low end of art, so long as they were free from sham and hypocrisy.
Read more...
The Story of Lucy Gault
by William Trevor

Knopf Canada
228 pages $34.95 cloth
ISBN: 0676975445
Book Review
Instead of Passion, Petit-Point Embroidery
by Gerald Lynch
The first calamitous act of this heart-wrenching story occurs on the evening of "June the twenty-first, nineteen twenty-one," as the opening sentence precisely dates it (and ominously so in its doubling of the number). This marker begins the story of Lucy Gault in the time of the first worst twentieth-century "Troubles" between the English and the Irish.
Read more...
Louis Applebaum. Louis Applebaum A Passion for Culture
by Walter Pitman

Dundurn Group
400 pages $39.99 cloth
ISBN: 1550023985
Book Review
Canadian Renaissance Man
by Clara Thomas
The trumpet fanfare that signalled the opening of the Stratford Festival in the summer of 1953 heralded a wonderful new era for drama in Canada as well as a burgeoning coast-to-coast appreciation of all the arts. It and all the following Stratford fanfares were composed by Louis Appelbaum who, for six decades, was involved in every aspect of Canadian culture and whose life and work is celebrated in Walter Pitman's biography, Louis Appelbaum: A Passion for Culture.
Read more...
Eve Arnold Film Journal
by Eve Arnold

Bloomsbury Publishing
255 pages $60 cloth
ISBN: 1582342482
Book Review
Hollywood Tales Through Pictures
by Christopher Ondaatje
Over a period of fifty years, Eve Arnold has photographed movie stars both on and off location¨at the studio and at home, at work and at play. In the 1950s, film companies embarked on a programme of hiring professional photographers to record and tell the story of the making of a feature film in pictures and in words. This was very different from the studios' former photographic programme which dealt mostly in fantasies.
Read more...
Shakespeare's Face
by Stephanie Nolen

Knopf Canada
365 pages $39.95 cloth
ISBN: 067697483X
Shakespeare in Canada 'A World Elsewhere'?
by Edited by Diana Brydon and Irena R. Makaryk

University of Toronto Press
490 pages $65 cloth
ISBN: 0802036554
Shakespeare is Hard, but so is Life A Radical Guide To Shakespearean Tragedy
by Fintan O'Toole

Granta Books
164 pages $6.99 paper
ISBN: 186207528X
Book Review
Showing His Face in Canada
by Keith Garebian
Shakespeare was a "pin-up" long before Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare In Love made him one for movie fans.
Read more...
The Skating Pond
by Deborah Joy Corey

Alfred A. Knopf Canada
246 pages $29.95 cloth
ISBN: 0676975399
Book Review
Frozen Lives
by Diana Kiesners
The Skating Pond, Deborah Joy Corey's second novel, begins and ends in January, "when the weather has stolen all there is to steal and the earth looks barren under cold skies, as if waiting." It's an atmosphere saturated with loss¨from the very outset, tragedy seems a foregone conclusion. But whom will it strike, and when? The answer is: Everyone, eventually. Corey's landscape is one of dispossession, in this case a fishing village named Stonington on the coast of Maine.
Read more...
A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry
by Ian McGillis

Porcupine's Quill
185 pages $19.95 paper
ISBN: 0889842469
Book Review
Innocence in Glengarry
by Andrew Steinmetz
Set in a suburb of Edmonton, A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry¨Ian McGillis's gentle, dignified, poignant, and seriously funny first novel¨ is the narrative of a day in the life of Neil McDonald, a grade four student with an idiot savant's penchant for baseball and music. The book opens with 9-year-old Neil sitting in Irene's, a local diner, on the night of the second game of the 1971 World Series (Pittsburgh Pirates versus Baltimore Orioles).
Read more...
Letters to Editor
Letters to the Editor
Dear Editor, In his review of my book, Hypothesis ("Satisfying Sprawl and Commendable Scope", December 2002, pp. 38-39), Ethan Paquin claims that certain lines in my poem "Body Bag" are a "carbon copy" of a single-line poem of the same name by the American poet Franz Wright. I must take issue with this allegation, especially as he provides no proof that I have "consciously or unconsciously" modelled my poem after Wright's.
Read more...
Essays
Don Bell's FoundE Bookes
My colleague Manfred, trFs simpatico¨I prefer to call him colleague rather than competitor even though he and his wife Nancy ran the other secondhand bookshop in Sutton¨had been having a rough time last winter; serious health problems made it difficult for Manfred to ply his other trade as bicycle mechanic, they lost one of their three daughters, and business was not always brisk in their Ex-Libris shop around the corner from the dTpanneur
Read more...
Essays
Notes on Morality by Alfred Stein
by Alfred Stein
These notes were composed in the spring of 1995 by Alfred Stein (1930-1995). These notes were composed as a basis for some future project. They were unedited. We are publishing these notes over the next few issues of BiC. The first part was published in the March 2003 issue. H 3 Computational states are not physical states independent of assignment or determination.
Read more...
Prose/Poetry
The Sonnet as Mathematical Object
by David Solway
Ómanifold fly-ways that always end in petals and pith, the numinous paths. ű David Roderick, "Sonnet for a Novice Beekeeper" Poet and mathematician Paul ValTry begins his essay on poetic form, "Les Coquillages", by noting that "the mollusk exudes its shell," letting the building material "seep through" the mantle to give it protective and coherent shape. Poems are not all that different and indeed malacology and the arts in general have much in common
Read more...
Prose/Poetry
Vehement Radical Obfuscation: The Political Poems of Milton Acorn
by Shane Neilson
Despite occupying the highest echelons of Canadian poetry during his lifetime, Milton Acorn's name dimmed after his death in 1986. A disconcerting stretch of time elapsed during which no selected volume of his poems existed in print. The Shout-Out Love voice of Acorn was to be quiet for almost a decade until the reprinting of McClelland & Stewart's Dig Up My Heart in 1994.
Read more...
Prose/Poetry
The Sonnet as Toy Broom
by Robyn Sarah
I cannot remember when or where I first came across "Cathleen Sweeping" (probably in an anthology, in the 1970s), but when I read it again in 1990, in Johnston's collected poems, Endeared By Dark, it was with the shock of recognition that comes of having subconsciously retained a poem in memory over many years¨a poem read perhaps once only, that has left its imprint without one's realizing it.
Read more...
Up Front
Note From Amazon.ca
In our third year as sponsors of the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award, we continue to be impressed with the range and quality of the debuts that have made the shortlist. From Mary Lawson's bestselling family drama, Crow Lake, to Clint Hutzulak's unsettling underworld noir, The Beautiful Dead End, judge (and former First Novel Award winner) W.P. Kinsella has again done a superb job of showcasing the bright variety of Canadian fictionls new lights.
Read more...
Up Front
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers Lists
* Stats based on period from February 12 to March 12 Top 50 Bestselling Fiction 1 J.K.
Read more...
A Guide to Canadian Children's Books
by Deirdre Baker and Ken Setterington

McClelland and Stewart
354 pages $34.99 Cloth
ISBN: 0771010648
The Syllabus
by Mike Barnes

Porcupine's Quill
208 pages $19.95 paper
ISBN: 088984254X
Love Object
by Sally Cooper

Dundurn
365 pages $19.99 paper
ISBN: 155002387X
Passiontide
by Brian E. Pearson

Path Books
278 pages
ISBN: 1551263505
Please
by Peter Darbyshire

Raincoast Books
200 pages $21.95 paper
ISBN: 1551925621
Butterflies Dance in the Dark
by Beatrice MacNeil

Key Porter Books
332 pages $24.94 paper
ISBN: 1552634744
First Novels
First Novels
by W.P Kinsella
Passiontide, by Brian E. Pearson (Path Books, 278 pages, ISBN:1551263505). Since this is published by the Anglican Book Centre, I thought, Oh dear, religious propaganda, but such is not the case. The main character, Father David Corcoran, is an Anglican priest, but he has a myriad problems dealing with his personal and professional life. He lives a rather colorless existence in Toronto with his wife and two children. He is stuffy and conservative, insisting that everyone call him Father.
Read more...
Fixing Tradition Joseph W. Yoder, Amish American
by Julia Kasdorf

Pandora Press
280 pages $34.95 paper
ISBN: 1931038066
Brief Reviews
Brief Reviews
by Maurice Mierau
Who's the bestselling writer of Mennonite origin in North America? Most Canadian readers would assume the answer is Rudy Wiebe. However, the bestselling book of all time by a Mennonite writer is Rosanna of the Amish, by Joseph W. Yoder, first published in 1940 and now over the 400,000 mark in sales. Rosanna is in many ways the Anne of Green Gables of the Amish; it romanticizes and defends Amish community life while also telling a compelling individual story.
Read more...
In the First Early Days of My Death
by Catherine Hunter

Signature Editions
141 pages $12.95 pqper
ISBN: 1894177142
Brief Reviews
Brief Reviews
by Angela K. Narth
Reserve a spot on your 2003 reading list for Catherine Hunter's newest novel. With two thrillers, three collections of poetry and one spoken word recording already behind her, this Winnipeg author continues to reveal the scope of her talent. In the First Early Days of My Death is not easily categorized. Found in the mystery section of bookstores, this diminutive novel can be enjoyed on several levels.
Read more...
Warsaw Spring
by Heather Kirk

Napoleon Publishing
256 pages $9.95 paper
ISBN: 0929141865
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Clara Thomas
Heather Kirk's Warsaw Spring is designated "Young adult fiction." This "old adult" found it engrossing, a story told with skill and conviction for readers of all ages. It concerns the rebellious teenage and gradual maturing of Eva Wojnar, its narrator. Her father, whom she has never known, was Polish, a pilot with the R.A.F. during World War II. Her mother Magda, the daughter of Polish immigrants to Canada, is now married to George.
Read more...
Abhorsen
by Garth Nix

HarperCollins
368 pages $26.99 Cloth
ISBN: 0060278250
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Jeffrey Canton
The final volume in Australian writer Garth Nix's superb Sabriel trilogy is as every bit as exciting, fantastically imagined and utterly intriguing as its predecessors, Sabriel and Lirael. Abhorsen neatly picks up just where the previous book, Lirael left off. Lirael, former Second Assistant Librarian and Daughter of the all-seeing Clayr and newly discovered Abhorsen-in-Waiting, is about to make her way into the Old Kingdom, accompanied by young Prince Sameth.
Read more...
A Guide to Canadian Children's Books
by Deirdre Baker and Ken Setterington

McClelland and Stewart
354 pages $34.99 Cloth
ISBN: 0771010648
The Syllabus
by Mike Barnes

Porcupine's Quill
208 pages $19.95 paper
ISBN: 088984254X
Love Object
by Sally Cooper

Dundurn
365 pages $19.99 paper
ISBN: 155002387X
Passiontide
by Brian E. Pearson

Path Books
278 pages
ISBN: 1551263505
Please
by Peter Darbyshire

Raincoast Books
200 pages $21.95 paper
ISBN: 1551925621
Butterflies Dance in the Dark
by Beatrice MacNeil

Key Porter Books
332 pages $24.94 paper
ISBN: 1552634744
Children's Books
Children's Books
by Jeffrey Canton
Deirdre Baker and Ken Setterington have aimed high to create an interesting and exciting compendium of the best Canadian books for young readers.
Read more...
Heave
by Christy Ann Conlin

Doubleday Canada
322 pages $29.95 paper
ISBN: 0385658079
Spelling Mississippi
by Marnie Woodrow

Knopf Canada
386 pages $34.95 paper
ISBN: 0676974317
Crow Lake
by Mary Lawson

Knopf Canada
291 pages $34.95 cloth
ISBN: 0676974791
Stay
by Aislinn Hunter

Polestar
269 pages $21.95 paper
ISBN: 1551925680
The Beautiful Dead End
by Clint Hutzulak

Anvil Press
202 pages $14.95
ISBN: 1895636396
The Wrong Madonna
by Britt Holstrom

Cormorant Books
399 pages $22.95 paper
ISBN: 1896951368
First Novel Award
2002¨Another Batch of Winning Fiction. The Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Award Shortlist
by W.P. Kinsella
Three of the finalists were reviewed in my first 2002 first novels column. I had hoped this would be a spectacular year, but unfortunately the quality didn't quite hold up. Looking the year over, the overall quality of the 2002 novels differed little from that of 2001. The best books were world class, the worst left me wondering why I subject myself to reading 50/60 first novels a year. Last year, 2001, was the year of the boarding school novel, most of them pretty awful
Read more...
footer

Home First Novel Award Past Winners Subscription Back Issues Timescroll Advertizing Rates
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers List Books in Issue Books in Department About Us