Book Reviews in January/February 2004 Issue

The Swinging Bridge
by Ramabai Espinet

HarperCollins Canada / Cdn Adult Hc $32.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 0002255200
Book Review
A Review of: The Swinging Bridge
by Clara Thomas
Mona Singh emigrated with her family from Trinidad to Canada in the 60s, won scholarships to take her through university in Montreal and now lives there, working as a researcher for Films Canadiana, a small company specializing in films about immigrant life in Canada. By her own choice she resists commitments; she's deeply in love with her journalist lover, Roddy, but always refuses to marry him or to live with him. Her need to be free was of paramount importance: "My whole life arches backwards and forwards according to the speed of the gust around me. In the centre, near the eye, in the place where I live, it ...
The Light of Day
by Graham Swift

Random House Canada $35.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 0679312455
Book Review
A Review of: The Light of Day
by Gerald Lynch
Graham Swift's novels always titillate and tease, entertain and engage readers with slowly revealed secrets. The deferred, patient and painstaking assemblage of the story has become something of the Swiftian narrative. Most often the revelation of secrets involves a life's shadowy sins brought to light, like a private eye's photograph of an illicit tryst emerging from its swirl of solvents into black-and-white fact. In 1983's Waterland, secrets are told in the sophisticated prose of a history teacher, and his story eventually exposes his idiot brother as a murderer and reveals his own ...
Book Review
A Review of: Breaking the Bargain: Public Servants, Ministers and Parliament
by Martin Loney
Donald Savoie has established a reputation as an acerbic critic of Canada's governing structures. In his latest contribution he turns his attention to the profound changes that have transformed the relationship between Canadian politicians and public servants. Savoie's central thesis is that the line between politics and administration is increasingly blurred with consequent problems for both bureaucratic and political accountability. In his previous book Governing from the Centre, Savoie examined the growing concentration of power in the Prime Minister's Office and the resulting decline in ...
Values in conflict: The university, the marketplace and the trials of liberal education
by Paul Axelrod

McGill-Queen's University Press $27.95 Paperback
ISBN: 077352407X
Book Review
A Review of: Values in Conflict: The University, the Marketplace, and the Trials of Liberal Education
by Nicholas Maes
Despite its apparent removal from daily events, the university shapes and influences our society to an extraordinary degree. Through its training of professionals, intellectuals and businessmen, the university serves as the gateway to our common future; on the other hand, because it sponsors a profusion of scholars whose daily task is the interpretation of our culture's evolution-archeologists, historians, literary critics and the like-it is as well the repository of our collective past. Indeed, when one glances at the prospectus of the typical university, with its course offerings in physics, ...
Book Review
A Review of: Pieces of My Mind: Writings 1958 - 2002
by Michael Kinsella
Pieces of My Mind is a mischievous title. To a general reader it might suggest a book made up of a casual selection of stray prose. Kermode's Preface' refers to the choice of a variety of topics as unsystematic'. Careful scrutiny, however, reveals that what we have in this book are purposefully given glimpses of what a particular critic has been up to' for over forty years. Pieces of My Mind includes work from those books that have secured Kermode's position as one of the most distinguished literary critics of his generation, The Sense of an Ending (1967), The Classic (1975), The Genesis of Secrecy (1979), ...
Bamboo Church
by Ricardo Sternberg

McGill-Queens University Press $16.95 Paperback
ISBN: 0773525661
Book Review
A Review of: Bamboo Church
by Ken Babstock
How sing under such weather?
arte povera, arte povera

Rhetoric torqued to a whisper,
the lunar syntax of dispossession

stuck in the throat of the meek.
She strikes a rhythm off turtle shells;

Finding a way to sing is exactly what Ricardo Sternberg's poems concern themselves with throughout Bamboo Church.
Book Review
A Review of: The Hunter
by Jeffery Donaldson
Apocalypses have been a dime a dozen for a decade. To judge by Hollywood's inexhaustible supply of doomsday flicks-from Armageddon to the various Matrices-the world will have more endings than a Bruckner symphony. There is never any shortage of signs, when you look for them, that the world in fact will be folding up its suitcase of trinkets soon and heading off. For my generation, the operative image was of a mushroom cloud rising like a fungus over the urban wash-out. Today, we are more likely to summon to mind the horrible images of 9/11, where the threat of terrorism replaces the cold war as our ...
by John Terpstra

Gaspereau Press $0 Paperback
ISBN: 1894031733
Book Review
A Review of: Disarmament
by Jeffery Donaldson
John Terpstra's Disarmament is a marvellous and moving collection of poem cycles assembled from a decade of work. Terpstra, like Murray too, works his magic by accumulation. Neither poet is inclined to offer sudden chess-board blitzes of revelation (queen to bishop three, checkmate), but instead work by analogy with musical forms, whose effects are cumulative. There is a certain kind of musical development where the original motif, not stated at the outset or made explicit, comes clear to mind only as you hear more and more of the variations that play upon it. ...
So Dance the Lords of Language
by Marius Kociejowski

Porcupine's Quill $14.95 Paperback
ISBN: 0889842604
Book Review
A Review of: So Dance the Lords of Language
by Jack Illingworth
It is unfortunate that my copy of So Dance the Lords of Language, a volume of reprinted poems by Londoner Marius Kociejowski, did not reach me before his appearance at Toronto's Harbourfront reading series, earlier this year. His performance was the most convincing that I have ever seen. He is an elegant man and reads with a confident but understated grace. It is difficult to shun the temptation to review his poetry through the public face of the poet, especially since his public face is so appealing-as anyone who has read his flamboyantly charming essays in Books in Canada and Maisonneuve will ...
Einstein's Gift
by Vern Thiessen

Hushion House $21.33 Paperback
ISBN: 0887546781
Book Review
A Review of: EinsteinĘs Gift
by Keith Garebian
Like Michael Frayn's Copenhagen, Vern Thiessen's Einstein's Gift (recent winner of the Governor General's Award for Drama) is a memory-play about scientists and some of their crucial creeds, doubts, and crises of faith. Both plays take liberties with historical fact-Thiessen's more with chronology and some very minor alterations of character. However, Einstein's Gift, far more than Copenhagen, captures the Geist of its era and characters better than Copenhagen does, and it holds greater significance and dramatic interest than Michael Frayn's much-lauded play. For one thing, it doesn't pin its ...
A House by the Sea
by Sikeena Karmali

V+¬hicule Press $19.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1550651765
Book Review
A Review of: A House By the Sea
by W.P. Kinsella
A House By the Sea may be the most complicated novel of the year. The story spans four continents with umpteen characters from a number of generations. Zahra, a thirtish young woman is the narrator. However, long dead relatives sometimes leap to the fore to tell their tales of immigration, alienation, and tragedy. Zahra, named for a grandmother she never knew, a woman family history relates as having drowned when she was 12 years old, longs to the title House by the Sea, a house located in Zanzibar, that has passed through a succession of owners, and is about all that remains unmarred of her family affairs, after ...
A Love Supreme
by Kent Nussey

Mansfield Press $17.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1894469119
Book Review
A Review of: A Love Supreme
by W.P. Kinsella
A Love Supreme might in another era have been called an existential novel. The term describing the works of Camus, Beckett, Sartre and others seems to have fallen by the wayside. Here we have a youngish man (about 40 years of age) named Omar Snow who is writing a nonfiction book about jazz legends Monk, Mingus and Coltrane. He has sold his car and computer so he can hole up in a room and write his book on a typewriter, which is certainly fantasy if not science fiction. He is introduced to a neighbor, an attractive actress pushing 40, who is flighty and drinks too much. They have occasional dates but ...
Cheeseburger Subversive
by Richard Scarsbrook

Thistledown Press $17.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1894345541
Book Review
A Review of: Cheeseburger Subversive
by W.P. Kinsella
Cheeseburger Subversive is a coming of age story written with humor and panache. It follows Dak Sifter from seventh grade through his first year of college. His life is actually very ordinary, with the usual problems involving parents, classmates, employers, but what makes it different is that Scarsbrook has a special eye for the absurd, a wonderful way of looking at the world that turns tragedy into humor. His best intentions go awry, repeatedly, especially when they involve a girl named Zoe Perry, whom he is madly attracted to. A chapter called "Pushin Pickle", captures the terror of a first job, ...
Another Book About Another Broken Heart
by Julia Tausch

Conundrum Press $14.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1894994000
Book Review
A Review of: Another Book About Another Broken Heart
by W.P. Kinsella
Tausch's book reminds one that the good news is that because of advanced technology anyone can publish a book. But also that the bad news is that because of advanced technology anyone can publish a book. This tiny book is printed in miniscule type, virtually unreadable without magnification, while in the cover photo a muffin has been photographed to look like a rotting fish. The title is the sum of the story. It is the tale of a shockingly immature 21-year-old-going on-14 named Katy who, on the spur of the moment, moves from Toronto to Montreal, leaving behind an uninteresting boy named Brian. I think ...
Kameleon Man
by Kim Barry Brunhuber

Beach Holme $19.95 Paperback
ISBN: 0888784430
Book Review
A Review of: Kameleon Man
by W.P. Kinsella
Kameleon Man is the story of Stacey Schmidt, the child of a white mother and black father. He gets into modeling in Nepean, a bedroom community outside Ottawa, where he is suddenly "discovered," and hurled into the topsy-turvy world of high fashion modeling in Toronto. He rooms with a few other black or mixed-race models, and their dialogue, while discussing the perils of being black in a white world, is crisp, clear, ironic and humorous. The problem is that Stacey's heart is not really into modeling, even though the money is generous, and his prospects appear unlimited. He tries out to be the new ...
Song for My Father
by Miriam Packer

University Of Toronto Press $15 Paperback
ISBN: 1550711733
Book Review
A Review of: Song for My Father
by W. P. Kinsella
Song for My Father is a very deceptive book. Deceptive in a good way. At the beginning it looks like it is going to be just another family saga with little to recommend it. Two sisters are growing up Jewish in Montreal. They are poor, dad is a lush and a womanizer, mom is a martyr. So what's new? The question becomes how well do we know our parents? Almost too late questions arise. Is what we've been led to believe really the way it happened. The sisters are young adults when their mother dies, and after that they slowly come to know a different father. The story becomes very moving and events happen that we don't ...
Tunnels of Treachery
by Mary Harelkin Bishop

Fitzhenry & Whiteside $8.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1550502700
Book Review
A Review of: Tunnels of Treachery: A Third Moose Jaw Mystery
by M. Wayne Cunningham
In this third tumble into Moose Jaw's 1920's tunnels, 15-year-old Andrea Talbot and her 10-year-old diabetic, insulin popping brother, Tony, accidentally bring along their Chinese friends, 14-year-old twins, Eddie and Kami Mark. >From the foursome's first landing everything goes crazy, and the action-oriented tension begins to build. The Marks get separated from the Talbots and from each other. As the confused twins wander the tunnels they're individually caught by Mean Eyed Max, Stilts and Chubbs, gangsters and racists the Talbots clashed with in their two ...
Jake Reinvented
by Gordon Korman

Scholastic Canada $22.99 Hardcover
ISBN: 0439969336
Book Review
A Review of: Jake, Reinvented
by M. Wayne Cunningham
With its dedication, "For Jay and Daisy", Jake Reinvented signals its allegiance to The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1920's classic. But this time, the omniscient narrator is a high school senior, the Broncos back-up quarterback and field-goal kicker, named Rick, not Nick. And the action is spread between the clashes at F. Scott Fitzgerald High and the freewheeling Friday night beer bashes hosted by the dapper Jake Garrett, not the inscrutable Jay Gatsby. But like Gatsby, Jake is an enigma, big-time- where does he get his money for the endless beer and pizzas? Where is his family? Where did ...
Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom, Book 1)
by Garth Nix

Scholastic Us $8.99 Paperback
ISBN: 0439551234
Book Review
A Review of: The Keys to the Kingdom: Book One:Mister Monday
by M. Wayne Cunningham
Garth Nix fans have come to expect high quality, highly imaginative stories with lots of adventure and unique, believable characters. And this debut fantasy for his new series shows why. This time ten-year-old, seventh grader, Arthur Penhaligon (reminiscent of Harry Potter), is on a mission. He has to find a cure for the worldwide Sleepy Plague unleashed by the dog-faced, bowler-hatted Fetchers of the otherworldly Mr. Monday's henchman, Noon, while chasing Arthur and setting fire to his school. He escaped them earlier when he lay paralized by an asthma attack. Then the all-powerful Will ...
by Karen Wallace

Simon & Schuster UK $24.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 068983747X
Book Review
A Review of: Wendy
There is enough of what is implied by Marcellus's famous statement in Hamlet, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," in the narrow, post-Victorian world of Wendy Darling, to make it seem reasonable for a child to wish that she'd be awakened one night by a boy who flies, and taken to a place where good and evil are as distinct as black and white, where innocence reigns, and the only shadow that's cast is by the scheming Captain Hook and his bumbling men. Karen Wallace's Wendy, unlike the Wendy of J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, doesn't get to fly away from her privileged but troubled life in a London city house. She ...
The Speaking Cure
by David Homel

Douglas & McIntyre / D & M Adult $24.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1553650190
Book Review
A Review of: The Speaking Cure
by Steven W. Beattie
The shifting moral ground of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia is the subject of David Homel's novel, The Speaking Cure, which tells the story of a psychoanalyst named Aleksandar Jovic who is recruited by the government to oversee a distress centre for traumatized soldiers returning from the front lines. It is a weighty subject, and to Homel's credit he doesn't try to simplify matters by reducing the conflict to a Manechaean separation of good and evil, heroes and villains. In Homel's conception the burden of guilt for the atrocities of the civil war is shared by both sides, and practically everyone has ...
The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky
by Karen X. Tulchinsky

Polestar $34.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 1551925567
Book Review
A Review of: The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky
by Malca Litovitz
By tracing the life of a Jewish fictional boxer, Sonny Lapinsky, loosely based on Sammy Luftspring, the Jewish welterweight hero, Karen X. Tulchinsky brings to life the character of an entire community shaped by economic depression, the rise of fascism and all the social tensions of the thirties and the war years. It is a community once closely packed into the vicinity around Kensington Market in Toronto and stretching to Christie Pits. Here, a historical riot took place in August of 1933, pitting a nascent Nazi movement, the Swastika Boys, against fighting Jews of the neighbourhood. The Moses of the title is ...
Actress in the House
by Joseph McElroy

Overlook $40 Hardcover
ISBN: 1585673501
Book Review
A Review of: Actress in the House
by Jeff Bursey
Certain US novelists regard Joseph McElroy (b. 1930) as a writer on par with DeLillo and Pynchon, but his works are crafted in a style that demands careful reading, which keeps his readership small. His hopes for the possibilities within the novel form are best exemplified in the nearly 1,200-page Women and Men (1987), wherein the themes-e.g., those who never meet are connected, daily life doesn't occur in chronological order or in one place-unfortunately are overwhelmed by the relentlessness of his aesthetic pursuit. The stories he wants to tell are almost to the side of how to tell them. ...
by Andrew Conn

SOFT SKULL PRESS, INC. $22.5 Paperback
ISBN: 1887128557
Book Review
A Review of: P
by Jeff Bursey
In Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night, the wife of a minor character describes the novel her husband is writing: "It's on the idea of Ulysses," continued Mrs. McKisco."Only instead of taking twenty-four hours my husband takes a hundred years. He takes a decayed old French aristocrat and puts him in contrast with the mechanical age-" Her husband interrupts, afraid the idea will "get all around before the book's published." Since Ulysses, numerous novelists have adapted Joyce's structure. Publicity touts Andrew Lewis Conn as the latest, ...
by Margaret Elphinstone

McArthur & Company $24.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1552783758
Book Review
A Review of: Voyageurs
by Anne Cimon
A friend, who lives in Ottawa, recently remarked that the early history of Canada came alive for him, not in the local museums, however fine they are, but one summer evening when he was paddling a canoe among the islands on the Ottawa River. Margaret Elphinstone's new novel, Voyageurs, is a brilliant evocation of colonial times when adventurers canoed through the Canadian wilderness questing for furs. The narrator, Mark Greenhow, is a young British man in search of something more valuable: his missionary sister, Rachel, who married a voyageur, and soon after, mysteriously ...
Jack Absolute
by C.C. Humphreys

McArthur & Co / Mcarthur (Tp,H $24.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1552783839
Book Review
A Review of: Jack Absolute
by Olga Stein
Soldiers, spies (American and British), swordsmanship, sex (if only there was more of it), a secret society, snakes, incomprehensible Scotsmen, and a battle at Saratoga (where the rebelling American colonists scored a fateful victory in October, 1777)-you'll find all of this and more in CC. Humphreys's Jack Absolute. Not exactly a swashbuckling adventure-more a tale of tomahawk, knife, and gun wielding, with a hero based on playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan's handsome, lady-killer protagonist of Rivals. First performed in London's Drury Lane in 1775, Rivals has since been staged the world ...
One Hundred Million Hearts
by Kerri Sakamoto

Vintage Canada $21 Paperback
ISBN: 0676975127
Book Review
A Review of: One Hundred Million Hearts
by Linda Morra
Kerri Sakamoto, author of The Electrical Field (1998) and winner of the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best First Book, turns her attention to the complexities engendered by conflicting Japanese loyalties and involvement in the Second World War in her new novel, One Hundred Million Hearts (2003). At the book's outset, Miyo Mori, the protagonist, becomes romantically involved with a man, David, who conjectures about her father's unusually mysterious past. As the result of his inquiries, she herself becomes curious and later ascertains that her father, Masao Mori, was a kamikaze, a pilot in the ...
by James King

University Of Toronto Press $29.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 1896951570
Book Review
A Review of: Transformation
by Lisa Salem-Wiseman
Daniel Home, the protagonist of James King's new novel Transformations, is a medium. He is described simply as "a man who communicates with the dead and gives their feelings flesh and blood." The same might be said for the writer of biographies and historical novels. King, who teaches in the Department of English at Hamilton's McMaster University, has written acclaimed biographies of, among others, Margaret Laurence, Farley Mowat, Herbert Read, and William Blake. Although he has turned to fiction in recent years, he has not abandoned the territory of the past. All of his three novels are ...
Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and the Religion in the Matrix
BenBella Books $26.95 Paperback
ISBN: 1932100024
Book Review
A Review of: Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix
by Patrick Burger
The Lord: Is never aught right to your mind? Mephistopheles: No, Lord! All is still downright bad, I find. Goethe, Faust The Matrix Revolutions is out and it is proving to be yet a further intensification of the cult phenomenon generated by The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and the animated offerings from www.whatisthematrix.com, which have recently been collected on VHS and DVD as Animatrix. Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix is a collection of essays that looks at this ...
Book Review
A Review of: My Life as a Fake
by Stewart Cole
I beheld the wretch- the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. -Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, 1818, and as epigraph to Peter Carey, My Life as a Fake, 2003 Nearly two hundred years after its original publication, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein remains the touchstone account of the creative act gone disastrously awry, the unwitting creator eclipsed by the enormity of his creation, father destroyed by child. But I still ...
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
by Erik Larson

Crown $39.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 0609608444
Book Review
A Review of: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
by Bill Gladstone
In this riveting page-turner that reads like a murder mystery thriller, Erik Larson resurrects the legend of a forgotten American psychopath, mass murderer, the cold-blooded H. H. Holmes, and overlays it with the equally dusty story of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, one of the most impressive achievements of gilded-age America. Satisfying the modern appetite for realism, the book falls into a hybrid literary genre, combining the narrative techniques of the suspense novelist with the intense realism of the documentarian. "However strange or macabre some of the following incidents may seem, ...
Regions of the Great Heresy: Bruno Schulz a Biographical Portrait
by Jerzy Ficowski

Norton $37.99 Hardcover
ISBN: 0393051471
Book Review
A Review of: Regions of the Great Heresy: Bruno Schulz, A Biographical Portrait
by Maurice Mierau
The age of the passionate amateur in literary criticism is over. Privileging and foregrounding are now verbs, and professional critics say intertextuality when they mean allusion. Spouting the right jargon has for many years now, especially in North America, been more important than insight or the ability to write well. The main reason for this is that we are a society that believes all its children should go to university, and so we need many universities staffed by many PhDs. In the literary field not all of these professors are particularly gifted, but like dutiful lawyers or MBAs, they all know ...
Dan Yack
by Blaise Cendrars

Scholarly Book Services Inc $26.95 Paperback
ISBN: 0720611571
Book Review
A Review of: Dan Yack
by Jeff Bursey
In The Astonished Man (1945), the first volume of a memoir tetralogy, Blaise Cendrars relates how in the spring of 1927 he rented a chateau named l'Escayrol in the French fishing village of La Redonne, in which to complete the Dan Yack stories. He set up his typewriter and wrote the first three lines of the last chapter, "by way of welcome and to wish myself good work' in this house... These were the sole, the only lines I was to write at l'Escayrol..." The poet Andr Gaillard visits the chateau on business occasionally and adds to the manuscript with each stay. Cendrars says those lines remain "embedded in [the] text," ...
Confessions of Dan Yack
by Blaise Cendrars

Scholarly Book Services Inc $24.5 Paperback
ISBN: 072061158X
Book Review
A Review of: Confessions of Dan Yack
by Jeff Bursey
In The Astonished Man (1945), the first volume of a memoir tetralogy, Blaise Cendrars relates how in the spring of 1927 he rented a chateau named l'Escayrol in the French fishing village of La Redonne, in which to complete the Dan Yack stories. He set up his typewriter and wrote the first three lines of the last chapter, "by way of welcome and to wish myself good work' in this house... These were the sole, the only lines I was to write at l'Escayrol..." The poet Andr Gaillard visits the chateau on business occasionally and adds to the manuscript with each stay. Cendrars says those lines remain "embedded in [the] text," ...
Gold: The Marvellous History of General John Augustus Su
by Blaise Cendrars

Peter Owen Publishers $23.84 Paperback
ISBN: 072061175X
Book Review
A Review of: Gold
by Jeff Bursey
In The Astonished Man (1945), the first volume of a memoir tetralogy, Blaise Cendrars relates how in the spring of 1927 he rented a chateau named l'Escayrol in the French fishing village of La Redonne, in which to complete the Dan Yack stories. He set up his typewriter and wrote the first three lines of the last chapter, "by way of welcome and to wish myself good work' in this house... These were the sole, the only lines I was to write at l'Escayrol..." The poet Andr Gaillard visits the chateau on business occasionally and adds to the manuscript with each stay. Cendrars says those lines remain "embedded in [the] text," ...
Diane Arbus Revelations
by Doon Arbus

Random House $150 Hardcover
ISBN: 0375506209
Book Review
A Review of: Diane Arbus Revelations
by Christopher Ondaatje
When Diane Arbus died in 1971 the library she left behind showed her active interest in myth. Among the volumes found were several by Robert Graves, The White Goddess and The Golden Ass. Others included James Stephens's The Crock of Gold, J R Tolkien's The Hobbit, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Sigmund Freud's An Introduction to Psychoanalysis, and The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, C G Jung's Modern Man in Search of a Soul. Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zanathustra, and Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces were also there. She was a serious reader and her literary works are an intriguing insight into ...
Belonging: Home Away from Home
by Isabel Huggan

Knopf Canada $34.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 0676975364
Book Review
A Review of: Belonging
by Sharon Abron Drache
The leap from memoir to fiction is not as large as most readers of both genres believe, and Isabel Huggan sets out to prove this in a highly idosyncratic collection, whose bulk, 15 passages, are memoir. Like a sledge hammer, three short stories tacked on at the end of Huggan's documentary odyssey endeavor to prove the significance of the close and fragile connection between the emotional responses to selective contemplation of the past and the stream of consciousness imaginings called fiction. With the reader as witness, Belonging becomes a rigourous and brave ...
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
by Conrad Black

Harper Collins Canada $54.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 1586481843
Book Review
A Review of: Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
by Nathan M. Greenfield
It's hardly surprising that Conrad Black, who more than two decades ago wrote a 500-page study of Maurice Duplessis, the man Quebeckers still refer to as "le chef", believes in the Great Man' theory of history (Prime Minster Chretien's invocation of the 1919 Nickel Resolution to prevent Black's ascension as a Canadian citizen to the House of Lords, would, for Lord Black of Crossharbour, probably define "the Lesser Man theory of history"). What is surprising is that while he calls Winston Churchill the "co-saviour of Western Civilization" and has a soft spot for his sentimentality (Churchill's eyes filled ...
Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life
by Peter Conrad

Faber $49 Hardcover
ISBN: 0571209785
Book Review
A Review of: Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life
by Todd Swift
As unlikely as it would seem today, there was a time when an energetic American, bent on global domination, could be heralded by French and British intellectuals as a "god". This was in the late 40s, early 50s, and the American was Orson Welles. No less a critic than Kenneth Tynan called Citizen Kane, "the biggest cultural event of my early life." Cocteau and the French New Wave directors lionized him. Orson Welles is a myth that keeps on growing, not least in terms of the biography industry. Peter Conrad's new book follows on the heels of several other critically-acclaimed studies. At a time when younger filmgoers ...
The Death of Picasso: New & Selected Writings
by Guy Davenport

Shoemaker and Hoard $38.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 1593760027
Book Review
A Review of: The Death of Picasso: New & Selected Writings
by Lyall Bush
His is arguably the most enviable life of the mind we have now. He has written cheerily erudite essays on Herakleitos and Montaigne, Ezra Pound, John Ruskin, Claude Levi-Strauss, Balthus, Kafka, Tchelitchew, Joyce, Thoreau, Wittgenstein, Fourier, Jesus, Tarzan, and Rimbaud. He has made definitive translations of Sappho and Archilochos, and published witty journal notes about his travels through Scandinavia. He has confessed in print to living on a diet of "fried baloney, Campbell's soup and Snickers bars." He has made the case for Eudora Welty's complex genius, un-knotted Kafka's pre-Modern Modernism, and ...
An Innocent in Newfoundland: Even More Curious Rambles and Singular Encounters
by David Mcfadden

McClelland & Stewart $24.99 Paperback
ISBN: 0771055358
Book Review
A Review of: An Innocent In Newfoundland: Even More Curious Rambles and Singular Encounters
by Gordon Phinn
Over the years that have yellowed into three, nearly four, decades of whimsical yet devoted information delivery, David McFadden has perfected the art of the low profile. Not an impossible task in the small, and some would say shallow, pond of CanLit, but one that does take a certain amount of camouflaged determination. Not only can he walk round his tony Toronto neighbourhood unrecognised and fancy-free, but just about anywhere else as well. Though par for the course for almost any poet, such anonymity is as sweet for the travel writer as it is for the restaurant reviewer. ...
The Fly Swatter: How My Grandfather Made His Way in the World
by Nicholas Dawidoff

Pantheon $40 Hardcover
ISBN: 0375400273
Book Review
A Review of: The Fly Swatter
by Brian Charles Clark
Harvard economist Alexander Gerschenkron is a household name-if, that is, you happen to be an economic historian. Or, as is the case with the author of The Fly Swatter, a member of the Gerschenkron household. Nicholas Dawidoff is Gerschenkron's grandson, and he's written a fine, if impressionistic, biography of his famous grandfather. Gerschenkron was born in Odessa, Russia in 1904 and grew up to be, in his grandson's words, "typically Russian... in a nation of show-offs." Russians are strong as bears, which "led to an epidemic of Russian hernias," strong talkers and strong intellects. All his life ...
Book Review
A Review of: Hans-Georg Gadamer: A Biography
by by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala
The Yale University Press Studies in Hermeneutics Series has been publishing for several years, under the direction of Joel Weinsheimer, outstanding books on, and related to, hermeneutics. One of these is Hans-Georg Gadamer: A Biography by the Canadian philosopher Jean Grondin. This is not just a biography of a man who witnessed at the age of twelve the sinking of the Titanic and at the age of 102 the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers of New York-it also happens to be the biography of one of the greatest philosophers of our era, Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002), who gave birth to hermeneutics, a ...
Leo, A Life
by L. Ian MacDonald, Leo Kolber

McGill-Queen's University Press $39.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 077352634X
Book Review
A Review of: Leo, A Life
by John Ayer
In 1957 liquor magnate Sam Bronfman wanted to shake up a conservatively-run family trust called Cemp Investment in order to produce more exciting yields. The man he chose to accomplish this, Leo Kolber, was an unusual, even eccentric, choice. Kolber after all was just 28 and his successes were limited to a few small real estate developments in Montreal. Ostensibly Kolber's prime qualification was that he was a college buddy of Sam's son, Charles, from McGill University. Because of this friendship, Kolber had managed to become a guest at the Bronfman's Westmount mansion regularly enough that ...

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