Friday, May 21, 2010


I finished reading Ian McEwan's SOLAR a few weeks ago. It was amazingly good; I enjoyed it thoroughly. It seems a departure from his usual style, but nevertheless brilliantly written and interesting. The humour in this book was as precise in timing as a good stand-up comic. I laughed out load many times. I don't really remember McEwan being that funny, but it just goes to show you the extent of this writer's talent. As usual, too, his writing was crisp and smooth---I'd give an arm to be able to write like him. I would definitely recommend this novel to all interested in a delightful story of a deep thinking scientist who trivializes his life and his relationships. I think that if there ever is a moral in this novel it would be centered around the idea that when you focus on the big picture to a great extent, you miss the important things that are going on around you. And these in the long run are the most important. Excellent book.

But I noticed that SOLAR has dropped down on the best-seller list, which is a pity. I could never understand that list anyway. Yann Martel's BEATRICE & VIRGIL have been riding high on the list for some time now despite the fact that it received scathing reviews. This doesn't surprise me at all. I wrote about his earlier novel LIFE OF Pi in a former post. The novel left me wondering that maybe a better writer would have brought this all to a satisfying point. He certainly didn't. But there was so much hype surrounding this novel with web sites and facebooks and such that it began to soar---for reasons that elude me. Therefore, it seemed everyone waited with anticipation and money for his next venture. But it is all hype; the novel doesn't deserve that.

Another book---not a novel---that's taken off now is THE BOOK OF AWESOME by Neil Pasricha. It's a list of things that we all enjoy, like the cool side of the pillow, bursting bubble wrap, and so on. First, I absolutely hate the title and the overused word "Awesome", and secondly, I couldn't imagine a more boring book to read than a list of things that may or may not make you feel all fuzzy. It's a huge waste of time and paper, but some folks like this trivial stuff. I don't get it. Maybe someone should write a book called THE BOOK OF BUMMERS, and list this book as one of them.

I swear, if it doesn't start to get warm around here, I'm moving away in search of the sun. This Island is constantly wrapped in cloud, mist, fog, and dampness...oh, and wind---lots of wind. My Dad use to say that our ancestors chose to live here because the weather was like that in Scotland, but had no idea that there were sunnier and warmer place on this Earth. My wife tells me I'm becoming an old crab, so be it, just don't put me in that cold, damp, foggy ocean. Brrrr.

Next: summer reading---if we ever get a summer.

Monday, May 3, 2010


There was a definite concern within our household this weekend, mostly to do with books. While I am pretty well set finishing off Ian McEwan's SOLAR(excellent novel, more about that later) and ready to dive into FLAWLESS by Selby and Campbell, my wife is without a read. This happens sometimes. So my wife dug out a short story collection by Margaret Atwood, and proceeded to read them as if nothing is amiss. Margaret Atwood. Now as far as I'm concerned, this is a disturbing regression. One that requires immediate action. Then this happened:

I was reading the Globe & Mail Saturday evening when, low and behold, there was an advertisement from Chapters/Coles announcing a two day sale consisting of a buy one get the other half price. How wondrous is that? I informed my wife, and we planned a Sunday jaunt to the Mall, which we rarely ever do.

I must take this time to thank Heather Reisman for this unexpected joyeous shopping romp. And I must apologize to her for calling her 'mean' in my last post. Sorry, didn't mean it. I received a detailed courteous response from the VP of Chapters(posted in comments) explaining their situation and how everything played out regarding the Coles at the Shopping Center. It's just the way things happen, there's no one to blame. I thank her for that. But I wish that when they bed down for the night, when eyelids are heavy, and sleep is nigh, the idea of a Chapters in Sydney, CB, flutters by; and they say," Hmmm, good idea!" By the by, that the exact time you get your best ideas. That's proven, I think.

My wife and I spent well over one hundred dollars at Coles on Sunday. And the capable, affable young clerk at Coles took 50% off. Excellent, I must say. My wife got THE BOOK OF NEGROES by Lawrence Hill, and a couple of other bargain bin books. By the way, I picked up a 1st edition of a Joyce Carol Oates novel in a bargain bin this year. How cool is that? I bought PARROT & Olivier IN AMERICA, by Peter Carey. Carey is one of my favourite writers(Written up in an earlier post). We also bought a couple of books for a friend as a gift who is leaving the country for awhile.

Altogether a good experience, AND Margaret Atwood is gone back to her coveted place on my wife's bookcase. Good for Margaret.

Next post will be Ian McEwan's SOLAR. Fascinating novel.