New Books, October 2010

New books from way back, two months ago.

  • J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man (2005) – I just read this. What a frustrating book. It is excellent and he is an excellent author but what is he even doing here? The only way I could read this was as a dialogue, within the plot, between the main character and JM Coetzee’s alter ego on the worth of the book. And there is some complex thing here about history and post-colonial settlement that went right past me because I was trying too hard to find another explanation of the ‘Elizabeth Costello’ character. From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • J.M. Coetzee, Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life (1998) – After all that, I really can’t wait to read this. I now have 10 of his books on my shelf which seems like at least five too many. This is part one in his fictionalized (or is it?? Hmm??) autobiography. From Companion Books in Burnaby.
  • Peter Clarke, The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire: The Demise of a Superpower, 1944-47 (2007) – What a great cover! And what a great moment in history. From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Russell Smith, Young Men (1999) – I read this in the three nights I was in Victoria at the end of October. I finally read How Insensitive earlier in the month and after spending almost two weeks reading Alan Furst, Night Soldiers I wanted this, exactly this: loosely linked short stories about Toronto. Young men, yeah – this book is a real downer. From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Alice Munro, The Progress of Love (1986) – I read this in 2005 when I found a pocket book copy in my co-op laundry room. This edition matches the rest of my Alice Munro books. From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Eric Ambler, A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939) – More spy books. From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Alan Furst, Kingdom of Shadows (2000) – Even more spy books. From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • William Kittredge, A Hole In The Sky (1992) – A memoir of the American West, specifically Montana. “…an honest reckoning of the American myth that drove generations westward.” From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Martin Cruz Smith, Gorky Park (1981) – A mystery! But set in the Soviet Union so it is almost a spy book. From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Duff Wilson, Fateful Harvest: The True Story of a Small Town, a Global Industry, and a Toxic Secret (2001) – I read this in November. All about the simple transmutation of hazardous waste to fertilizer, a semantic redefinition from ‘waste’ to ‘product’ that means the difference between hundreds of thousands of dollars in disposal fees and tens of thousands of dollars worth of sales to farmers. What this means is containers of granular fertilizer on hardware store shelves that under any other name would require a hazmat suit for disposal. The regulatory agencies encourage this redefinition: gotta do something with this stuff, no one wants it around; might as well sell it and make a few bucks. So, go back to the original solution to pollution: dilution. Except this is cadmium and chromium and beryllium and lead, and we are eating the crops that we cover in this garbage. From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Greg Klerkx, Lost In Space: The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age (2004) – NASA is analogous to how I felt for years about the RAV line. On one hand, it’s too expensive and we don’t need it. On the other hand, trains are really cool! And I feel this way too about space exploration, of course! Can I justify the massive expenditure of public funds, no, of course not, are you kidding, but man: space is really cool! From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Alan Furst, The Polish Officer (1995) – Yet another spy book! From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • V.S. Naipaul, A Way In The World (1994) – I can’t wait to read this, but it might take me years to get to. “Spanning continents and centuries and defying literary categories.” From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Alice Munro, Friend Of My Youth (1990) – Now I have them all in matching editions, how nice to see on my shelf. From Companion Books in Burnaby.
  • Jonathan Raban, Passage to Juneau: A Sea And Its Meanings (1999) – Another sailboat memoir, this one up the coast from Puget Sound to Alaska. From Companion Books in Burnaby.
  • Patricia Highsmith, Strangers On A Train (1950) – “The menace that lurks in familiar surroundings.” I kept waiting to find a different set of editions but it seems these are all there is. From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Keith Maillard, Alex Driving South (1980) – I thought my little paperback copy was the last one around but here is the second copy I’ve ever seen of one of my favourite books. I had to go back a second time to pick it up from Brown’s Books in Burnaby.
  • Keith Maillard, Dementia Americana (1994) – Poems, also from Brown’s Books in Burnaby.
  • Keith Maillard, Cutting Through (1982) – And the last book I needed; this is the first draft, effectively, of the second half of ‘Difficulty at the Beginning”, which I read in May 2009. From Brown’s Books in Burnaby.
  • Igor Larionov and Jim Taylor, Larionov (1990) – Igor Larionov’s ‘assisted memoir,’ just one year after securing release from the Red Army to play professional hockey in Vancouver. What a strange bit of history and what a strange lens to use: written by Jim Taylor, from the original Russian. From Russell Books in Victoria.
  • Myrna Kostash, Bloodlines: A Journey Into Eastern Europe (1993) – Another travelogue of Eastern Europe but in the context of an Edmonton author who I know from George Melnyk, New Moon at Batoche: this is about Canada and the Ukraine and the people in between. From Companion Books in Burnaby.
  • Dean Wareham, Black Postcards: A Rock & Roll Romance (2008) – This book is great! I always considered Luna a ‘utility band’: lots of records, not very interesting, a tour every two years, a great big stack of Pup Tent, from 1997, at Charlie’s Music City on Granville. But this book colours all of it in and gives texture to a bland band and of course now I listen to Luna records all the time. From Russell Books in Victoria.

1 Comment

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One response to “New Books, October 2010

  1. What a lovely antidote to all those “end of the year Best Of lists from our friends in All The Right Places.
    a few comments/non-sequit. :
    -am finally reading K.M’s Gloria – fascinating. Thank you so much for this book – i hope to write you a long note about my impressions – more, later.
    -Myrna Kotash used to write columns for, er, Chatelaine ?
    -Raban’s book on Juneau – we have that, too, from our trip up the coast, found in Dee Longenb’s 2nd hand bookshop in Juneau
    -I’d really like to one day borrow that Peter Clarke book – what does it say about The Raj?
    -my husby has all the M.C Smith books. Let me know what you think. My fav Martin Cruz Smith, is the historial novel, Rose.
    -Ah Coetzee. Still have not completed Diary of a Bad Year. He’s one B.A.

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