Monday, February 14, 2011
4th Canadian Book Challenge
Short Stories. I have a theory as to why I like short stories. I grew up in school with the readers - short selections with questions afterward designed to test your comprehension and inference ability. I read novels at home and from the library, but at school, we read A Duck is a Duck, Helicopters and Gingerbread, or How it is Nowadays. Fiction, and nonfiction selections were all present. But this theory only really works if a whole generation of readers from the 1970s in Canada also like short stories, and I doubt that. (As an aside, how smart was it to have a grade one book called A Duck is a Duck, and then teach rhyming words? )
Some of my favorite writers have supplied me with many collections - Stephen King, Maeve Binchy and LM Montgomery, in my quest to read all I can find by them. In university, I read a wonderful collection, Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alistair MacLeod, and now this book, Light Lifting is a collection by Alistair's son, Alexander, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in 2010.
Each of the seven stories is strong and evokes a place from somewhere in Canada, mostly Ontario. Small towns, and big cities. A few of these stories take a turn at the end and are a bit surprising, in the violence and the open-endedness. "Miracle Mile" has two runners competing, going through the rituals before their meet, and reminded me of The Bone Cage. A brother wonders what ever happened to the boy who lived across the street from them in "Good Kids," which turns into a characterization of a neighbourhood on the edge. They were the 'good' family, and the neighbour was the riff-raff, but he teaches them a bit about loyalty and toughness. I liked this story a lot.Another one I liked was "Light Lifting" which reminded me of all those summer jobs I had while working through university. Students pop in for a few months of grudge work, then back to school, often leaving the regular workers who would stay there forever.
I'm just recapping these stories, I'm not giving a sense of why I liked the book. I'm going to go with a quote from the back cover from the Giller citation:
His stories are a careful marriage of the lyric, and the narrative: each unfolds around a resonant, ineffable moment, replete with history and emotion, a Gordian knot comprised of all the strands that lead up to and away from it.
also reviewed: kate at kate's bookcase; kevin at kevinfromcanada; melanie at the indextrious reader;
ETA here's a wonderful article about Light Lifting, where the author shares his playlist choices that go with each story. Two songs per story, with his reasons why he picked them.
Posted by raidergirl3 at 7:51 AM
BOOK: Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod