First, a confession – my opinion on McEwan books runs hot and cold: there are great books (Atonement, Amsterdam, On Chesil Beach) but many are not so great, in my opinion. This new novel belongs firmly in the great category. First, there is a unique point-of-view; the narrator is an 8-month fetus. The description of his acquisition of consciousness is fantastic, and sage commentaries on placenta-filtered wines are provided. And then there is the great prose: “Long ago, many weeks ago, my neural groove closed upon itself to become my spine and my many million young neutrons, busy as silkworms, spun and wove from their trailing axons the gorgeous golden fabric of my first idea, a notion so simple that it partly eludes me now”. Exquisite writing.
Hamilton is a great writer (A Map Of The World, The Book Of Ruth, etc.). This new book is a very fine addition to her list of novels, a book about complex family relationships but mainly a coming-of-age story about a young girl who doesn’t want to grow up. Consequently, at times her behaviour is wildly erratic, both frustrating and endearing. Highly recommended.
This is an insightful and introspective book, typical of Bergen’s novels. The first part of the book is a perfect recounting of growing up in rural Alberta. Arthur describes his influences: isolation, books and school, religion, sibling rivalry, and conversations that leave much more unsaid than stated explicitly. The latter part of the book is a coming-of-age story in Paris. Just an excellent read.
This is a really excellent coming-of-age story of a Chinese-Canadian family in the late 1980s-early 90s. It is essentially a story of sibling relationships with strong emotions like alienation and grief with some magic was well. An intriguing story line: after the death of their father, two of the children acquire special gifts/abilities, but the third sibling does not. This “magic” is accepted without explanation or even much discussion: it is what it is, and this is very satisfying to the reader. (thanks Steph, for this recommendation).
Another book from the CBC list; also Whittall was at a Walrus Talks panel discussion at Blue Metropolis. This is a relationship book about 20-somethings that is not preoccupied by drugs. Notably, there is a central trans-gender character, and this characteristic is treated without emphasis, just as it should be.