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    Book Club in a Bag

    Off the Shelf: A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    When A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe opens, Wesley Case needs to “find himself”, although such terms were not used in the 19th century. He is not the son his father wants; his achievements as a military officer are middling; and, he isn’t particularly fond of his school friends as adults. He heads West.

    Case’s time working with Major James Walsh sets a theme for his life – the encroachment of the RCMP and neo-colonialists on the land and social structures of North American native peoples. After Sioux Chief Sitting Bull and his people took refuge near the Cypress Hills, the policies of the United States towards the Indian nations were enacted much more harshly than Canada’s.

    In Canada, the flow of history was moderated somewhat by Major Walsh who tried to interpret his duties in a manner respectful to local Indian tribes and individuals.

    Against Walsh’s advice about his somewhat disreputable partner, Joe McMullen, Wesley Case sets himself up as a rancher near Fort Benton in the US. Joe and Wesley suit each other through their common ethic of hard work and in their contrasting styles of social interaction.

    Ada Tarr is woman of spirit, initially married to a local tyrant. Despite societal norms, Wesley is hopeless in avoiding his attraction to her. Only his voluntary responsibilities as a go-between for Walsh and the American military officer, Major Ilges, draw him away from Ada’s charms. Another man has also succumbed to Ada’s charms, but his attentions she definitely does not welcome. Already an enemy from Wesley’s early days, and initially blinded by his peculiar moral stance, Michael Dunne comes to the realization that his dreams are being destroyed by Wesley Case. He devises a plot to rid himself of the destroyer and win the fair maid.

    In romance, A Good Man can win. In the politics of conquest, he cannot.

    - Judith Umbach

    All Men Are Liars

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    ...is the title of a novel by Alberto Manguel:

    Set in Madrid in the late 1970s, Manguel's novel focuses on a group of refugees from the Argentinian Dirty War. At the center is first-time novelist Alejandro -Bevilacqua, who, shortly after the publication of his acclaimed In Praise of Lying, escapes in a panic from a publication party and later falls from a balcony to his death. The book takes the form of a series of journalistic interviews with several people who knew him. (Library Journal)

    Distinguished author Alberto Manguel will be speaking at the library on March 27th! This event is co-presented by the Calgary Public Library and the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program at the University of Calgary.

    When I visit his website, the words that jump off the screen refer to the power of words and the power of reading. This promises to be a fascinating evening for fans, readers, writers and... does that leave anyone else?

    If you'd like to discover (or rediscover) this author before you meet him, here are a few of your many choices:

    New York Review Books Classics

    by Dieu - 0 Comment(s)

    NYRB Classics are, to a large degree, discoveries, the kind of books that people typically run into outside of the classroom and then remember for life. ~ from NYRB website

    Ice Trilogy cover Love in a fallen city cover Pedigree book cover Stray dog cabaret: a book of Russian poems book cover The True Deceiver book cover Songs of Kabir book cover The mountain lion book cover Proud beggars books cover

    If you were to ask me what my favourite books of all time were, my answers would be predictable with a mix of surprises thrown in for good measure. I find that many of my most pleasurable reading experiences involved books that came as surprises, books that should be considered classics and yet for some reason missed reaching a mass audience.

    Another fellow library staff person recently wrote about the book Stoner by John Wiliams, a novel that I had read many years ago and loved. I remember thinking at the time, “why has no one heard of this book?” To my delight, the book is now getting the attention it deserves, reaching bestseller status all over Europe.

    Stoner is one of many books published by New York Review Books as part of its Classics series. You can browse the New York Review Books Classics collection on their website and the Calgary Public Library owns many titles in the series. Just do a general search for “New York Review books classics” in the Library’s catalog to find all the titles we have in the collection.

    Stoner book cover

    The World I Live In Book Cover

    At the moment I am reading The World I Live In by Helen Keller, a title that had been out of print for nearly a century before NYRB decided to publish it again. Helen Keller was an American author and was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of arts degree. Many people may know of her biography from the play and film, “The Miracle Worker”.

    Born in 1880 as a healthy child, Helen was mysteriously struck by an illness over a year later that left her deaf and blind. It was not until five years later that she was released from her despair by a 21 year old half-blind teacher, Anne Sullivan. It was then that Helen learned how to communicate through the use of the manual alphabet.

    I found The World I Live In to be extremely personal and inspiring and more than anything, the essays in the book showcase Helen's gift for writing. In the book, she explains to readers the emotional and psychological link between language and the spectrum of senses that she uses to navigate the world around her.

    What I love most about the NYRB Classics series is its diversity. The collection includes translations of masters such as Dante, Chekhov, and Balzac, works spanning geography, eras, and genres including fiction, cult favorites, literary criticism, travel writing, biography and even cookbooks! If you are on the hunt for a lost classic, then consider the NYRB Classics series as your guide. I certainly do, and find myself looking to their list whenever I am in need of something less ordinary.

    New Fiction Coming Soon!

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    While fall is traditionally the season when the biggest fiction books are released, publishers in the last few years have started to release some of their more notable titles throughout the year. Perhaps the reasoning is that a good book might be lost in the crowd in the big fall season, or maybe that since people read good books all year round it just makes sense to publish them all year round. Whatever the reason, we are simply glad that there are always great new books to check out. Here are a few that should be hitting the shelves in the next few months:

     

    The Good Luck of Right Now is the much anticipated new novel by Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook. It tells the story of Bartholomew Neil, who has lived with his mother for thirty-eight years. When she gets sick and dies, he has no idea how to be on his own. How does a man whose whole life has been grounded in his mom, Saturday mass, and the library learn how to fly? By writing a series of intimate letters to Richard Gere and then embarking on a spiritual journey to Canada!

     

    The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules, by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg, is a humorous novel about a rebellious senior citizens. 79-year-old Martha Anderson dreams of escaping her care home and robbing a bank. Joining her four oldest friends - otherwise known as the League of Pensioners - they cause an uproar with their antics: protesting against early bedtimes and plastic meals. As they become more daring, their activities escalate and they come up with a cunning plan to break out of the care home and land themselves in a far more attractive Stockholm establishment.

     

    Margaret Atwood has endorsed Ghalib Islam’s debut novel, which she calls “the 1001 Nights of its time … in the same literary mansion as Calvino, Burroughs, and other metafabulist satirists.” Fire in the Unnameable Country tells the story of a boy born on a flying carpet, who grows up to write an extended letter reckoning with the memory of his family and the titular country’s troubled history.

    From the Stephen Galloway (author of The Cellist of Sarajevo) comes a beautiful, suspense-filled novel that uses the life and sudden death of Harry Houdini to weave a magical tale of intrigue, love and illusion. The Confabulist tells of the life, loves and murder of the world's greatest magician, as well as story of the man who killed him twice! Martin Strauss is an everyday man whose fate is tied to the magician's in unforeseen ways.

     

    To stay on top of new fiction as it comes in to the library be sure to check out the New Arrivals section of our catalogue – and happy reading!

     

    - Tyler at Louise Riley library