Tag Archives: CanLit

Review: Waiting for Joe

Waiting for JoeWaiting for Joe by Sandra Birdsell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started to read this novel to break up my slog through Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn. But ultimately this novel was way more interesting, so I got hooked and powered right through it.

Joe and Laurie are facing bankruptcy. Neither is entirely honest with the other – both have had affairs, and both hide other things (Laurie her spending, Joe the direness of their financial situation). You really get the sense that that lack of communication has made their situation much worse.

There is also a sense of fate, or destiny, almost, in this novel. Joe’s mother drowns trying to save Laurie’s mother, and so they seem like star-crossed lovers. And there is an accident scene on the Trans-Canada highway, between Calgary and Brooks, that had me contemplating the idea of destiny.

Despite their flaws, I found myself rooting for Joe and Laurie. They were good people who just didn’t seem able to work through their own complex histories.And Joe’s father, Albert, is a really fine character. You’ll love him.

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Review: Sweet Jesus

Sweet JesusSweet Jesus by Christine Pountney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually finished this book several weeks ago, and procrastinated about writing a review. But the characters and story have really stuck with me.

The story follows two sisters and their adopted brother as they journey together to a mega church in Kansas. Connie, the oldest sister, is facing financial ruin, and is hoping to renew her faith. Hannah, a writer, is faced with a difficult dilemma – she wants a child, but her boyfriend, whom she loves, does not. Their brother, Jesus, has just suffered a wrenching loss, and is hoping to reconnect with his biological family.

I’m not a religious person, but one thing I appreciated was how Pountney presented this rather fundamentalist church. The church members weren’t portrayed as riducolous caricatures. But Poutney does, through her characters, point out how damaging some of their beliefs are.

Other things I loved about this book: the landscapes of the different regions and cities, the complex relationships between the characters, the way Poutney weaved the events of the day into the story. And the writing is beautiful.

Loved it.

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Bookmarks

On Monday Alexis Kienlen, my friend and colleague, tweeted about Project Bookmark Canada. The people behind this project are placing plaques with excerpts from Canadian literature at the locations described in the work. For example, there is an excerpt from Fugitive Pieces at College and Manning Streets in Toronto.

Alexis is now campaigning to bookmark the Prairies, and from the brief Twitter conversations we’ve had with the Project Bookmark organizers, they seem quite open to this. So if you love your Western Canadian lit, be sure to sign up as a reader so we can get this train moving!

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