Read a Few: Wrote Little

              

Okay. So I started a new job. And am set to defend T. in three weeks. And it’s taken away some of my time usually spent reading and writing. Time now taken up with matching my Reitman’s “office lady” wardrobe, packing a lunch box, and sifting through mostly dull paperwork.

I have been reading, I just haven’t been posting. I feel sort of like this cow – only eating good books and not trash – but a heap of good books, so heaped that I have trouble seeing the end.

I read Katrine Raymond’s Preservation an amazing first novel set in Toronto and populated with academics, ghosts of Canadian history and marvelous diary entries. It’s a fabulous mystery with careful plotting and sensitive characterization. I’d tell you to go out and read it, but it’s not published (yet) and only available through the author. So… stay tuned.

Then I read Siddharatha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which in addition to making it difficult to fall asleep because I became so paranoid that I have cancer, provided a fascinating and rich history of the disease. I was particular struck by the descriptions of early manifestations and treatments of the illness. I was less taken with the second half of the book focusing on the present iterations of the disease and advances in chemotherapy because they drifted to the too technical. I was also less taken with the occasional melodrama about cancer “survivors” and their “bravery” a narrative which seemed to intent on dictating a “proper” form of engagement with the disease, and left out the possibility of not wanting to “fight” or not being “brave.” I was surprised, too, but the scant mention – in the latter half of the book – of cancer consumerism, the sense that certain cancers (breast, for instance) receive the lion’s share of fundraising support (or crass consumerism depending on your view) at the expense of other less popular, but no less prominent cancers (e.g. lung or colon). Wish he’d gone into that.

I’m just finishing up (like last ten pages, so I’m posting now in case I drift into another abyss of no-posts) Keith Leckie’s intoxicating Coppermine – a book which, despite my mum’s recommendation, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy, but holy man is it ever good. So good! Like stop reading this blog and get to your local library good. It’s set in 1913 and details the murder investigation of two french missionaries in the Arctic by Corporal Creek of the Northwest Mounted Police. It’s impossible to put down both because the plotting is so good, but more because the characters are so rich. That the plot follows “real history” makes the mystery and suspense all the more intense. I really can’t recommend this one highly enough.

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Filed under 100 Books of 2011

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