Well, now that it is officially 2012, I find myself back in Montreal having read the 2010 Man Booker (The Finkler Question) and Governor General Award for Fiction (Cool Water), as well as the 2011 Pulitzer Prize (A Visit From the Goon Squad). This is mostly because of when the awards are announced (the Pulitzer, early, the other two, late in the year). So now I will do a little inversion, starting on the 2011 Gov. Gen., The Sisters Brothers, which I received from Santa over the break, followed by the Man Booker 2011, Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending, before I finally move on to the 2010 Pulitzer, Paul Harding’s Tinkers. This continued reading project will be facilitated by two great technological leaps forward. The first of which was a present from my parents, currently disguising itself as its paginated ancestors.
my new Kobo e-reader (thanks Mom and Dad!):
I defer to the immortal Ferris Bueller to express my sentiments:
But enough of technology, and on to literature! I read the last 100 pages or so of Dianne Warren’s Cool Water last night, and I have to say, it has been by far my favorite novel among the award-winners I have read so far. Set in the small town of Juliet, Saskatchewan, the novel follows the interweaving story-lines of a dozen or so of its citizens on a single summer day. Naturally this feature appealed to my Aristotelian sentiments (“Tragedy endeavours, as far as possible, to confine itself to a single revolution of the sun.” Poetics V), not that the book is tragic in Aristotle’s terms, though it is a book about loss, particularly the loss of a sense of place. In many ways the central theme of the book is the characters’ love for, and gradual alienation from, the land that surrounds them. The town of Juliet sits on the border of a Saskatchewan desert, which looms threateningly against the fragile pasture that supports the husbandry of the town. But for many of the residents making a hard-scrabble living in the town, the desert is a metonymy for other anxieties: debt, infidelity, disease, loneliness. Yet Warren eloquently highlights the simple beauties of her characters lives, and the uplifting moments in her story are that much sweeter for their precariousness. Read more »