Books shelved under “Canlit”

27 reviews found

  1. Book cover for For Today I Am A Boy

    For Today I Am A Boy

    by Kim Fu

    1 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This is an own-voices review for being a transgender woman, but I am white and do not share the protagonist’s ethnicity. For Today I Am A Boy left me unsettled in ways I didn’t expect, and not entirely in the good kind of unsettled you want from some literature. I’m going to be harsh here because it’s how I feel, having read the book, but I would like to disclaim up front that even though…

  2. Book cover for Beatrice & Virgil

    Beatrice & Virgil

    by Yann Martel

    1 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    The words “dull” and “lazy” come to mind.

    I don’t think Beatrice & Virgil was on my to-read list for any reason other than its author. Yes, I have read Life of Pi, and I suppose it was all right and I liked it well-enough at the time, though I’m thinking that if I do ever go back and re-read it I’m going to feel somewhat meh about it. Yann Martel is a paradigm…

  3. Book cover for Adult Onset

    Adult Onset

    by Ann-Marie MacDonald

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Reading Adult Onset feels like watching someone else watch a movie inside a glass box: I can see them enjoying the movie but can’t quite join in. I think I’ve come to terms with the fact I didn’t like this book, but I’m still trying to figure out if it’s well written or not. That is, I’m pretty certain most of what I didn’t like is on me, not on the book—but maybe a little…

  4. Book cover for Garbo Laughs

    Garbo Laughs

    by Elizabeth Hay

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Oh, man, when I fall into the CanLit tree, sometimes I manage to hit every branch on the way down. I say I like character-driven stories, but Garbo Laughs is a harsh reminder of how important plot is even when your character drives things. Because in this case, Elizabeth Hay’s characters aren’t driving the story, so much as sitting around while a narrative just kind of tumbles desultorily around them, tugging at them occasionally in…

  5. Book cover for Time Now for the Vinyl Cafe Story Exchange

    Time Now for the Vinyl Cafe Story Exchange

    by Stuart McLean

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This will be a short review. I don’t have a lot to say about Time Now for the Vinyl Cafe Story Exchange. If you are familiar with the Vinyl Cafe, then you know what the Story Exchange is. If not, then while you might still enjoy this book, it probably won’t have the same resonance for you.

    There are some gems of stories in this book. I’ve heard most of them (because I’ve…

  6. Book cover for Lullabies for Little Criminals

    Lullabies for Little Criminals

    by Heather O'Neill

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Second review: January 26, 2016

    Wow, did I ever write more concise reviews in 2008!

    In that spirit, I don’t have much to add after this second reading. I’m teaching this to my Grade 12 English class of adult Aboriginal learners. We spend a lot of time reading texts by/about Indigenous people and issues, such as Indian Horse. I wanted to expose them to a slice of Canadian identity (Francophone culture) they haven’t encountered…

  7. Book cover for The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

    The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

    by Heather O'Neill

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Normally when I love a book, I inhale it, reading it so quickly that it’s gone before I realize how much I should cherish this unique experience of reading it for the first time. It took me a little longer than normal to read The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, enough that I started to savour it. Each brief, cleverly-named chapter was a small episode in the life of Nouschka Tremblay. And it was…

  8. Book cover for Fall

    Fall

    by Colin McAdam

    1 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    In Grade 11 English we read A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, as our Novel, and I hated it. Now, I know that hating the assigned reading is a time-honoured tradition in English class, but you have to understand that this was my first experience with such an emotion. I was the book-addicted, scholarly, high-achieving nerdy student who, in Grade 10, had gotten together with friends and their English teacher at lunch to read…

  9. Book cover for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

    Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

    by Haruki Murakami

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Are you familiar with the works of John Irving? Then you’ll be familiar with the works of Haruki Murakami—because this is perhaps the antithesis of Irving in many ways. Both authors produce profoundly character-driven novels, often centred on young men trying to find their way through a life clouded by attachments to a deep past. Whereas Irving seems determined to wrap his characters in layers of the complex darkness of the human soul, Murakami instead…

  10. Book cover for Worst. Person. Ever.

    Worst. Person. Ever.

    by Douglas Coupland

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This book is a work of art.

    I say this knowing that Douglas Coupland is as much an artist as he is a writer. It shows in his novels. His works very deliberately play with the same themes and variations across the decades. Having read, and enjoyed, the majority of his novels, it’s hard not to see all the recurring character types, set pieces, and plot elements. Microserfs and JPod riff on the cognitive dissonance…

  11. Book cover for Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light

    Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light

    by Tanya Huff

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Tanya Huff is another one of those Canadian authors I’ve shamefully never read until this year, but now I’m making up for that! Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light, which I read in the Of Darkness, Light, and Fire omnibus (yay, Oxford comma!), is Huff’s first published novel and the third one she wrote. In many respects this is evident from the novel’s plot and characterization. Nevertheless, it’s evidence that, even back then, Huff…

  12. Book cover for Life After God

    Life After God

    by Douglas Coupland

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I almost began this review with, “not your typical Coupland”, but I hesitated. I’m not sure there is a typical Douglas Coupland book. Oh, sure, Coupland—perhaps more than many authors—treats with the same themes, tropes, and even characters time and again. His bailiwick is that angst that seems to live on the flipside of every generation’s zeitgeist. And he examines this angst with zeal and creativity, using such settings as post-apocalyptic coma recovery, a

  13. Book cover for Eleanor Rigby

    Eleanor Rigby

    by Douglas Coupland

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I am not Liz Dunn, though I do identify with her. Obviously, I don’t have a twenty-year-old son whom I gave up for adoption. But I can understand her almost ascetic obsession with solitude. I too am a solitary person; I tend to prefer the company of a good book and its characters to the company of good people. Unlike Liz, though, I must confess to having a social life. I have friends, though I…

  14. Book cover for What We All Long For

    What We All Long For

    by Dionne Brand

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Race-conscious and class-conscious but with a young, street-smart cast of characters, What We All Long For should have been amazing. It should have deserved every bit that “Globe and Mail Best Book” seal on its cover. Dionne Brand should have wowed me with her portrayal of first-generation Vietnamese Canadian Tuyen versus Tuyen’s immigrant parents and sisters. The troubled relationship between Carla and her kid brother, Jamal, should have opened my eyes to the subtle…

  15. Book cover for Cat's Eye

    Cat's Eye

    by Margaret Atwood

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    As we dove into summer I read my first Atwood novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, thereby establishing some ground rules for our relationship. We decided to agree to disagree when it comes to style so that I could continue appreciating her strong motifs and themes. Now as we dip our toes into autumn, I am now one more book into Atwood’s oeuvre, and this truce appears to be holding. If anything, Cat’s Eye is preferable…

  16. Book cover for Player One

    Player One: What is to Become of Us

    by Douglas Coupland

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Recently I stole the soapbox in another person's review of Shampoo Planet to pontificate about my personal reader's theory of Douglas Coupland. JPod was the first Coupland novel I read, and it is also my favourite. We all react to Coupland differently—i.e., JPod is my favourite, but some of my friends hate JPod with a passion and love Girlfriend in a Coma or Eleanor Rigby. Despite the fact that Coupland always deals with the…

  17. Book cover for World of Wonders

    World of Wonders

    by Robertson Davies

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Yay, Ramsay is back! Not that David Staunton was a terrible narrator, but I will always, always have a soft spot in my heart for that irascible old teacher, descended from Scots and obsessed with saints. And now here he is, back to narrating the book. Sort of.

    Although Ramsay is technically the narrator, he is consigned to the frame story, and Magnus Eisengrim (or Paul Dempster, back when he was from Deptford) takes centre…

  18. Book cover for The Manticore

    The Manticore

    by Robertson Davies

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    The Manticore begins by betraying us. Dunstan Ramsay, that incorrigible saint-chasing old man who provided the heart and soul and voice of Fifth Business, is no longer our narrator. Instead, this is the story of David Staunton, the son of Dunstan's lifelong frenemy, Boy Staunton. At the end of Fifth Business, Boy dies, and now David has gone to Zurich seeking the wisdom of a Jungian analyst to make sense of his behaviour…

  19. Book cover for The Fionavar Tapestry

    The Fionavar Tapestry

    by Guy Gavriel Kay

    1 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This is one of those times where borrowing the omnibus edition from the library because it's easier to get all three books that way is a bad idea. I felt compelled to read the entire trilogy as a result, when I knew I should just stop after the first book. The Summer Tree was painful; The Wandering Fire was brutal; I blacked out sometime near the beginning of The Darkest Road, so I can…

  20. Book cover for All Families Are Psychotic

    All Families Are Psychotic

    by Douglas Coupland

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Despite its rather rambling plot, I actually have a soft spot for All Families are Psychotic. It has something to do with the zaniness of the characters being so realistic. And the ending always chokes me up.

    As the title implies, the book's about family and the tribulations one's family undergoes as the wheel turns and one generation supplants another. Yet it's also about all the motifs surrounding family: growing up, maturity, dealing with…

  21. Book cover for Water for Elephants

    Water for Elephants

    by Sara Gruen

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    The intriguingly titled Water for Elephants is everything a good book can be: an absolute page-turner; wonderful characters; and a well-researched, well-written plot.

    The narrator Jacob Jankowski tells us the story of his time with a circus travelling the States during the Great Depression. Meanwhile, we also see him as a ninety- (or ninety-three-) year-old man in an "assisted living" home, mulling over his mortality. In both cases, I instantly felt sympathy for these Jacobs,…

  22. Book cover for The Memory Keeper's Daughter

    The Memory Keeper's Daughter

    by Kim Edwards

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This is a story of curdled bitterness. One of the main characters tears his family in two and creates a gaping wound that doesn't heal until several decades later. A tale of "twins separated at birth", The Memory Keeper's Daughter explores how the secret complications of that separation affect all the members of the two families that raise these twins.

    I appreciate her depiction of Down's syndrome in the '60s and '70s, as well as…

  23. Book cover for The Ravine

    The Ravine

    by Paul Quarrington

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This is my first Paul Quarrington book, but after reading it, I will definitely read more of his work. His writing reminds me of Douglas Coupland, only with a slightly more Ontario flair. As a resident of Thunder Bay, I smiled at the few scenes set there. It's nice reading fiction by Canadian authors set in Canada.

    The last book that I read, The Mistress of the Sun, had a great beginning but a…

  24. Book cover for The Gum Thief

    The Gum Thief

    by Douglas Coupland

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    It's exciting to read a new Douglas Coupland novel. After discovering jPod two years ago, I devoured the rest of Coupland's oeuvre. When I learned he had a new book out, I rushed to pre-order the trade paper back version. The Gum Thief. Intriguing.

    In fact, I didn't expect an epistolary novel. But that didn't detract from my experience.

    The two main characters, Roger and Bethany, have a bizarre relationship and play counterpoint to…

  25. Book cover for Shake Hands with the Devil

    Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda

    by Roméo Dallaire

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Genocide is depressing. One of the few things more depressing than genocide, however, is apathy, like that exhibited by the world governments during the genocide of Rwanda.

    Reading Dallaire's memoir, I was tempted to blame the U.S., France, the U.N., et al., for their lack of response to his constant prescient warnings about the situation. However, Dallaire's message is clear and correct. Rather than pointing fingers, we need to come together as an international community…

  26. Book cover for Girlfriend in a Coma

    Girlfriend in a Coma

    by Douglas Coupland

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Douglas Coupland has the ability to always write about the same thing, yet always end up with something different. As a writer, he is able to talk about life by coming at it sideways through larger-than-life characters in insane situations.

    Coupland sets much of the story during the end of the world, but it's not about the end of the world so much as it's about the characters. His impressive voice allows you to immerse…

  27. Book cover for JPod

    JPod

    by Douglas Coupland

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    The book got me at the first lines: "Oh God. I feel like I'm a refugee from a Douglas Coupland novel."

    This was my first exposure to Douglas Coupland, and JPod remains my favourite of his novels. As a geek and a technocrat, I loved a look at the world of software development through Coupland's eyes. What's more, he broke the fourth wall, but he did it in style! He wrote himself into the novel,…