We have been rudely snapped back into the cold reality of autumn…14 degrees, charcoal skies. And the news—Franklin ship find, US takes on ISIS, Rob Ford falls ill—everything is happening so fast. Here’s a bit of Can-lit book news though, to balance out all the evil.
Girl Runner, a Novel by Carrie Snyder….Snyder, whom you may know as the writer of the quirky but brilliant Juliet Stories, is also a mother of four and a hard-core runner who blogs at Obscure Canlit Mamma. This book is the story of Aganetha Smart, who at 104 years old, is suddenly kidnapped from her nursing home by two young people whose motives become clear later in the story. Aganetha Smart grew up on a farm in small town Ontario, and became a member of the 1928 Olympic team. It’s a story about family, loyalty, and about running, “aimed towards a fixed point on the horizon that seems never to draw nearer.” Though it is not as literary as the Juliet Stories, Aganetha Smart has VOICE, a strong, reedy, unusual voice that crackles from the moment we meet her til the moment she vanishes into lost time as the story closes. Worth a read.
Between Gods, a Memoir by Allison Pick, author of the moving novel Far to Go. This is by far one of the most memorable books I’ve read in a long time. It is Pick’s visual and visceral recount of her conversion to Judaism. Her spiritual quest occurs as she recovers from depression, publishes her first book, marries and has a child. Thick with the curious grey fog from which the depressed are rarely released, this is a memoir of finding wholeness. Pick’s grandparents had been Holocaust survivors; once they immigrated, they had converted to Christianity and never spoke of their former religion. In reclaiming her Jewish background, Pick feels that she is not only redeeming herself, but her family too. Well but never over-written, oddly suspenseful for a memoir, and utterly engrossing. Read it 🙂
Delancey, by Molly Wizenberg, isn’t really a fall book (it came out this summer) and it’s not CanLit. But regular readers of the blog Orangette, and fans of Wizenberg’s first book, the foodoir A Homemade Life, will thoroughly enjoy this book. In her first book, Wizenberg details how she became a food writer, and through that, how she met her husband Brandon. A Homemade Life was a love story interspersed with wonderful recipes (really, everyone should try Wizenberg’s Banana Bread recipe!) which ended with a wedding. Delancey is the story we rarely get, the what-happened-after-happily-ever-after. In it, Wizenberg describes how her multi-passionate husband finally committed to creating the Seattle pizza restaurant Delancey, in which they both worked at as chefs. We are privy to everything–construction dust, assembling dough mixers, financing a restaurant, tremulous first days. We are also given a warts-and-all portrait of a marriage, one that survives and endures even when Molly Wizenberg decides that she can no longer work for the family business, and goes back to writing. Though it lacks the conventionally neat ending of A Homemade Life, Delancey feels more satisfying. It is brave, it is honest, it is real and loving.
And it leads me to my question…someone recently posted an info-graphic about happy marriages. After two failed relationships, I can honestly say I don’t know much about how this long-term togetherness works. I found the graphic illuminating. What do you think makes a happy marriage? Feel free to post in the comments.