A handful of CanLit faves in honor of the big birthday:
Margaret Atwood, Life Before Man. Pre-dystopian Atwood, back when she was still writing tartly about men and women. Also a great portrait of 1970s Toronto.
Rudy Wiebe, A Discovery of Strangers. Indigenous peoples encounter English explorers in a 19th century landscape riven with grandeur. Astonishing writing.
Matt Cohen, Elizabeth and After. A fabulous finish to Cohen’s long career.
Mavis Gallant, A Fairly Good Time. A piquant look at a Canadian abroad written by one of CanLit’s most trenchant observers.
Richard Teleky, Pack Up The Moon. It’s hard to think of a substantial gay Canadian novel, but Teleky’s second effort, while no masterpiece, is a worthy contender. Funny and generous, it’s a perceptive paen to friendship.
Fun interview with the always witty Fran Lebowitz in the New York Times. Highlights: She reads at every meal, owns 10,000 books and avoids Kindles. She likes Henry Green and Wyndham Lewis but not Faulkner. If she can be this witty in conversation, why isn’t she producing more essays? Martin Scorsese’s 2010 documentary about her, Public Speaking, provided some answers but not enough.
I bought a real book in a real store the other day without researching prices online beforehand and felt wildly self-indulgent. Surely Amazon could better the store’s 30% discount? Not so, it seems. The on-line giant was only offering 25% off on that particular title. Once you could count on Amazon for discounts on hardcovers and trade paperbacks of about 37% and 25% respectively. Not anymore. You can still get great deals, but it’s certainly not guaranteed. A random survey of hardcovers I’m interested in suggests discounts range from 50% to 11%. Slowly but surely online prices seem to be rising, which must give comfort to independent booksellers struggling with thin margins.