Archives for category: Reviews

Conveniently timed to air on the longest day of the year (thank you, June 21, for falling on a Saturday), I’m pleased to present my annual summer reading list for Day 6 on CBC Radio One.

Here I am (up there, look!) balancing in my skinny arms my complete set of books to suit all summer reading tastes.

Moments after this photograph was taken I overheard a man sitting at the other end of the table (yes, I am on a patio drinking early summer beer) telling his friends that he likes reading crime fiction by British writers. I gave him my copy of The Farm, thus lighting my load by one book for the journey home.

>> Listen to my summer reads conversation with Day 6 host Brent Bambury here.

>> Read my suggestions for EVEN MORE reading at CBC.ca, here.

image: shovel ready

 

A writer publishes his debut novel. The writer has a toe hold in the literary establishment on both sides of the Canada/US border. The novel has a toe hold on both sides of the noir/sci-fi genre border. The setting of the novel is almost borderless; near-future New York functioning as everyplace and no place, a Gotham or Metropolis, a metaphor for where society has gone wrong. The protagonist is an assassin with a code: one foot on either side of the moral fence.

The review is not like the novel. The review has to pick a single side.

Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh. Should you read it?

Listen to the segment on CBC Day 6.

 

image: Holiday Reads 2013

 

For your last-minute gift-giving needs, my 2013 gift guide on CBC Day 6 includes:

For the fiction lover:
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
Longbourn by Jo Baker
Stoner by John Williams

For the tech-savvy reader, nonfiction fan or parent to teenage smartphone addicts:
Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson

For the graphic novel reader or whimsical adventurer  of any age (10 and up):
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

For the cook:
The Old World Kitchen by Elisabeth Luard

Listen to the audio.

image: The Luminaries

 

On Tuesday night, Canadian-born Kiwi Eleanor Catton became the youngest author ever to win the Man Booker Prize. She won for The Luminaries, which, at 830-odd pages, is also the longest book ever to have won, and will forever be the last book to have won before the prize changed its entry rules to include writers beyond the Commonwealth and Ireland.

But should you read it?

I did – more quickly than I’d suggest you do. Here’s my conversation with Brent Bambury on CBC Day 6.

 

 

 

The NYT Magazine said it’s the best book you’ll read in 2013. High praise for a book that was published on January 10, a pub. date that I’m guessing will have amused the author considering the book’s title.

I discussed George Sunders’ heatbreaking and hilarious new story collection on Day 6 with Brent Bambury

Should you read it? Here’s the audio.

 

My 2012 Holiday Reads for Day 6 (also Far from the Tree, which I seem to have forgotten about when taking the picture...)

 

Three more shopping days till Christmas!

Here are my tips for the buzziest books underneath the tree this year, as shared with Brent Bambury on this morning’s CBC Day 6.

Shoppers in Toronto: you can get all of these and more at the fabulous Type Books, where I’m often to be found selling books of a weekend. All except Building Stories, that is, which is sold out everywhere in the city (gasp!) except for The Beguiling, which was clever enough to get a Santa’s warehouse full! Go indies!

Happy holiday reading folks.

Fall = big book season.

Erin Balser and I sat down with Mary Ito on CBC Radio One’s Fresh Air to talk about what we’re looking forward to this season.

We talked about:
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
Sleeping Funny by Miranda Hill
NW by Zadie Smith
Y by Marjorie Celona
The Blondes by Emily Schultz
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

And mentioned:
1982 by Jian Ghomeshi
Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Dear Life by Alice Munro

Listen to the audio.

 

It’s been 12 years since Zadie Smith published her break-out debut, White Teeth, and 7 years since her most recent novel, the brilliant On Beauty.

So … was NW worth the wait?
On Day 6 with Brent Bambury I say … YES. With a word of caution that the novel is “crazy good” in parts, but “chaotic and cluttered” in others.

Here’s the audio.

 

I found Karen Thompson Walker’s much hyped debut to be a slightly flawed but overall impressive and tightly wrought feat of the imagination. And it absolutely screams “summer read.”

Read my review in the Globe and Mail.

 

What books will we be buzzing about on the beach this summer?

Looking for a fast-paced read? Some arm-chair travel?  An alternative to that mega-selling bonk-buster book? Or to immerse yourself in the past (or an alternative present…)?

I served up some summer suggestions with different kinds of reader in mind on CBC Day 6 this weekend.

For a character-driven novel: John Irving’s IN ONE PERSON

For some historical drama: Hilary Mantel’s BRING UP THE BODIES (fiction); Erik Larson’s IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS (non-fiction)

For a fast-paced crime fix to take to the beach: Jo Nesbo’s PHANTOM

For an erotic-fiction alternative to Fifty Shades of Grey: Tamara Faith Berger’s MAIDENHEAD; Nicholson Baker’s THE FERMATA and HOUSE OF HOLES

For escapism…
To the Olympics: Craig Taylor’s LONDONERS
To the big sky and open road: Hari Kunzru’s GOD’S WITHOUT MEN
To (or from) a different kind of economy-class travel: Michael Ondaatje’s THE CAT’S TABLE

For a summer-long doorstop read: Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84