Tuesday, February 24, 2009

If You Only Read One Book This Year

Ok, if you only read one book this year you need to turn off the television seriously, WTF is wrong with you.

Personally I only make it through 2-3 dozen books (of the fictional variety) annually, so I don't have alot of room to talk, and I can't say that if you only read one book this should be the one. I honestly don't know how you'd live with just one, can't imagine it.

But I am currently finishing The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews and highly recommend it. I just posted it to the Boost: Canadian Literature group and thought I should mention it here as well.

The official summary reads:
"Days after being dumped by her boyfriend Marc in Paris – "he was heading off to an ashram and said we could communicate telepathically" – Hattie hears her sister Min has been checked into a psychiatric hospital, and finds herself flying back to Winnipeg to take care of Thebes and Logan, her niece and nephew. Not knowing what else to do, she loads the kids, a cooler, and a pile of CDs into their van and they set out on a road trip in search of the children’s long-lost father, Cherkis.

In part because no one has any good idea where Cherkis is, the traveling maters more than the destination. On their wayward, eventful journey down to North Dakota and beyond, the Troutmans stay at scary motels, meet helpful hippies, and try to ignore the threatening noises coming from under the hood of their van. Eleven-year-old Thebes spends her time making huge novelty cheques with arts and crafts supplies in the back, and won’t wash, no matter how wild and matted her purple hair gets; she forgot to pack any clothes. Four years older, Logan carves phrases like "Fear Yourself" into the dashboard, and repeatedly disappears in the middle of the night to play basketball; he’s in love, he says, with New York Times columnist Deborah Solomon. Meanwhile, Min can’t be reached at the hospital, and, more than once, Hattie calls Marc in tears.

But though it might seem like an escape from crisis into chaos, this journey is also desperately necessary, a chance for an accidental family to accept, understand or at least find their way through overwhelming times. From interwoven memories and scenes from the past, we learn much more about them: how Min got so sick, why Cherkis left home, why Hattie went to Paris, and what made Thebes and Logan who they are today."
It is more an exploration of the characters and their lives than a (geographical) travelogue and the characters are deep, rich and complex. Their lives, thoughts and reactions ring true and show an understanding of modern life that I find is missing in many novels. (I suspect with some that the author comes from a prior generation and isn't really aware of all the seismic shifts that society has undergone in the last few decades.

A brief excerpt from the book is here. If you only read one book this year, I can't help you but if you're looking for a good read that won't tax your brain too much but that will introduce you to wonderful, memorable characters you should grab this one.

No comments: