Well, I had the strange fortune to have chosen mostly books that didn’t get to the Giller Prize shortlist. I don’t mind, of course, but I had hoped to read all of the books on the short list and it might be kind of a tall order now.
Caught by Lisa Moore was my latest read and it was sort of a job. I liked it and I am tempted to only tell you about the thing that I liked about it because I am feeling a bit peer-pressured. There aren’t many reviews (I did find one, however) of Caught that aren’t a excited gushes of adoration and support.
Now that was a story. I have just discovered that the best possible compliment for a novel is not to call it a book, but to call it a story. This occurred to me because the entire time that I was reading David Gilmour‘s Extraordinary, I kept referring to it as my story.
-What are you doing? Reading my story.
-Darling, what’s for breakfast? Coffee. Can you pass me my story?
The structure of Extraordinary was obvious and simple. We know what’s going to happen from the get-go. The reader is simply present for the journey. Even that isn’t all that outrageous. It’s plain, warm and tangible, extremely insightful – but not extraordinary.
So last week I attended a short and lovely ceremony announcing the Giller Awards longlist. It was so fun and beautiful and it made me feel like such a part of things.
There was only one snag. I hadn’t read any of the books. All my grad-school friends were there and none of us had read a single book, I don’t think. How embarrassing.
To add insult to injury, the Artistic Director of the Vancouver International Writers Festival went on a very flattering diatribe about our writing department and how it’s the best, most respectable in the country. He said that when he flipped through the list of authors attending his festival, he was pleased to see that a sizeable chunk of them were grads of the program. I didn’t know that. I should have known that.
In drastic reaction to my ignorance, I’ve decided, as a (self-appointed) member of the Canadian Writing community, that it’s high time I start acting like one. A writer ought to read the work of her contemporaries and so I began the Giller Prize Book Club. That way I can guilt my writing friends into doing it with me and my shame will motivate me to follow through.