03 September 2012

Library Limelights 12

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get in posting. As the T-shirt says, so many books, so little time.

Linden MacIntyre. Why Men Lie. Toronto: Random House Canada, 2012.
Many of the characters were introduced in The Bishop's Man, but it's a stand-alone novel. The same sensitivity engages us even without the first book's “torn from the headlines” magnet. Middle-aged Effie finds new love while reviewing and refreshing her past relationships. She struggles with why men lie—the book's dust cover blurb alleges their inability to express inner feelings—but it seems to me she most often experiences omission rather than commission. The closeness of Cape Breton communities is still somewhat evident, even when migrated into urban Toronto. Violence below the surface is also evident, and the collateral damage it wreaks, from street confrontations to a stalker to a Texas execution.

Men are all the same. That's what Mrs. Gillis used to say. They're all driven by the same imperatives. Though Mary Gillis would have used another word: “things.” They're all driven by the same things. And based on Effie's own personal experience, there was something crudely truthful in that observation. They were all the same. And, if JC's theory was correct, they never change. They pose as individuals, flaunt originality, but were all beset by similar anxieties, the same essential urges, almost all originating in the gut, the palate or the testicles. (272)

On contemplating the turn of the 21st century:
Until now, the unlikelihood of grandchildren had seemed a sort of comfort. The century ahead was an uninviting place, offering a more extreme version of the century behind—unimaginable progress in technology, miracles in human health and comfort, all offset by epic self-annihilation. A gruesome prospect, shattered peoples and their cultures, vanished nations, the relentless devastation of the human habitat. Not the kind of world that any moral person should ever wish on progeny. (73)

Really, it's not that depressing!

Craig Ferguson. American on Purpose. New York: itbooks/HarperCollins Publishers,2009.
A dip now into autobiography, from the appealing man on The Late Late Show. Lots of colour in the scrabble behind music/stage/television performing scenes. I've seen his show maybe once (it is late) but vividly recall his sobriety monologue on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K46P7loICXY). Who can resist that accent? “I don't have a drinking problem, I have a thinking problem.” Admittedly I skipped pages of his (continually intoxicated) youth, looking for words that might influence a family member.

I don't know if these words would help:
Brian [rehab counsellor], a mega-tanned, mega-handsome ski-instructor type who looked unnervingly like the dudes in the Gillette commercial, said he didn't give a shit about what I thought or how I felt, whether I or anyone else accepted the concept of alcoholism as a disease didn't matter; what mattered was that when treated as a disease, those who suffered from it were most likely to recover. Therefore why debate it? (179)

Robert Rotenberg. Stray Bullets. New York: Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster, 2012.
Loved his first book, Old City Hall, introducing Toronto-centric detective Ari Greene. The second book, The Guilty Plea, was disappointing for reasons that escape me now. Why can't I drum up enthusiasm for this one? Maybe because Rotenberg seems to belabour the multicultural aspect of the city; he throws in ethnic characters at every opportunity, too self-consciously methinks. Maybe I was overly dazzled by the freshness of the first book; it seems to have evaporated, leaving rather dry players to deal with courtroom tactics. Maybe because the characters exchange so little personality-revealing dialogue. Maybe because the hints of romantic relationships—to break the procedural and forensic discussions—never materialized. I really wanted to enjoy getting lost in my city but the slim story and lack of action failed me.

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