27 February 2013

Library Limelights 24

O frabjous happy day when the Public Library brings in four of my book orders at once. What am I saying?! ... the late-night reading pressure is on. Thought I calculated their arriving at intervals but readers ahead of me on the waiting lists are an erratic bunch.

Shani Boianjiu. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid. Toronto: Doubleday Canada/Random House of Canada Limited, 2012.
What a book. From the distinctive voice of a much-heralded new author ... not always easy to read, and not easy to describe. Three Israeli girls become women through scenes of childhood and compulsory army service. Boianjiu transports us smack into lives on the edge, from the dangers of living in homes on the country's borders to military boredom and brutalities. Everyday life in Israel has an Armageddon aura. The women probe their numbing sensibilities, wondering whether they can adapt to post-service "normal" life. A loss of feeling seems to include loss of want, expectation, and joy.

Boianjiu draws portraits of the friends as they adjust (or not) to army life. Lea humours some inept but sincere protesters; Yael dismisses a military cop; Avishag suffers from family-inherited "hysteria." Israel's inhabitants represent every conceivable historical and cultural background—their differences bespeak the controversial issues of immigration and more. The People of Forever is an eye-opener, not just to military life in general but to a younger, secular generation in an ancient land. The writing provokes, demands, and ultimately rewards.

"We have to let everyone know he is a murderer," Lea said. "He needs to know he is a murderer. You can't just kill an olive tree. You have to want to kill it, you have to murder it."Olive trees live for thousands of years. It was always hard for me to believe that, looking at those trees by Lea's backyard. Their stems swirled into themselves as if caught mid-sentence, as if someone had just breathed life into them.
"I agree," I told Lea. I always agreed with her. I will always agree with her, no matter what, I swear.(212)

"It is hard because you suck. You never let us arrest anyone. All you care about is how much downtime you get. What if the girls in the guarding tower are calling you on your radio right now? You don't even have your radio turned on. And what if we get caught? And you never come when I am guarding to check on me or, anything, and you, and you—" Avishag said. It felt as though it has been forever since she has spoken for this long. (143)

"I assure you no one is going to send you up to fight without greens," our officer said. He had fear. "I have people working on opening our emergency greens container as we speak."But. There were no green bullets in our base. Only an empty container in which Ari entertained girls. ...I looked at the men. All these men; I knew something terrible these men did not know. These men, a few of them are dead now, and that day, before they died, I knew something terrible they did not know.The green bullets go farther, more accurately, because they are heavier, so the metal coils inside the M-4 barrel are wrapped tighter than the M-16s, to give the bullets more spin, more momentum. The M-4 is the gun that can actually help you if you need to shoot someone and hit them fast. But if you didn't use a green bullet with it, it wouldn't make it past 75 meters. It would never hit where you aimed.At first I thought I was the only one who knew there were no green bullets in the emergency container. But then I looked to my right, at Hagar. (124-125)

Brent Pilkey. Secret Rage. Toronto: ECW Press, 2012.
Toronto police constable Jack Warren is tired. Tired of placating his wife and in-laws about his job. The third in a series about Jack and Toronto's 51 Division, I had moments of getting a little worn too. Like, the guy has only been a cop for what, a few years? ... and his domestic situation is perversely impacting his working life. Oh, and perhaps just a touch of the attractive Jenny. Has he really "changed" into a different person as his critics infer?

Since it looks like we haven't seen the last of him, wake up, Jack! Ditch the negative in-laws affecting your job—you love it. You're good at it. So carry on, and expend your energies where they're most needed. Let's get the streets cleaned up!

Hawthorn slowly shook his head. Evelyn refused to see the truth. She believed Jack could be moulded and guided, developed like one of her social projects, but she was wrong. Jack could not be improved simply because he had reached the limits of his potential. And by working in that division, he was, in effect, devolving. His primal instincts were rising to the foreground and Hawthorn, for one, was ecstatic that those genes would not be mingling with his family's. (184)

Fellow cop:
Bloody fucking headache. And on the heels of that, I'm getting too old for this shit.Sighing, he dropped his forearms to the desktop with a leaden thump, fluttering papers in the brief breeze. He wearily scanned the files littered in front of him. Homicide at Sherbourne and Dundas. Beaten hookers. Dealers he had his eye on and, on top of everything, that mess over in 52 Division. Just what he didn't need: a pedophile's dead brother.Crap, he really fucked up on that one.He felt like a juggler with a few too many balls in the air. More like knives. Not for the first time, he wondered if it was all worth it. The stress, the tightrope he was constantly walking. As if in answer, his stomach gurgled uncomfortably. He placed a hand on his belly and as always was shocked and disgusted at how fat he'd gotten. (198)

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