Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Salon - February 10, 2008

I finally finished "Organize Your Corpses" and it wasn't the worst book I've ever read. Really, it had its moments. I think I was too critical; I simply wasn't the target audience.

Now I've started a novel by a Canadian author. Wind Tails, by Anne DeGrace is a lovely book! Can it be that I'm just responding to the strong Canadian voice? The author is another librarian, from Nelson, British Columbia. She also wrote Treading Water.

The writing in Wind Tails seems effortless and fluid, suggesting to me that it was sifted, filtered, written and re-written. The clarity of this writing! Just wonderful. Like a cool mountain stream, the words spill out and are perfection. The subject matter is quite ordinary and commonplace, the characters believable. It's an ideal book for the person who observes humanity. Set in a roadside diner, various characters pass through the narrative and we see their interactions.

The characters I've met so far are quite likeable. Some may be flawed, like the amoral Irishman who seduces both the main character and her mother, but the portrayals are very human. Eamon (the cad!) isn't a total villain. The central character is Jo. She is attending her first year at university when her mother announces that a distant relative will be staying with the family while he looks for work. Eamon moves in and charms the lot -- mother, father, and daughter. He spends his days lounging, drinking father's whiskey and occasionally reading the help-wanted ads. Given the opportunity, he seduces Jo who naively believes that their relationship is something that it's not. She becomes pregnant and sick, hurries home unexpectedly one day and discovers Eamon in bed with her mother. Fast forward - the baby has been born and surrendered for adoption. Jo leaves the hospital, crosses the road, and starts hitchhiking. Her third lift is with Archie, a trucker, who takes her to Cass' Diner. Archie and Cass are old friends and seem to adopt strays fairly regularly. The characters could easily have become poor cliches, but they're not - they are real people. You'll be sure you've met them somewhere.

The second chapter tells us more about Cass and hints at the relationship she has with Archie. Cass is in her late sixties, single and childless. She "never wanted a kid or a dog or a cat or a husband." It strikes me that in one way or another Archie has been filling Cass' needs for years. He brings her people in need of help and thus Cass is able to experience a kind of motherhood.

Next we're introduced to "Pink" a young American who claims to travel only in the direction the wind is blowing. (This is going to explain the book's title.)

I've reached page ninety-one and another character, a bitter old woman, has passed through the diner...I love this book!

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At 12:53 AM, Blogger Table Talk said...

De Grace is not a writer I've heard of, but this sounds really interesting. Thanks for the recommendation.


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