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Books by Canadian Authors


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What are some of your favourite books by Canadian authors? Here is a few of the ones I've read recently with the publishers' blurbs:

Sugar: A Bittersweet History by Elizabeth Abbott (Non-Fiction: History)

Sugar: A Bittersweet History offers a perceptive and provocative investigation of a commodity that most of us savour every day yet know little about. Impressively researched and commandingly written, this thoroughly engaging book follows the history of sugar to the present day. It is a revealing look at how sugar changed the nature of meals, fuelled the Industrial Revolution, generated a brutal new form of slavery, and jumpstarted the fast-food revolution.

The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper

Patrick Rush, a former bright light at the National Star now demoted to the reality TV beat, is still recovering from his wife’s death when he joins a writers’ group in Toronto. His goal: to write the book he’s always felt lived within him. Trouble is, Patrick has no story to tell. And while the circle’s members show similarly little literary promise, there is one exception: Angela. Her unsettling readings tell of a shadowy childhood tragedy and an unremitting fear of the Sandman, a “terrible man who does terrible things.” It’s the stuff of nightmares or horror films. Or is it?

Over the weeks that follow, a string of unsolved murders seem increasingly connected to Patrick. And then the circle’s members start to go missing, one by one. Still haunted by loss–and by a crime only those in the circle could know of–Patrick finds himself in a fictional world made horrifically real. But nothing will put him in greater danger than that ancient curse of natural born readers: the need to know how the story ends.

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden (Fiction: Giller Prize Winner 2008)

From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss. While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties,Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family. Through Black Spruce is an utterly unforgettable consideration of how we discover who we really are.

Cockroach by Rawi Hage (Fiction: Giller Shortlist 2008)

The novel takes place during one month of a bitterly cold winter in Montreal's restless immigrant community, where a self-described "thief" has just tried but failed to commit suicide by hanging himself from a tree in a local park. Rescued against his will, the narrator is obliged to attend sessions with a well-intentioned but naïve therapist. This sets the story in motion, leading us back to the narrator's violent childhood in a war-torn country, forward into his current life in the smoky émigré cafés where everyone has a tale, and out into the frozen night-time streets of Montreal, where the thief survives on the edge, imagining himself to be a cockroach invading the lives of the privileged, but willfully blind, citizens who surround him.

There is a couple of books that I haven't gotten around to reading yet, but would like to:

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (Apparently, Davidson received the largest advance ever in Canada)

An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time.

On a burn ward, a man lies between living and dying, so disfigured that no one from his past life would even recognize him. His only comfort comes from imagining various inventive ways to end his misery. Then a woman named Marianne Engel walks into his hospital room, a wild-haired, schizophrenic sculptress on the lam from the psych ward upstairs, who insists that she knows him – that she has known him, in fact, for seven hundred years. She remembers vividly when they met, in another hospital ward at a convent in medieval Germany, when she was a nun and he was a wounded mercenary left to die. If he has forgotten this, he is not to worry: she will prove it to him.

And so Marianne Engel begins to tell him their story, carving away his disbelief and slowly drawing him into the orbit and power of a word he'd never uttered: love.

Origin of Species by Nino Ricci

The blurb is way too long to post here, but I think he won the Governor General prize.

So, what does everyone else have for Canadian authors that they like? I only posted things from the past 12 months--except, maybe Sugar. But there are many, many more I could post. :)

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Off the top of my head

The Danger Tree Memory, War, And The Search For A Family's Past

Written by David Macfarlane

Emulating the circuitous tales told by his mother's relatives, the Goodyears of Newfoundland, David Macfalane weaves the major events of the island's twentieth century--the ravages of tuberculosis; the great seal-hunt disaster; the bitter Confederation debate, and above all, the First World War--into his own tale of the ill-starred fortunes of his family. He brings to life a multi-generational cast of characters who are as colourful as only Newfoundlanders can be. With humour, insight, and genuine love for those heroes and charlatans, pirates and dreamers, he explores the meaning of family and the consequences of forgotten history.

So many more I'll try to add some when I have time.

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Pretty much anything by Charles de Lint...

Rideau Ferry is a small collection of houses clustered on either side of the narrows that separates the Lower Rideau Lake from the Big Rideau. The village was originally called Oliver's Landing, after Captain Oliver who ran the ferry service across the lake during the early 1800's. Captain Oliver and his wife lived very well, the ferry service proving to be quite lucrative even if the good Captain did refuse to make night crossings. Travelers arriving too late to cross the lake were boarded in the Olivers' cabin. Curiously enough, although the Captain said he took them over at first light the following morning, overnight guests were never seen again. It wasn't until years later that workmen demolishing the old cabin discovered the grisly remains of numerous human skeletons buried under the cabin's earthen floor and the true source of the Olivers' wealth was explained. The residents of the village, needless to say, were to quick to change the landing's name to the one it presently bears.

Mulengro, A Romany Tale. Charles de Lint, 1985.

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Spider Robinson (Calahans Cros Time Saloon)

William Gibson (cyberpunk)

Robert Sawyer (Neanderthal Parallax)

Tim Falconer (Drive)

Alistair MacLeod (No small Mischief)

David Adams Richards (Mercy among the children)

Good choices Dancer...I happen to know Sawyer personally and he would be very happy to hear that Parallax ranks among your favourites of Canadiana. To the list I would add the following:

"Home Movies", "Heroes", "Moody Food", all by Ray Robertson,

"Then Again" and "Waking Beauty" by Elyse Friedman,

anything by Farley Mowatt, and (even though it doesn't quite count as a novel) check out the collected poetry of Robert W. Service, particularly "The Cremation of Sam McGee"

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Good choices Dancer...I happen to know Sawyer personally .....

I like his work but you know I have seen him on TV a few times takling about a few different issues and I can't get over what an insufferable fat head he is. I mean, is he reall that in love with his big giant brain?

...perhaps he's differnt when someone isn't asking him for his learned opinion...

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I like his work but you know I have seen him on TV a few times takling about a few different issues and I can't get over what an insufferable fat head he is. I mean, is he reall that in love with his big giant brain?

...perhaps he's differnt when someone isn't asking him for his learned opinion...

Hahahaha! Yeah, he can be a little much at times. But he's a cool cat in his personal life. He actually gave me a lot of sound advice when I met him back when I was still quite young and starting out as a writer. It's the failing of all intellectuals, I think, to be a little in love with the sound of their own voices. I mean...look around here! ;)

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Hey Al, i did'nt know you were a writer, I've always wanted to give writing a try, just not sure how to start, or for that matter if i could make a living at it. Any tips.

What kind of writing do you want to do Army Guy? Any advice I might be able to lend depends on the genre you want to write. But the one overriding piece of advice I can grant you is this: just like acting, or music, or painting, or any art, the chances of you being able to make your living writing novels or poetry or whatever is slim-to-none. Let me know what kind of stuff you're into and I might be able to elaborate.

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If you're from Manitoba, this might be interesting to you...

The Winnipeg Foundation is sponsoring a project called On the Same Page: Manitoba Reads

A good crowd attended the Millennium Library’s October 15 news conference for On the Same Page: Manitoba Reads!, the province’s very first mass-reading project made possible by the Winnipeg Foundation, Portage and Main Press, the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and the Library. To launch the project, organizers unanimously chose In Search of April Raintree by Beatrice Mosionier. In its 25th anniversary year, the book has become a classic of Canadian literature, touching on important themes that resonate with readers today as strongly as they did when the novel was first published.

Manitobans can participate in the project by reading or rereading In Search of April Raintree and engaging in discussion with other readers. The goal is to have 12,000 people (1% of the provincial population) read the book between October 2008 and April 2009.

I haven't read April Raintree yet, but I'm planning to read it by the end of April. (Yes, I'm a lemming.)

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What kind of writing do you want to do Army Guy? Any advice I might be able to lend depends on the genre you want to write. But the one overriding piece of advice I can grant you is this: just like acting, or music, or painting, or any art, the chances of you being able to make your living writing novels or poetry or whatever is slim-to-none. Let me know what kind of stuff you're into and I might be able to elaborate.

I'm not sure, a few years back a military guy i knew got a science fiction novel published. He was disppionted on how his work was changed, how little control he had over the actual end product. and how little they actually paid him, i think he still writes, never read any of his works...they say stay with what you know, and well after 28 years of the military it is really all i know.... I read alot of Tom Clancy's, novels so maybe something along those lines....

I have no thoughts of grandure or striking it rich, just something to keep me busy, once i retire and if i can make a few bucks at it, pay a few bills then i would be good with that....

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I'm not sure, a few years back a military guy i knew got a science fiction novel published. He was disppionted on <b>how his work was changed, how little control he had over the actual end product</b>. and how little they actually paid him, i think he still writes, never read any of his works...they say stay with what you know, and well after 28 years of the military it is really all i know.... I read alot of Tom Clancy's, novels so maybe something along those lines....

I have no thoughts of grandure or striking it rich, just something to keep me busy, once i retire and if i can make a few bucks at it, pay a few bills then i would be good with that....

Unfortunately that's the reality of the business Army Guy...I used to do writing work for the Toronto Metro and the Toronto Star, and what struck me the most about those publications (great as they were and still are on some level) was how little control I had as a writer over my own work. My writing was frequently edited to the point where it didn't resemble what I had written at all. You can get around that by self-publishing (the internet is a wonderful tool in that respect) but the chances of making money writing are slim. As much as this guy is kind of an asshole, you should check out this writing guide that details where to start as far as writing goes. I think it would be very interesting to see you do work on non-fiction given your background in the military (I am aware there are restrictions on what you can write about, but writing what you know -- what you've lived -- is always a good place to start). I'd be very interested to see some of what you come up with if you're inclined...PM me for my email address if you're interested.

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Unfortunately that's the reality of the business Army Guy...I used to do writing work for the Toronto Metro and the Toronto Star, and what struck me the most about those publications (great as they were and still are on some level) was how little control I had as a writer over my own work. My writing was frequently edited to the point where it didn't resemble what I had written at all. You can get around that by self-publishing (the internet is a wonderful tool in that respect)

It must get extremely frustrating, after pouring in all that effort and time only to have someone else take your thoughts and efforts into a new direction...I understand the whole concept of editing, but do you think they take it a little to far, to the point that it does not resemble your work, kind of like giving the editor your plan, your vision and having him write it....

Is there a time when that stops, take a look at Stephen king, are his books heavily edited? Or does he dictate the terms within the contract...

but the chances of making money writing are slim

I've read a lot of action junk, in my life, like William Johnston, he's wrote dozens of western, and military novels, now he's not a great writer, far from Clancy's calibre, but his books are addictive, I don't know what it is that holds the reader, they are extremely repetitive, very predictable, and at times very boring. And yet he sells these books by the thousands.....

It's funny I have watched a series called "true confessions of a writer", more for tips and advice, come to think about it they rarely talk about the negative side to writing, be it for a profession, or hobby.

Thanks for giving a peek at whats it like to be a writer.

Edited by Army Guy
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  • 2 months later...

I just picked up Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography by Chester Brown. As you can probably tell from the title, it's Louis Riel's biography told as a graphic novel.

Check it out: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Louis-...louis+riel%2527

Thanks to Yann Martel for sending this to Stephen Harper and bringing it to my attention:

http://www.whatisstephenharperreading.ca/2...by-john-nathan/

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