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Saturday November 22, 2008

Oh, bury me not ... 

IN THE LAND OF LONG FINGERNAILSA Gravedigger's MemoirBy Charles WilkinsViking Canada, 220 pages, $32We are all aware of the horror and rot that, in a literal sense, lie beneath the surface of a

Go West, young money 

STAMPEDE!The Rise of the West and Canada's New Power EliteBy Gordon PittsKey Porter, 360 pages, $34.95Calgary oilman Jim Gray remembers exactly when the nightmare of the National Energy Program began. ''October 28, 1980, at 4 p.m.,'' he tells author and Globe and Mail business writer Gordon Pitts, is the moment that, for better or worse, still haunts the soul of Alberta.

Romance à la Stalin 

SASHENKABy Simon MontefioreMcArthur and Company,540 pages, $24.95When Simon Montefiore imagines a journalist - fuelled by a slug or two of vodka and a vigorous groin - who ''could dash off an article decorated with ringing phrases and sharp reportage, without any real effort,'' he speaks, apparently, from experience. Sashenka is his third novel, but Montefiore cut his writerly teeth on celebrity interviews (he famously coerced the Spice Girls into saying they liked Margaret Thatcher) and dispatches from strife-riven Eastern Europe.

Kids, capitalists and commies 

TALES FOR LITTLE REBELSA Collection of Radical Children's LiteratureEdited by Julia L. Mickenbergand Philip NelNew York University Press,295 pages, $39.95 Welcome to a world where Flopsy the Bunny says, ''Smite the oppressor,'' and the Little Engine that Could would say, ''I think I can fight the power, I think I can.'' Tales for Little Rebels collects a great many edifying tales from 20th-century U.S. books and magazines, written from a leftist perspective by authors who in the main hoped to inoculate preteen readers against racism, sexism, bellicosity and the ugly face of the free market (apologies to George W. Bush).

The sanctifying of the 'Nazi pope' 

It is the controversy that will not be exorcised. It is Rome's persistent nightmare. No matter what the Vatican does, it cannot still the turbulence occasioned by the debates over Pope Pius XII and his role during the Second World War. Although that role is framed largely in terms of his ''silence'' concerning the Nazi persecution of the Jews, it also involves his perceived reluctance to employ anything other than the most cautious diplomacy when dealing with Nazi and fascist aggression, including the invasion and brutality inflicted on Poland, that most Catholic of countries.

There is no end to it 

NUMBERSBy David A. PoulsenKey Porter, 230 pages, $19.95In its sad way, denial can be an expression of wishful blindness and desperate hope when confronting too-painful-to-face betrayal, breach of trust and dire news.


JOHN A.The Man Who Made UsBy Richard Gwyn, Vintage Canada, 542 pages, $23Veteran journalist Gwyn focuses on the politics of John A. Macdonald's era, but also follows the first PM's personal life from his birth in Scotland to Canada's birth in 1867.

Sex, lies and those old-time religions 

GRAVITYBy Leanne LiebermanOrca Books, 245 pages, $12.94 THE LIT REPORTBy Sarah N. HarveyOrca Books, 197 pages, $12.95Two courageous new novels examine the taboo trinity of teenage girls, sexuality and organized religion. Gravity, by Leanne Lieberman, earned the Kingston-based author a master's degree from Windsor University, as well as Orca's So You Think You Can Write? publishing prize.

Does anybody know how to deal with political Islam? 

BEYOND TERROR AND MARTYDOMThe Future of the Middle EastBy Gilles KepelHarvard University Press,328 pages, $33THE DUETPakistan on the Flight Path of American PowerBy Tariq Ali

A sort-of epic of Boston 

THE GIVEN DAYBy Dennis Lehane Morrow, 702 pages, $29.95''People were angry, people were shouting, people were dying in trenches and marching outside factories.'' Throw in the Spanish influenza epidemic and you have Dennis Lehane's summation of 1918, a year that gave onto one that was arguably even more volatile. This period acts as backdrop for The Given Day, Lehane's eighth and most sprawling novel, a tale of labour unrest, corruption and racial strife that strains mightily against the bonds of its own ambition, without ever quite breaking them.

Books for Children: CHILDREN'S BOOKS 

M IS FOR MOOSEA Charles Pachter AlphabetCormorant Books, 64 pages, $20, all agesHerein icons abound and are abounding. There's that symbol of all that is northern and wild in Canada (and, let's not forget, Alaska), the moose. There's also the Canadian flag, the maple leaf forever, unfurling, Elizabeth Simcoe, canoes, butter tarts, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Margaret Atwood. Each and all have been the subject matter of Charles Pachter's iconographic, sometimes iconoclastic, paintings - viz. Queen Elizabeth II trooping the colours on a moose.

A Muskoka gem 

THE LANDINGBy John IbbitsonKids Can, 155 pages, $17.95The Landing is quite simply a lovely book. It's a story about the birth of an artist and also a love letter to Muskoka, the author's birthplace in Ontario cottage country. Written by The Globe and Mail's U.S. political columnist, John Ibbitson, and this week winner of the Governor-General's Award, The Landing is geared toward young adults, but just as easily belongs to the Canadian coming-of-age genre occupied by the likes of Alice Munro and Margaret Laurence.

Success: the complexities of making it 

OUTLIERS: The Story of SuccessBy Malcolm GladwellLittle, Brown, 309 pages, $30.99

Inkplot test 

INKDEATHBy Cornelia FunkeScholastic, 676 pages, $27.50Near the end of Inkdeath, the final volume in Cornelia Funke's Inkworld trilogy (after Inkworld and Inkspell), Fenoglio wonders if there might be another author writing what is currently happening in Inkworld, the setting of his novel Inkheart. Things have gone dangerously awry in the world that Funke's fictional author has created, a world so intricately detailed and fully realized that it seems real to its readers. A world made more real and more complex because certain people have the ability to read characters out of it and real people into it.

Sexy, salty, sometimes sad 

''It is a remarkable story that I have to relate. And were it not for the fact that I am one of the many people who saw it with their own eyes, I would scarcely dare to believe it, let alone commit it to paper.''


Terry J. Waller, from Victoria, writes: My criterion for a great book is one I can read numerous times. My two leading choices would be Great Expectations, one of Dickens's most satisfying books, and J. B. Priestley's The Good Companions. Unlike most popular novels from the 1920s, and this one was wildly popular in its day, The Good Companions is still a great read.

Champlain, our first multiculturalist 

CHAMPLAIN'S DREAMThe Visionary Adventurer Who Made a New World in CanadaBy David Hackett FischerKnopf Canada, 834 pages, $37There can't be many people who have made such an indelible imprint on the imagination and history of Canada as Samuel de Champlain about whom so little personal information is known. In four substantial books, comprising some 1,300 printed pages, five folding maps, 22 small maps and 14 illustrations, he never mentioned the date of his birth, his parents, his education, his early life, his career in Henry IV's army or anything personal of any consequence - except one provocative phrase, that he was ''obligated by birth'' to Henri IV. Not once did he record the name of his wife, Helene Boulle, to whom he was married for 25 years, except to refer to her on a couple of occasions as ma famille.

Humans and dragons and elves, oh my 

BRISINGRBy Christopher PaoliniKnopf, 759 pages, $32Christopher Paolini burst into the world of young-adult fantasy literature at the age of 19 with Eragon. While the story of the farm boy who hatches a dragon's egg and goes on to be a hero captured the imaginations of countless readers, the story behind the story proved equally fascinating. Home-schooled all his life, Paolini graduated from high school at the age of 15 and wrote the novel. After several revisions and several years, he and his family self-published and self-promoted Eragon. One of the readers of the original book showed it to his stepfather, novelist Carl Hiaasen, and Hiaasen was impressed enough to pitch it to Knopf. The publishing company, in turn, gave Paolini a contract for a projected trilogy.


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 119The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 2 27Heart And Soul, by Maeve Binchy (McArthur and Company, $24.95). 3 -1Just After Sunset, by Stephen King (Scribner, $32). 4 -1Through Black Spruce, by Joseph Boyden (Viking Canada, $34). 5 -1The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb (Harper, $31.95). 6 33A Good Woman, by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $32). 7 69The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (Bond Street, $32.95). 8 42Divine Justice, by David Baldacci (Grand Central, $29.99). 9 52Salvation In Death, by J.D. Robb (Putnam, $28.50). 10 89The Private Patient, by P.D. James (Knopf Canada, $32).

Novel of extinction 

BLASTEDBy Kate StoryKillick, 330 pages, $21.95The opening pages of Kate Story's debut are vibrant with immediacy. The dream - of a collapsing bridge and a child's headless skeleton - gives way to a 6 a.m. phone call answered by the waking Ruby Jones. Missing the call, she hurls the phone across her Toronto apartment.

Friedman in fine form 

THREE BALCONIESBy Bruce Jay FriedmanBiblioasis, 203 pages, $26.95What a treat it is to have new fiction from Bruce Jay Friedman, this one a volume of stories, a couple of humorous sketches and a novella. Three Balconies brings together some uncollected stories, or stories written since the landmark Collected Short Fiction of Bruce Jay Friedman, published more than a decade ago, and complements an impressive body of work: eight novels, including Stern, About Harry Towns and The Current Climate; five volumes of short fiction; five screenplays, including Stir Crazy; three plays, including Scuba Duba; and four books of non-fiction, including The Lonely Guy and The Slightly Older Guy.

For writer Hage, it's the same old story 

Eerie parallels between what Montreal author experienced two years ago with Canadian book prizes and what has been happening this fall

Matthiessen wins U.S. fiction prize 

Author gains second National Book Award for 'Shadow Country' – 29 years after his first honour

Toews lands $25,000 prize 

Manitoba writer's fourth novel, The Flying Troutmans, wins Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

Mary Lou Finlay: From radio to the written word 

The veteran CBC journalist takes up the pen to describe the years she spent as co-host of 'As It Happens'

'A very thorny place to be' 

A former member of The Eagles and a long-time collaborator look back on their rocky times with the storied band

A vampire comes out at Twilight 

Montreal native Rachelle Lefevre hopes her role in the movie based on the bestseller by Stephenie Meyer will introduce her to a larger audience

Izzy'd be devastated, 'but most of it is his fault' 

Peter C. Newman's biography of Izzy Asper comes out just as CanWest faces the music, Gayle MacDonald writes


James Elmore, from Winnipeg, writes: Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil is surely one of the greatest books ever written. This endlessly challenging book, the masterful prose of which seems imbued with a life force that practically demands the attention of every reader who even tentatively scans its pages, sits defiantly atop the peaks that dot the great philosophical landscape. A towering achievement, it is not likely to ever be forgotten.

Orphans of the New World  Lock

A MERCYBy Toni MorrisonKnopf, 169 pages, $27.95Toni Morrison knots language into beautiful and intricate Gordian Knots of complex imagery, and then, in her exquisitely cadenced prose, slices open those same knots to reveal a shining elucidation.

A well-guided tour of time  Lock

IN SEARCH OF TIMEJourneys Along a Curious DimensionBy Dan FalkMcClelland and Stewart,329 pages, $32.99When I first heard about Dan Falk's book a few weeks ago, my interest was certainly piqued. Here was a non-fiction book about time, published just six months after mine that, judging from the title, was written from a similar vantage. (The title I almost used for my own book, In the Garden of Time: Unlocking the Secrets of an Elusive Dimension, shows you just how close.) I wondered how he would deal with time travel. Would he write about the end of time? Would he deal with relativity and the enigma of ''now''? When I finally got the review copy, I raced through his book and discovered quickly that yes, he had covered all those topics and more.

The mother of all neuroses  Lock

WHEN WE WERE ROMANSBy Matthew KnealeNan A. Talese/Doubleday,224 pages, $27.95Ah, a boy and his mother. Such a potent relationship that can be, particularly with father out of the way. Remember Hamlet's ardent love for the bereaved Gertrude, or Grendel's devotion to his mother. Now, they knew how to put mom first.

Mr. Kurtz's curse  Lock

What has brought the latest crisis in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo to international attention is straightforward enough. The conflict there is the cause of untold human suffering: daily killings of civilians, rape, recruitment of child soldiers and hundreds of thousands of people on the run. The UN peacekeeping force in Congo, the largest in the world, has proved incapable of protecting ordinary Congolese from the depredations of the region's political and military leaders.

Who should win the G-G?  Lock

NOISE FROM THE LAUNDRYBy Weyman ChanTalonbooks, 95 pages, $15.95THE SENTINELBy A. F. MoritzAnansi, 84 pages, $18.95THE INVISIBILITY EXHIBITBy Sachiko MurakamiTalonbooks, 80 pages, $18.95


BORN WITH A TOOTHBy Joseph Boyden, Cormorant, 243 pages, $20Boyden, winner of this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize,ranges widely - children, professional wrestling, wolves, a native punk band - in this collection of 13 stories.


BURN OUTBy Marcia Muller, Grand Central, 309 pages, $27.99When it comes to lady detectives, I've always had a preference for Sharon McCone. She predates V. I. Warshawski and Kinsey Millhone, and she's lasted a lot longer. More than two dozen books and nearly 30 years on, Muller has moved McCone from a 1960s idealist to a highly skilled professional, but has never lost sight of the essential nature of the character.

The fatal disappointments of Lucy Maud  Lock

LUCY MAUD MONTGOMERYThe Gift of Wings By Mary Henley RubioDoubleday Canada,684 pages, $39.95''Maud had lived much of her life, like her volatile little heroine Anne, between the soaring of the imagination and the ''depths of despair.' '' This sentence from the final chapter of the much-anticipated new biography by veteran scholar Mary Henley Rubio might serve as its motto. The result of several decades of research, Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings soars with the energy of its title, but delves even deeper into the darker side of the author's life.

The good news begins now  Lock

WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?By Kate AtkinsonBond Street, 348 pages, $29.95Now there's a title for you. At once ironic and curious and apt. As ironic, curious and apt - almost - as Kate Atkinson's brilliant new novel itself.

Eat your hearts out, Thomsons, Blacks and Mulroneys  Lock

IZZYThe Passionate Life and Turbulent Times of Izzy Asper, Canada's Media MogulBy Peter C. NewmanHarperCollins, 388 pages, $34.95Here's a tip for most Canadian multi-billionaires and national politicians who think their lives are so inspiring and worthy of emulation that they actually feel flattered to be invited out for an exploratory conversation with the dean of Canadian political and business biographers, Peter C. Newman. The tip is simply this: Don't do it.

It's all in your head - really, it is  Lock

THE KINGDOM OF INFINITE SPACEA Portrait of Your HeadBy Raymond TallisYale University Press,324 pages, $30.95Anyone with an interest in what it is to be human will enjoy reading this book. In the early chapters, Raymond Tallis - British professor of medicine, poet, novelist, philosopher - establishes himself as the Shakespeare of the skull. Though I found myself awash in the flood of anatomical detail that Tallis presented, I went with the flow of his charming prose, amazed that anatomy could be so ... well, so engrossing. For example, The Secreting Head, the subject and title of Chapter 2, would seem (on the face of it) to provide but small grounds for amusement. What charm could there be in saliva, sweat, tears, ear wax, mucus, pus etc.?

Not burned, but crucified  Lock

THE FIRE GOSPELBy Michel FaberKnopf, 213 pages, $27Michel Faber's eighth work of fiction is sometimes very funny and sometimes almost weightless. Both qualities surprised me less than I might have liked. The latest instalment in a series of works called The Myths (it includes The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood's breezy revision of Homer), The Fire Gospel purportedly treats the Prometheus story.

Feminism's first manifesto  Lock

Watch out, here comes Mary Wollstonecraft - brilliant, bright-eyed and passionate. She's doing that ''female'' thing that always drives critics up the wall - arguing from the heart not the head - but her ideas are processed through a formidable and original intelligence. The polemic she published in 1792 is rooted in both her own life experience (which included poverty, servitude and a father who was both a lush and a bully) and one of the most dramatic upheavals of European history: the French Revolution. Out of this ferment she moulded the first great feminist manifesto, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 218The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 2 16Heart And Soul, by Maeve Binchy (McArthur and Company, $24.95). 3 32A Good Woman, by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $32). 4 -1Divine Justice, by David Baldacci (Grand Central, $29.99). 5 -1Salvation In Death, by J.D. Robb (Putnam, $28.50). 6 48The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (Bond Street, $32.95). 7 62The Gate House, by Nelson DeMille (Grand Central, $30.99). 8 98The Private Patient, by P.D. James (Knopf Canada, $32). 9 54The Brass Verdict, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, $29.99). 10 85A Most Wanted Man, by John le Carre (Viking Canada, $32).

Big Bear: 'a troublesome fellow'  Lock

BIG BEARBy Rudy WiebePenguin Canada, 222 pages, $26There are many ways in which Big Bear, the latest subject of Penguin's tidy little series on Extraordinary Canadians, seems the odd man out. That he's the only Indian chief among the 20 Canadian historical figures is the most obvious. That he's likely the one readers know the least about is another (although Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine might give him a run for his money). The most significant difference, however, is in the byline.

Too listless to finish this headl ...  Lock

ACEDIA AND MEA Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's LifeBy Kathleen NorrisRiverhead, 334 pages, $28.50Aldous Huxley, in his essay Accidie, observes acedia as a ''fiend of deadly subtlety'' that could make ''the day ... intolerably long and life desolatingly empty,'' causing a monk to ''sink, sink through disgust and lassitude into the black depths of despair and hopeless unbelief.'' This demon (and Huxley's chirpy essay upon it) inspired Kathleen Norris's 20-year excavation, Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks and a Writer's Life.

One form of immortality is hers  

'We hear her voice and trace her influence even now among the living.'

Giller to shine light on new generation of writers  Lock

Award to be presented in Toronto Tuesday night

Teddy's tale  Lock

A gift from a daughter to a soldier killed at Passchendaele has taken an unlikely journey in the past 90 years, from half-forgotten keepsake to museum piece to narrator in a new children's book - and a symbol of the terrible cost of war

The secret of success* *It's not what you'd expect 

Malcolm Gladwell argues that success is less innate ability than birth date and luck

War and Peace 

Read it if you want to know why — for good or ill — people will always be willing to fight.


Herbert Mackenzie from St. Catharines, Ont., writes: If greatest means pure fun and a desire to spend every waking moment to come to the end of a very long novel, I have to recommend The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. I had it for months before I started it, but once I read the first few pages, I was hooked. I just bought his World Without End and can't wait to start it.

When the West met modernity  Lock

THE VERTIGO YEARSChange and Culture in the West, 1900-1914By Philipp BlomMcClelland and Stewart,480 pages, $36.99Historians have generally stuck to the thesis that the modern world and the 20th century truly began in 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War. That conflict, the Second World War, which followed in 1939, and the tragedy they both wrought, have been regarded as the climax of the deadly mix of religious fervour, extreme nationalism, demagoguery and rapid industrialization.

Portrait of the writer as a subcontinent  Lock

PLACE WITHINRediscovering IndiaBy M. G. VassanjiDoubleday Canada 423 pages, $34.95Two-time Giller Prize-winner M. G. Vassanji's A Place Within begins in a slightly unfortunate way, with the suggestion that the book is a ''return to the roots'' narrative, a discovery of the India within him. This genre of travel narrative his been done very nearly to death, with African-Americans discovering Mother Africa, Irish-Americans discovering Mother Ireland, and so on. India in particular has had its share of acute returnees (V. S. Naipaul springs immediately to mind).

Tough Canucks  Lock

BRAVE BATTALIONThe Remarkable Saga of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) in the First World WarBy Mark ZuehlkeWiley, 289 pages, $36.95THE FIGHTING CANADIANSOur Regimental History from New France to Afghanistan

The polls of black folk  Lock

Liberals tend to regard African America romantically: They see descendants of slaves and victims of racism, struggling to compel or cajole the United States to live up to its egalitarian ideals, to finally achieve the truly godly (Judeo-Christian) republic that it tells itself it is.


THE HEROIN DIARIESA Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock StarBy Nikki Sixx, Pocket Books, 413 pages, $23.50Sixx, co-founder, bassist and primary songwriter for the 1980s heavy metal band Motley Crue, tells all about his life as a junkie rock star.


OTHERWISEBy Farley Mowat, McClelland and Stewart, $32.99Mowat's memoir covers the formative years 1937-1948, the most controversial of his distinguished career.LOVE'S CIVIL WARElizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie, Letters and Diaries

Imagine there's no Lennon ... if you can  Lock

JOHN LENNONThe LifeBy Philip NormanDoubleday Canada,851 pages, $40In early 1958, he was fully the slouched teen rebel, a marginal student and resident trouble-maker. And yet art teacher June Furlong recalls: ''There was something about him you couldn't help but take notice of. ... I remember thinking ''You, mate ... you'll either end up at the bottom or you're going to the very top.' '' He never lost his rough edge, but fate chose John Lennon for the very top. His brimming talent, rule-busting exuberance and pugnacious drive helped the rock band he led gain heights unseen in popular culture and not scaled since. Biographer Philip Norman dives deep into the Lennon legend in John Lennon: The Life.


A BEAR IN WARBy Stephanie Innes and Harry Endrulat, illustrated by Brian Deines, Key Porter, 36 pages, $19.95, ages 5 to 8In this picture book, based on a true story, a small brown bear, Teddy, is the central figure and its voice. Just before the First World War, he was given to 10-year-old Aileen Rogers, and went to live with her to the family farm in East Farnham, Que.

Alone again, unnaturally  Lock

THE ENGLISH MAJORBy Jim HarrisonAnansi, 255 pages, $29.95It is sometimes tempting to think that all those traffic jams on U.S. highways are caused by the large number of fictional characters out there in search of themselves. The Joads in their rickety pickup lumbering along in the slow lane; Kerouac's Dean Moriarty in that 1950 Cadillac, hogging the fast lane; Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic father and son blocking the shoulder with their shopping cart - it's a wonder you can get anywhere with all those protagonists hogging the road.

Sad, yes, but also unforgettable  Lock

YOUR SAD EYES AND UNFORGETTABLE MOUTHBy Edeet RavelViking Canada, 274 pages, $32Your Sad Eyes and Unforgettable Mouth, Edeet Ravel's first book of adult fiction since her much-praised Tel Aviv Trilogy, is a very fine and moving novel. Perhaps it is strange to speak of pleasure when reviewing a book about the children of Holocaust survivors. Yet Ravel covers this territory in such a nuanced, compassionate, insightful and gently humorous way that this novel, along with the inevitable underlying pain, provides exactly that.

All fierce on the Western Front  Lock

SHOCK TROOPS Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917-1918By Tim CookViking Canada, 728 pages, $40In November, 1918, in the dying days of the First World War, elements of five German divisions were ordered to make a last stand in the French town of Valenciennes. They had been weakened by a series of defeats but still had plenty of fight, and more than enough time to turn Valenciennes into a fortress: A canal to the west was booby- trapped, fields to the south and east were flooded to create a nearly impassable quagmire, and machine-gun nests were planted in dozens of buildings. To assault such a stronghold seemed like madness, but in its last set-piece battle of the war, the Canadian Corps swept through the town and brushed aside all resistance. It was a fitting exclamation point to put on Canada's war effort.

Adventures in growing up  Lock

DISTANTLY RELATED TO FREUDBy Ann CharneyCormorant, 314 pages. $21The typical coming-of-age story is one of education, a Bildungsroman; such stories emerged with regularity in Germany after Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1795). Traditionally, the hero or heroine is young and experiences a crisis - sexual, tragic, familial, romantic - that marks the division between the past and the developing identity.


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 15Heart And Soul, by Maeve Binchy (McArthur and Company, $24.95). 2 217The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 3 -1A Good Woman, by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $32). 4 47The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (Bond Street, $32.95). 5 33The Brass Verdict, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, $29.99). 6 -1The Gate House, by Nelson DeMille (Grand Central, $30.99). 7 89Doors Open, by Ian Rankin (Orion, $24.95). 8 94A Most Wanted Man, by John le Carre (Viking Canada, $32). 9 67The Private Patient, by P.D. James (Knopf Canada, $32). 10 57Passchendaele, by Paul Gross (HarperCollins Canada, $17.95).

Do the hustle  Lock

SHUCKBy Daniel Allen CoxArsenal Pulp, 152 pages, $16.95How do you describe the measured approach of a muscle car? Here's how Montreal writer Daniel Allen Cox does it on the second page of his invigorating first novel: ''A thundercloud crept toward me in the form of a car I recognized for its slow idle and hungry rumble - blue Pontiac with a stubbly leer. ... A twenty attached to a hand waved out the window.''

Peladeau shakes up Sun Media management   Lock

Parent Quebecor swings to profitability in third quarter

Swim, said the little fishy 

DDB Worldwide head goes with the flow in new book

Ontario writer wins $20,000 kids' lit prize  Lock

Christopher Paul Curtis nabs TD Canadian Children's Literature Award for his 2007 novel 'Elijah of Buxton'

Michael Crichton, 66 

Best-selling author wrote Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain blended science with theatrical concepts

An artist's broken heart revealed  Lock

Yukiko Onley puts her ex-husband Toni Onley's anguished letters on display

'Iron Man' lifts Marvel results  Lock

But 2009 financial performance will be ‘modest' due to lower Spider-Man, toy revenue

Anton Chekhov: The story master 

Every good short story author is compared to Chekhov.

That oldster black magic  Lock

THE WIDOWS OF EASTWICKBy John UpdikeKnopf, 308 pages, $27.95As I began reading John Updike's 22nd novel (and 59th book), The Widows of Eastwick, two images kept haunting me. First was that of the prolific genius, a Mozart or a Henry James, whose art gushes where other people's trickles. Sure, for every Requiem or The Golden Bowl there's a sugary divertimento or a Guy Domville. But the overall oeuvre is secure, and hundreds of years from now, reviewers will resemble a few prickly urchins washed deep down under those great seas of accomplishment.

Othello in Yorkshire  Lock

ALL THE COLOURS OF DARKNESSBy Peter RobinsonMcClelland and Stewart,352 pages, $29.99At some point in the 1980s, the hardboiled private eye migrated to Britain, acquired a warrant card and an extensive music collection, and mutated into Inspector iPod. The formula has proved a very effective one: The landscape of crime fiction would be a far less interesting place without Ian Rankin's Rebus, John Harvey's Resnick and, of course, Peter Robinson's Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks.

As the sky falls  Lock

Although a few recent films indicate society's growing unease with the state of the world (I am Legend and The Happening, with The Road slated for release in 2009), it has always fallen to the novelist to capture and shape the zeitgeist's visions of the end of the world (''as we know it'' - if we're lucky). Indeed, it's tough to think of science fiction existing at all without this evocative theme.

Please, Mr. Martin, a detail, a crumb  Lock

HELL OR HIGH WATERMy Life In and Out of PoliticsBy Paul MartinMcClelland and Stewart,494 pages, $37.99It is a rather too-perfect illustration of the no-longer-novel concept of the memoir as politics by other means. Hell or High Water: My Life In and Out of Politics is almost certainly quite the last instalment of the Chretien-Martin wars, that decade-long internal struggle for mastery of the Liberal Party.


THE SUMMER THAT NEVER WASBy Peter Robinson, McClelland and Stewart, 445 pages, $11.99Chief Inspector Alan Banks is recalled from recuperation in Greece when the bones of a childhood friend are dug up 35 years after the summer of his disappearance, and must deal with a long-held guilty secret.

Were the Nazis their own worst enemies?  Lock

HITLER'S EMPIREHow the Nazis Ruled EuropeBy Mark MazowerPenguin Press, 726 pages, $44''Any thought of world policy is laughable,'' Hitler once ruminated, ''until we are masters of the continent. ... Once we are the masters in Europe, then we will enjoy the dominant position in the world.''


LOVE'S CIVIL WARElizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie, Letters and Diaries1941-1973Edited by Victoria Glendinning with Judith Robertson, McClelland and Stewart, $35A passionate affair in wartime London, between a star Canadian diplomat and a distinguished British writer, goes on for three decades.


THIS NIGHT'S FOUL WORKBy Fred Vargas, translated by Sian Reynolds, Knopf Canada, 409 pages, $29.95I've exhausted my collection of superlatives for Fred Vargas's marvellous and inventive novels, set in Paris and featuring Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg. For this fifth Adamsberg novel to be published in English, I can only say that Vargas continues to amaze me with her wacky characters and mind-expanding plots.

Grandma, we hardly knew you  Lock

MARIE-ANNEThe Extraordinary Life of Louis Riel's GrandmotherBy Maggie SigginsMcClelland and Stewart,328 pages, $32.99In an unassuming footnote near the beginning of Marie-Anne: The Extraordinary Life of Louis Riel's Grandmother, Maggie Siggins, acclaimed historiographer, offers an unintentionally telling anecdote: Throughout the western Canadian push of his journey to find the elusive China Sea, Jean Nicollet (1598-1642), ''theatrical'' explorer and fur trader, would typically bound from his canoe, brandish a pair of loaded pistols, and flourish a lushly designed, Asian-inspired capote (cloak) ''made of Chinese material, red with embroidered blue dragons and yellow peonies'' - all in an effort to impress that (strangely elusive) Chinese emperor he'd wholly expected to meet.

The story-master  Lock

''What does Grandma have to say about Chekhov?'' Claire asked her brother over the Internet. Their grandmother woke up at 10 every day, played the piano or, if her legs were strong that day, went downstairs for the mail. She behaved with dignity and severity, and was considered the most cultured person in the family.

Farley and the wolves  Lock

OTHERWISEBy Farley MowatMcClelland and Stewart,309 pages, $32.99The first time I met Farley Mowat was at his summer home on Cape Breton Island. I was with my father-in-law at the time, an ex-naval firefighter, and Farley welcomed us from the cramped engine room of the Happy Adventure, otherwise known as the Boat Who Wouldn't Float, where he was dismantling her engine and cleaning it with gasoline-soaked rags while smoking a cigarette. My father-in-law took one look and decided to wait out the rest of the visit in his car.


Sandra Goth from Cobble Hill, B.C., writes: Seven Years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer, because it covers every aspect of existence: survival, growth, adventure and achievement. Particularly because of the freedom that it afforded the Dalai Lama.

Brass knuckles under  Lock

THE BRASS VERDICTBy Michael ConnellyLittle, Brown, 405 pages, $29.99If lawyers are so unpopular, why, from Perry Mason and Judge Judy to Law and Order and This is Wonderland, are they pop-culture heroes?


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 14Heart And Soul, by Maeve Binchy (McArthur and Company, $24.95). 2 216The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 3 32The Brass Verdict, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, $29.99). 4 46The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (Bond Street, $32.95). 5 56Passchendaele, by Paul Gross (HarperCollins Canada, $17.95). 6 66The Private Patient, by P.D. James (Knopf Canada, $32). 7 -1Extreme Measures, by Vince Flynn (Atria, $29.99). 8 98Doors Open, by Ian Rankin (Orion, $24.95). 9 73A Most Wanted Man, by John le Carre (Viking Canada, $32). 10 -1Dark Summer, by Iris Johansen (St. Martin's, $29.95).

How Pierre Berton did it all  Lock

BERTONA BiographyBy A. B. McKillopMcClelland and Stewart,681 pages, $37.99At last we see how Pierre Berton did it. The magnitude of the man's multifaceted achievement, that decades-long career as the uncrowned King of Canada, remains astounding: Besides his 50 books, Berton wrote more than 100 feature articles for Maclean's and 1,000 columns for the Toronto Star.

Torstar loses $2.7-million on restructuring charge  Lock

Revenue edges up to $372.1-million

An epic tale of traffic  Lock

Amitav Ghosh decided to write about Indian emigrants in the 1830s. But then the Booker nominee found a potent metaphor in the Opium War

Google settles online book battle   Lock

Agrees to pay $125-million to create books registry, resolving long fight with publishers

Dear Diary  Lock

Most journals are about our own little problems. But Toronto actress Mia Kirshner travelled to four desperate parts of the world to bring back the tales of the most vulnerable people

David Hume: A man for all reasons 

How do we know what we know? What do we know?

A man for all reasons  Lock

How do we know what we know? What do we know?To that most lucid of Scottish empiricists, David Hume (1711-1776), the answer to the first question was a straightforward, if deceptively simple, ''by experience.'' Everything we know about knowing, Hume would argue, is acquired through experience.

Tiger burns Booker-bright  Lock

THE WHITE TIGERBy Aravind AdigaFree Press, 276 pages, $28The White Tiger, this year's Man Booker Award-winning novel by first-time novelist Aravind Adiga, about a poor Indian boy who grows up to find success in the big city, is stirring up considerable controversy. Some Indian readers resent Adiga's portrayal of squalid rural poverty, political corruption and the affluent middle class's exploitation of underprivileged servants. In short, this book amounts to an expose, the glum subject of which is made compulsively readable by the comical, objective, irreverent voice of our hero, Balram Halwai. Still, the novel's tone does little to mollify Adiga's critics, who compare the work to V. S. Naipaul's demeaning An Area of Darkness.

The Satanic Verses at 20  Lock

A hijacked jet is blown apart over the English Channel one winter morning. Falling through the sky amid blankets and drinks trolleys, oxygen masks and severed limbs, are two men. One is a Bollywood star, the other an anglophile Indian who earns a living doing voice work on radio and television. Both are Muslims.


UNDIPLOMATIC DIARIES1937-1971By Charles Ritchie, Emblem, 591 pages, $24.99Ritchie's diaries, previously released in three parts, are gathered into one volume, coinciding with the publication of his passionate correspondence with British writer Elizabeth Bowen.

Why Morley Callaghan still matters  Lock

A LITERARY LIFEReflections and Reminiscences,1928-1990By Morley CallaghanExile, 453 pages, $34.95THE NEW YORKER STORIESBy Morley CallaghanExile, 136 pages, $19.95


TEARS OF THE DESERTA Memoir of Survival in DarfurBy Halima Bashir, HarperCollins, $29.95Bashir, born and raised in war-torn Darfur, became a doctor, was kidnapped, raped and tortured, and fought to enter Britain as a refugee.

Hacking and cracking  Lock

MAFIABOYHow I Cracked the Internetand Why It's Still BrokenBy Michael Calcewith Craig SilvermanViking Canada, 276 pages, $34The best, brightest and most entrepreneurial computer hackers undertake a perilous journey. They set out to demonstrate technical prowess, which eventually brings legal problems; ultimately, they try to turn their skill and experience into viable careers, most often in the very sector (computer security) they infiltrated. This is a standard hacker odyssey. The problem is that sirens of chaos, hubris and obsession usually get in the way.


LAST NIGHTBy Hyewon Yum, Farrar, Strausand Giroux, 32 pages, $17.50,ages 3 to 5A wordless picture book, this tells the story of one little girl's nighttime adventures. The first page shows her scowling over a plate of food. The following double-page spread shows her first standing in the corner and then her hang-dog climb up the stairs. She goes to bed with her small teddy bear on the pillow beside her.

The ins and (possibly) outs of the war in Iraq  Lock

THE FOREVER WARBy Dexter Filkins Random House, 368 pages, $28A PATH OUT OF THE DESERT A Grand Strategy for Americain the Middle EastBy Kenneth M. Pollack

Little Miss Prickly  Lock

THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOGBy Muriel BarberyTranslated by Alison AndersonEuropa Editions, 325 pages, $16A novel that sells 1.2 million copies in France, 400,000 copies in Italy, that remains on its country's own bestseller list for longer than Dan Brown's books have, that garners the 2007 French Booksellers Award and 2007 Brive-la-Gaillarde Reader's Prize, suggests a phenomenon. The barrage of accolades from Vogue to The Washington Post does overwhelm. The reviewer feels almost duty-bound to like this book, especially since the reviewer is also so very fond of hedgehogs.

Reporter reveals all - but not herself  Lock

THE ANGEL OF GROZNYOrphans of a Forgotten WarBy Asne SeierstadTranslated by Nadia ChristensenBasic Books, 352 pages $27.95The Angel of Grozny, the latest book by Norwegian journalist Asne Seierstad, who rose to fame with 2003's The Bookseller of Kabul, is not an easy read.

Sole sister  Lock

GOLDENGROVEBy Francine ProseHarperCollins, 275 pages, $26.95Probably the most difficult of all perspectives to occupy or to write from is that of a teenage girl. Mysterious and sullen, charming and subversive by turns, their unpredictable reactions make them the worst of fictional subjects. But Francine Prose is up to the challenge. Nico, the teenager who narrates Goldengrove, is captured utterly, a 13-year-old with a voice as believable as Holden Caulfield's.

A man for all reasons  Lock

How do we know what we know? What do we know?To that most lucid of Scottish empiricists, David Hume (1711-1776), the answer to the first question was a straightforward, if deceptively simple, ''by experience.'' Everything we know about knowing, Hume would argue, is acquired through experience.

Birth writes  Lock

GREAT EXPECTATIONSTwenty-Four True Stories About ChildbirthEdited by Dede Craneand Lisa MooreAnansi, 314 pages, $21.95The cover belies the bloody, Gothic comedy of childbirth. An infant sleeps serenely, small spidery fingers curved to cheeks, efficiently wrapped in a cone of white blanket like a little amuse gueule - or a Communion wafer - ready to be plucked up and savoured. But inside Great Expectations there is blood aplenty (and copious other fluids, including tears), thundering pain, death and near-death experiences. The final month of pregnancy is Waiting for Godot, then suddenly the curtain rises on Act IV, Scene III of Macbeth.


Charles Heller from Toronto writes: The Anatomy of Melancholy, by Robert Burton, was published in 1621 as a cure for depression. It is a massive survey of human knowledge, culled from all the books that the author, a librarian at Oxford, had read. His topics even include the Frankfurt Book Fair (too big!), the existence of Little Green Men and the latest theories of Galileo. Its style veers from self-consciously pompous to folksy and comic. ... He considers the problems that science may one day solve, ranging from a tantalizing premonition of Darwin in which he refers to the distribution of animals (which Darwin himself said was the key to his theory) to that stumbling-block of religion, the existence of evil.

Foreign affairs  Lock

LOVE'S CIVIL WARElizabeth Bowen and CharlesRitchie, Letters and Diaries 1941-1973Edited by Victoria Glendinningwith Judith RobertsonMcClelland and Stewart,489 pages, $35Elizabeth Bowen was a married woman of 41, author of short stories and six novels, when she met Charles Ritchie, then working at the Canadian High Commission in London, in February, 1941. She was sophisticated, successful and lonely. He was a debonair 35-year-old, eager for experience. What began as an intoxicatingly physical affair in wartime London became, for both of them, an intense and passionate lifelong friendship that fuelled their imaginations.


THE DUNWICH HORRORAnd Other StoriesBy H. P. Lovecraft, Penguin, 201 pages, $10.99In many ways, The Dunwich Horror is the quintessential Lovecraft story, the tale that laid most of the groundwork for his Cthulhu Mythos and established the central role of the Necronomicon, a cursed but much-desired ancient book of magic spells that features in many of his works (and of several other horror writers, as well). This is book No. 1 in Penguin's Red Classics series, reprints of the cream of horror literature.


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 13Heart And Soul, by Maeve Binchy (McArthur and Company, $24.95). 2 215The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 3 -1The Brass Verdict, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, $29.99). 4 35The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (Bond Street, $32.95). 5 55Passchendaele, by Paul Gross (HarperCollins Canada, $17.95). 6 65The Private Patient, by P.D. James (Knopf Canada, $32). 7 82A Most Wanted Man, by John le Carre (Viking Canada, $32). 8 43The Lucky One, by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, $27.99). 9 97Doors Open, by Ian Rankin (Orion, $24.95). 10 77The Flying Troutmans, by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada, $32).

Pain, beautiful pain  Lock

MOTHER SUPERIORBy Saleema NawazFreehand Books,296 pages, $23.95Two women share a house in Winnipeg. They also share bathwater. ''Toe to shoulder, shoulder to toe, we prune ourselves in the tub until the bubbles have disappeared.'' One gal is a lesbian, but ''practically a nun.''

In any genre, Enright's a whiz  Lock

YESTERDAY'S WEATHERBy Anne EnrightMcClelland and Stewart,306 pages, $27.95Lovers of short stories tend to put up arguments for the form because it feels beleaguered. The arguments often go this way: Short stories, unlike novels, can be consumed in a few hours, or even less, they are full of mood and show a precision of language more akin to poetry than lengthier kinds of prose. They are closely related to memories or daydreams - they flit through, there and gone. But how intensely they are felt. Fast, potent hits.

Binging and hookups and dead-end jobs  Lock

Sociologist sees problems in way young men shirk responsibility

Young men in wasteland, sociologist argues  Lock

Binge drinking, fleeting sexual relationships and hazing their peers on campus replaces preparation for manhood, says author Michael Kimmel.

He coached Frost on how to get Nixon 

American author, playwright and scholar enjoys his moment as the man who helped convict Nixon in the court of public opinion

Silent Spring 

Rachel Carson's epic work gave birth to the modern environmental movement


Mark Harding from Toronto writes: I have no doubt about the worthiness of the list, but it does show our inclination to equate ''greatness'' with seriousness. I suggest a great writer - witty, ironic and profound - in Chuang Tzu (399-295 BC). He shows that you can cut to the core of the human search for self-realization and still have a twinkle in your eye. His philosophy is practical, down-to-earth, and full of the Zen comic spirit that is so lacking in other religions. No writer better punctures the pompous or exalts the humble.

Eat your frozen heart out, Texas  Lock

Try this visual exercise. Put a map of Alaska over a map of the South 48, same scale. The map of Alaska overlaps both the Canadian and Mexican borders and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. You could drop the state of Texas (268,601 square miles) down inside the state of Alaska (656,425 square miles) and never find it.

Fascinating theatrical life plumbs the shallows  Lock

IN SPITE OF MYSELFBy Christopher PlummerKnopf, 648 pages, $37If William Hutt was the Canadian Gielgud, Redgrave and Scofield rolled into one package of immense versatility, power, humanity and vulnerability, Christopher Plummer has always been our Olivier: a thorough theatre animal, flamboyantly exhibitionistic, delighting in milking poetry and capable of the most mesmerizing effects (especially dazzling vocal speed) - the very features Plummer notes in the late titan of the English stage.


THE TOP 100 CANADIAN ALBUMSBy Bob Mersereau, Goose Lane, 214 pages, $24.95This selection includes anecdotes and background about the 100 albums picked, and full-colour reproductions of the album art.


RITUALBy Mo Hayder, HarperCollins,410 pages, $22.95Ritual marks the return of Detective Inspector Jack Caffery, investigator in Mo Hayder's first two novels, Birdman and The Treatment. Hayder, one of Britain's most talented authors, moves to another level in this spellbinder. With characters so complex, so fascinating that they could populate a dozen novels, she sends readers into a demimonde of ritual magic, desperation, guilt and death, all exquisitely composed.

You charm the husk right off of the corn, Maeve  Lock

HEART AND SOUL By Maeve BinchyMcArthur and Company,452 pages, $24.95May I share a secret? Every once in a while, I grow weary of being a man, and I don't even know why. I have little to complain about. There's the fishing, the duck hunting, the late-night poker games, the meat smoker my wife bought me for my birthday. There's the adoration of my daughters, and the satisfaction of knowing that my chainsaw is in excellent working order.

Mistress of murder  Lock

THE PRIVATE PATIENTBy P. D. JamesKnopf Canada, 395 pages, $32How does one resist a novel that begins with the following sentence?:''On November the 21st, the day of her forty-seventh birthday, and three weeks and two days before she was murdered, Rhoda Gradwyn went to Harley Street to keep a first appointment with her plastic surgeon, and there in a consulting room designed, so it appeared, to inspire confidence and allay apprehensions, made the decision which would lead inexorably to her death.''

An artful dodger  Lock

ERRATIC NORTHA Vietnam Draft Resister's Life in the Canadian BushBy Mark FrutkinDundurn, 237 pages, $24.95Ottawa novelist Mark Frutkin has long been interested in history's turning points, moments in time when a person's life and that of a nation intersect. His first book, The Growing Dawn (1984), included four works of ''documentary fiction'' about the life of Guglielmo Marconi, each consisting of short, poetic prose pieces that dazzled the reader well before creative non-fiction became mainstream. Atmospheres Apollinaire highlighted France's belle epoque (1900 to 1914) and featured Picasso and Apollinaire as principle characters caught in the flash of history leading up to the First World War.

Outspoken silence  Lock

The 1950s were deeply disturbing times. Our fathers, traumatized yet intoxicated by their victorious wartime power, had turned upon our Earth, unleashing the same chemical and nuclear weapons they had deployed a few short years earlier on their fellow human beings. So unhinged were the times that serious proposals were advanced by Russian scientists to use nuclear weapons to destroy the Arctic ice cap and so ameliorate the climate of the world. Canada entertained its own mad schemes. On Feb. 10, 1959, Time magazine reported that the Richfield Oil Corp. planned to explode a series of two-kiloton nuclear weapons below the Alberta tar sands, creating cavities that would fill with liquefied tar. They claimed that 300 billion barrels of crude oil would be created, and the experts assured everyone that there would be no hazard from radioactivity.

More than a survivor, a heroine  Lock

TEARS OF THE DESERTA Memoir of Survival in DarfurBy Halima Bashirwith Damien LewisHarperCollins, 367 pages, $29.95Stories of Janjaweed attacks on villages in Darfur, of rapes and massacres and children thrown into burning houses, have become painfully familiar in recent years. But seldom have these stories been written by Darfurians, and never, until now, by a woman. Halima Bashir brings to her memoir not just her own horrific tale, but her experience of trying to treat the victims of a war which, for all the endless international condemnation surrounding it, continues apparently unchecked. Tears of the Desert is a brave and haunting book.

Let me tell you 'bout the birds ...  Lock

THE WISDOM OF BIRDSAn Illustrated History of OrnithologyBy Tim BirkheadGreyStone, 433 pages, $42.95Nobody loves birds like the British, perhaps because of the scarcity of mammals on the island, or the sheer number of species that can occur there. Whatever lies beneath their passion, it is a long-standing one: The British Ornithologists' Union is older than our nation, at 150 years, while the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is only a few years younger. The British even have a slang word for pursuing a rare bird species: ''twitching.''


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 12Heart And Soul, by Maeve Binchy (McArthur and Company, $24.95). 2 314The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 3 24The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (Bond Street, $32.95). 4 42The Lucky One, by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, $27.99). 5 74Passchendaele, by Paul Gross (HarperCollins Canada, $17.95). 6 54The Private Patient, by P.D. James (Knopf Canada, $32). 7 96The Flying Troutmans, by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada, $32). 8 -1A Most Wanted Man, by John le Carre (Viking Canada, $32). 9 66Doors Open, by Ian Rankin (Orion, $24.95). 10 -1The Pirate King, by R.A. Salvatore (Wizards Of The Coast, $33).

... and the bees  Lock

FRUITLESS FALLThe Collapse of theHoneybee and the ComingAgricultural CrisisBy Rowan JacobsenBloomsbury, 288 pages, $25 BEES Nature's Little WondersBy Candace SavageGreyStone, 128 pages, $28

Three days in Prague  Lock

IN THE GARDEN OF MENBy John Kupferschmidt3-Day Books, 44 pages, $14.95Thirty-one years ago, a handful of writers gathered in a Vancouver pub and dared one another to go home and write a novel in one weekend. Taken in hand by Arsenal Pulp Press, this was the first Three-Day Novel Contest, a gruelling Labour Day weekend affair now with its own publishing house, and survived annually by hundreds of sleep-deprived writers from around the globe.

Gadget-savvy but socially inept? Tech may be altering your mind 

Gary Small, co-author of iBrain, on how technology is altering the physical makeup of our brains and changing the way we interact with one another

No. 1 escort tells (almost) all  Lock

Four years ago she was New York's highest-paid escort. Now she's a typical twentysomething Montrealer. Natalie McLennan dishes on her new book, the upside of sex for money and Ashley Dupré, the woman who brought down Eliot Spitzer

Adiga wins Man Booker prize for 'The White Tiger'  Lock

Mumbai author gains acclaim for first novel despite criticism within India

On divorce and dysfunction: Hollywood edition 

Who can pen a more salacious story of familial friction: Alec Baldwin or Lynne Spears?

Uplift Rx: Call Doc Woody 

The author of the self-help book The Source wants to empower people to make a change in their lives


Not just philosophy but also drama in the best sense of the word.

Get your motor running  Lock

ZEN AND NOWOn the Trail of Robert Pirsigand the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceBy Mark RichardsonKnopf Canada, 274 pages, $29.95''As I ride to the west, the noise in the engine seems to settle into a rhythmic thrum, and the wind ripples the grass in the fields alongside the road. The tops of the blades are waving to and fro, and it's easy to imagine the valves in the engine rising and falling with them, in sync with nature,'' Mark Richardson writes in Zen and Now.

Cowboys, Indians and Boers  Lock

THE GREAT KAROOBy Fred StensonDoubleday, 480 pages, $32.95Maybe it's because we never had a successful revolution in Canada. We never dramatically cut ties with the British Empire, so this particular literary tradition remains unbroken all the way back to its origins in the Waverley novels of Walter Scott. Or maybe the flowering of recent decades has happened in reaction to the suppression of history in our schools and universities, and to the corollary assertion, chanted like a mantra by those with a vested interest, that the Really Important Novels are set in cities and address contemporary issues, as if such issues could be understood independent of history.

Identity, therefore I am  Lock

THE SOUL OF ALL GREAT DESIGNSBy Neil BissoondathCormorant, 223 pages, $29The graffiti in a woman's washroom at the university where I work reads, ''ID, therefore I am.'' That riff on Descartes's famous ''I think, therefore I am'' haunts me like a jingle, because it catches something - however quirky - of the multiple-identity world we've come to inhabit.

The sound of whale music  Lock

THOUSAND MILE SONGWhale Music in a Sea of SoundBy David RothenbergBasic Books, 287 pages, $29.50If you are at musically inclined and interested in whales and whale song, this is the book for you. David Rothenberg, who wrote the well-received Why Birds Sing, has done an immense amount of research and travel to try to understand the far more mysterious world of cetacean singing (and clicking and sonar navigation). He has not been entirely successful, through no fault of his own, simply because it is much harder to study whale music than bird song.


AT ISSUERecent issues of literary journals The New Quarterly and CNQ (Canadian Notes and Queries) offered short stories by 20 writers left out of The Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories, edited by Jane Urquhart. Both magazines titled their issues The Salon des Refuses, holding the view that the Penguin anthology presented a distorted view. In a Sept. 13 essay for Books, John Metcalf supported that view. Now, Wayne Grady, who edited the first Penguin anthology, comes to the defence of a new and inclusive definition of what constitutes a short story. Metcalf, meanwhile, holds his ground.


THE FROZEN THAMESBy Helen Humphreys, Emblem, 181 pages, $17.99This gorgeous little book features 40 stories, each set in one of the times in history that the Thames River has frozen solid, all splendidly illustrated.

You say you want an evolution?  Lock

THE ORIGIN OF SPECIESBy Nino RicciDoubleday Canada,496 pages, $34.95When I was 15, an 18-year-old female friend, who, as I did, dated ''older guys,'' said, ''a 15-year-old girl and a 20-year-old guy are the same age. Men and women aren't the same age until about 26.''


RED DOG, RED DOGBy Patrick Lane, McClelland and Stewart, $32.99The ghost of a dead child conducts readers on a tour of the seriously dysfunctional Stark family in the Okanagan Valley of the 1950s.

One line to PEI  Lock

THE CATCHBy Louisa McCormackKey Porter, 331 pages, $27.95Confession: I was the one who, in this newspaper, previously called Louisa McCormack's first novel, Six Weeks to Toxic, ''witty, concise, controlled.'' This is the blurb that adorns the smart cover of her second novel, The Catch. Seeing my words singing the praises of McCormack's last book works to remind me that, even though I'm not sure The Catch holds up as well as Six Weeks To Toxic, I still do think this writer is witty, concise and controlled. McCormack's flair, style and machine-gun wit are abundant throughout.


OLOYOUBy Teresa Cardenas, illustrated by Margarita Sada, translated by Elisa Amado, Groundwood, 32 pages, $18.95, ages 4 to 7A bilingual book (Spanish and English), Oloyou is the creation of Cardenas, a Cuban santera, or priestess, her retelling of a Yoruba myth. Santeria is a religion that flourishes in Cuba, one that combines the Yoruba beliefs, brought to the New World by African slaves, with the stories and traditions that arose in subsequent generations of those former Africans in the Caribbean. Above all, Santeria offers explanations, often wonderfully fanciful, for events and denizens of the natural world. Margarita Sada's lovely oils for this book do nothing to lower the quotient of ''fanciful,'' and everything to make it visually attractive.

The perils of Julie  Lock

MY STORYBy Julie CouillardTranslated Michael GilsonMcClelland and Stewart,319 pages, $29.99Femme fatale? Hell hath no fury like Julie Couillard's scorn for former lover Maxime Bernier. It burns through the 319 pages of My Story: ''He ruined my life.'' This is her revenge. She depicts him as weak (''You really have no balls at all''), lazy, vain, superficial, two-faced; a compulsive skirt-chaser who badmouths Stephen Harper and his own constituents in the Beauce. She even has Canada's minister of foreign affairs predicting Quebec's separation as inevitable: ''It doesn't frighten me at all, that's where we're headed. And I have no problem with that, I'm ready. I'm expecting it.''

Death takes a holiday, and falls in love  Lock

DEATH WITH INTERRUPTIONSBy Jose SaramagoTranslated by Margaret Jull CostaHarcourt, 238 pages, $26.95 In Blindness, the famed novel by Portuguese writer Jose Saramago that helped earn the author his well-deserved Nobel and spawned the current cinematic release, we follow a small group of characters through the ruins of a catastrophically altered city where an epidemic of blindness is robbing everyone of their sight. The world of Blindness is rich with allegorical parallels that could be political, could be religious, could be almost anything. Saramago has a penchant for describing the movement of crowds: Where North American fiction is often insistently individual, he often prefers to use a kind of national collective as a protagonist.

She changed Jamaica for the better  Lock

HORSES IN HER HAIRA Granddaughter's StoryBy Rachel ManleyKey Porter, 341 pages, $29.95For most writers, a trilogy of memoirs focusing on different members of their own immediate families might seem excessive. But Rachel Manley - whose grandfather, Norman, is considered to be the father of Jamaican independence; whose father, Michael, was the country's most controversial prime minister, and whose grandmother, Edna, was largely responsible for Jamaica's artistic and cultural awakening - has extensive and important ground to cover.

A devil of a book  Lock

Goethe's Faust is a monster. Colossal in artistic and intellectual scope, the play is very long, more than 12,000 lines. A complete performance can take about 21 hours. That's nearly a day sitting in an uncomfortable theatre seat.

Portrait of the artist as ... well, everybody  Lock

I AM MY FAMILYPhotographic Memoriesand FictionsBy Rafael GoldchainPrinceton Architectural Press,168 pages, $42.30Our past can be as unknowable as our future. For every family with rich stories passed from generation to generation, another sifts through fragmented memories. For every home with a gallery of framed family photos, there stands another with bare walls.


Richard Orlando, from Montreal, writes: I submit Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. It combines the philosophies of Buddha, Epictetus and American transcendentalism with revolutionary free verse, biblical cadences and richly worded catalogues of man-made and natural wonders. It is a celebratory burst of optimism that is an oh-so-welcome antidote to the general run of modern sackcloth-and-ashes poetry.

Sickness unto debt  Lock

PAYBACKDebt and the Shadow Sideof WealthBy Margaret AtwoodAnansi, 240 pages, $18.95Rest easy: Payback, the published version of Margaret Atwood's 2008 Massey lectures, is neither a treatise on economic principles nor an instant book about the unfolding market crisis. Instead, it is concerned with ''debt as a human construct,'' and how ''this construct mirrors and magnifies both voracious human desire and ferocious human fear.'' Debt, then, as an ''imaginative construct'' as well - a logical point of entry for a novelist and poet.


Photo taken at Noel Coward's Jamaican house, Blue Harbour, with Coward (on the steps) and friends. From the book Passionate Pilgrimages: From Chopin to Coward (Welcome Rain Publishers, 124 pages, $19.95), written by Elizabeth Sharland. The Tasmanian-born Canadian Sharland was bitten early by the bugs of theatre and music, and this anecdote-laden travel diary describes her journeys to, and impressions of, the homes and places associated with her favourites: Chateau de Nohant, the country home of George Sand, who nursed her tubercular lover Chopin there; Cole Porter's Paris home and the evocative Ritz Hotel piano bar; the haunts of Paul and Jane Bowles in Tangier, Morocco; and, especially, the expansive world of Noel Coward, in London, New York and Jamaica.

Le Carré and the 'espiocracy'  Lock

A MOST WANTED MANBy John le Carre Viking Canada, 340 pages, $32If novels, as Margaret Atwood once wrote, keep the moral imagination alive, then John le Carre's new novel, A Most Wanted Man, brilliantly performs the function of the novel, and does so as compellingly as the work which first made his name, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 -1Heart And Soul, by Maeve Binchy (Orion, $24.95). 2 13The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (Bond Street, $32.95). 3 213The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 4 -1The Lucky One, by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, $27.99). 5 33The Private Patient, by P.D. James (Knopf Canada, $32). 6 45Doors Open, by Ian Rankin (Orion, $24.95). 7 53Passchendaele, by Paul Gross (HarperCollins Canada, $17.95). 8 -1All The Colours Of Darkness, by Peter Robinson (McClelland and Stewart, $29.99). 9 65The Flying Troutmans, by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada, $32). 10 -1One Fifth Avenue, by Candace Bushnell (Hyperion, $27.95).

Spoiler alert: Comic books are alive and kicking   Lock

Marvel's print revenues have been growing in double digits for the past three years

This time, Irvine Welsh winced 

The man famous for scenes of tapeworms and toilet dives had to take lengthy breaks while writing his disturbing new novel, Crime

40 laid off as execs arrested  

Entellium bosses grossly overstated revenue to attract private investment in a fraud uncovered when worker found cooked books

Giller short list unveiled 

Joseph Boyden, Rawi Hage, Anthony De Sa, Marina Endicott and Mary Swan in running for 2008 prize

Trash-talking the boss 

Can employees ever recover from insulting their superior and getting caught?

'Psychic geographies' haunt novelist Tristan Hughes' work 

Were it not for a back-breaking, drunken fall off a Welsh castle wall, Hughes may never have penned his first novel


Reading Montaigne today teaches us that the angle of vision defines the world we see.

Slinkers, jailers, soldiers, lies 

The author and one-time spy takes aim at a post-9/11 world


Yves Farges from Vancouver writes: Rene Descartes's book Discourse on the Method. From the father of philosophy, light pierces the curtains of ignorance as Descartes establishes that pivotal bedrock of self-awareness, ''cogito ergo sum,'' a.k.a. ''I think, therefore I am.'' In his mathematical treatises, Descartes laid the foundation from which calculus would later emerge, but clearly Discourse on the Method is one of those basic books that deserves a (high) spot on your list.

Roth waxes indignant at history's hold  Lock

INDIGNATIONBy Philip RothViking Canada, 233 pages, $30Philip Roth's long and distinguished career has been crowned with so many prizes, honours and medals that he is now, arguably, the reigning dean of American letters. Now comes Indignation, his 29th book, a novel set in 1951 at the height of the Korean War. Narrated by Marcus Messner, a Jewish adolescent who has transferred from his hometown college in Newark, N.J., to

When madness rules your life  Lock

''Are you out of your mind?'' We've all said it, to people who aren't. We don't ask those we truly suspect: When we encounter them in the street or on the bus, we give them wide berth or quietly change seats. But what if they are our own loved ones?

Extreme adventure, Arctic style  Lock

RACE TO THE POLAR SEAThe Heroic Adventures and Romantic Obsessions of Elisha Kent KaneBy Ken McGooganHarperCollins, 365 pages, $34.95The mid-19th century was the heyday of Arctic literature. Before the TV talk-show circuit, returning explorers had to shrug off the effects of a host of hideous vitamin deficiencies and spend long hours by gas- and candle-light turning their journals and rough notes (and those of their subordinates) into epic tales of struggle, discovery and suffering. The rewards were fame and lucrative speaking tours of North America.


THE ARCHITECTS ARE HEREBy Michael Winter, Penguin Canada, 372 pages, $19Winter brings back his popular recurring character, Gabriel English, for an exuberant, funny and wild road trip to his hometown of Corner Brook, Newfoundland.


THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOOBy Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland, Viking Canada, 465 pages, $32Yet again, Scandinavia produces a brilliant, gifted author. Swede Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a dazzling debut with marvellous characters and a wonderful story built around the most difficult of all plots, the locked room, although here, it's remote island. This novel, a runaway bestseller in Europe, will thrill North American readers as well.

He is what he is, generally  Lock

SOLDIERS MADE MELOOK GOODA Life in the Shadow of WarBy Lewis MacKenzieDouglas and McIntyre,294 pages, $32.95This personal reflection on life lessons learned and leadership skills by one of Canada's most famous generals could best be summed up by Popeye the Sailor Man's trademark quip: ''I yam what I yam.''

A howl of a novel  Lock

RED DOG, RED DOGBy Patrick LaneMcClelland and Stewart, 332 pages, $32.99''It didn't take him long to bury me.'' The speaker here is Alice, a dead child whose ghostly perspective haunts Red Dog, Red Dog, and particularly her father and gravedigger, Elmer Stark. From the very first line, the reader is told the past weighs heavily upon the present, and few are asked to shoulder a burden more crippling than the Stark family.

Looking for the light  Lock

By Joan ThomasGoose Lane, 388 pages, $22.95Lily Piper's family is waiting to be spirited away. Not to another part of the Canadian prairie. Not even overseas, back to her father's English birthplace. But snatched up to heaven, transported without warning into God's bosom.

Sally go 'round the sun  Lock

HURRY DOWN SUNSHINEBy Michael Greenberg HarperCollins, 233 pages, $29.95''On July 5, 1996, my daughter was struck mad.'' The first sentence of Michael Greenberg's Hurry Down Sunshine smacks you right in the face. There is no pretty prelude, no idyllic scenes of the life that is about to be torn apart by his daughter Sally's illness. You're immediately in the story and watching a family in crisis.

Read my ... er, book: It's the oil, stupid  Lock

HOT, FLAT, AND CROWDEDWhy We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew AmericaBy Thomas FriedmanFarrar, Straus and Giroux,438 pages, $30.95In 2001, the U.S. military had a hell of a problem resupplying its diesel-run military bases in Iraq's Anbar Province with fuel. Low-carbon insurgents strategically, and repeatedly, attacked the high-carbon truck convoys with roadside bombs, and the body-bag count became obscene.

Drawing from life  Lock

The best books are often hard to classify. Lynda Barry's autobiographical, instructional and inspirational graphic novel What It Is (Drawn and Quarterly, 210 pages, $24.95) is one of these, because it's both an intensely personal memoir of Barry's creative life and a writing guide. Oh, and it's a DIY creative activity kit too. So where to shelve it? The newly minted graphica section? Art? Psychology? Activity books? Memoir? Although the most autobiographical of Barry's books, What It Is is also a creative text presented in a very original way, so it most naturally belongs next to Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.

What did he know? Plenty  Lock

In 1580, Michel de Montaigne published in Bordeaux a book made unique by its title, Essais - literally ''attempts'' - and a literary genre was born. Over 20 years, Montaigne would rewrite and republish it several times, up until his death. The Essays resemble a patchwork of personal reflections that nonetheless all tend toward a single goal: to live better in the present and to prepare for death. These considerations, or essays, offer a point of departure for the modern reader's own assessments. In brief, one does not read Montaigne, one practises Montaigne.

Binges, blackouts and, oddly, business  Lock

THE NIGHT OF THE GUNA Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life: His OwnBy David CarrSimon and Schuster,385 pages, $29.99''There are no second acts in American lives,'' F. Scott Fitzgerald famously declared. Maybe, but The Night of the Gun reveals that David Carr has shifted some scenery as the hero of his own drama.


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 32The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (Bond Street, $32.95). 2 112The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 3 42The Private Patient, by P.D. James (Knopf Canada, $32). 4 24Doors Open, by Ian Rankin (Orion, $24.95). 5 72Passchendaele, by Paul Gross (HarperCollins Canada, $17.95). 6 54The Flying Troutmans, by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada, $32). 7 65Devil Bones, by Kathy Reichs (Scribner, $29.99). 8 -1The Tsarina's Daughter, by Carolly Erickson (St. Martin's, $17.95). 9 83The Other Queen, by Philippa Gregory (HarperCollins, $29.95). 10 107The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson (Random House Canada, $32.95).

Just say 'no, never, none for me'  Lock

THE DAY GEORGE BUSH STOPPED DRINKINGWhy Abstinence Matters to the Religious RightBy Jessica WarnerMcClelland and Stewart,230 pages, $29.99Stop - in the name of love. That is more or less what George W. Bush did. He may not technically have been a slave to beer, bourbon and BandB, but he sure was familiar with the power they had over him. The morning after his 40th-birthday binge at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, the future president, almost certainly heeding the pleas of his wife, called it quits. He vowed never to drink again.

Couillard says firm hired her for Tory contacts  Lock

She writes that she struck deal with real-estate company when it learned of her acquaintance with Public Works official Bernard Côté

Romance gets a market correction 

Relationships are taking a hit amid the stress of economic turmoil. Goodbye dinner and a movie. Hello Scrabble night. Siri Agrell reports

The science of a long marriage  Lock

In the long run, marriage is a state of being that suits, even enhances, human biology

Toronto's Gil Adamson wins $7,500 book prize  Lock

Toronto author nabs Canada First Novel Award for her 2007 novel The Outlander

Couillard just looking for glory, Bernier says 

Former foreign affairs minister responds to book claims by raising doubts about the credibility of ex-girlfriend

A road map for selling soap on the information highway  Lock

IBM and Unilever are two companies among the pioneers immersing themselves in new media, looking for business applications

This award night comes with a twist  Lock

Books in Canada, the magazine behind a $7,500 prize to be presented tonight, has ceased publication. Will continue with the award?

Toronto Star publisher Pike steps down  Lock

Torstar Corp. names Donald Babick interim president of Star Media

The Social Contract 

Rousseau's effect on his own age was seismic, and the tremors have never subsided.

If they could live with the animals ...  Lock

WE BOUGHT A ZOOThe Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives ForeverBy Benjamin MeeDoubleday Canada,


Alex Anderson from Kanata, Ont., writes: The Three Musketeers is one of the all-time greatest romances. Humour, tragedy, love and death all tied up with political intrigue and lots of swordplay as a youth comes of age. Fantastic stuff.

Original - and aboriginal  Lock

A FAIR COUNTRYTelling Truths About Canada,By John Ralston Saul Viking Canada, 338 pages, $34A plain but telling litmus test of the impact of a new book is whether you find yourself acting by it. Already, having read A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada, John Ralston Saul's argument for Canada as an aboriginal-minded society, I find myself talking more easily about the colonial encumbrance and the influence of first nations on our national consciousness. A Fair Country may be wishful thinking; it plays conjurer's tricks with history and, quite deliberately, creates new founding myths. But it is also a brilliant and timely argument about Canada's complex nature and our country's best future course.

It happened once. Could it happen again?  Lock

The Great Depression haunts us still. During every financial crisis since that time, one of the first questions on people's minds has been: Could it happen again?Well, could it? Reading economist John Kenneth Galbraith's The Great Crash, 1929 (Houghton Mifflin, 1954) is certainly a rather unsettling experience in light of recent events.

Rankin pulls a caper  Lock

DOORS OPENBy Ian RankinOrion, 260 pages, $24.95Ian Rankin's series of novels featuring Detective Inspector John Rebus reached No. 17 in 2007. Exit Music crackles with Rebus's dark, cheeky wit as it lucidly tells its long and tangled tale. No sign of burnout there.

Brokeheart mountain  Lock

FINE JUST THE WAY IT ISBy Annie ProulxScribner, 221 pages, $29.99In the hands of most writers of the place (Gretel Ehrlich, James Galvin, Geoffrey O'Gara), Wyoming's chief romance lies in its space, its wind, its quick reach back to Old West days. But Annie Proulx has always been impatient with this romance and, in her latest collection of short stories, she dispenses with it (space, wind and the good old days are ruthless killers) just as determinedly as she did in her revolutionary Close Range and the two collections that followed, Bad Dirt and That Old Ace in the Hole.

Pioneers of Canadian women's art  Lock

INDEPENDENT SPIRITEarly Canadian Women ArtistsBy A. K. PrakashFirefly, 410 pages, $75You don't have to be Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton - or Belinda Stronach or Julie Couillard, for that matter - to understand the political aspects of being female. Similar biases have affected women's recognition in the art world for decades. And the situation's still far from equal: Last year, only 20 per cent of major New York museum solo shows featured women artists. And here, north of the 49th, research shows that female artists still make about half as much money as their male counterparts.


BEAVERBROOKA Shattered LegacyBy Jacques Poitras, Goose Lane, 317 pages, $19.95As the legal battle over the disposition of Lord Beaverbrook's art collection continues between his descendants and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Poitras's award-winning book examines the history of the family and the dispute.

Toronto the black  Lock

MOREBy Austin ClarkeThomas Allen, 356 pages, $29.95When he took the Giller, Commonwealth and Trillium prizes with his 2002 novel, The Polished Hoe, Austin Clarke assumed a place in the Canadian and international literary stratosphere that many who had long enjoyed his earlier works felt he had earned decades earlier. It took 40 years for early predictions of his future literary stature to come true - perhaps because it took the reading public that long to understand, or to want to hear, the force of his social critiques. Canadian book buyers of the late 1960s and early '70s were not quick to reward Clarke's vivid evocations of the experience of Caribbean Canadians in a racist, WASP Toronto.


GOOD TO A FAULTBy Marina Endicott, Freehand, $25.95Fortysomething Clara Purdy takes in a homeless family after crashing her car into theirs on a Saskatoon street.SKIN ROOM

We like Mike  Lock

LESTER B. PEARSONBy Andrew CohenPenguin Canada,206 pages, $26During the 1965-66 television season, when our CBC-TV series This Hour Has Seven Days was at its peak, I went over to the Park Plaza Hotel on Bloor Street, in Toronto, to try to persuade the prime minister to come to the studio for one of our famous Hot Seat encounters, where we had established a tradition of really tough, two-interviewer, hard-edged challenges to establishment figures (and discovered to our surprise that a few of them seemed to relish the experience and indicated their willingness to do more).


TIME IS WHENBy Beth Gleick, illustrated by Marthe Jocelyn, Tundra, 32 pages, $17.99, ages 3 to 6 What is time? This is a question this charming book, first published in 1960, both asks and answers in most interesting ways. One of the answers appears on the first page: ''Time is from before to now; and from now to later.'' Or you might consider, as subsequent pages do, that: ''Time is seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. Time ticks by on clocks and watches. Time moves on through pages on calendars. Time is when.''

There is a Home in Gilead  Lock

HOME By Marilynne RobinsonHarperCollins, 325 pages, $29.95Marilynne Robinson's new novel, Home, is two fairly distinct works of fiction. It is a companion volume to her previous novel, Gilead, one that deepens that volume's meditation on fathers and sons. Or, read on its own, Home is a subtle look at what makes home home, the place where, as Robert Frost wrote, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. I think it is a richer work, if you've read Gilead, but I'd like to deal with the two faces of Robinson's novel separately.

No dull opiate, novel is perfectly addictive  Lock

SEA OF POPPIESBy Amitav GhoshViking Canada, 470 pages, $29Canada is one of the six Western countries that consume nearly 80 per cent of the world's morphine, and the illegal opium trade in Afghanistan has more than doubled since Canadian boots hit the ground. We already have a general interest in opium. Thanks to the varied strengths of Amitav Ghosh's new Man Booker-short-listed novel Sea of Poppies, we can pursue that interest while also reacquainting ourselves with the best lessons of postcolonial literature. Ghosh's sprawling, populous novel

Age does not wither her  Lock

THE PEOPLE ON PRIVILEGE HILLBy Jane GardamAbacus, 213 pages, $16 When last we encountered Sir Edward Feathers (Old Filth in Jane Gardam's wonderful novel of that name, reviewed in these pages Jan. 28, 2006), he, his life and his character were being misunderstood by junior members of London's Inner Temple. Tragical, comical and autumnal (if not quite pastoral), Old Filth delineated with rare exactness a particular kind of man in a particular kind of world - British colonial - in its last days. And it did so with compassion, humour and a deep understanding of both opportunity and regret.

On human (de)nature  Lock

The Social Contract (1762) is a masterpiece of one of the most fascinating of writers. The thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was world-breaking and world-making. His effect on his own age was seismic, and the tremors have never subsided. To proclaim him the intellectual founder of the modern left is actually to understate his accomplishments. There was no other thinker in whom so many modern impulses converged, only to emerge transformed, still more modern, more radical, more dangerous and enticing. For all his vast influence on the 19th century, much in his thought was so farsighted that it came to be appreciated only in the late 20th.

Love, loss and landscape  Lock

WHAT THEY WANTEDBy Donna MorrisseyViking Canada, 325 pages, $32Donna Morrissey writes with her heart on her sleeve. Her people are passionate, troubled, sensitive, emotionally exposed, quick to be moved to anger or pain, and just as quick to laughter and affection. As one of the characters in What They Wanted says, ''you thinks with your heart.''

Are we sure we're the good guys?  Lock

DARK DAYSThe Story of Four CanadiansTortured in the Nameof Fighting TerrorBy Kerry PitherViking Canada, 460 pages, $35

Dick Cheney: the devil you didn't know  Lock

ANGLER The Cheney Vice PresidencyBy Barton GellmanPenguin Press, 483 pages, $31Say what you will of Dick Cheney, 44th vice-president of the United States, but remember this: Who would purchase, let alone publish, a hefty volume subtitled The Gore Vice Presidency? How about The Dan Quayle Vice Presidency? or The Alben Barkley Vice Presidency?


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 111The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 2 23Doors Open, by Ian Rankin (Orion, $24.95). 3 -1The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski (Bond Street, $32.95). 4 -1The Private Patient, by P.D. James (Knopf Canada, $32). 5 33The Flying Troutmans, by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada, $32). 6 44Devil Bones, by Kathy Reichs (Scribner, $29.99). 7 52The Other Queen, by Philippa Gregory (HarperCollins, $29.95). 8 -1Passchendaele, by Paul Gross (HarperCollins Canada, $17.50). 9 720The Host, by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown, $28.99). 10 66The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson (Random House Canada, $32.95).

Once is enough  Lock

ONCEBy Rebecca RosenblumBiblioasis, 210 pages, $19.95No less a devoted book nurturer and legendary curmudgeon than John Metcalf has penned (he's known for penning, with bottled ink) the following blurb for Rebecca Rosenblum's fictional debut: ''Fiercely original, her stories force us into a new experiencing of life ... her work dazzles me.'' To still be dazzled, after half a lifetime dispensing tough love in the nursery of Canadian fiction, is the sort of consummation devoutly wished by every lit-crit toiler.

He writes what he doesn't know  Lock

Steven Galloway has achieved remarkable success by ignoring a piece of advice frequently offered to young writers

Symposium: Soccer scandals 

The glamour of a professional sport so dazzles the eyes of normally hardened journalists that they cannot accept that there may be corruption in their beloved sport and they castigate anyone who attempts to raise the issue

Alice in Wonderland 

None remotely compares — except

Charlie and Alice and George and Laura  Lock

AMERICAN WIFEBy Curtis Sittenfeld, Random House, 558 pages, $30 Political marriages tend to be sturdier than those born in Hollywood, but few are truly inspiring. Face it: You'd need a dune buggy to navigate the carpets chez Clinton, Spitzer, Edwards, Craig and Hart, given everything that's been shoved under them.


Michael Colman from Toronto writes:I haven't seen two of my favourites, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, and The Magnificent Ambersons, by Booth Tarkington.Posted Aug. 29, 2008 at 10:48 a.m. ET

Theroux's bazaar becomes more bizarre  Lock

GHOST TRAINTO THE EASTERN STAROn the Tracks of the Great Railway BazaarBy Paul TherouxMcClelland and Stewart, 496 pages, $34.99In his 1992 travel book The Happy Isles of Oceania, prolific U.S. writer Paul Theroux began by explaining his motive for taking that particular trip to the South Pacific. He had just split up with his wife Anne, leaving her and their two sons in London.


AT ISSUEIn his review of Declan Hill's The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime (Books, Sept. 13), John Doyle said he was not convinced by Hill's claim that World Cup matches had been fixed by Asian criminal gangs, and that Brazil's very easy win over Ghana was not because the fix was in, but was rather due to the relative skills of the teams. Hill counters that he has considerable evidence to back his claim


BENEATH MY FEETThe Memoirs of GeorgeMercer DawsonWith Phil Jenkins, Emblem,308 pages, $21Jenkins's fictionalized memoirs of the noted 19th-century Canadian explorer, photographer, painter and geologist add up to a rousing tale.

A spoonful of medicine  Lock

MEDICATION MADNESSA Psychiatrist Exposesthe Dangers of Mood-Altering MedicationsBy Peter BregginSt. Martin's, 384 pages, $29.95You might think losing a child, a brother or a parent to suicide is the worst tragedy in the world.


DEVIL BONESBy Kathy Reichs, Scribner, 320 pages, $29.99 Kathy Reichs has a bestselling mystery series and a top-rated television show, Bones, to boot. She could fall back on old plots or easy storylines. But there's none of that in Devil Bones.

Stirring tales from climates hot ...  Lock

THE WHITE MARYBy Kira SalakHenry Holt, 351 pages, $28A searing tale of obsession, Kira Salak's first novel, The White Mary, reads as though Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights had been transposed to Joseph Conrad's Melanesia.

Newfoundland: misery and magnificence  Lock

BLACKSTRAP HAWCO Said to be About a Newfoundland FamilyBy Kenneth J. HarveyRandom House Canada, 829 pages, $34.95In Blackstrap Hawco, Kenneth Harvey is attempting an Everyman for his home province, and at the same time mythologizing the endurance of its people. This novel stretches from Newfoundland's very beginning across the intervening generations to throw itself forward in time, as if poking a root into the foreseeable future. As such, it's a complete portrait of Newfoundland, as it has been and will be.

If a black hole swallows this book, will it disappear?  Lock

THE BLACK HOLE WARMy Battle With Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum MechanicsBy Leonard SusskindLittle, Brown, 470 pages, $30.99I can't imagine that there are very many people in the world who would bet Stephen Hawking that his physics was wrong, even fewer who would win such a bet and perhaps only one who would forget making the winning bet in the first place. That would be University of Alberta professor Don Page.

The loneliness of the long-distance writer  Lock

WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNINGA MemoirBy Haruki Murakami Translated by Philip GabrielBond Street Books,180 pages, $27.95Given the opportunity, long-distance runners will talk endlessly about the most prosaic of topics. Asphalt. Chafing. Hamstrings. Gatorade. Give a runner 30 minutes and he will cure your insomnia forever. Of course, Haruki Murakami is no ordinary runner. The author has run a marathon a year for the past 26 years, as well as participating in a 62-mile ultramarathon and several triathlons, all the while developing a cult-like following for his novels and short stories. His fiction moves from hypnotic description of ordinary lives (an unemployed man making spaghetti and listening to classical music) to the supernatural (the same man discovering a portal to another universe at the bottom of a well).

Go read Alice, I think she'll know  Lock

In 1862, two clergymen took three little girls for a trip along the river Thames in a rowing-boat. The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was a mathematics lecturer at Christ Church College and Robinson Duckworth was a fellow of Trinity College, both in Oxford. Lorina, Alice and Edith were the daughters of Henry Liddell, dean of Christ Church. To stop the children becoming bored, Dodgson invented a complicated and fanciful tale about a bored little girl called Alice who had a series of adventures. The story was a hit, and Alice asked Dodgson to write it down. Two years later he did, and sent it to her; a year after that, a much-expanded version appeared in print under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.

Crash test  Lock

GOOD TO A FAULTBy Marina EndicottFreehand Books, 372 pages, $25.95''Thinking about herself and the state of her soul, Clara Purdy drove to the bank one hot Friday in July. The other car came from nowhere, speeding through on the yellow, going so fast it was almost safely past when Clara's car caught it. She was pushing on the brake, a ballet move, graceful - pulling back on the wheel with both arms as she rose, her foot standing on the brake - and then a terrible crash, a painful extended rending sound, when the metals met.''

On the hunt  Lock

THROUGH BLACK SPRUCEBy Joseph BoydenViking Canada, 359 pages, $34Hunting, trapping, negotiating pelt prices: check. Alcoholism, Ski-Doos, surviving the harshest winters: check. So far, so stereotypical for a novel about first nations people. But what about modelling careers, DJs, partying in Montreal and New York? Taking traditional Anishnabe experiences (Anishnabe and Indian are the terms most used in the novel) and putting his characters in unexpected situations is something of a trademark for Joseph Boyden. His first novel, Three Day Road, took familiar subject matter - the soldier returning home after the horrors of war - and made it fresh, writing it from the perspective of volunteers from Canada's aboriginal community. Boyden's new novel pulls off a similar trick for contemporary first nations life.


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 110The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 2 62Doors Open, by Ian Rankin (Orion, $24.95). 3 22The Flying Troutmans, by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada, $32). 4 33Devil Bones, by Kathy Reichs (Scribner, $29.99). 5 -1The Other Queen, by Philippa Gregory (HarperCollins, $29.95). 6 55The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson (Random House Canada, $32.95). 7 419The Host, by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown, $28.99). 8 76Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Sanction, by Eric Van Lustbader (Grand Central, $28.99). 9 811The Condition, by Jennifer Haigh (HarperCollins, $27.95). 10 1018Love The One You're With, by Emily Giffin (St. Martin's, $27.95).

Just whose home and native land?  Lock

THE RETREATBy David BergenMcClelland and Stewart, 320 pages, $32.99 One might mistake David Bergen's detailed, documentary representations of ordinary people for strict realism. But his latest novel, with its depiction of lives determined by social and sexual forces, its frank delineation of bodily functions and its near Darwinian preoccupation with that quintessential Canadian theme, survival, underscores his naturalistic bent.

... and cold  Lock

SKIN ROOMBy Sara TilleyPedlar Press, 387 pages, $22In the acknowledgments to this striking debut, Sara Tilley says her story is inspired by ''sense memories'' of her childhood in a remote Inuit village. The result is a quickly engaging, sometimes meandering, finally heartbreaking novel of sexual awakening, seen from the alternating vantage points of pubescent child and wounded adult.

A brouhaha in the bookery  Lock

A planned auction of 1,500 historical tomes is postponed in the face of public outrage

Amid the Great War, the pandemic that history forgot  Lock

By the time it was through, this assailant had killed between 50 million and 100 million people

A tribute to how families function  Lock

As soon as she finished the first draft of her new book, The Flying Troutmans, Miriam Toews drove solo from Winnipeg to Vancouver. She had to clear her head and see how her novel compared with the real thing

Twilight zone for teens  Lock

Y IN THE SHADOWSBy Karen RiversRaincoast, 292 pages, $11.95WHAT Z SEESBy Karen RiversRaincoast, 273 pages, $11.95FARBy Carol MatasKey Porter, 151 pages, $9.95


Peter Kells, from Bytown, writes: Don Quixote is to my mind the greatest novel of all time. Every aspect of the human condition is there, the good, the bad and the ugly, the noble ideals and the horrible realities. I could go on, but this tale of the Man of La Mancha is as inspiring and relevant today as the day it was penned.

All you need is love - and joy, and ...  Lock

THE WORLD IN SIX SONGSHow the Musical Brain Created Human NatureBy Daniel J. LevitinViking Canada, 354 pages, $32Daniel J. Levitin is, as my grandfather would have it, a very interesting fellow. Like many children of the sixties, he became a musician and then, fascinated by the process of recording, a studio engineer and producer. In this capacity he worked with many well-known artists, including Canada's own k. d. lang and the universe's Stevie Wonder.

The roar of the canon  Lock

The current issues of two literary journals, The New Quarterly and CNQ (Canadian Notes and Queries), offer 20 short stories by 20 writers left out of The Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories, edited by Jane Urquhart. Both magazines title their issues The Salon des Refuses, in reference to the salon in 1863 that excluded, among other artists, Manet, Fantin-Latour, Pissarro and Whistler. The magazine editors felt that the Penguin anthology presented a distorted view of Canadian achievement in the genre. The Penguin anthology is important because of the cachet attaching to the imprint; the very name Penguin suggests authority, confers significance. This anthology presents Canada to the world; by this anthology, our achievement will be judged. It is a sorry book.

A good ending runed  Lock

POSSESSION: Book 3, The Runestone SagaBy Chris HumphreysKnopf, 360 pages, $20.99Possession is the third and perhaps final book of The Runestone Saga, which began with The Fetch, followed by Vendetta.

Good mourning  Lock

THE PERFECT CUTBy Julie BurtinshawRaincoast, 308 pages, $11.95''You can't sit shivah forever,'' the narrator of Andrew Holleran's novel Grief is told by friend, exasperated by how long he has been grieving the death of his mother. ''Yes, you can,'' he replies.


MEMOIRS1939-1993By Brian Mulroney, Emblem,1,121 pages, $24.99Everything you wanted to know about Mulroney, from his childhood in Baie-Comeau through his eventful term (1984-1993) as prime minister.

Move over, Apollo  Lock

STARCLIMBERBy Kenneth OppelHarperCollins, 356 pages, $21.99It will be 40 years ago this December that the U.S. Apollo 8 mission left the safety of near-Earth orbit and ventured deeper into space than human beings had gone before, paving the way for the moon landing that would eventually follow. In his new novel, Starclimber, Kenneth Oppel envisions a parallel history in which Canadians did it first - beating Apollo by 60 years or so - and did it very differently.

Behold his wonderful creation: himself  Lock

THE WORLD IS WHAT IT ISThe Authorized Biography of V. S. NaipaulBy Patrick FrenchViking Canada, 480 pages, $36In 1993, Patricia Naipaul went to retrieve her husband's partial archive in the London warehouse where it was being kept. The material included all his earliest manuscripts, along with correspondence from the 1950s and '60s. The numbered box files, marked NAIPAUL, were missing. After investigation, it was learned that a purge of boxes marked NITRATE, after a South American company, had mistakenly included those of somewhat similar title.


THE FLYING TROUTMANSBy Miriam Toews, Knopf Canada, $32The teenage Troutman children and their mad mother's sister go on a road trip, seeking the father who deserted them so many years before.

Clued in  Lock

THE 39 CLUES: Book One: The Maze of BonesBy Rick RiordanScholastic, 220 pages, $13.99Talk about high concept! This is the initial entry in what the publisher refers to as a ''multi-platform'' series that will eventually include 10 books. The 39 Clues series offers the traditional (a book), the surprising (sets of cards) and the contemporary (an online game component).

The roads Lessing travelled  Lock

ALFRED and EMILYBy Doris LessingHarperCollins, 274 pages, $27.95This curious hybrid of memoir and fiction doesn't have the brutality of its author's representation of her mother in Under My Skin (1994), an autobiography that spanned the first 30 years of Doris Lessing's life, from 1919 to 1949, when she left her girlhood home of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) for England. There is brutality in Alfred and Emily, but it derives from the rage Lessing feels about the traumatic effects of the First World War on her parents and herself, as the unrelieved hardships of their lives in Rhodesia and the disappointments in their inner lives affect Lessing's own reality.

Fall books your kids will fall for  Lock

ONE BOYBy Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Roaring Brook, 44 pages, $14.95, ages 2 to 6This clever and visually arresting counting book begins as the title might suggest, with one boy, whose face appears in a cut-out window on the book's crimson cover, the title of which is spelled out in graphic black.

Sherman and the defiled girls  Lock

GETTING THE GIRL: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and CookeryBy Susan JubyHarperCollins Canada,339 pages, $14.99Susan Juby is best known for her popular Alice MacLeod series, three young adult novels featuring a quirky, funny alternagirl teenager raised by a hippie mom and a slacker dad in the town of Smithers, British Columbia.

Electrifying  Lock

JOLTED: Newton Starker's Rules for SurvivalBy Arthur SladeHarperTrophy Canada,203 pages, $14.99I sat up late one recent night watching a summer storm in the distance light up the forest as if silent bombs were falling, a war on the periphery. For Newton Starker, the protagonist of Jolted, that ''war'' is a lot closer, the danger all too real. He's something of a lightning rod, one zap away from joining a long line of Starkers who haven't managed to weather the storm, so to speak. Indeed, Newton and his Great-Grandmother Enid are the very last of the breed; everyone else is toast.

Would you read this book? You certainly should  Lock

WOULD YOUBy Martha JocelynTundra, 176 pages, $19.99''A Question: Would you rather know what's going to happen? Or not know?''This question, or rather, these questions, constitute the opening salvo of a novel that is full of questions, some simply rhetorical and often outrageous; other questions, much further along in the unfolding narrative of this book, go deeply and darkly into what it means to be alive.


THE BHAGAVAD GITATranslated by George Thompson, North Point, 106 pages, $12The Bhagavad Gita is just a small segment of the Mahabharata, but in its own right it is one of central texts of Indian culture and philosophy. The work has been deeply influential in the West for 300 years (especially among U.S transcendentalists and continuing today in the practice of yoga), and is taught in every major university. Thompson, who has taught The Bhagavad Gita for more than 20 years, set out to produce a prose text that is both accessible and true to the original Sanskrit.

Portrait of the detective as a young man  Lock

DEATH IN THE AIRBy Shane PeacockTundra, 254 pages, $21.99I am sitting in perhaps the most perfect place to be writing about Death in the Air, Shane Peacock's second novel about the young Sherlock Holmes. I am on the fifth floor of the Toronto Reference Library, in the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, surrounded by thousands of books related to Doyle and his literary creations, particularly Sherlock Holmes. And downstairs, on the first floor, the TD Gallery is holding an exhibition of circus images, The Circus Comes to Town. The images include wonderful posters of circus life, with acrobats, equestrians, clowns, wild animals and aerialists. You can almost hear the band playing and George Leybourne singing his song, ''He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease; that daring young man on the flying trapeze.''

The Bluff Dweller  Lock

FARTHER ALONGBy Donald Harington Toby Press, 225 pages, $24.95It has been said that there can be no beauty without some strangeness in the proportion. This book is strange, odd as this writer is odd. That is no insult; Faulkner was odd, too, and so was Kafka and, in fact, let us admit that there are aspects of all writers that do not add up to anything ordinary.

One for the ages  Lock

BOOKWEIRDBy Paul GlennonDoubleday Canada,250 pages, $14.95Eleven-year-old Norman Jespers-Vilnius is getting involved in a book from the Undergrowth series called The Brothers of Lochwarren, about a magical land where animals talk. The compulsive youngster is so taken with it, in fact, that he absentmindedly starts picking at a page as he reads, rolling up the tiny scraps and putting them into his mouth. Little does he know this has released a mysterious force called Bookweird, which has the power to alter events within novels and to involve people in literature in ways they could not have imagined.

Greeneland in South Africa  Lock

THE IMPOSTORBy Damon Galgut McClelland and Stewart, 250 pages, $29.99Contemporary South Africa is inspiring terrain for writers who seek moral complexity. Damon Galgut's South African landscape is perpetually tense, pervasively menacing; it's a place where people are forever looking over their shoulders, and wondering what they have become involved with without intending to. It's a landscape that Graham Greene, with his preoccupation with guilt and the complicity of the well-intentioned, would have recognized. Here, people's pasts are often hidden, for they are crucial to who they are: Was the friendly gardener next door once a torturer with the secret police? And if he was, should we assume he is a different man now that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has taken place?

Seems the fix isn't in  Lock

THE FIX: Soccer and Organized CrimeBy Declan HillMcClelland and Stewart,390 pages, $34.99One warm night in June, 2004, I was in a hotel room in Lisbon, tapping away at my laptop, carrying on an e-mail exchange with an executive at this newspaper. The quarter-final game of Euro 2004, between England and Portugal, was taking place the next day. I wrote this: ''England will probably score early and try to hold that 1-0 lead by keeping possession. Portugal will equalize late, the game will go to overtime and then penalties. England will lose on penalties.''

India's epic  Lock

To begin with, The Mahabharata is certainly one of the world's biggest books, a text of about 75,000 verses or three million words, some 15 times the combined length of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, or seven times the Iliad and the Odyssey combined, and a hundred times more interesting. It is an epic poem composed in ancient India, some time between 300 BC and 300 AD (it takes a long time to produce three million words), in Sanskrit, the language of the sacred texts of Hinduism as well as of the secular literature of the court, related to Latin and ancient Greek and functioning, rather like medieval Latin, as a kind of lingua franca among the many vernacular languages of India.

Monsters in the frozen night  Lock

BONECHILLERBy Graham McNameeWendy Lamb Books, 295 pages, $18.99What defines a young adult novel? Is it a book that serves up conventional wisdom on ''issues'' and delivers clear, advisory ''messages''? Is it a risk-averse use of language? Is it the delivery of reassurance and predictable redemption at the end? Can't be. If these were the criteria, then at least half of the lauded literary novels published today would be suitable for classification as YA.



Negative ads strip away the lipstick and rouge 

Attack campaigns are good for democracy, experts say. The uglier things get, the clearer the picture we get of the candidates

Birds, bees and oral sex 

New sex-ed guides warn parents about modern kids' behaviour. Is this useful info or just fearmongering?

Skogland strikes deal  Lock

Canadian director's Fifty Dead Men Walking will have its world premiere Wednesday evening at a red-carpet gala

Skogland strikes deal with subject of IRA biopic 

Canadian director's Fifty Dead Men Walking will have its world premiere Wednesday evening at a red-carpet gala

A lesbian outlaw in existential crisis 

Memories of ineptitude help the author of teen novels relate to high-school kids today

The Theban Trilogy 

Together, Sophocles three plays form one of the milestones in the emerging of humanity.

Fiction ... and why it matters  Lock

HOW FICTION WORKSBy James WoodFarrar, Straus and Giroux,265 pages, $26.50Fiction can seem mysterious. The less of it we read, the more suspicious we may collectively become of it, perhaps because the world surrounds us with so many superficial simulacra without offering us regular opportunities for deep imagining through complex arrangements of words. Reading fiction is a weirdly intimate act: We take words into our heads and out of them create multidimensional people, set them in motion in time and space, empathize through them, animate a world. Current research shows that such imaginings can have the same neural effect on us as actually doing things. And then there's our response to the web of words themselves, to their precise and, with luck, zingy ordering.

Out of trauma, an impossible blue  Lock

RAGGED COMPANYBy Richard WagameseDoubleday Canada, 376 pages, $29.95ONE NATIVE LIFEBy Richard WagameseDouglas and McIntyre,257 pages, $29.95Award-winning Ojibwa writer Richard Wagamese, a self-described survivor of ''post-traumatic stress disorder'' (PTSD), courageously navigates the psychological contours of this hostile terrain via the publication of two distinct works. In a novel, Ragged Company, he acknowledges the unheralded support workers from all the ''drop-in centres, missions, shelters, and hostels,'' who, as he puts it, ''showed me the way up when all he could see was down.'' In a memoir, One Native Life, he explains that the ''stories'' therein are therapeutically ''positive'' and ''embrace healing.'' What is remarkable here is the sense of sheer spiritual luminosity Wagamese achieves in the very midst of gruesome tragedy - the capture, that is, of the eternal sky, or what he so beautifully calls an ''impossible blue.''


Peter Tarrant, from St. John's, writes: I nominate The Gulag Archipelago, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Millions of blameless Soviet citizens suffered humiliation, torture and death in the camps of Stalin's Arctic slave empire. We are fortunate that one of the Gulag's most articulate survivors has given us an immense (but immensely readable) account of its ''metastasis,'' to use the author's vivid motif. The book at once unsparingly details the barbaric cruelties visited on internees and provides an ironic commentary on the distance between appearance and reality - on how the seemingly noble Marxist ideal can lead to an appalling human disaster in the hands of the callous and cynical.

We're very, very grateful for this book  Lock

THE GIFT OF THANKSThe Roots, Persistence and Paradoxical Meanings of a Social RitualBy Margaret VisserHarperCollins, 458 pages, $34.95Ask almost any sociolinguist, sociobiologist, cognitive psychologist, evolutionary biologist, socioeconomist or the like, and you'll be told all about gratitude. It is a strategy, they will tell you, for assuring better survival of a species or an individual. It is always about self-interest and self-aggrandizement, they will assure you. In short, it is, they will conclude, an illusion.

In the driver's seat  Lock

THE FLYING TROUTMANSBy Miriam ToewsKnopf Canada, 274 pages, $32Miriam Toews won the 2004 Governor-General's Award for fiction for her third novel, A Complicated Kindness. While that book was fresh and charming, I found it also a bit glib: snappy one-liners that helped balance the stultifying aspects of Mennonite life. With The Flying Troutmans, Toews opens her world, producing a book of risk and range without losing any of the wit and warmth that made a bestseller of the earlier book.

Out of the abyss of debt  Lock

THE SUBPRIME SOLUTIONHow Today's Global Financial Crisis Happened, and WhatTo Do About ItBy Robert J. ShillerPrinceton University Press,196 pages, $20The U.S. credit crisis has turned into an abyss into which the personal wealth of millions of homeowners, the capital of major banks and the values of thousands of public and private businesses around the globe are tumbling. The pit is the mirror image of the pyramid of debt that the U.S. housing and investment banking system built up in the decade preceding the bust that began in August, 2007.


Sky Gilbert objects to the portrayal of gay men in Mark A. Wainberg's July 26 Three for Thought about HIV/AIDS, saying that it's a typical story from the white, heterosexual AIDS research establishment. Wainberg replies that the facts speak for themselves.


KASZTNER'S TRAINThe True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the HolocaustBy Anna Porter, Douglas and McIntyre, 491 pages, $24.95Rezso Kasztner rescued thousands of Jews from Nazis and Hungarian fascists, though it cost him his reputation and, ultimately, his life.


COCKROACHBy Rawi Hage, Anansi, $29.95Hage's second novel uses humour to focus on the indignities of the immigrant experience in Montreal.THE SLOW FOOD STORYPolitics and Pleasure


CHASING DARKNESSBy Robert Crais, Simon and Schuster, 273 pages, $29.99Robert Crais's wonderful series featuring PI Elvis Cole and his pal Joe Pike is one of the most consistent in recent crime fiction. The California setting is superb, the characters are engaging and the plots are skillfully constructed, but the story always runs on the characters, and, rare these days, there's not a line of padded dialogue or frilly description.

All in the James family  Lock

HOUSE OF WITSAn Intimate Portraitof the James FamilyBy Paul FisherHenry Holt, 693 pages, $38.50An only child, I'd always wanted a brother or a sister - until I grew old enough to understand that it meant more than simply having a personal playground bodyguard or someone always to play Battleship or Kerplunk with on rainy Saturday afternoons. Siblings, I discovered, were a lot like parents: admired and ignored, respected and resented, defended and deserted, loved and loathed. And that was the case even if one's family didn't happen to include, among others, a near-hermetically closeted, hyper-refined novelist; a chronically depressed, pioneering psychologist; a life-long neurasthenic; an alcoholic ex-war hero; and parents no less unequal parts exceptional and exasperating. A family like the Jameses, in other words, arguably America's first family of the intellect.

The sex tour of London  Lock

SOMETHING TO TELL YOUBy Hanif KureishiScribner, 352 pages, $28.99Nine years ago this past spring, Hanif Kureishi's Intimacy, a brilliant novel that was either a penetrating study of guilt and longing or a narcissistic hymn to the seductive whims of the heart - depending on one's point of view - was published in Britain, igniting a firestorm in both Kureishi's family and the British press, with one of its many critics denouncing it as ''this short, odious book.''

Yes, Virginia, there is a Canadian cinema  Lock

PRACTICAL DREAMERSConversations with Movie ArtistsBy Mike HoolboomCoach House, 319 pages, $29.95THE YOUNG, THE RESTLESS, AND THE DEADInterviews with Canadian FilmmakersEdited by George Melnyk

When Thebans fall out  Lock

Almost 2,500 years ago, when there were few books to read and a fast-expanding population of the curious, an Athenian playwright dramatized three big questions in three great tragedies. Where do I come from? How do I prepare for my death? What should I obey?

Burnt offering  Lock

COVENTRYBy Helen HumphreysHarperCollins, 175 pages, $24.95On the evening of Nov. 14, 1940, the German Luftwaffe launched a devastating air attack on the English city of Coventry. Wave after wave of bombs flattened the factories so crucial to the country's war effort, and obliterated the entwining residential streets. Coventry Cathedral, the largest parish church in England - and a proud national symbol of faith and prosperity - burned to the ground. Low estimates put the death toll at 568. For her latest book, award-winning novelist Helen Humphreys aims her clear, telescopic eye on this bleak and endless night, with a plot that flips back, on occasion, to the previous world war.


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 18The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 2 -1Devil Bones, by Kathy Reichs (Scribner, $29.99). 3 23The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson (Random House Canada, $32.95). 4 317The Host, by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown, $28.99). 5 -1The Gypsy Morph, by Terry Brooks (Del Rey, $32). 6 44Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Sanction, by Eric Van Lustbader (Grand Central, $28.99). 7 59The Condition, by Jennifer Haigh (HarperCollins, $19.95). 8 616Love The One You're With, by Emily Giffin (St. Martin's, $27.95). 9 810The Last Oracle, by James Rollins (William Morrow, $21). 10 -18The Gathering, by Anne Enright (Black Cat, $16.95).

Reviewer in the dark  Lock

MAN IN THE DARKBy Paul AusterHenry Holt, 180 pages, $26''The dark night of the soul'' has been a staple in narrative self-examination almost since its categorization and definition by the Spanish Carmelite monk St. John of the Cross in the 16th century.

Vampire sequel squelched by online posting of manuscript 

Highly anticipated next instalment of Stephenie Meyer's bestselling series has been put on hold

The reading habit forms in childhood  Lock

They need to read not merely because it will help them in life but because it helps them to become who they are, or might be.

It's a guppy-eat-shark world  Lock

In the treacherous waters of today's workplace, little fish need to get nibbly, author says

Galileo's Dialogue 

The Earth is not the centre of the universe?


Barbara Thal-Hodes, from Toronto, writes:I recommend Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie. It left me breathless with its use of magic realism, its insight into the beginnings of modern India and Pakistan, and its story of the way the circumstances of birth determine the fate of every human being. Besides, it is ''the Booker of Bookers,'' which recommends it more highly than I ever could.

Slow down, you're eating too fast  Lock

THE SLOW FOOD STORYPolitics and PleasureBy Geoff AndrewsMcGill-Queen's University Press,190 pages, unpricedNever before has grocery shopping been so politicized, as a growing number of people (mostly middle-class and educated) shell out dollar after dollar to buy sustainably grown heirloom tomatoes and fair trade espressos. These are the critical consumers, a new class of people who - however jaded by conventional politics - vote with their shopping carts. Whether they realize it or not, their choices have been influenced in part by the global Slow Food movement and its charismatic Italian leader, Carlo Petrini.


By quoting Dr. Johnson at the beginning and end of his review of my A Report on the Afterlife of Culture, Nigel Beale strikes the pose of a crusty fellow who's not going to put up with any nonsense - particularly, as his disparaging references to Susan Sontag and Naomi Klein make clear, leftist nonsense.

Howls from the underdogs  Lock

COCKROACHBy Rawi HageAnansi, 312 pages, $29.95When he accepted the $160,000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his first novel, De Niro's Game, this past June, Rawi Hage said, by way of concluding his speech: ''The history of mankind is full of wars, divisions, the flow of blood, the flight of refugees and misery. I long for the day when an African child will be able to roam the world as if it is rightly his; I long for the day when Palestinian, Guatemalan, Iraqi and Afghan children will have homes to keep and build upon. I long for the day when we humans realize that we are all gatherers and wanderers, ever bound to cross each other's paths, and that these paths belong to us all.''


THE GEOGRAPHY OF HOPEA Tour of the World We NeedBy Chris Turner, Vintage Canada, 469 pages, $22Calgary journalist and author Turner examines those things that we're doing right about global warming. A refreshing change from the usual disaster manuals.


WHO MADE THIS CAKE?By Chihiro Nakagawa, illustrated by Junji Koyose, Front Street, 32 pages, $18.50, ages 4 to 6Heavy machinery, that's what made this cake. Meticulously drawn and coloured Caterpillar-yellow fork lifts, front-end loaders, cherry-pickers and other beasts of the machine world too arcane to name, are deployed to deliver, mix and bake one small boy's birthday cake.

Sprawling, innovative, exhilarating  Lock

THE MAN GAMEBy Lee HendersonViking Canada, 513 pages, $32It begins with a handshake, a moment of solemnity and ritual before all hell breaks loose: A bizarre, cartoonish competition that combines ballroom dancing, ultimate fighting, wire-work kung fu and bare-knuckle boxing in a gracefully brutal show of, essentially, two men beating the hell out of each other.

And the world goes 'round  Lock

Galileo's Dialogue dared to discuss a forbidden topic, but that's not the only reason the book became an instant success - the 17th century's equivalent of a ''bestseller'' - when it came off the press in Florence in 1632. The Dialogue was wonderfully well written, and its author widely known for his history-making discoveries and flamboyant style of debate. By the time church authorities took offence at the Dialogue and moved to suppress its sales, a few months after its publication, the first edition had already sold out.

A bit too gentle into that good night  Lock

EXIT LINESBy Joan BarfootKnopf, 320 pages, $29.96The old have a right to be querulous. The population segment growing faster than any other, they are nevertheless sidelined and shunned, their future a nebulous but limited horizon. This latest novel from veteran Canadian author Joan Barfoot, keenly aware of the potential narrative friction of human infirmity, employs old age as its pivot.


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 16The Shack, by William P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 2 -1Smoke Screen, by Sandra Brown (Simon and Schuster, $29.99). 3 415The Host, by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown, $28.99). 4 -1The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson (Random House Canada, $32.95). 5 32Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Sanction, by Eric Van Lustbader (Grand Central, $28.99). 6 57The Condition, by Jennifer Haigh (HarperCollins, $19.95). 7 714Love The One You're With, by Emily Giffin (St. Martin's, $27.95). 8 68The Last Oracle, by James Rollins (William Morrow, $21). 9 810This Charming Man, by Marian Keyes (Penguin, $24). 10 -4Brida, by Paulo Coelho (HarperCollins, $26.95).

In search of Simon Fraser  Lock

SIMON FRASERIn Search of Modern British ColumbiaBy Stephen HumeHarbour, 336 pages, $36.95BRITISH COLUMBIASpirit of the PeopleBy Jean BarmanHarbour, 191 pages, $49.95

The Big Easy it ain't  Lock

BABYLON ROLLINGBy Amanda BoydenKnopf Canada,320 pages, $29.95This novel is a giant catfish. Bear with me: Being a giant catfish is better than you might think.

If we could talk for the animals  Lock

FOR THE LOVE OF ANIMALSThe Rise of the AnimalProtection MovementBy Kathryn ShevelowHenry Holt, 352 pages, $30.50Kathryn Shevelow composed For the Love of Animals with her cat Graham swiping at her computer cursor, living testimony to what animal protection has accomplished. Instead of dying of hunger and disease, Shevelow writes, a ''grey tabby kitten ... was saved to grow up into the beloved cat named Graham who sits on my lap, purring.''

America the ugly?  Lock

WHAT IS AMERICA?A Short History of the New World OrderBy Ronald Wright Knopf Canada, 368 pages, $29.95The question of the hour is raised by Ronald Wright, the essayist who wrote A Short History of Progress. It is simple, even if the answer isn't: ''What is America?''

'I simply can't live a cautious life' 

Murder, assault, hurricane Katrina: Danger seemingly follows novelist Amanda Boyden wherever she wanders


FictionTHIS WEEK/LAST WEEK/WEEKS ON LIST/TITLE/AUTHOR/PUBLISHER/PRICE 1 16The Shack, by Will iam P. Young (Windblown Media, $15.99). 2 -1Smoke Screen, by Sandra Brown (Simon and Schuster, $29.99). 3 415The Host, by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown, $28.99). 4 -1The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson (Random House Canada, $32.95). 5 32Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Sanction, by Eric Van Lustbader (Grand Central, $28.99). 6 57The Condition, by Jenni fer Haigh (HarperCollins, $19.95). 7 714Love The One You're With, by Emily Giffin (St. Martin's, $27.95). 8 68Th e Last Oracle, by James Rollins (William Morrow, $21). 9 810This Charming Man, by Marian Keyes (Penguin, $24). 10 -4Brida, by Paulo Coelho (HarperCollins, $26.95).

The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats 

Collected poems are one with works of Beethoven and Michelangelo

The Gargoyle  Lock

'I rolled my eyes more times than I care to remember while reading it. It was, at the same time, impossible to put down.'


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