Shelf Life: April 2012

April seemed to be a month for poetry and reading books for Broken Pencil reviews.

36. Attack of the Copula Spiders, by Douglas Glover
(Biblioasis, 2012)

The subtitle proclaims this a collection of essays about writing, and while the first two may be construed as such, the remaining essays are primarily concerned with reading.

It’s a great book. Look for my review in the next issue of Broken Pencil.

37. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, by Haruki Murakami
(Vintage, 1994, 1998)

The first book I read by Murakami was  Norwegian Wood in January. I was told it was unlike his other books, as this is only the second I’ve read by him, and I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

I’ve still got 1Q84 on my shelf to read, so we’ll see how that goes.

38. Echo Gods and Silent Mountains, by Patrick Woodcock
(ECW Press, 2012)

This is Toronto poet and former editor of The Literary Review of Canada Patrick Woodcock’s eighth poetry collection. Woodcock spent two years in Iraq, and these poems emerged in the form of a “poetic journal”, lyric reflections on the land, culture, and history of the people he met.

Another great book where my review should be forthcoming in the next issue of Broken Pencil.

39. Attemptations, by Kim Clark
(Caitlin Press, 2011)

A collection of “short, long and longer” stories and another review forthcoming in Broken Pencil. I’ve been busy this month.

40. Ripley Under Water, by Patricia Highsmith
(W. W. Norton & Company, 1992, 2008)

The fifth and final novel staring everyone’s favourite psychopath (or, at least, mine). Not his best showing, but a decent enough book nonetheless despite dangling plot threads.

41. Virginia Wolf, by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault
(Kids Can Press , 2o12)

Kerry Clare reviewed this on her blog Pickle Me This. A  gorgeously illustrated kids book featuring one of my favourite authors as its title character? How could I resist?

Virginia is a little girl who turns into a wolf when she succumbs to depression (“a wooflish mood”). Her sister, Vanessa, tries to understand and bring her out of her depression with her beautiful drawings. ((Spoiler alert: no one walks into a river with their pockets full of rocks.))

For a lovely trailer for the book, see “Virginia Wolf: a picture book by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault

42. The Best Canadian Essays 2009, edited by Alex Boyd
(Tightrope Books, 2009)

A collection of the best Canadian essays published in 2009, and features some great writing from wonderful essayists, many of whom I’d not encountered previously. I’m looking forward to reading the 2010 collection next.

43. The Captain Poetry Poems, by bp Nichol
(Bookthug, 1970, 2010)

Originally published in 1970 by bill bissett’s seminal blewointment press, this collects and “restores” poems and artwork not in the original edition.

44. Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke
(Norton, 1929, 1993)

Letters between Rainer Maria Rilke, and a young student intent on pursuing poetry, despite Rilke’s numerous protestations that it’s no something to be undertaken lightly.

45. Running in Prospect Cemetery, by Susan Glickman
(Vehicule Press, 2004)

I couldn’t resist. Prospect Cemetery is where I do my running. Crossing two roads, it’s almost exactly 5k. It’s hilly, but quiet and beautiful in the summer. Perfect for someone interested in a route that’s both challenging and casual. Kind of like Glickman’s poetry, from what I’ve sampled here.

This collection brings together pieces from several of her previously published books, as well as a number of new poems. She writes my life. I’m looking forward to reading more from her.

46. Municipal Mind, by Pier Giorgio Di Cicco
(Mansfield Press , 2007)

In 2004 Pier Giorgio Di Cicco was named as Toronto’s second poet laureate. The mini-essays collected here serve as brief manifestos on how to maintain a creative and livable city. It’s a book our current mayor should read and take to heart.

47. Forge, by Jan Zwicky
(Gaspereau Press , 2011)

Shortlisted for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize , and published by Gaspereau Press, who makes such beautiful books, this was another book I couldn’t resist picking up. Forge is lovely.

48. Girls Fall Down, by Maggie Helwig
(Coach House Books , 2004)

Selected by the Toronto Public Library as this year’s One Book, Girls Fall Down also had the great honour of being selected for our book club. Ahem.

We all enjoyed it, though I think I adored it more than most, for its lovely depictions of Toronto, even in its ugliness, and for the lyric writing.

49. You Exist. Details Follow., by Stuart Ross
(Anvil Press, 2012)

This is the first collection I’ve read from Stuart Ross. (Why do I always feel like I’m so far behind? Oh yeah. Because I am.) This collection of surrealist poems is wonderful.

Lives Like Loaded Guns, by Lyndall Gordon (abandoned)
(Virago Press, 2009, 2011)

For the first time in a very long time I abandoned a book.

Ostensibly, this is intended as a biography of Emily Dickinson and her family. In practice, this is a bald recitation of every random fact uncovered by Gordon, down to the addresses of people Dickinson befriended for a few months. Frankly, I didn’t have the patience for it.

Brief impressions for a busy month.

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