Shelf Life: November 2011

Still playing catch-up.

116. Jacob’s Room, by Virginia Woolf

Wonderfully impressionistic, it tells the story of Jacob Flanders, from boyhood to his death in the war.

117. The Boy Who Followed Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

The fourth in the five book series. Not as strong as the previous three, but fun nonetheless.

118. I Can Say Interpellation!, by Stephen Cain

In this work of détournement, Stephen Cain riffs off ten popular children’s rhymes to produce radical and politically charged poems. The repurposed stories deal, often brutally, with racial politics, climate change, drug use, rampant capitalism and consumer culture, among other horrors of the modern world.

For a full review see Broken Pencil, issue 54.

119. Afflictions & Departures, by Madeline Sonik

Part memoir, part history, this collection of seventeen narrative essays charts the course of Sonik’s life from her conception on the Queen Mary to budding adulthood in North Devon, England.

For a full review see Broken Pencil, issue 54.

120. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Raskolnikov is a poor student turned murderer, the story chronicles his descent into madness. A lot of fun.

121. The Prague Cemetery, by Umberto Eco

Eco set out to create the most despicable character he could conceive, and in the racist, sexist Simone Simonini and his alter ego, Abbe Dalla Piccola, he succeeds most horrifically.

122. Friend of My Youth, by Alice Munro

A collection of ten short stories from Munro, each  exquisite, particularly the haunting “Meneseteung”, in its portrayal of a female poet’s life.

123. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

Erin Morganstern’s enchanting debut novel circles around a contest staged between two aging (or ageless?) magicians. Their respective champions, Celia and Marco, have been trained since childhood to compete in a game to which neither knows the rules, nor the ultimate objective.

For more, see my recommendation on the Advent Book Blog.

124. The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt

Nominated for just about every prize going, and winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Writers’ Trust Prize, I kind of hoped it it would be good, but wasn’t that thrilled at the premise. Cowboys? Really?

But it was excellent: engaging, funny, and a lot of fun to read.

125. Girlwood, by Jennifer Still

Girlwood is Still’s second poetry collection, following Saltations in 2005, and it’s a thrilling collection.

Full review forthcoming in another journal.

The Walking Dead, Volume 1: Days Gone By, by Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead, Volume 2: Miles Behind Us, by Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead, Volume 3: Safety Behind Bars, by Robert Kirkman

I started watching the show on Netflix, and thought I’d give the comics a go. The first one floored me in it’s rather different ending. It was kind of neat to see where the writers of AMC’s Walking Dead diverges from the comics, with characters and plot.

Che, by Spain Rodriguez

A biographical comic of the life of Ernesto Che Guevara. I admit, I don’t know much about Che’s life beyond his iconic image on hipster t-shrits and dorm room posters, so I can’t comment on the faithfulness to his actual biography. There seems to be some question about that, but I found it it an engaging read.


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