Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Recommends: Cat Power

Cat Power's latest album, Sun, is another remarkable piece of music. There are several standouts on the album, such as "Cherokee", "Ruin", and "Manhattan", but my favourite of the moment is the album's penultimate song "Nothing But Time". It is over 10 minutes long and features Iggy Pop on guest vocals. It is an awesome song and very life-affirming. I couldn't find a video or performance of the song, so I've attached a live performance of "Cherokee" from Conan O'Brien. Enjoy!

Read more about Cat Power at

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Arcadia by Lauren Groff

This is an excellent book. Lauren Groff creates an intriguing world in a commune called Arcadia and explores humanity's place in the world. We follow Bit as he experiences Arcadia as a child, teenager and then again as an adult with his own child. It is a microcosm of global society, first pinpointing the destructive nature of humanity before acting as a refuge in a time of global strife. Groff's writing is poetic and poignant, mourning loss and yet celebrating life.

The novel is divided into 4 parts: Bit as a young child, as a teenager, as an young father and then as an older adult. The first two parts examine Arcadia through Bit's eyes, and as Arcadia changes with time - overpopulation, internal strife, changing global politics - we see the change in Bit as he matures from the bright-eyed innocence of childhood. As the Slate Audio Book Club noticed, Groff is never judgmental about her subjects; she presents the events as they unfold and allows the reader to pass judgment on the causes and effects.

The last half of the book examines Bit outside of Arcadia. He is a single father living in Queens, lamenting the absence of his wife, who leaves one day without explanation. His sadness is palpable, and Groff's technique in this section is to slow everything down: Bit's day to day life is banal and cliche, but the way he experiences the loss is reveals the impact that the loss of Arcadia had on him - even after 15 years. The final section of the novel marks a return to Arcadia, and Bit's return to a way of living that he has been without since he left as a teenager. The details of the return are compelling and intriguing, and I admire Groff for channeling Margaret Atwood and Marilyn Robinson simultaneously.

To listen to the full Slate Audio Book Club podcast, which I highly recommend, go to this link: Slate Audio Book Club

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Review: February by Lisa Moore

February by Lisa Moore is the Book Club pick for February. Released in 2009, it recently won the 2013 Canada Reads competition on CBC, championed by comedian Trent McClellan, who argued that it is a book for all Canadians, despite its very specific subject matter of a widow dealing with the loss of her husband, who died when the Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland in 1982.

After reading the novel, I find myself in agreement with McClellan. Helen's grief and experience following the 1982 tragedy is indeed a story that all Canadians should read. As she wrestles with her own understanding of the events of February 14, 1982, and the 26 years in between then and now, Helen presents a version of Canada and Canadians that will resonate with every reader. She recalls her marriage, how she met her husband, when her children were born, how her children handled the loss of their father and, heartbreakingly, how the Ocean Ranger came to sink and what Cal, her husband, might have been doing at that exact moment. Moore writes these passages carefully and poignantly and it is impossible to read without feeling a small piece of the heartbreak that Helen feels.

Moore's writing is as beautiful and brilliant as ever. She tells the story well, revealing pieces at a time, mimicking the way that Helen resolves her own understanding of the accident that killed her husband.

A great read, and in the future, I will read everything that Moore writes without hesitation.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Recommendation: Beck Plays Bowie

This week, listen to Beck cover David Bowie's awesome "Sound and Vision". As an added bonus, I've also added Bowie performing the song live in Tokyo in 1990. Awesome. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The 2013 Giller Prize is going to be weird

The 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury was announced today, and it's going to be an awesome year. Margaret Atwood, Esi Edugyan and Jonathan Lethem - three heavyweights in millennium literature and DNTABC favourites. Read more at CBC and the Giller website.

Monday, February 11, 2013

February's Pick: February

Even though it's well into the month, I am still going ahead with my February Book Club pick: February by Lisa Moore. I didn't pick it just for the title, however: it is also the Atlantic representative for this year's Canada Reads debate, which starts today. For a primer, check out Book Riot's brief synopsis of the book and Lisa Moore.

I don't think I will finish February before the end of the Canada Reads debate, but I will certainly tune in. Check out the Canada Reads page at for broadcast details. There are myriad ways to catch the action, so there's really no reason not to listen.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

In Honour of the Super Bowl Champs

The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl on Sunday night, and I thought it would be timely to link to a short piece called "Inspired by the Ravens: Literary NFL Teams?"

I would also add to the list the Texas Lonesome Doves and the Minnesota Cerulean Warblers.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Recommendation Friday: The Strokes

What's old is new again with The Strokes - a new song a dozen or so years since their debut Is This It?. Their new track is called "One Way Trigger." It's got the classic Strokes sound with a little bit of dance thrown in. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 Tournament of Books

Yesterday, I alluded to the 2013 Tournament of Books - however, I realized that I have not actually linked to the site yet. The list has been announced, as have the reviewers, as well as an interesting Tournament-ish thing to do - a "play-in" round featuring three contemporary books about the Vietnam War.

The event is an exciting time for readers: which tastes will be rewarded and which will be ridiculed? The Morning News does a great job of picking books that represent myriad readers and reviewers. This year is no different, though there were some notable omissions, such as 2013 novels from Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith and Junot Diaz. Though, if the goal of the Tournament is to bring a higher profile to lesser-known great authors, they've succeeded. Yet Hilary Mantel remains.

My goal of reading the contestants is not even a pipe dream it's so far off. Of the 16 finalists, however, I've read 3 - a fewer than last year, but considering the obscurity of some of the titles, you can't blame me.

The Tournament starts in March.