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writersinresidence (Connecticut)

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Street Angel
Street Angel
by Magie Dominic
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.99
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars EXCEPTIONAL, Dec 19 2014
This review is from: Street Angel (Paperback)
When I was four or five years old I swallowed a peach pit. My mother was terrified during the long seconds when I was choking, my throat stopped by this rough object. She turned me upside down and shook me; she jiggled me this way and that. And, somehow, I swallowed the pit. No ill effects. Life continued on. And I believed that the pit became a part of me (in some ways, I still believe it).

I had pretty much forgotten about this incident until I got near to the end of Street Angel. And then I couldn't stop thinking about that swallowed peach pit and its supposed presence inside me as I read about the interior life of a little girl that reminded me so very much of my own. Our worst memories are like that peach pit, buried deep inside us but everpresent, felt only in our recall and in the worn grooves of our personal histories.

It's impossible not to care for the lovable watchful child who marvels at the kindness of strangers (thoughts of Tennessee Williams) and accepts with sorrowing bewilderment the abuse of her mad mother and the teaching nuns at her school. This little girl is so present, so in tune with her physical surroundings (the wild and powerful beauty of her native Newfoundland, the sealed-off nightime interior of her home when her mother works madly to prevent any possibility of demons and danger finding their way inside) that her world is very visible to the reader, palpable.

This is a book written with extraordinary restraint and passion. It's always amazing when a wounded child manages to go out into the world with a capacity for loving and creativity. This is a piece of personal history that has at its core profound truth about the damage inflicted on children. What elevates this narrative is not only the author's considerable talent but also her discretion. There is no filler, no fluff, nothing unnecessary in this slim volume. It is entirely heartfelt and undeniably true.

Most highly recommended.

Little Kidnappers [Import]
Little Kidnappers [Import]
DVD ~ Duncan Macrae
2 used & new from CDN$ 49.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CHARMING AND COMPELLING, Dec 6 2013
I saw this film a number of times in my childhood and loved it. It was a favorite back then, primarily becausse of the two little boys who were so very different from the children I usually saw in movies. [The only child actor who made a similar impact on me back then was Brandon deWilde in Shane and Good-bye, My Lady.] I recently watched this film again and was delighted at how well it has stood the test of time. The children really are delightful and the film is an unfussy, straightforward narrative that holds one's attention. I wouldn't hesitate to show it to my grandchildren. Highly recommended.
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The Language of Flowers: A Novel
The Language of Flowers: A Novel
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.31
91 used & new from CDN$ 0.76

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD TRY, Sept. 24 2011
There is quite a lot to like in this book, which starts out with great energy and imagination but falters just over halfway through. The use of flowers as a means of communication works well to bring the reader into Victoria's tale. And while the heroine's background provides a solid basis for sympathy, unfortunately the story moves into a mystical/fantastic realm (in terms of the effects of Victoria's floral creations on her customers) that serves to reduce both the impact and the seriousness of the primary subject matter--which is, in no small regard, both the long-term often negative effect of the foster care system and the terrible loss of trust that is a major factor in the life of so many children lacking parents. Particularly well-done is the section dealing with Victoria's introduction to motherhood, especially the nursing section. Author Diffenbaugh really nails the frantic desperation bordering on madness of a new mother of tender years. For me this is the truest section of the book. Bits and pieces before and after have moments of authenticity but as a whole the narrative doesn't entirely ring true. Because the author sets herself such a stringent standard in creating her heroine as a foundling (with the many huge emotional issues that come along with that scenario), it's hard to buy so many secondary characters endowed with fairly superhuman powers of understanding and forgiveness who tolerate Victoria's behavior. I will be interested to see what the author does next. But sadly, for me, this book has too many fairy tale aspects to be taken as seriously as the subject matter dictates.

An Ordinary Decent Criminal
An Ordinary Decent Criminal
by Michael van Rooy
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.00
8 used & new from CDN$ 1.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DELIGHTFUL, Sept. 24 2011
I can't remember now how I happened to come across this book ... but it really doesn't matter. This was one of the best writing surprises in ages. After slogging through far too many over-rated books of one sort or another, it's a complete gift to encounter An Ordinary Decent Criminal (and I've already ordered the other two titles!) This is comic writing of the highest order; sending up every typical good bad-guy hero with wicked imagination and flair. Any piece of writing that can make me laugh out loud has a whole lot going for it--I'm a tough audience. On one level it brought to mind the very first of the Dexter books--when it was fresh and kind of delicious (the latter Dexter titles are neither of those things these days.) But on another level, it was very much a brand-new, devilishly clever and madly imaginative creation. Author Van Rooy has moved to the top of my authors-to-watch list right now. I'm waiting with great anticipation for the other books to arrive. Sadly, I discovered that this wonderful writer died this past January at the age of 42. MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Cat's Table
The Cat's Table
by Michael Ondaatje
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.79
63 used & new from CDN$ 0.38

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection!, Sept. 13 2011
This review is from: The Cat's Table (Hardcover)
I have always admired Michael Ondaatje's writing and this time out is no exception. The Cat's Table took me back to my Atlantic Crossing en route to England (from Canada) in 1960; the book revived scenes from my own voyage that sprang back to life for me as young Mynah (fearful and fearless) traveled over, around, above- and belowdecks on the Oronsays, en route to England. For me, any piece of writing that, because of its essential truth, becomes personal to the reader in the course of its narrative is writing of the highest order. Ondaatje's ability to craft a novel that weaves multiple strands from other lives into that of his central character is peerless. Everything feels inevitable, appropriately placed. Years after the fact, I still recall moments from The English Patient or Anil's Ghost. I applaud and envy the texture of the writing and the circularity of this narrative. I will now, for a long time to come, be recalling moments from The Cat's Table too. This is a book not to be missed.

Lucy's Lost Episodes [Import]
Lucy's Lost Episodes [Import]
4 used & new from CDN$ 2.48

5.0 out of 5 stars PRODUCT INFORMATION, June 2 2010
From the Back Cover
Here are laugh-filled moments with America's First Lady of Comedy that have been unseen for many years, in this compilation of rediscovered hilarity that'll make you fall in love with Lucy all over again. Included are rare video and film footage comprising unique television guest appearances, comedy sketches, promos, outtakes, and much more, which make up a part of TV history hidden for decades. The I Love Lucy cast appears on episodes of Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town and The Bob Hope Show, and in a special promotional film for the network affiliates and the sponsor of Desilu Playhouse. You'll also see Lucy with Desi as the mystery challengers on an episode of What's My Line?, and as a guest on various shows in the early 1960's, sometimes showing her TV or movie goofs and outtakes.
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