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Friendship: A Novel
Friendship: A Novel
by Emily Gould
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 18.81
27 used & new from CDN$ 7.25

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Middling chick-lit from a capable writer, Jan. 26 2015
This review is from: Friendship: A Novel (Hardcover)
Ms Gould has more chops than are suggested by this novel. I don't say this from having read her stuff elsewhere. It's just a hunch. I think that this tale is hampered by the usual characteristics of the genre: some snappy bits, some mild insights, lots of observational sections...but pretty much lacking story, or for that matter, depth. When I say that about story, what I'm referring to is the fact that the novel is a long 'situation' with various characters, various facets.

The book did not move me. The story was not compelling. I appreciated the facility with which it was written...but it's not something I'd recommend to anyone.

Here's to Ms Gould digging deeper to mine a more 'literary' vein of storytelling.

Far to Go /tp
Far to Go /tp
by Alison Pick
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 13.68
18 used & new from CDN$ 2.22

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Light touch for a grave tale., Jan. 21 2015
This review is from: Far to Go /tp (Paperback)
I read Alison's first novel last week and have just finished off this one.

I suppose what's usually expected about novels dealing with The Holocaust is breadth. The sense of 'the epic'. The subject certainly deserves the column space it tends to get. This isn't to say there isn't nuance, yes...but it's a subject that deserves to be treated reverently...and for most novelists, this means 'at length'.

Perhaps it's Ms Pick's grounding in poetry that allows her to present something of great poignancy without venturing into the 'overwrought'. It's a simple story with a short time-span with an equally simple narrative framework. While being limited in its scope, it never turns 'precious'. In fact, I think that the spare approach makes for a far more powerful story; Less in this case is definitely more.

It's not a memorable novel. It's not one about which I might say to a friend about 'You simply MUST read this!' But it's a loving paean to its backdrop, to family, to Love. I can absolutely see this being adapted for the screen...even though its scope might play against it in the end.

Looking forward to her next book.

The Sweet Edge
The Sweet Edge
by Alison Pick
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Not just your average CanLit novel., Jan. 19 2015
This review is from: The Sweet Edge (Paperback)
Recently, I attended an authors' night. Alison was one of the evening's guests. It was for her memoir 'Between Gods'. I took a shining to her, so when I got back home, I reserved her novels from the local library.

What I was expecting was the usual CanLit, spare writing so typical of the genre. That wasn't quite what I ended up with.

Yes, it was spare. Yes, it was CanLit. But there was more.

I've always thought of CanLit as the literary version of indie flicks. A film based more on characters within situations than a movie with a story containing characters. Here, Alison pushes the boundaries so that what results is more than the novel equivalent of a precious art-house film; she's managed to season the tale with no small amount of 'populist fiction' attributes.

I loved her depiction of the main characters' world in contrast to their individual adventures; all three threads of the narrative we evocative. So 'Well done, you!' to her for that. But she managed to top herself with how she made Ellen and Adam elicit distinct reactions in me: I didn't like Ellen for being a wuss, no matter the reasons (yes, I'm talking about YOU, Ellen's Mother...), and I really, really, really didn't like Adam. At all. He seemed like the poster boy for the 'All Men are D&%$heads Society'...but somehow –for me– she manage to present him with all his galling attributes without making him into a boring stereotype. (But I did wish him a cruel end. LOL)

'The Sweet Edge' might not be for everyone. But I certainly enjoyed my time reading it.

Roost ,by Bryan, Ali ( 2013 ) Paperback
Roost ,by Bryan, Ali ( 2013 ) Paperback
by Ali Bryan
Edition: Paperback
4 used & new from CDN$ 24.82

4.0 étoiles sur 5 I practically read it in one sitting., July 20 2014
This is a perfect first-person narrative. It crackles. It's economical, which means that it dashes so lightly, so very lightly. Crackingly. Energetically. With a consistent humour that sometimes appears unexpectedly, in the middle of spare exposition, as if dropping down from above, impishly making a face, getting an instant reaction from you. I got the sense that Ms Bryan got to tell the story she'd set out to. It reminded me of the best indie flicks: very personal. Lovely stuff.

NEW Farewell I Tour-live From Melb (DVD)
NEW Farewell I Tour-live From Melb (DVD)
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Prix : CDN$ 50.58
37 used & new from CDN$ 24.87

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A review, yes. But musings, too., July 17 2013
First off, I cannot imagine someone (meaning 'an Eagles fan') not being satisfied with this. It's pretty damned amazing in what it presents, what unfolds, the whole kit and kaboodle. The music is about as good as it could get, the sound off the DVD is stellar, and the visuals pretty much match them. A fabulous performance, incredible production values... In a way, I'm stunned. Stunned and grinning.

If you're an Eagles fan, this DVD is well worth the money.

As for the musings...

-The Eagles were part of my teenaged years. (Oddly -?- enough, so were Jackson Browne and Dan Fogelberg, contemporaries and friends of the band.) I scalped tickets for the March '78 Toronto show. Even more that 'Hotel California', 'The Long Run' was a staple on my turntable; I think I wore it out. However...

-I'm no nostalgist. I don't listen to them and nod my head saying 'Yeah, man; those were the years!' I listen to their songs and that's what hits me. Their songs. That's all. (I find that because they weren't part of a social 'movement', as for the sake of argument, The Doors, The Clash, New Wave bands, Nirvana and Pearl Jam were for their eras, the music isn't tinged by any of that crap. Yes, I realize that they were at the forefront of 'the California sound' in their day, but it had zero social ramifications.) They're ageless. To me, they don't represent anything other than incredible music. As Don Henley said, 'That's all.')

-Having Steuart Smith as their sideman was, for me, the single most important element of this show/this tour working as well as it did. He is an incredible musician and adds an unbelievable amount of oomph to the performance. Amazing. (I still miss Don Felder, though.)

-I'm no celebrity-worhipper. The whole idea makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. But Joe Walsh is someone I'd pay to meet. On the street, in an elevator. I'd definitely want to shake his hand; I just love the guy. What he's come back from, his sense of humour, his often-overlooked talent... He makes me smile. In this video and in the clip of 'Hotel California' circa '76, the man shows what's inside him. I'm so glad he conquered his demons. (And I bet he thanks Whomever every day that he was brought back into the Eagles' fold when he was.)

-Aging rock stars. A touchy subject. Especially as a lot of them are now in their 60s. The talent is still there, the voices are, for the most part, able to provide what they used to... So all this begs the question: 'When do you hang it all up?' (Part of this for me is the visuals: not sure I want to watch Joe or Henley 'getting older'. Not because it means that *I'm" getting older, too. It's just a matter of aesthetics. But I will say that Glenn Frey must have sold his soul to look as good as he does.)

-This performance is almost nine years old. They're out on tour again, I won't see them, so I'd be curious to hear about the comparison between now and then. (May as well throw in the 'Hell Freezes Over' tour DVD.) Beuller? Beuller?

-'The Eagles could be fined for 'loitering', their stage show is so boring'. That was said by a reviewer once. The funny thing is that they're actually more lively in this video than 'back then'. (And having waaaay more fun.)

-Something I found fascinating as I've been re-listening to the entire catalogue is the shift in vocal duties from Frey to Henley. I'm a big Henley fan, he sings my favourite Eagles songs, but there's something about Frey's voice… It's got such timbre to it, far more range than Henley, and it goes without saying that it has a good deal more character. And yet I sing like Don… LOL

-I am really appreciative of what the Eagles have provided musically for my life. They are a touchstone, a quite magical one at that. I am grateful beyond words. Thanks to all of you, past and present.

History of the Eagles: The Story of an American Band (3 DVD)
History of the Eagles: The Story of an American Band (3 DVD)
DVD ~ The Eagles
Prix : CDN$ 24.97
31 used & new from CDN$ 24.97

3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 It's a fine effort, but... (Oh, and regarding Henley & Frey...),, July 14 2013
I wish there'd been a separate DVD dealing with each of the songs. What its genesis was, who contributed what, how it all came together. These were the bits of the History that I found most fascinating. The inside scoop, as it were.

Now. As for Henley & Frey and Don Felder...

There's a bit in here where Frey is talking about the audio tape that Felder sent him and Henley. "Felder sent Henley and I instrumental tapes. Song ideas. 95% of 'em were cluttered with guitar licks, and we would listen to these things and go "Well, where do ya sing?"
And yet for 'Life in the Fast Lane', Joe Walsh is in the studio, warming up, and Frey hears him play what amounts to a dexterity exercise and says "What did you play? Play that again!" And then, after Walsh played it again, Frey says "That's the lick...that's what we should build the song around."

Uh... Right.

So which is it, Mr. Frey (and Henley)? Funny how these two don't wax poetic about how Felder had the entire song laid-out (read his book), and moreover, quite dismissively frame what he'd given them. Yet Joe offers up this juicy piece-of-little...and they're euphoric over what 'they' then wrote.

Grace, graciousness and gratitude. Apparently -at least by what the History presents- Frey and Henley were/are lacking in all three.
I get how the acrimonious credit/money issues rather spoiled their view of Felder, but come on; they're effecting revisionist history here. (And elsewhere.)
I'd like to hear Walsh's take on all this...even though he has too much at stake to be that honest. Same for Mr. Schmit.

For the record, I don't think Felder was on as good behaviour throughout as he might have been. But really; there's a difference between people having moments when they rub each other the wrong way...such as, in marriages...and one or more parties in a group simply not having sufficient class to bring about a reasonable solution.
In every situation, someone has to play 'adult'. Unfortunately, in the whole Eagles imbroglio, nobody wanted to step up. Sad, really.

On My Knees: A Memoir
On My Knees: A Memoir
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Prix : CDN$ 11.99

4.0 étoiles sur 5 What a gal!, July 12 2013
(Actually, she should properly be referred to as a 'dame' or a 'broad'...and I use those terms with the utmost of respect.)

This book was a real breath of fresh air. She's very intelligent (probably smarter than most of her readers), she's honest, she's faithful, she's flawed...

...and she's an entertaining raconteur. What more could you want from a memoirist?

My highest compliment: I'd love to have breakfast with her in a booth. Though she's happily married (with a little one on the way), I'm sure I'd nevertheless fall for her on the spot.

Reading this book was time well-spent.

Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001)
Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001)
by Don Felder
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 13.10
31 used & new from CDN$ 6.57

5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 There's three sides to every story..., July 10 2013
...yours, mine, and The Truth.

Recently, I've been going through an intense reacquainting with the Eagles. They were one of the four multi-singer groups in the 70s and I'll always be grateful for what they contributed to my life. (I scalped tickets for a 'Hotel California' show.) So I've watched 'The History of The Eagles', I've watched the 'Hell Freezes Over' DVD, I've ordered the 'Farewell Tour 1: Live From Melbourne' DVD set, and now I've read Mr. Felder's book. My impressions?

Well, the book is great up to 'the firing'. It's a good retelling of his story, his path to being the lead guitarist in the band that to many, IS 70s music. Clearly, his collaborator guided him well. It's when we approach him being turfed from the band that everything gets gooey and collapses.

I like Felder. I watched an interview with him online and he struck me as a genuine guy. A pretty happy and calm person, with a little spiritual evolvement thrown in for good measure. And while I appreciate the impact of him being fired, a much better editor was needed to provide more oomph by way of not getting blubbery. (As an emotional male, I don't need to be reminded of the validity of someone's feelings. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about how it's relayed to a paying public.) A more deft touch could have lent the concluding portions much more grace, and therefore, provided an ending the equal of the beginning.

As far as the whole imbroglio between him and Henley and Frey...
First off, these two are very talented people. However, the former has always been a grumpy curmudgeon; now he's an OLD one, too.
Frey...though I love his voice...has always struck me as...well, 'greasy'.
And Lord knows, they held the power in the group, no matter the 'agreement'. Given that they're both 'complicated personalities', I don't have any difficulty whatsoever believing that neither of them have much objectivity where the Eagles are concerned. (All one has to do is look at the wildly differing takes on the Allan Cranston incident.)
Clearly, it was their show, even when it wasn't 'their' show. They were bound to be the controlling forces of the group.

Felder got his knickers in a knot over the financial stuff. It's too bad he wasn't able to let go. (Especially given his response to the news...essentially 'Oh, God! Please don't do this, I'll sign the papers!')
It's also too bad he didn't recognize that this was inevitable; when you're dealing with people like Henley and Frey, you gotta know that they're gonna do what they're gonna do. (It's like the old nugget about the scorpion hitching a ride across a river, where the punchline is 'What did you expect? It's in my nature!'
It didn't matter that what Henley and Frey (and Azoff) did, that's almost little more than an academic point. What mattered was that Felder really, really needed to acknowledge to himself that he was (and always would be) the 'adult' in the situation. (This isn't the same stance as what Timothy B. Schmitt and Joe Walsh took, which was practical obeisance.)
But it galled this truly gifted musician, it wasn't 'right', it wasn't what caring collaborators do...and so he hung onto the issue tenaciously.
Until he was fired.

As a final note, I'm reminded of the writer's credo that 'Character isn't revealed in what a person says, but in what they do.' The fact that Felder has never been properly (and graciously) acknowledged for his role in writing the title track from 'Hotel California' (compare his version of its genesis with The Self-referential Duo's.)...and that the credits for the piece have been reversed in order over the years speaks volumes.

Considering that the Eagles were never known as a band 'full of life', but rather, impeccable recording artists that accomplished what they did by way of fixation and neurosis and bloody-minded egotism, nothing I've read in this book or watched has surprised me. I just wish they'd all come through it with a lot more grace.

The Girl Giant: A Novel
The Girl Giant: A Novel
by Kristen den Hartog
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 14.45
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 étoiles sur 5 A gentle tale, and yet..., May 30 2013
I read this novel under its original title, 'and me among them'. As I had read two of the author's other books, I was expecting a minimalist effort chock full of casual observations that leaned towards the profound, good character sketches that didn't seem strenuously composed, all placed on an uncomplicated frame. And that's what I got: 'and me among them'/'The Girl Giant' is the indie film as opposed to the mainstream box office hit. Within its stylistic genre, it's a pleasant accomplishment. However...

I'll concede that I may well be the only reader who was affected by the use of a 'first-person, semi-omnicient' narrator, but it essentially flavoured the novel so much that it became more of a presence to me than the tale itself. I was, in turn, mystified by the choice, annoyed by it, and at the worst of times, creeped-out by it. That Ruth, the main character, would have access to so much that she simply could not have had access to, unsettled me, effectively kiboshing my enjoyment of the story. Further, I'm not convinced that having it told by Ruth at all was the best choice; first-person narrations can be either so limited as to lessen the telling's effectiveness, or inconsistent with the character's capabilities. For me, Ruth's telling was affected by both of these notions. (What would have worked for me would have been either third-person omniscient, or a mix of this interspersed with Ruth's contributions.)

As well, I did not understand why she referred to her mother and father by their first names. Again, I felt a muddling of narrative choices, and some intimacy was lost by calling them James and Elspeth.

Having said all this, in looking at the reviews of others, I can certainly understand why 'and me among them' would charm and hold such a dear place in their hearts, and that my observations would be seen as the quibbles of someone not aligned with the stylistic approach the author takes when she writes. My only response is that I'm nevertheless looking forward to Ms Den Hartog's next offering.

Let The Great World Spin
Let The Great World Spin
by Colum McCann
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 16.60
30 used & new from CDN$ 0.98

4.0 étoiles sur 5 As I define it, anyway..., April 24 2013
I recently read Molly Ringwald's book 'When It Happens To You; A Novel in Stories'. (And reviewed it here on Amazon.) So a comparison between that work and this one was screaming out to be had.

I have (an admittedly arbitrary) way of looking at different craftspeople.

There are vocalists...and then there are singers.

There are guitar players...and then there are guitarists.

There are people who write...and then there are writers.

Molly Ringwald is a person who writes. Colum McCann is a writer.

Both of them have taken short stories about an assembly of characters and woven them together. 'Overlap' is the theme of the day.

I believe Mr. McCann succeeds in telling a good story more than Ms Ringwald. (Although I don't believe the device served even his tale well. Oh, and I could have done without almost all the material about the two Irish brothers in NYC.)

He certainly has more chops; I think there were a tiny handful of sections in hers where I sat back in admiration, whereas his contained all kinds of gems. (A couple of them were stellar, reminiscent of Frank DeLillo's beaut, the opening forty-or-so pages of 'Underworld'.) I felt I was in the company of someone with substantial talent, and was entertained by his skill and passion...if not necessarily by the overall story arc.

I'd love to have heard him do a reading when the novel was first released.

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