Richard B. Wright, by Catherine Gillier

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Richard B. Wright is a Canadian novelist who was born in Midland Ontario in 1937.  On February 8, 2017, he died.  He has written eleven published novels and two children’s books.  Here at the library, we have six of his titles.  And in honour of his death and his great literary talent, they follow below, with a short description of each one.

WEEKEND MAN (1970):

How does a young salesman, whose life is continually on the verge of free-fall, navigate between the sadness and nostalgia of his past, and the certain failure of his future?  Such are the ironies of urban life.

CLARA CALLAN (2001):

The year is 1934.  And two sisters, vastly different in personality, yet linked by a shared past, try to find their place within the complex web of social expectations for young women in the 1930s.  Will each find the joy of life?  Or will each be forced to see the darker side of everyday experience?

ADULTERY (2004):

A young woman is brutally murdered.  She has been inside the car with her older, married lover.  She stepped outside for just a minute, and now she is dead.  Was she the victim in a mindless attack?  How will her lover face his wife?  Will he be able to pick up the pieces?

OCTOBER (2007):

This is a tale of memory and mortality.  Over six decades after encountering a rich, mercurial American with crippled legs while on a vacation in the Gaspé, a man is asked to go on an unthinkable journey.  Will he rekindle an old relationship?  Will he be able to find the answers he is searching for in the autumn of his life?

SHAKESPEARE’S BASTARD (2010):

In a manor house in Oxfordshire, a very ailing housekeeper confesses that she is the illegitimate daughter of William Shakespeare.  Wright interweaves intriguing stories of a lovely woman who is seduced by a young writer from Stratford.  Secrets are revealed and futures are changed forever.  This novel is an engaging blend of historical detail and invention.

NIGHTFALL (2016):

A retired university professor has just suffered the death of his beloved daughter.  His life is diminished considerably.  But on a whim, he tries to locate the woman he fell in love with many years ago.  He succeeds.  But the collision of past and present alters the lives of both people.  The author has a profound understanding of the intimate bonds that connect men and women.  Are these connectios filled with the wisdom of love?

So as you choose your books, please remember the late Richard B. Wright.  He won three of Canada’s major literary awards:  The Giller Prize, the Trillium Book Award, and the Governor General’s Award.  Celebrate his life as you read and appreciate his legacy.

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Canada Reads 2017, by Sue Culhane

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Its that time of year again! Beginning March 27th 2017 five Canadians will battle it out to become the champion of this years “Canada Reads”. This annual event has been broadcast on CBC Radio since its inception in 2002. Authors are very happy to have their books chosen to become a contender and in the Library we notice an increased interest in the chosen books and, indeed, in other books by the authors selected.

Here are the titles of the five books with the name of their defenders:

Chantal Kreviazuk defends “The Right To Be Cold” by Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Humble The Poet defends “Fifteen Dogs” by Andre Alexis

Tamara Taylor defends “Company Town” by Madeline Ashby

Candy Palmateer defends “The Break” by Katherena Vermette

Jody Mitic defends “Nostalgia” by M.G. Vassanji

“Canada Reads” is not a highbrow literary discussion. Its purpose is to get average Canadians interested in and talking about books and both libraries and book stores can attest to the success of this goal. The debates are fun, sometimes loud, often heated, amusing and informative. The program has also given some debut novels a boost. In 2015 Kim Thuy came out the winner with her book “Ru”.

“The Right To Be Cold” tells the story of acclaimed Inuk activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier. “Fifteen Dogs” follows a group of dogs who receive human consciousness. “Company Town” features an elite bodyguard who is drawn into the mystery surrounding the powerful family who own the oil rig on which she is working. “The Break” explores the aftermath of a violent crime which takes place in Winnipeg. “Nostalgia” examines a society where near-mortality is possible. Thus, five very different novels but all with a chance at winning the contest. But to be fair, there are no losers in this event.

Mark the date on your calendar and be prepared to enjoy some lively debate!

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Information Source, by Catherine Gillier

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The calendar has turned the page and opened the month of February.  In the library, there is an assortment of books from every genre, fiction and non-fiction.  There are picture books for children, novels for young adults.  Young people are able to borrow books for school projects.  The library has eResources from which one can find reading suggestions, ebooks, car repair information and much more.

There are many databases from which patrons can choose.  Many of the online research tools require a valid library card to sign in.  So come in and sign up for a library card if you do not yet have one.  Browse the shelves.  Log into the Temiskaming Shores Library website.  Take advantage of all the library resources.

Among the many books that are currently on shelves and loaned out to patrons, are some new titles.  CITY OF THORNS by Ben Rawlence is a non-fiction which interweaves the stories of nine people living in the world’s biggest refugee camp.  The people have come to seek sanctuary from the sociopolitical firestorm around them.  The author is an intimate storyteller and a lucid and illuminating journalist.  He sees the hope and spirit that keep these courageous people alive in this strange and desperate place.

THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden is a debut novel which is able to take the reader to medieval Russia.  There, where myth and history combine, a magical and enchanting story unfolds.  This is a beautifully written, beautifully layered retelling of a Russian tale, set in the heart of deep winter magic.

MY LIFE, MY LOVE, MY LEGACY is a memoir of Coretta Scott King.  In this book, King is much more than the wife of Martin Luther King Jr.  “I’m proud to have been a wife, a single parent and a leader.  But I am more than a label.  I am also Coretta.  In reading this memoir, I hope you somehow see Coretta” – Coretta Scott King

Coretta was one of the first black scholarship students recruited to Antioch College.  She was a graduate student of the New England Conservatory of Music.  The reader will be introduced to a widow and single mother who championed women’s rights and gay rights.  And she was a powerful international voice for human dignity.  Truly a very human, dignified and intelligent woman.

BETTER NOW by Dr. Danielle Martin is a non-fiction book that addresses six big ideas to improve health care for all Canadians.  The author is a fervent supporter of the best of medicare, and a persuasive critic of what needs fixing.  She says bold fixes are both affordable and achievable.  As Dr. Martin points out: “Medicare has become a lightning rod for political conversations that have little to do with health.  People who want to see it privatized say the model is unsustainable.  People who want to see the model preserved are afraid of any kind of change.  Medicare is worth fixing, and the fixes are achievable.”  We in Canada need to be aware of what works best to improve health care for all of us.

So come to the library.  Become aware of all the resources here.  Check the library’s website at www.temisklibrary.com.  There are many resources online that we encourage the community to use.  Allow your creativity and imagination to grow.  Come to the library.  Open the door to so much more.

 

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Blind Date with a Canadian Book, by Sue Culhane

blind-date-with-a-bookAt the beginning of February patrons will see a display of brightly wrapped books at both branches of the Temiskaming Shores Public Library. Patrons are invited to enjoy a “Blind Date With A Book”.

To celebrate both Valentine’s Day and Canada’s 150th the staff have selected a number of books written by Canadian authors and each parcel will have a message inviting readers to “Check me out!” or “Take Me Home!” or similar messages. Each parcel will also have a “personal ad” attached to it which might give a clue to lure patrons into selecting that particular book. The ad might give a hint to the book’s genre or just intrigue the reader. Patrons may check out the book as usual but not open it until they get home.

The idea behind this event is to add an element of mystery and surprise to a normally dreary month. Inside each book will be a “Rate Your Date” form on which patrons can write their comments and in past years some of the responses given by readers have been very amusing!

Yes, we are hoping this will be a fun event for everyone but there is also a more serious side to the event. It is well known that readers tend to get into a “reading rut” and often only read certain authors or certain genres. Participating in this event may encourage readers to enjoy a book that they wouldn’t normally have selected thereby broadening horizons. But don’t worry – there is no pressure and if you really can’t get into a certain book return it and maybe select another. There will be no hurt feelings!

Hope our patrons have fun with this event.

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Perspectives, by Catherine Gillier

january-18Here at the library, some of the books are beginning to talk about the length of January.  Many of them go out with patrons to their warm homes and comfortable reading chairs.  But a few need to be taken from the shelves and explored here.  People who do not take the time to browse may have time to read this, and see the opportunity for a new author and/or new titles.

MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON by Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout is a novel of immense humanity.  With her characteristic animation of ordinariness into the stuff that is genuine life, the author balances the depth of feeling with the yarn of a good story.  This is a tale of family relationships, ordinary injustice, secrets kept, and perhaps a little common ground.  Be observant in your reading.  This is an unforgettable human encounter.

THE STRAYS by Emily Bitto is a captivating novel, written in a way that can weave a spell over the reader.  Two girls growing up in postwar Australia have lived in the avant-garde artistic milieu of their parent’s communal home.  Because of the author’s brilliant writing, the reader can understand the folly of the adult world, and the life the children must somehow try to survive.

THE DRY by Jane Harper is a debut novel told with an authentic sense of place and an authentic tone.  The reader will be able to smell the heat of the Australian sun.  This may be the author’s first novel, but the intricately woven prose will place her among the veterans of the mystery genre.  To quote Booklist, this novel is “A stunner…It’s a small town, big secrets page-turner with a shocker of an ending.”

Janie Chang has written a new novel entitled DRAGON SPRINGS ROAD.  This book is set in early twentieth century Shanghai, as one ancient dynasty collapses, and a new government struggles to its feet.  Two girls are bound together in a friendship that will be tested to the roots of its foundation.  Murder, forbidden love, political intrigue are all confronted by a young girl as she grows into womanhood during the early years of the Chinese Republic.  Will she have the courage to accept her journey forward?

So, become connected with the life of Lucy Barton.  See Australia from several perspectives, and uncover the stories within.  Travel back to the turn of the last century in Shanghai and attempt to understand the roadblocks that litter the paths of young Chinese women.

Come to the library.  Open the door to so much more.

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Dewey the Small Town Library Cat, by Sue Culhane

january-11There is a certain charm about books that are set in a small town. Consider the popularity of books such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, “The Shipping News” by Annie Proulx. These books are set in different countries and different time periods but have all proven popular. Coincidentally they have all been made into movies.

There is one book that epitomizes what is best about “small town books”. This is “Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat who Touched the World” by Vicki Myron. The book is set in Spencer, a small town in Iowa and is the true story of an abandoned cat who was adopted by the staff of the local library. Dewey was found nearly frozen to death in the book return of the library and was nursed and nurtured by the library staff. At the time the town was going through very hard times during the farm crisis of the 1980s. A time of great depression for those living and working in the area. Unemployment was high, foreclosures were numerous and businesses were closing. The library offered a sanctuary for the residents and also did all it could to help the people by providing resources to assist in finding work.

When Dewey arrived the atmosphere in the library changed and the impact the cat had on both the staff and the patrons was immense. The author of the book was the library director at the time and admits that there was tension and friction between staff members. This changed after the cat’s arrival. The staff was happier and the tension gradually evaporated. Of course, the children of the town loved the cat as did most of the patrons. Dewey’s fame spread and was a source of great pride to the residents of Spencer.  The news of his death at the age of 19 spread rapidly and he was mourned by many.

The book is funny, inspiring and heartwarming.  The ending requires a supply of Kleenex!

The books mentioned are all in the collection of the Haileybury Branch of the Temiskaming Shores Public Library

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A New Year has Begun, by Catherine Gillier

musical-wordsA new year has begun.  But it is only the passing of a calendar page.  Many of the books here at the library want to share some of their stories with you.  And a good story is timeless.

VALMIKI’S DAUGHTER by Shani Mootoo is a thoughtful book that is able to disclose, amid the heavy and passionate flavours and sounds of good food and good music, the heat of desires denied.  The author is able to give the reader a rare view of authentic Trinidad.  Her writing possesses a humour and a spirit that weaves a wise and smouldering tale of what is powerful and human.

Daniel Boone has had many things said about him, and has become a romantic hero of Old America.  In Alix Hawley’s novel ALL TRUE, NOT A LIE IN IT, Boone’s life is told in his own voice.  This book is set during the American Revolution, and hinges on his capture by the Shawnee.  The author takes the reader into the life-and-death survival of people pushing into Indian lands despite treaties and promises to do otherwise.  Boone pushes into places where he thinks he can create a “clean” world, but instead finds complication and death.  The love story between he and his wife Rebecca is tangled.  The storytelling by this author is rich, powerful and full of feeling.

A BEAUTY by Connie Gault is a novel of ordinary people who have much to offer.  Gault’s prose explores universal themes with a ruthless intelligence that is clear, real and loving.  In 1930, Saskatchewan was in the middle of a drought.  Elena, a young Finnish woman, living without her mother and father, leaves the village with a young handsome stranger.  Their journey takes them through dusty prairie towns, and along parched fields that are waiting for rain.  Young Elena’s presence touches many people along the way.  Without intending to do so, she changes many lives forever.

The improvisational feel of the words as they are arranged and sung out to the listening reader, make YIDDISH FOR PIRATES a jazz solo written by Gary Barwin.  This author creates a new kind of literature that draws from Jewish prayers, sea-shore huts, linguistics and many other sources to create a reading adventure.  This is Canadian literature that passionately plays with the reader and the very essence of storytelling.  The book is a compendium of Jewish humour through the ages.  The wordplay and subversive wit may hide the love story and may hide the persecution, but cannot hide the originality.  It’s all there.

So be present in each day that passes.  With music that comes from words, and words that come from music, listen to your spirit.  Don’t let the sounds slip away just as they are learning to be heard.

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