Literary Bites in Bits: A List by paulo da costa

Book Cover Green and Purple Skin of the World

Each book in this selection is sliced in bite-sized portions, yet none miss any of the essential vitamins and minerals, delivering satisfying nourishment despite their small portions. Think of them as power-bars. These six books share in common a succinct, power-charged delivery of texts in condensed servings that leave me purring and yummying with delight. For those readers, like me, who appreciate snacking, these works exemplify the type of book I carry around in my shoulder bag, to sneak, peek and bite into, while waiting in lines, while moving along the day-to-day river of busyness. During those days I cannot squeeze out large chunks of leisure to engage with traditional novels, these works deliver the daily literary sustenance I seek for my brain, heart and my spirit.

Murder in the Dark by Margaret Atwood: Feast on these diverse literary hors d’oeuvres of everything you can imagine. From the lyrical prose to the sci-fi narrative, from ruminations to romance, you find in this slim volume every imaginable vitamin, making it a complete and satisfying meal. Or see it as cross-training for your literary mind, a little yoga, a little twisting outside the space where your mind normally travels. Stretch your mind in little snippets. Bored you will not be.

Kilter: 55 Fictions by John Gould: Ah... off-kilter you will be after these dolmas of insight as well as delight. Fifty-five distinct flavours and textures, a seasoned essence of narrative, offered to marinate your tongue. Rich snippets of the mundane open in a banquet of aperitifs. Count on a concentrated richness. Each bite guaranteed to leave you fulfilled. It takes talent to say more with less.

In the Language of Love: A Novel in 100 Chapters by Diane Schoemperlen: Schoemperlen is one of the few constant innovators and risk-takers with the form of Canadian fiction. As this title suggests you are presented with a serving of one hundred slices in this narrative. Take your time. Chew well. Listen for echoes between the chapters. Hushing is better than rushing. After all, it is about love. Take your time. You do not want to arrive at the end of love too soon.

Seen Reading by Julie Wilson: An ingenious bridge constructed to link the reader, text and the vast stream of books in motion through a city. This is a commuter’s poetic voyeurism, an ode to the physical book that wears its proud colours and name, a book showing its slim or large body and never afraid, never willing to hide its spirit behind the indistinguishable screen of a uniform. This book takes you on a literary journey that travels through the timelessness of space and minds in motion. Enjoy something different, and fresh, and in tidbits, before bed and before bounding the train to dreamland in your daily commute to the stars.

Life Is About Losing Everything by Lynn Crosbie: Read this book as you would read the I Ching, Book of Changes. Brew a cup of steaming coffee or tea. Settle down on your comfortable sofa, prepare to be unsettled by the revelations that the random opening of these pages will offer you. Read it in sittings of six random chapter openings. Anything more and you could easily overdose on this very dark side of the moon. Oracles like this one are not for the faint of heart.

The Middle Stories by Sheila Heti: Be outraged, surprised, tickled and disturbed. Have your mind poked and pricked and be conscious of the difference. These are off-the-wall fairy tales that open the doors of your mind to bends on the road, subversions and revelations. Your mind will be pricked by the acupuncture of these stories. After the initial resistance, the first jolt, you might discover the surprising good it has done to the health of your imagination. Indeed, the magnitude of the jolt will disintegrate the old cobwebs in your head. Watch them crumble in tiny fragments of text.

paulo da costa is a writer, editor, and translator who was born in Angola, raised in Portugal, and now lives on the West Coast of Canada. paulo’s first book of short fiction, The Scent of a Lie, received the Commonwealth First Book Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. His fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines around the world and have been translated into Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Serbian, Slovenian, German, and Portuguese. His evocative new collection of short fiction, The Green and Purple Skin of the World, will be in bookstores in April.

May 2, 2013
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