On Our Radar is a monthly 49th Shelf series featuring books with buzz worth sharing. We bring you links to features and reviews about great new books in a multitude of genres from all around the Internet.
A Youth Wasted Climbing, by David Chaundry-Smart
Interviewed by Lynn Martel at Crowfoot Media:
From the interview: "In Toronto in the late '70s there was a dismal anti-establishment cold war mood in youth culture that put a premium on doing what you liked and having it be chancy and maybe even annoying. Rock climbing wasn’t exactly a well-known activity anywhere, let alone in Toronto, so the people I knew who climbed were prepared to do things that were on the fringes of society. This extended to other areas of life besides climbing. I’m still a little prone to see aversity to law and order in climbing and elsewhere as just a little soulful."
Their Biography, by kevin mcpherson eckhoff
Reviewed at Poetxt:
"Composed of composites, Their Biography is an agglomerate of poems that are said to be from 'friends, family, co-workers, strangers, robots, and even adversaries' ... Alongside the brevity of the poems, their digressive, insular, aleatoric or flarfed language, and the glancing illustrations, the book ends inviting the reader to 'consider your finger around these very pages,' to trace your way through the work, what marks do your fingerprints have to do with KME [kevin mcpherson eckhoff]? How now do you relate to kevin?"
Welcome to the Circus, by Rhonda Douglas
Reviewed by Lynne C. Martin in The Winnipeg Review:
"I close the book and weep freely as the rain drives down. Yet rather than depressing me, Welcome to the Circus, by Rhonda Douglas, is a joyful, whole-bodied read immersing me in a breathtaking range of human experiences. These stories— portraying the weirdness in the ordinary, daily beauties usually unnoticed, and the singular choices we make in response— take us inside the minds and hearts of widely varied characters."
The Pemmican Eaters, by Marilyn Dumont
Reviewed by Barb Carey in The Toronto Star:
"In a number of lyrically driven poems, Dumont honours Métis traditions in music and beadwork, an artisanal craft symbolic of a way of life and specific place ('a bead is not simply blue/but Saskatoon blue' and 'not merely black/but beaver-head black'). A rollicking poem about the fiddle ('the first high call of the fiddle bids us dance/baits with its first pluck and saw of the bow/reels us, feet flick—fins to its lure and line') becomes a statement of cultural pride and defiance—much like The Pemmican Eaters as a whole."
The Capacity for Infinite Happiness, by Alexis von Konigslow
Reviewed by Mark Sampson at Free Range Reading:
"While the premise for this book may strike some readers as far-fetched—can we really boil down human relationships and family influences to a series of mathematical equations?—von Konigslow wins us over with both the sheer elegance of her prose and the scope of this novel’s vision. Harpo Marx is fully imagined here, and his experiences help to provide a buttress of plausibility; Emily, meanwhile, proves a worthy lead character for her thread, a woman with a sensitive eye and an open ear."
Tru Detective, by Norah McClintock and illustrated by Steven Hughes
Reviewed by Robert J. Wiersema in Quill & Quire:
"Tru Detective benefits from an of-the-moment quality, not just in its larger strokes—the way characters talk and interact, and plot elements including human trafficking, forced sex work, and illegal immigration—but in its finer details, such as the omnipresence of cellphones and their role in the mystery. Though most of them will never experience the kind of drama the story presents, adolescent readers will feel right at home."
Princess Pistachio and the Pest, by Marie-Louise Gay, translated by Jacob Homel
Reviewed by Linda Ludke at the National Reading Campaign:
"Originally published in French, this edition is translated by Gay’s son Jacob Homel. Chock full of vivid, out-of-the-ordinary descriptions, like 'Pistachio’s heart falls to her belly button,' this playful chapter book will capture the interest of beginning readers."
Painted Skies, by Carolyn Mallory, illustrated by Amei Zhao
Reviewed by Helen Kubiw at CanLit for LittleCanadians:
"Immersing her characters in the true Arctic experience, making their actions analogous to those of the caribou, ptarmigan, raven and snowy owl, Carolyn Mallory similarly embeds the reader in the cold and clear night of a snow-packed landscape and the consuming quiet of a northern evening. Her text may recount how a seasoned Arctic resident shares the marvel of her world with a newcomer, including the telling of an Inuit tale, but her descriptions of the dancing lights bring the curiosity of the skyscape to life."
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