Quick Hits: Stunning Fiction and Poetry PLUS a Brilliant Cookbook

In Quick Hits, we look through our stacks to bring you books that, when they were published, elicited a lot of reaction and praise. Our selections will include books published this year, last year, or any year. They will be from any genre. The best books are timeless, and they deserve to find readers whenever and wherever.

**

The Good Body, by Bill Gaston

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: House of Anansi Press

What It's About

The Good Body is a triumphant blend of mordant humour and heartbreak. It tells the comic and poignant story of a retired pro-hockey ruffian named Bobby Bonaduce who is stubbornly ignoring a disease—multiple sclerosis—that may be killing him. Bobby returns to his hometown and scams his way into university in a misguided attempt to redeem his messy past and lay emotional claim to a son he abandoned twenty years earlier.

With this terrific novel [said the 2008 Giller Prize jury] "Bill Gaston demonstrates yet again that he is a writer of great empathy, capable it seems of getting beneath the skin of anybody."

What People Say

"There’s some good writing about a Bob Dylan concert, but the author is at his best here when describing the game, 'the body seen as pure desire, the puck a chunk of dumb rubber the perfect symbol of worthlessness … so abstract, so pure in its meaninglessness it is almost Japanese.'
Gaston’s got the goods and he’s been there: you can’t imagine something as real as this."—Quill and Quire

**

Fault Lines, by Nancy Huston

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: McArthur and Company

What It's About

Sol is a gifted but also terrifying six-year-old; his mother believes he is destined for greatness. He has a birthmark, like his dad, his grandmother and great-grandmother. But when they all make an unexpected trip to Germany, terrible secrets emerge about their family’s story during World War II. Perhaps birthmarks are not all that has been passed down through this family.

With its domestic focus but epic scope, Fault Lines is a compelling, touching, often funny novel about four generations of children and their parents. From California to New York, from Haifa to Toronto and Munich, the secrets unwind back through time, the present haunted by the past, until we reach the devastating truth. Nancy Huston tells a riveting, vigorous tale, in which love, music and faith rage against the shape of evil. Fault Lines, with its powerfully drawn characters, is hard to put down.

What People Say

Published in 2007, Fault Lines won France's prestigious Prix Femina, was nominated for the Orange Prize (now the Baileys Women's Prize), and was an international bestseller translated into close to two dozen languages. The Guardian called it "a glittering showcase of observations of a type reminiscent of so much American dysfunctional family literature since Jonathan Frantzen's The Corrections.'"

From the review in The New York Times:

"The children’s observations are vivid and lush, probing memorably into agony and bliss. The Lebensborn centers may be the novel’s hook, but Huston keeps us invested in smaller moments. Sexagenarian Erra fights her German sister over a long-coveted doll. Randall and his father camp under the stars and awake to a glittering dew-drenched world. Erra dazzles her young daughter when her singing sounds 'like joy, like running barefoot in the sand.' These exquisitely evoked scenes are just as formative as the awful secrets at the novel’s deepest strata. They may well be the parts that sink deepest into the reader’s memory."

**

Razovsky at Peace, by Stuart Ross

Genre: Poetry

Publisher: ECW Press

What It's About

Stuart Ross blazes surprising, new paths, still showcasing his trademark humor, surrealism, and absurd take on the banal, while also delving into darker, more raw territory. While once again challenging our perception of suburbia, capitalism, and hamburgers, his trembling characters now stumble awkwardly into litter-strewn rural landscapes, emotional rapture, and even terrified, unadvisable love.

What People Say

"Just read Razovsky at Peace to my students and we laughed. Out loud."—Gary Barwin, author of Yiddish for Pirates

“Stuart Ross is one of North America’s most active and fiercely independent literary populists.”—Another Chicago Magazine

"[Stuart Ross's] quirky, accessible writing style makes him appealing to many different audiences, even those with little interest in traditional poetry."—Quill and Quire

**

The Cat, by Edeet Ravel

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Penguin

What It's About

Single mother Elise is completely devoted to her eleven-year-old son; he is her whole world. But that world is destroyed in one terrifying moment when her son is killed in a car accident just outside their home. Suddenly alone, surrounded by memories, Elise faces a future that feels unspeakably bleak—and pointless.

Lost, angry, and desolate, Elise rejects everyone who tries to reach out to her. But as despair threatens to engulf her, she realizes, to her horror, that she cannot join her son: She must take care of his beloved cat. At first she attempts to carry out this task entirely by herself, shut away from a frightening new reality that seems surreal and incomprehensible. But isolation proves to be impossible, and before long others insinuate themselves into her life—friends, enemies, colleagues, neighbors, a former lover—bringing with them the fragile beginnings of survival.

Powerfully moving and deeply humane, The Cat is an unforgettable novel about the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit."

What People Say

"In her evocation of grief, and the terrible loneliness of grief that is unfathomable to those who stand at a little distance from it, Edeet Ravel is utterly, heartbreakingly convincing."—Joyce Carol Oates

"[Ravel] blends the personal and political so well that our understanding of each dimension is enlarged … Ravel's characterizations are nuanced, and sidestep stereotypes... The dialogue is crisp, the plot compelling, and the glimpses of the ongoing war are powerful."—The Globe and Mail

**

Sea Salt, by Alison Malone Eathorne; Lorna Malone & Hilary Malone, photographs by Christina Symons

Genre: Cooking

Publisher: Harbour Publishing

What It's About

Sea Salt is a gorgeous new collection of over a hundred sea-tested gourmet recipes suitable for meals aboard but equally satisfying for the home dining table. The authors are themselves dedicated sailors and bring readers on a voyage around Vancouver Island aboard their classic wooden sailboat Aeriel, drawing inspiration from the area's seafood, farmers' markets and wineries.

Richly illustrated with colour photographs of the dishes as well as many spectacular seascapes, Sea Salt invites readers to spend a leisurely morning in a favourite anchorage savouring Blueberry Bread Puddings with Maple Mascarpone; raft up with Albacore Tuna Niçoise; and make new friends on the dock with Cheesecake Nanaimo Bars.

Whether catering to a hungry crew at sea or at home, any cook will appreciate the benefits of thoughtful preparation, clever shortcuts, local ingredients, a hearty dose of creativity and fast, fresh, delicious meals.

How It Was Received

Winner: Third Place, World’s Best Fish and Seafood Book, 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards (2014)
Short-listed: Taste Canada Award in the English-language Regional/Cultural Cookbooks category (2014)
Winner: Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Canada's Best Fish and Seafood Book (2013)

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 13, 2017
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