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Great Canadian Road Trips
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Great Canadian Road Trips

By 49thShelf
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tagged: road trips
As summer begins, we start thinking about getting on the road and travelling somewhere. Not every road trip is a holiday idyll, however—some are for fun, others born of crisis and desperation. The books on this list (fiction and non) run the gamut. All of these will take you somewhere. See anything missing? Tweet us to get more Canadian road trips added to the list.
The Truth About Luck

The Truth About Luck

What I Learned on My Road Trip with Grandma
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Selected for The Globe 100 Books in 2013.

In The Truth about Luck, Iain Reid, author of the highly popular coming-of-age memoir One Bird's Choice, accompanies his grandmother on a five-day vacation -- which turns out to be a "staycation" at his basement apartment in Kingston. While the twenty-eight-year-old writer is at the beginning of his adult life, his ninety-two-year-old grandmother is nearing the end of hers. Between escorting his grandma to local attractions and restaurants, the two exchan …

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Summer of My Amazing Luck

Summer of My Amazing Luck

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback Paperback

A Novel by the Governor General’s Literary Award—winning author of A Complicated Kindness
Lucy Van Alstyne always thought she’d grow up to become a forest ranger. Instead, at the age of eighteen, she’s found herself with quite a different job title: Single Mother on the Dole. As for the father of her nine-month-old son, Dillinger, well…it could be any of number of guys.

At the Have-a-Life housing project–aptly nicknamed Half-a-Life by those who call it home–Lucy meets Lish, a zany a …

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Excerpt

One

Lish had been a lifer even before the trouble started with Serenity Place. She had four daughters, two of them with the same guy and the other two, twins, with a carefree street performer who had fallen in love with Lish’s hands. Perfect for balls, he’d said, juggling them that is. Now jugglers never make cracks about balls, Lish informed me, they just don’t. Lish knew a lot about the theatre, about working a room, drawing a crowd, about blocking and leading, about the superstitions of theatre people. She had always loved the stage. Or the street, or wherever it is that people perform. She had met the juggler in the hospitality suite of the hotel at which all the performers were staying. Volunteering, for Lish, was a good way to meet theatre people without violating welfare rules, and it was a nice break from the kids. This street performer, absent father of the twins, said he loved Lish and suggested that she join him on the road. He could teach her to eat fire, juggle knives, walk on stilts. He showed her a newspaper clipping of himself from The Miami Herald and the headline was “Magic, Music and Tomfoolery,” and then there was a photo of him breaking a chain with his ­chest.

Just like Zampano in “La Strada,” he’d said. Lish was giddy with the proposition and the free booze of the hospitality suite, and so she agreed to join him on the road, on the condition that she could bring her daughters, numbering two at the time. “Not a problem, not a problem,” he said, “they’ll bring in more cash,” and then he made a red handkerchief disappear up Lish’s nose. And, of course, reappear. Something he himself had failed to do after impregnating Lish in his hotel room that night, while her long beautiful hands caressed his oily back and the hot summer night got hotter. Lish found him irresistible with his sad eyes and his ­world-­weary bearing and silly jokes that in and of themselves weren’t funny at all, but when he said them seemed, at least to Lish, to define comedy. And Lish loved to laugh. What was funniest though to Lish was his utter seriousness about ­sex.

He didn’t say a word or crack a smile throughout, and Lish had to pretend that a snort of laughter she let escape while he focussed in on the homestretch was really an uncontrollable gasp of pleasure. She had hoped he’d think it was her unusual way of expressing herself while in the throes of passion. Snorting. But she wasn’t sure. In any case, it didn’t matter. The next morning while Lish slept sated and pregnant with not one but two of the busker’s babies, he made himself, along with Lish’s cotton purse, disappear for good. Lish said he had left a note that said “Catcha on the flip side.” Can you believe it? Lish said his juggling was much better than his ­writing.

For a while Lish wondered if her snorting had made him leave, but really she knew that it hadn’t been her, it had been the road, and there was nothing she or anyone else could do about it. Some people were just like that. All the road had to do was look up at them and they were gone. Poof. And so it was with the father of her twins. She wished she had found out what his name was, but hey . . . Lish was the kind of person who enjoyed telling this tale to people. It was romantic, reckless. And if the twins asked about their dad, she could build him up for them, make him a hero, a rogue, a poet, a jester. Once I pointed out to Lish that the twins might like more details, some fleshing out of the story, maybe an address or a present on their birthday, a postcard. Lish said, “Maybe. Maybe not.”

I know that Lish still kept a big silver spoon room service had brought up to the hotel room the night she and the busker got together, and the twins, when they were old enough, took turns using it to scoop the natural chunky peanut butter Lish bought at a health food ­co-­op. They’d say, “It’s my turn to use Dad’s spoon.” And Lish would smile and hand it over. Who knew what she was thinking. The older girls had a dad they saw fairly regularly and for a while were willing to let the twins use him as theirs, too. But the twins didn’t want him. They were happy enough with their ­own.

I should tell you right now how I got to where I am: single mother on the dole, public housing, all that. It wasn’t a goal of mine, certainly. As a child I never once dreamed, “I will be a poor mother.” I had fully intended to be a forest ranger. Now I realize there just isn’t enough human contact in that field for me. But then, look where human contact got me. They said I hadn’t grieved properly over my mother’s death. That was the reason I became promiscuous, they said. They said I snuck out of my bedroom window every night because I needed to forget. I needed to forget, they said, because I couldn’t bear the sadness of remembering. That’s what they meant by grieving properly: remembering. Remembering everything and reacting to it and releasing it. There was more to it, but I can’t remember what it was, ha ha. So I’m not proud of it or anything, but it happened. And it’s how I got to where I am. ­Half-­a-­Life Housing. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, city with the most hours of sunshine per year (that’s another thing they say).

––

Somewhere along the line I became pregnant. With Dill, my son who is now nine months old. His full name is Dillinger. I don’t know who his father is. Like Lish says, if you eat a whole can of beans, how do you know which one made you fart? I don’t think it’s the caretaker at my dad’s church, because Dill’s hands are very big. Those huge hands were the first thing I noticed about Dill. The caretaker, on the other hand, had very small hands. I remember, because after we’d had sex leaning up against the pulpit, he wandered over to the organ and started playing “Midnight Special.” I lay on top of the organ, naked as a cherub, and I remember peering down at the caretaker’s hands as he played. They were small and cupped and soft like a baby’s. So I’m quite sure he’s not Dill’s father. And, to tell you the truth, there were eight or nine other guys I was with at the time Dill was conceived, and most of them have faded from my memory. If I ever did know their names, I’ve just about forgotten them. At least I’ve tried to. And all this because I didn’t grieve ­properly.

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Niagara Motel

Niagara Motel

edition:Paperback

Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize finalist

Set in the early 1990s, Ashley Little's follow-up to her award-winning novel Anatomy of a Girl Gang introduces readers to unforgettable eleven-year-old Tucker Malone--the only child of a narcoleptic touring stripper--who believes his father is Sam Malone from Cheers. He and his mother move from motel to motel until, one night in Niagara Falls, his mother is hit by a car after falling asleep in the street.

Tucker is sent to live in a youth group home where he mee …

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Open Arms

Open Arms

edition:Paperback

Bessie Smith Connolly has lived with her Nova Scotia grandparents since she was small. But at seventeen?grieving the death of her steadfast grandfather, smarting from a split with the boy she loves'she escapes to Saskatoon to be with her mother, Isabel. Bittersweet, clear-eyed, and deeply affecting, this marvellous debut novel charts Bessie's course as she makes her way through her exploded family and out into the world.

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Heidegger Stairwell

Heidegger Stairwell

edition:Paperback
tagged : literary, gay

Shortlisted for a ReLit Award

 

Music journalist Evan Strocker has almost finished a book about his time with Heidegger Stairwell, an indie-rock legend from small-town Ontario whose members he has known his whole life. But the band thinks he's left a little too much of himself on the page--letting his experiences as a transgender man and his complicated "romance" with the lead guitarist eclipse the story of the group's dramatic rise and fall. Through notes and marginalia, the musicians argue over …

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Unmarked

Unmarked

Landscapes Along Highway 16
edition:Paperback

Unmarked: Landscapes Along Highway 16 is an exploration of the overlooked, forgotten and unknown regions of rural British Columbia. By exploring the terrain between the dots on the map, de Leeuw tells the stories of transient life in the small fishing and logging communities that border Highway 16. With the deft detail of one who has spent her life in spaces often disregarded in our ever-increasingly-urban focused gaze, de Leeuw merges her own narrative with the raw and rugged landscape of north …

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Caught

Caught

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook Paperback

Shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Selected as an Amazon.ca Best Book and for The Globe 100 Books in 2013.

"In the creation of David Slaney, Lisa Moore brings us an unforgettable character, embodying the exuberance and energy of misspent youth. Caught is a propulsive and harrowing read."
- Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

Internationally acclaimed author Lisa Moore offers us a remarkable new novel about a man who escapes from pris …

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