Recommended Reading List
9780888017130_cover
Download list
Please login or register to use this feature.

Step Outside: Jeffrey John Eyamie Recommends

By 49thShelf
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
tagged: golf, still me
Jeffrey John Eyamie writes: When you’re in the sleeper hold of a pandemic, it can be challenging to find silver linings and positivity in the darkness. But this COVID year has also been a year of revival for golf in Canada. While it was one of the first activities that allowed us to socialize after an arduous first wave, golf courses continued to operate at capacity through the summer and into a late fall. It looks like record levels of participation in the sport, by people of all ages and skill levels. People rediscovered golf. I hope that means more people have discovered what I was exploring as I wrote Still Me: A Golf Tragedy in 18 Parts. There’s something about the act of golfing that makes the player step outside of themselves. It brings a new awareness to the golfer. It can be as big and meaningful as a human act can be. It can be fun, and difficult and an all-too-truthful Rorschach test, all at once. It can be funny and horrible. Tragicomic. In Still Me, Jim Khoury explores his memory of famous Canadian golf courses as he pieces together what exactly has happened to his treasured collection of embroidered shirts. Here are a few of the books that I think may have been floating about in my own memory as I wrote Still Me. You’ll note that there are no golf novels, and just one golf book, on this list! There aren’t that many out there. If you’ve got a Canadian golf novel to recommend, I’m all ears! (Literally, I’m all ears, look at my author pic)
Moe & Me

Moe & Me

Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf's Mysterious Genius
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : sports, golf
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
If you want great Canadian golf writing, you want Lorne Rubenstein. Part memoir, part biography, this book profiles one of the great golfers of all time, who just happens to be Canadian. The book is achingly personal and heartfelt. It’s easily my favourite Canadian golf book, and Rubenstein’s portrait of Moe Norman is inspiring to me. We all are trying to figure out: what is it about golf?
close this panel
The Essential W. P. Kinsella
Excerpt

From Chapter One of "Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa"

My father said he saw him years later playing in a tenth-rate commercial league in a textile town in Carolina, wearing shoes and an assumed name.

?He’d put on 50 pounds and the spring was gone from his step in the outfield, but he could still hit. Oh, how that man could hit. No-one has ever been able to hit like Shoeless Joe.”

Two years ago at dusk on a spring evening, when the sky was a robin’s-egg blue and the wind as soft as a day-old chick, as I was sitting on the verandah of my farm home in eastern Iowa, a voice very clearly said to me, “If you build it, he will come.”

The voice was that of a ballpark announcer. As he spoke, I instantly envisioned the finished product I knew I was being asked to conceive. I could see the dark, squarish speakers, like ancient sailors’ hats, attached to aluminum-painted light standards that glowed down into a baseball field, my present position being directly behind home plate.

In reality, all anyone else could see out there in front of me was a tattered lawn of mostly dandelions and quack grass that petered out at the edge of a cornfield perhaps 50 yards from the house.

Anyone else was my wife Annie, my daughter Karin, a corn-coloured collie named Carmeletia Pope, and a cinnamon and white guinea pig named Junior who ate spaghetti and sang each time the fridge door opened. Karin and the dog were not quite two years old.

?If you build it, he will come,” the announcer repeated in scratchy Middle American, as if his voice had been recorded on an old 78-rpm record.

A three-hour lecture or a 500-page guide book could not have given me clearer directions: dimensions of ballparks jumped over and around me like fleas, cost figures for light standards and floodlights whirled around my head like the moths that dusted against the porch light above me.

That was all the instruction I ever received: two announcements and a vision of a baseball field. I sat on the verandah until the satiny dark was complete. A few curdly clouds striped the moon and it became so silent I could hear my eyes blink.

close this panel
Why it's on the list ...
Kinsella's book SHOELESS JOE was made famous by the Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams. I especially love the way Kinsella portrays the marriage of the main character, Ray Kinsella, and his wife, Annie. You can feel the love and kindness. But the concept here is as powerful as the storytelling. I love me some magical realism. If I had to choose one book that inspired me to write Still Me, it would be this one.
close this panel
All My Puny Sorrows
Why it's on the list ...
Humblebrag: I consider Miriam an old friend, and as she produced more cry-through-tears masterwork from the depths of her heart, she became a hero to me. I felt like I was watching her process from a special angle.
Now, if I said I was trying to write something tragicomic the way Toews does, it would be a little bit like that contestant on American Idol who tries to take down an Adele song, and the judges start grimacing to themselves as soon as the open bars play. You can’t do what she does! I do try to plumb the depths, though. It can be intensely personal, though it is completely fiction.
All My Puny Sorrows deals with family and mental health, and I think of this book often. We follow three sisters who have lived through the carnage of trying to be themselves within a repressive Mennonite community. The spectre of mental illness and suicide lurks throughout the book, and yet, you will smile as your read, because the characters, much like the author, are quite wonderful.
close this panel
Grandmother, Laughing
Excerpt

Suaruh Suschtje, the children called me in school. Sour Sarah Sudermann. I was nineteen already that Sunday, but Suaruh Suschtje I still was when I sat across the table corner from Preacher Funk. From so close he looked young for a preacher, hardly older than I was, and he seemed nervous. Liestje laughered herself behind her hand, and Mamuh looked like she was biting her tongue. I think Preacher Funk must have been waiting for my father to start neighbouring, and Papuh said nothing, just passed the meat plate to Pete and nodded his head in the preacher’s direction. I thought maybe Mamuh would at least ask him if he wanted more carrots or potatoes with peel, but she had decided to let the men play this game.
I, of course, was too frightened to talk, and I wished the eating would finish so the preacher could get up and go away. Still, out of the corner of my eye, I was watching Preacher Funk’s hands cutting up the meat and peeling young skin off a potato. A patch of stubble beard under his jaw made me think of the weeds in the garden corner that I didn’t finish hoeing on Saturday. In the night I had dreamed I was hoeing in the garden, and a patch of fat hen just wouldn’t go away no matter how many times I hacked the weeds off and flipped them over to go wilted in the burning sun.
But there at the table my eyes watched the preacher’s hands, the tractor grease in the cracks, the blood blister under the thumbnail. Fuschtje Funk was a farmer, after all. His forefinger along the butter knife had a dark brown wart beside the middle knuckle. He stuck the knife into the middle of a tweeback bun and broke it open, even like Jesus I thought, and I wondered me if Jesus had used a knife to break the bread for his disciples. I watched him cut a sliver of butter and smear it over half the bun. Then he reached his knife over to the wild plum jam, and he skimmed a knifeful off the top and reached his bun closer so that the jam dripped onto the bun and not onto the tablecloth. He saw me watching and one of his eyes slowly closed, and I got this grizzlijch feeling in my stomach.
“By us we don’t smear double,” my father said.
Everybody stopped breathing. Preacher Funk’s face reddened down to his collar so the patch of stubble beard looked like a black checker on a red square. He didn’t speak, but he looked at the two halves of his bun, and then he scraped the jam off the butter onto the dry half-bun lying beside his plate.
I held my breath until after Papuh led the preacher into the sitting room. I had just tied on my apron to clean up the table when Papuh came back into the kitchen, his face white as the sofa dust cover in his hands. He waved me to come.
Again that Sunday kitchen was so quiet I could hear the flies’ footsteps on the tablecloth. What wanted these men with me? I had never sat alone with Papuh in the sitting room, and only if I was getting baptized would a preacher want to talk with me. Spring baptism was long past already and for sure I wasn’t marrying myself yet, so what was the hurry?
But in those days a daughter obeyed her father, so I went into the sitting room without even running upstairs to look in the mirror first. I didn’t breathe but I could feel my heart boompsing against my dress as I sat down on the first hard chair. That’s when I saw I still had my apron on.
Papuh had pulled open the curtain on the south window. Sitting with his back to the light, Preacher Funk was a shadow that reached across the floor to my Sunday shoes. My feet wanted to breathe, but on Sundays we had to wear our shoes inside. I could feel his eyes looking out of the shadow, and I wondered what he was thinking and I wondered if my hair was all fixed into place. Papuh sat down on one end of the soft sofa like it was a hard chair, knees together, hands lying on his legs.
I waited for somebody to say something to me, but for many minutes I heard only fuscheling from the kitchen and clicking back and forth from the grandfather clock.

That piano was old already when Obrum brought it home one afternoon with a dunkel schwoakj on his face, darker than the time Tien told him he had pneumonia. I didn’t see him right away because I was bending over in the garden, pulling carrots, and I didn’t think I needed to look over to what he was doing until I saw that he had backed up the wagon nearly to the kitchen door.
Well, my heart fluttered when I saw that. I mean, Obrum had that morning at breakfast talked about maybe selling the farm and moving to Peace River, but I hadn’t thought that he would want to load up the wagon before the evening cows had been milked. Even Obrum Kehler wasn’t that haustig a man. But living with Obrum was sometimes like trying to stand up on a moving lawnswing and so my heart fluttered when I saw the wagon backed up to the door.
When I carried my carrots to the kitchen step, Obrum was still sitting on the tractor seat looking straight ahead away from the wagon, away from the house. I had lived with him long enough, two years already, to know that when he looked like that he wasn’t looking at what was in front of him; he was looking someplace deep inside his head. I never quite learned how to hold the forked willow stick in such a way that I could see in there with him. I didn’t have a forked willow stick anyways, but I had fresh carrots, so I rubbed the earth off from two of them and walked over to the tractor and tickled Obrum’s knuckles with the greens and then slipped the carrot into his hand. His fingers gripped the carrot but he didn’t turn to look at me until he had bitten off the spitz and was crunching it in his mouth.
Then he looked at me. A tear sippled out of the eye corner beside his nose.
“What’s loose?” I grabbed the top of the wagon box and stepped on a wheel spoke. I noticed that the wheel was stopped on my begonia flowers, but I knew there was no use complaining about flowers to a man who would just say, “Nuh Bbloom kaun ye noch emma wada waussuh.” A flower can yet always grow again. Still, a part of me was maybe thinking that Obrum had such a cloudy face because he was sorry he had backed into my begonias. Yoh, I was still pretty young then.
A grey tarp covered what looked like a big box. For an eyeblink I saw a coffin under that tarp, I don’t know why, but that’s what I saw even when I could see that the shape under the tarp didn’t look like a coffin at all. In those days coffins were made of boards and just deep enough for a person to fit in, not like nowadays when everybody has to have a queen-size bed to be buried in and then yet a stone rolled on top of it. An old woman should be forgiven for talking about such dunkel things, but I was thinking that maybe I want somebody to play piano by my funeral.
I would want a man to play. A woman wouldn’t be the same, unless it’s my grandson Koadel's daughter Michelena. For sure I don’t want Klaviera Klassen or one of the other church players to play, no, not those women. What am I saying? I must be febeizeling my brain. But yes, if a man would play, then I could go to my grave happy. I can see him already in my head, playing on the piano, his tongue sticking out between his lips, just like Obrum when he sat down with me on the piano bench and we played "Chopsticks" together.
Ach yoh, I had thought Obrum’s lawnswing was as wrisplijch as things could get with a man but I had a thing or two to learn yet. You see, my father was a Fäasängah in our church where we didn’t have a piano. He had a shtemm gaufel tuning fork, which he would bang on his knee to get the right note to start off a song at the front of the church. But that was about as far as it went with music in our house. My brother got a little mouth organ in a popcorn box once and we all blew it full of spit but we never quite figured out how to make a song with it.
But Obrum Kehler that day had a tear sippling from his eye corner as he crunched away on that carrot I had given him. His tear didn’t make sense to me then, just like the piano on the wagon didn’t make sense to me, a person who couldn’t even stay on a tune for more than three notes in a row. I mean, Obrum knew that even before we got married.
The day I first went to the sod house, Obrum took me by the hand and led me along the middle road between the fields and I was a little bit nervous about this because I hadn’t told my father that I was going any place. At the same time I didn’t want to let go of Obrum’s hand because my knees were still shaking from being on the lawnswing and so I only looked back once to make sure my sister wasn’t schlikjing along behind. She wasn’t, so I just let myself be pulled along in Obrum Kehler’s warm hand.
It was a hot summer day with a bit of wind that ruffled through Obrum’s long red hair and blew his tie over his shoulder as we walked. I still had my hair pinned in my Sunday bun but as I watched the wind blow through Obrum’s hair, I felt like I wanted to let my hair loose with the wind too, only I didn’t do that. I just walked along and listened to him whistling a song that I hadn’t heard before. For sure it wasn’t a church song, only it made me feel like poplar leaves trembling outside a church window.
But then Obrum stopped and held his finger to his lips. I listened. I heard frogs croaking from Mary’s Creek. I looked at Obrum’s face and saw his Adam’s apple move like he was swallowing his spit and then his lips made a circle and my heart vrunsched a little because I figured he was going to try to kiss me and I didn’t know what I was going to do. But he didn’t turn his face or even his eyes to me. Then he cooed like a mourning dove. A few heartbeats later a mourning dove cooed back to him. Again Obrum cooed … and again the dove cooed back. He turned to me.
“Now you do it,” he said.
I laughed then and shook my head. But he wouldn’t listen to no. My squeaky voice wobbled a little off the tune, but when we listened, the mourning dove cooed back, and I got a feeling that was scary and comfortable at the same time.
You know, God could have made us different. Who knows? Maybe God tried making people who were born old and then they couldn’t do anything except die. I don’t know but it seems to me now that if we knew everything when we were young that we know when we are old, we would be too scared to make it through to old age. At least, it seems that way now, that if I had known everything that I know now I would never have ... no, I would never have climbed up on that wagon and sat down on the piano bench beside Obrum Kehler.
“Where did you get such a thing?” I wanted to know. That dunkel schwoakj wiped off his face.
“Get up on the wagon,” he said, and before I could argue he had helped me climb up and made me sit down on the slippery, shiny piano bench. He climbed up after me and sat so our hips touched and he lifted up the lid. I laughed. Those black and white keys made me think of Fiestane Friesen’s rotten teeth. But I hurry swallowed my laugh when Obrum started to play piano.
Yeah, Obrum Kehler played piano. Oh, not like a person nowadays who has had piano lessons. No, Obrum never learned real piano playing, but he could play that song he liked to whistle. He didn’t tell me till years later how come he had learned to play such a song, but then in those days a woman just figured a man would know things and she never asked where he had learned them.
But right then I didn’t ask. I was so yralled up with watching his farmer fingers bouncing on that piano that I wasn’t even bothered by the trembling poplar-leaf feeling the tune always gave me. Later, I thought our hips had been touching and far apart at the same time. Over and over he played that tune, louder and louder, faster and faster, his tongue sticking out from his lips like bolognaaloney between pieces of bread. It got so loud that the dog started barking and the swallows flew out of the mud nest under the eaves of the barn. Then he stopped, and he turned to me with his you-can’t-say-no look and he said, “Susch, now you play ‘Chopsticks.’”
“What mean you, ‘Chopsticks’?’” I said, and shrugged away from him. But he reached me around and took my right hand and he used my forefinger to slowly pick out the high notes of the song. A few times he played the song through with my finger, but it was his hand playing piano with my finger, not my finger doing my will, and something inside me wasn’t altogether happy with that. Then he started bouncing notes with his other hand and I was squeezed in between as the piano got louder and louder and I was happy for sure that we didn’t live in the village where everybody would come to look at these two schnorrijch people making such a schtook machine noise that the big spokey wagon wheels were starting to rock back and forth.
And then Obrum started doing another thing. He started pressing his foot down on one of the pedals, and because he was a short-legged man and he was sitting a bit to the side to give me room, he had to stand up a little so his hind end was bouncing on the piano bench yet. I was bouncing right along with him whether I wanted to or not, knocking back and forth between his arms, his bouncing hip knocking mine. The dog barked harder than in a thunderstorm and over it all I heard the cows mooing.
Then the whole world sank down., I felt it in my stomach like going fast down a hill in a car. I clawed out for the piano keys but that piano had bounced up over the board Obrum had nailed in front of the wheels, and it was all we could do to shove the piano bench back and get our feet out of the way as the piano rolled right out off the end of the wagon and schtooksed down to the grass.
For a long eyeblink the piano looked like it would tip over on its face … then it leaned back and settled on its wheels. Before we could let our breath go, the front panel above the keys let loose and clattered to the ground. The yard was as still as it must have been before the world was made.

close this panel
Why it's on the list ...
While Wiebe’s writing takes place in somewhat-real, somewhat-imagined Mennonite communities, for me, he is simply writing about the rural Manitoba experience. Wiebe’s ability to thread Low German into the prose is merely one way in which is places a microscope lens up to your eye and a listening horn to your ear. You can smell the sod homestead just outside of Gutenthal where Sarah Suderman falls in love. A forbidden love.
Wiebe takes us through time and gives us touching, humorous moments along with tears. I cried at the end of this book. Hard. I’ve learned many lessons from Armin Wiebe.
close this panel
This Place Called Absence
Why it's on the list ...
It is hard to describe this book. This Place Called Absence is about loss, mostly, but it’s also about queer identity, the experience of being Singaporean in the diaspora, and female oppression. Kwa’s writing reminds me of a pond in the morning. There is a stillness. A solemnness.
Kwa bridges time and memory to tell this story, and it lends to the feeling of disconnect of absence without getting in the way.
close this panel
The Time in Between
Excerpt

The typhoon arrived that night. Ada woke to the sound of rain driving against the windows. Above them, on the rooftop, chairs fell and banged against the washstand. The corrugated tin on the stairwell roof worked loose and flapped for an hour before it broke free and fell like a whirling blade down onto the street. Ada was standing at the window watching the palm trees bend in the wind and she saw the tin roofing fly by and land on the tennis courts in the distance. The power went out and then flickered on and finally cut out completely. Ada woke Jon, her brother, who had returned while she was sleeping, and she held his hand and said, “I’m frightened.”

He sat up and said, “It’s a small storm. ­ Don’t worry.”

She could smell sex on him; sometimes the smell was musty and bleachy but tonight it was sweat and the slightest hint of old saliva. That smell. She stood and walked across the room. “The boats are coming in,” she said. “They know something we ­don’t. I’ve counted thirty already.”

The wind pulled at the hotel sign and threw it onto the street below.

“Get away from the window,” Jon said. “The glass could fall in.”

She sat at the edge of his bed and he held her hand and they listened. The wind arrived from out of the sky and from across the ocean and it seemed that it would never end, until it slid away, a deceptive and distant howl, and then returned just as quickly, banging against the trees and buildings, and everything loose was pulled into the maelstrom. She wanted it to stop. She began to shiver and even though Jon was beside her she felt very much alone.

“Look at us. We’re so stupid,” she said.

“Here,” Jon said, and he made her lie down and he covered her. He held his hands over her ears and put his thumbs against her eyes until the hollow core of the typhoon descended. And with that awful stillness came the everyday sounds: the clock on the bureau; something, perhaps a rat, moving about on the rooftop; the dry cough of the old man below them; the song of a woman calling again and again.

“It’s gone,” Ada said.

Jon said it would return. She said that the waiting frightened her more than the wind. She said she believed that their father was dead.

Jon was quiet. A siren sounded. The lights flashed across the dark sky and then disappeared.

close this panel
Why it's on the list ...
I wish I could write like David Bergen. The quietude in his writing gives his storytelling a flow that turns pages. In this story, Bergen draws from his experiences living in Vietnam to tell the story of a Canadian family searching for their missing father, last seen in Danang. As Ada and Jon search for traces of their father, Bergen takes us to him, using a challenging narrative device with flawless precision. Few writers could execute this the way Bergen does. This story will affect your bones, like the first cold wind of autumn.
close this panel
The Last Temptation of Bond
Why it's on the list ...
Kimmy Beach likes James Bond. A lot. Maybe too much. I list this book for two extremely important reasons: first of all, Beach showed me how to fuse poetry and literary prose to pop culture, and make the work compelling on many levels: intellectual, sensual, emotional. Poetry can be rock n’ roll. That’s Kimmy Beach.
Second reason: Kimmy was my editor on Still Me, and elevated this story to great heights. I am eternally grateful for her amazing intellect and instincts. Plus, and independently of this, I am a big fan of her writing.
close this panel
Still Me

Still Me

A Golf Tragedy in 18 Parts
edition:Paperback
More Info
Excerpt

PROLOGUE

THE BACK YARD

MANITOBA - ONE HOLE - FALLWAY HOMES

Everything becomes impossibly still.

In this moment, time takes a breath and looks the other way, halting its goosestep toward the ultimate end. All there is, as I open my heart up and draw my weapon back, the blade rising above my right shoulder, is this tiny orb.

The moment before I impart myself onto the ball is a moment I can only find in golf.

Golf is nothing like life. Unlike the world, my golf ball is completely at the mercy of my intention. I approach, settle, think think think think, waggle, make sure, look away, then look back, and finally begin my backswing, loading all of the force I can load into that club, all the while staring at the ball so as to never change my focus.

When I finally reach the apex of my backswing, and if I'm doing it right, there's a moment where everything stands still. I forget my hands. I forget what's happening in my chest. My whole world is a white dimply sphere, and all the potential in the world about to rain down on it, from my hands, arms, shoulders, back. Heart.

My intent is pure, because it is at the height of potential. It isn't real yet. This is still the perfect shot, perfectly still, not yet faulty because it hasn't been born. There's no memory here to haunt this moment. No pain. Not yet. There is only the perfection of presence and potential.

Golf is the only way I know to control time. It happens in the millisecond of that focused backswing, right before the violence of intention. It also happens in a four-hour round, at the bottom of an extra-large bucket of range balls, or a short game practice session in my back yard. When I escape time, I escape memory. In that way, golf is an alchemy. A magick. I am a practicing magician. Not a salesman. A magician.

close this panel
Why it's on the list ...
Eyamie's STILL ME: A GOLF TRAGEDY IN 18 PARTS is out now! We're pleased to be a stop on his virtual tour.
close this panel
comments powered by Disqus

There are two ways to make a reading list

This way:

  1. Click the "Create a New List" button just above this panel.
  2. Add as many books as you wish using the built-in search on the list edit page.

Or that way:

  1. Go to any book page.
  2. In the right-hand column, click on "Add to List." A drop-down menu will appear.
  3. From the drop-down menu, either add your book to a list you have already created or create a new list.
  4. View and edit your lists anytime on your profile page.
X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...