Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Best Books of the 2011

Everywhere in the literary, publishing and book media, there are tons of lists concerning the Best Books of 2011. Not to be left out, I've decided to create my own list. It's a very short list, only one book, but hands-down, it's my Favourite Book of 2011.

"Hey, wait a minute," I hear you say. "That's your own book. You can't pick that as the Best Book of 2011."

Oh yes I can. There is nothing in the rules that say I can't choose my own book as my own Best/Favourite Book of 2011. I recall several years ago Rolling Stone had a massive issue on the Best Albums of All Time. They polled writers and rock stars, etc. and got them to pick their list. One of the Ramones, Joey or Johnny, picked two Ramones albums for their own list. And why not, the Ramones kick ass.

And to be completely honest, my book is my Favorite Book of 2011. It's my book; it's finally got published; and it was published by a major US publisher (Forge) after being rejected by over 15 Canadian publishers. I spent almost seven years of my life waiting for the release of this book. When 2011 began last year, the biggest thing I was looking forward to all year was the release of Fall From Grace on March 28, 2011. After the birth of my kid and my wedding, March 28, 2011 is one of the best days of my life.

When the book came out, I got interviewed by a bunch of people, including the great Shelagh Rodgers at the CBC. I went on two book tours and the reviews were very solid. Some of them were even fantastic, like this one below.

So that's it, my Favourite Book of 2011. If you want to know what my Favourite Book of 2012 will be, here's a hint. At least I'm being honest.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Are You Canadian Enough?

Recently in Canada, there's been a bit of discussion of whether Canadian literature of today is Canadian enough. Here are two bits recently posted about that.

This is typical of Canada, we wonder whether the books written by Canadians are Canadian enough. Some Canadian books are not set in Canada and don't have Canadians in them but they are written by Canadians. In the past some have said these books don't qualify as Canadian enough. I won't get involved in this argument that much save to say that I believe if a book is written by a Canadian, it's Canadian regardless of the plot, setting, characters, etc.

What bothers me about these two posts and some others about this Canadianism is there is too much focus on various Canadian awards, especially the Giller and the GG, aka the Governor-General's Award. The books mostly used in these discussions are those books shortlisted for these awards. And it seems that only these books are used to describe the current state of Canadian fiction. The rest of the books written by other Canadian writers don't seem to count. I won't get much into the fact that most of these awards, especially the Giller, discourage books of a science fiction and crime nature not to enter the contest. Go about halfway down in this post to see:

My point is Canada's publishing and literary community is way too focussed on awards. Awards are nice and I do like them and would like to win some. But it's become such a major part of our literary culture that it seems that only a few books who are shortlisted for awards are the only reflection of Canadian literature. And that's pretty sad.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday, Italian-style

Since I don't have any trips or literary adventures for awhile, I'm staying local for a bit.

Turn the clocks back and get up earlier (yet later) than you expect on a Sunday. So what to do with your extra time? We went to Spinelli's, a cafe next to Edmonton's famous Italian Centre on 95 Street. Spinelli's is awesome, especially the downtown one. You could go to the one on the southside but with the football (not North American but real football) playing on the five screens, the old Italian men holding court and greeting each other with "Buogiorno", and the helpful yet somewhat surly servers, the downtown Spinelli's has a more European feel. The cafe food is awesome, great sweets, plus calzones and drinks. We got a calzone, a cannoli (sp), a chocolate croissant, hot chocolate and two lattes and it cost us less than $15. Go to any Starbucks, Second Cup, or any other cafe and order something equivalent and you'd be paying twice as much.

The other great part of Spinelli's is shopping at the Italian centre afterwards. Some of the best deli meats and cheese in town. There's always free samples. Plus old school grocery service at the till. I used to work at a grocery store in the old days so I know when I receive old school service at a store.

Great start to a nice Sunday.