Moonglow – Michael Chabon

Moonglow - Michael ChabonChabon has written many imaginative novels: The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Telegraph Avenue, etc. Moonglow is a fictionalized memoir, ostensibly based on his grandfather’s life. The writing is superb: his grandfather’s experiences in WWII and a lifelong interest in rocketry; a poignant story of his grandmother’s mental illness. A powerful aspect of the story telling is the consequences of keeping secrets and telling lies. This is an excellent read; thanks Renee, for this recommendation.

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Martin John by Anakana Schofield

Martin John by Anakana SchofieldThis book was on the Giller short list. Martin John is a sexual predator, with actions ranging from touching himself in public to inappropriate touching of others. What is fascinating is that the voice of this book describes the circular thoughts in his head with clear evidence of mental illness. And there is his Mam, frustrated by MJ’s pattern of offending and re-offending – how far can a mother’s love stretch. This is an excellent and provocative book.

Amy notes: As seen Vancouver Writers Festival 2015

Adult Onset by Anne-Marie MacDonald

Adult Onset by Anne-Marie MacDonaldThis is a complicated sometimes messy book that will not appeal to all, but in my opinion the book and story telling is brilliant. Difficult issues of childhood trauma (real or perceived?), debilitating post-partum depression, and mother-child relationships including maternal love and rage are all included for an incredible spectrum of issues. The core character, Mary Rose (MR, aka Mister) is sometimes completely off the rails and often neurotic, so a hard character to care about at times, which makes the storytelling all the more compelling.

Nobody Is Ever Missing – Catherine Lacey

Nobody Is Ever Missing - Catherine LaceyA brilliant story about a 28 year-old woman who flees her husband and her NY life, to go to New Zealand. She continues to be lost. The writing is amazing, long disjointed sentences to mirror her aimless thoughts. And the ending is intriguing.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18490560-nobody-is-ever-missing

Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

wide sargasso seaThis is the back-story to Rochester’s mad wife in Jane Eyre, a woman trapped in England after a life in the Caribbean. Rochester is revealed as first immature, then manipulative, greedy and deceitful so that his wife Antoinette is driven into madness. The author Rhys’ story is also fascinating.

All My Puny Stories – Miriam Toews

all-my-puny-stories-miriam-toewsThis is a book about suicide and so it is hard to be perfectly objective but – this is her best book since A Complicated Kindness. Some back story: Toews wrote Swing Low, a non-fiction account of the suicidal death of her father. In AMPS (words taken from a Coleridge poem), the story is fiction but heavily influenced by the suicidal death of Toews’ sister in 2010.

Now for the comments: this is a heart-breaking story, that captures perfectly the inherent conflict between two sisters who love each other, but conflict because one  wants to die and the other who wants her sister to live. The inevitability of the progression to the suicide is frightening, despite great efforts by many individuals in addition to the sisters. And finally, the picture of the psych staff is unflattering: indifference and ineffectiveness. Save up your energy for this but it is brilliant writing.