This book is as charming as its cover! De Bernieres’ collection of short stories showcases the eccentrics of a fictional English village named Notwithstanding. It’s a wistful look at the village’s inhabitants, who, according to the afterword, are based on De Bernieres’ childhood neighbours in Surrey: “the belligerent spinsters, the naked generals, the fudge-makers, the people who talked to spiders.”
One of my favourite characters is the “hedging and ditching” man who is constantly reflecting on the objects he discovers in the muck of the ditches. “The generally credited rumour was that he was the wealthy scion of an aristocratic family, who hedged and ditched in order to escape the fathomless tedium of an idle life filled with scones and trivial conversations.” Eye roll. Of course. He couldn’t just be a hedging and ditching man.
Then there’s Mrs Mac, who talks to ghosts, and Peter, who catches the Girt Pike, and the auspicious encounters of the famous Notwithstanding wind quartet.
I’m a fan of short stories and these interconnected tales tell a charming and witty history of a handful of quaint villagers who are a curiosity to everyone but themselves.
The perfect app for frustrated librarians dealing with mis-shelved books. This augmented reality app for Android devices makes rearranging a joyful chore. Developed by Miami University’s Augmented Reality Research Group. http://www.muarrg.com
National Post says “West is best”
Brad Frenette talks books and publishing on the westcoast with Billie Livingston, Ian Weir, Kevin Chong, Caroline Adderson, John Vaillant, Timothy Taylor, Annabel Lyon, Zsuzsi Gartner, and Steven Galloway. http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/04/29/vancouver/
Idaho Winter is one of those books that is going to mess with your mind. The cover makes it seem like it’s a reprint of a book published in the 40s or 50s. The opening scene is reminiscent of Harry Potter, in that Idaho is the boy cramped in a tiny room and unloved by his family, and Back to the Future, where McFly is bullied by Biff. Like Harry Potter, the reader learns what’s happening at the same as Harry does. In this case, the reader learns what’s happening at the same time as the author, who is our narrator and main protagonist, that is once it switches from Idaho. Very post modern. Like Back to the Future, Marty McFly can mess things up and prevent his parents from getting together. In this case, the author, or any character, could, and has, messed things up.
Confused? Let me tell you a little about the story.
Idaho gets beaten up, flees to the river, where he finds Madison, who wants to be his friend, but the kids, dogs and adults of the town chase him down and sic the dogs on him. But the dogs get Madison instead. Then Idaho becomes a giant and there are Mom-bats and secret caves and people turn into chocolate. Not kidding.
Idaho Winter is one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read. I don’t mean that critically either. Do you know how dream stories are bizarre when told in the light of day? Well, that’s Idaho Winter. Characters morph into other characters. Perspective changes. Landscape shifts and changes. Things that are unexplainable make perfect sense, at the time.