I’ve been on a CanLit kick lately. Here are the fruits of my recent obsession with Canada’s literary and visual culture:
1. Over at the National Post, I review Camilla Gibb’s new novel The Beauty of Humanity Movement, a novel that uses cooking as a prism for viewing the recent history of Vietnam. The book left me cold, for reasons described in the revew. An excerpt:
Just as a brimming pho bowl can easily overflow, Gibb’s passion for food spills into her prose, which is soaked with cooking similes. About one character, we’re told that the feel of her breast “was like a perfect brioche from a French bakery, the nipple like a hard raisin.” This same girl is described in these terms: “Her lips like a butterfly, her skin dewy like a newly peeled potato.” Another beauty has nipples that are “more [like] grape seeds than the raisins of the [earlier] girl.”
A moment of distress leads to a simile that requires a Heimlich manoeuvre: “He prayed for Dao’s life, but woke each morning in certain distress, dread lodged like an egg in his throat.” Perhaps this novel made me too gastronomically minded but my first thought was: What sort of egg? Hard-boiled? Scrambled? Poached?
2. I was much more impressed with Leon Rooke’s new story collection, The Last Shot, which I reviewed for Canadian Notes and Queries. The review is hard to excerpt but discusses Rooke’s use of pastiche and his stature as one of our greatest short story writers.