Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Leaving Fletchville Facebook Page

It's like putting a message in a bottle...

Someone out there, I believe in the USA, created a Leaving Fletchville facebook page and there are about 50 people who are following it, or contributing to it, or something. I'd never heard of it until today when I got a google alert about it. I can't access it because I don't have a facebook cell-phone with SMS - (whatever that is).

Here is the link. If anyone can get into it please tell these nice people I'm so glad they liked the book. They can contact me via

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Di Tri Berresse

Writing with an accent...

When I was in University getting my teaching qualifications one of the Profs handed out this story and asked if we could read it. We were pretty confused by it until someone pointed out it was the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in an Italian-American accent. It's been in my file cabinet for thirty years, and like everything else interesting, it is also on the internet. If nothing else it is a good example of someone with a great ear. Cudos to the writer, whoever you are. By the way, the version I got back then was a sanitized version of what you see here...

DI TRI BERRESSE Wan suppona taim (once upon a time... you'll get the rest) was tri berresse: Mamma Berre, Pappa Berre, ena Bebi Berre liva inna contri nir foress. Naise aus. No muchegoaon. Wanna dei, Pappa Berre, Mamma en Bebi go byby, onie fughetta locche bacedor.
Bei enna bei commesse Guidelocchesse. Sci gadda notting tudu budde meichedetruble. Sci puche olladafud indamaude. No liva crome. Den sci goss oppesterres enna slips inna olladabeddse. Leise slobbe.
Bei enna bei commesse ohm di tri Berresse - Dei gaddano fud. Dei gaddano beddse. Ena wadda dei gonnado to Guidelocchesse? Tro erre aut inna strait? Culle pulissemens?
Fette cjense!
Dei wass Hitelien berresse, enna de nominda dei slippa onna floors. Guidelocchesse stei derre tri wics. Sci etam autta ausenohm. Den - guista bicose dei esccha erre tu meichedebeddse - sci sei: Gotuelle!
Ena rona ohm crainke tu erre Mamma, tellerre wat sanimabichese di tri berresse uer.
Waddaui gonnado? Go compleine Sitiolle?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review of Dust, by Arthur Slade, We All Fall Down, by Eric Walters

The time I spend drumming my fingers waiting to hear back about a manuscript I've sent out is a great opportunity to catch up on my own reading. I am not as familiar with Canadian writers as I should be. DUST by Arthur Slade is an excellent book: a work of art. It won a Governor General's Literary Award in 2001. It is a short novel, better considered a novella, and the setting is in the gritty dust bowl of the 1930's. The opening chapter begins as a boy of seven takes his first unescorted walk to the prairie crossroads town near their farm. He is enticed into a truck by a 'friendly stranger'. Slade's writing is superb and everything about the situation and the stranger has just the right mood of creepy malevolence. The naive farm boy accepts the ride from the stranger who tells him, "I was never young. I was never, ever young.". Nobody witnesses the boy's disappearance but numerous other children disappear in the regions around. The story shifts to the older brother who has insights beyond that of most of the adults in town. A type of spell is cast by the stranger and the problems of bringing rain to the parched community seem to be solved by his magical machine. This is an excellent read and Slade's mastery of writing is superb. I would recommend it to anyone: young adult or adult.

One of Eric Walter's many books, We All Fall Down, is a disappointment. The setting is the World Trade Towers on the day of 9/11 and this fictional story is a well-meant tribute to those brave people who rescued others while escaping the burning towers. Many interesting facts about the towers are included and worked into the plot by a detail-obsessed father, as he speaks to his restless son. But any work done on a event of that magnitude should be done with utmost care. It wasn't. I found the dialogue flat with both main characters, father and son, speaking alike. The son's problems with the father's absences from home-life and his workaholic nature are supposed to be resolved by the end, but they take away from the life-and-death focus of the narrow escape they are making. For people who have read other books on 9/11 or want to increase their knowledge of the event, this might be a book to read, but for others... sorry.

The third book I read is Playing With Fire, by Theo Fleury and Kirstie McLellan Day. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was surprised at how well written it was.
The first and most important thing to note, this is not a book for kids. Fleury is a damaged man who was evilly abused by a man everyone trusted. His recall of his early years should be required reading for Children's Aid workers. Fleury's voice is genuine. He is rude, funny, insightful and descriptive. Kirstie Day does a marvelous job of organizing this angry and painful biography and keeping her own voice out of it. (I'm certain her voice isn't in it, because I've never heard a mother of five kids swear like that). From Fleury's stoned look on the book cover to his pranks, taunts, fearless challenges of bigger guys and his drug, alcohol, and gambling abuses, you are transported to a world most of us know little of. His unapologetic description of fellow NHL players and his blunt observations of professional hockey's management are similar to other hockey player biographies but are necessary to the book. Particularly telling is when he wonders aloud how the management of his team would be unaware of the sexual abuse of him and Sheldon Kennedy. All parents of elite hockey players should take note of this biography as well. Fleury's descriptions of the party scene are so vivid you can smell the beer-puke in the corners and see the folks in the dingy bathroom snorting lines of coke. His tryst with suicide is a 'cri de coeur' you will not forget reading. A balance throughout is the touching account of how a few stable friends and family members, people of faith, stick with him and help him find meaning and forgiveness in life. Again, this is not a book for the young and innocent.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Review of 'A Thief in the House of Memory" by Tim Wynne-Jones, and 'To Rule the Waves' by Arthur Herman

Reading is great.
Lately I've been able, finally, to make a dent in the list of books I've decided to read. Some of them are books by Y.A. authors. I just finished reading "A Thief in the House of Memory by Tim Wynne-Jones, who I knew years ago at York U. where he taught Visual Arts. I like his writing because there are so many layers of details the reader must gradually peel away. The main character, Declan, is haunted by images of his mother who had disappeared years before. He mistrusts his father and his step-mother and attempts to solve the mystery of his mother's disappearance. There is a beautiful, large, ornate, fully furnished house (Tim's books always have a strange house) which contains clues to most of the mystery. A good read for good readers.

A friend of mine, also a visual artist, told me about the next two books I am reading: Island of the Seven Cities by Paul Chiasson, is an almost believeable read about a supposed colony of Chinese explorers on Cape Breton Island sometime before the Spanish and British and French came to the area. Hmmm. Not a book kids could appreciate (and it is not meant to be) but their teachers may get into it.
The next one, a big fat history, is called To Rule the Waves by Arthur Herman, and it chronicles the growth and formation of the British Navy. I should have read this when I taught history because it gives some entertaining insights into the first explorers and the so-called 'heros' of early seafaring. Shipboard life on armed merchantmen is well described, as is the lives of the shaker & movers. I always enjoyed peppering my lessons about history with true tid-bits to hold the students' attention, such as the detail that Italian navigator de Verrazzano was mooned by North American natives as he sailed past what is now New England. Who knew?
I always showed Master and Commander to my classes because it shows such vivid ocean scenes. Descriptions in this book appeal in much the same way, without the fiction.