Tag Archives: Alice Munro

Five Can Lit Picks

1 Mar

At Meet at The Gate to finish off Canada’s turn on their World Literature Tour. Incidentally, they’re all by women: A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews (by the way, brand new information courtesy of last night’s Olympic hockey game between the US and Canada – is Toews pronounced Taves?), Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro, Helpless by Barbara Gowdy, Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott, and The Birth House by Ami McKay.

My Holiday Book Haul

5 Jan

On my way back to London from Toronto, I was forced to take an extra piece of luggage. While it’s true that half of this suitcase was filled with cheese, maple syrup, and leftover beauty booty (translation: fancy shampoo from my old job), the rest of it was crammed with books, both new gifts and beloved oldies that I rescued from the bookshelf of left-behind books. 

I got some pretty good stuff this year, including the Wrinkle in Time boxed set (I used its pretty artwork in my first ever post) and Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness. I also scored this customizable Pride & Prejudice. Gimmicky? Yes. Awesome? Yes. My friend was smart enough to know that the best part would be choosing the new character names, so she left that up to me. I’m really tempted to call Mr Darcy “Mr. Darsehole,” after this guy in my hometown who would always sniff around high school girls well into his 30s. Anyway. 

It’s also worth mentioning that there was a fair amount of book swapping between the family, something my parents started last year by giving each of us a book they already owned that they thought we would like (I got Marina Lewycka’s Two Caravans, which on my North American copy is called Strawberry Fields). It’s a nice way for me to unload some of my book collection without feeling like I’m actually giving it up (it may have been Christmas, but I’m not really all that generous).

Pun About Sexism

11 Nov

lady books

People (like me) got testy last week when Publishers Weekly released a top 10 books of the year list and neglected to include any female authors, even in a year when female authors kicked ass, took names.  PW’s excuse: “We ignored gender and genre and who had the buzz. We gave fair chance to the ‘big’ books of the year, but made them stand on their own two feet.” 

Laura Miller at Salon.com makes some good points about the difficulties list-makers face, but ultimately defends this tired old line, saying that if lists were “ideally representative” of women, race, nationalities, etc, then we’d just end up with a “tepid dish” of a top-10. This argument is all too easy to make because it will always sound so logical – you shouldn’t include bad books just to be nice to the girls! – but that doesn’t make it valid in every situation.

In a year full of Hilary Mantel, Alice Munro, Sarah Waters, Zoe Heller (and more!), it seems like PW would’ve had to go out of their way not to include the ladies. So the question really is, what is it about women’s writing – great women’s writing, that makes it seem not as prestige-worthy?

Lizzie Skurnick pulls no punches, saying,  “It has been a very strong two years for female writers and a weak two years for male ones, and the fact that the latter have garnered unseemly armfuls of praise and prizes for their tepid output is a scandal.”

Then she really nails it with, “It doesn’t happen because people — male or female — think women suck. […] It’s not that women shouldn’t be up for the big awards. It’s just that when it comes down to the wire, we just kinda feel like men . . . I don’t know . . . deserve them.”

BAM! And I really mean that.