Sunday, November 22, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
So I just finished a non-Canadian book, Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, and while there really are no Canadian aspects to the book, I thought I would take the opportunity to look at an often overlooked type of book- the cookbook.
I am not going to say much about Julie and Julia, except that as a general rule- if you are writing a book about a blog, you should include the blog entries as part of the book. I felt like I was missing a lot of the story because she references her blog a lot and I have never read it. But besides that, it was decent, funny, and foody, just how I like it!
But it did remind me of the GREAT chefs, cooks, cookbook writers, and food authors we have here in Canada. Really, we are pretty lucky. I love cooking and baking but more than both of those I love reading about cooking and baking and that includes cookbooks. Out here in Edmonton we have a local heroine who has created a cookbook empire that dominates stores across the country- Jean Paré
While there are many cookbook authors I could talk about, Jean Paré holds a special place in my heart because her books, Company’s Coming, are so familiar to me (I think my mom owns everyone!).
Not only that, but right after I read Julia Child’s book, My Life in France, a few years ago, I picked up Jean Paré’s biography, Jean Paré: An Appetite for Life by Judy Schultz. Now, An Appetite for Life isn’t a bad book- it is an interesting story and fairly well written, I just wouldn’t run around calling it a must-read Can Lit book or a must-read food book either. But, for someone who knows and frequently uses Company’s Coming cookbooks it is worth the read.
Jean Paré wrote her first cookbook in 1981 (150 Delicious Squares, if anyone is curious) and has written countless books since then. The recipes aren’t particularly Canadian (especially new ones, which have a greater international flair- but with our great multiculturalism, maybe that is Canadian), but there is something so Canadian about Company’s Coming- perhaps purely because you can buy them everywhere and their bright food photographs draw much attention.
So maybe we need a food literary cannon! It can be decided the Canadian Culinary Book Award folks who just last week gave the newest Company’s Coming, Small Plates for Sharing, a gold award!-Tory
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
And now for something completely different. I want to catch up on my blog posts, so usually you would never see two posts from me this close, but hey! I can surprise people sometimes!
Well, that is the completely different I was talking about, I am actually talking about How to be a Canadian. It is hardly the typical Canadian fiction that we are expecting to blog about, but I had it on my shelf and thought it deserved a read.
To start with, this book has hilarious parts- I did laugh loudly on more than one occasion. It is just that it wasn’t that clever. I mean we can all laugh at hating Toronto, but I have heard before, not that new. Some jokes were witty inside jokes (you had to be Canadian to get), which I appreciated, but most of those jokes were pretty dated. And when your book is only 8 years old, being dated isn’t a good thing. I know humour gets old quicker than other genres (don’t get me started on Sunshine Sketches of a Small Town) but I wanted a little more- and a little less stereotypes that have been overdone.
Now, I have to admit, some of these typical Canadian things- I do! I didn’t even know they were typical Canadian things until I read the book. So it has some merit and truth to it. I also think it is hilarious how much they hated York University. Now I lived in Toronto for only 2 years before returning West, but that was long enough to get a million York jokes thrown at me and it was funny to read about them. However, that is another worry of mine. There is definitely a “write what you know” feel to this book and while Ian and Will know a lot, they do tend to focus on what they know best. Like only talking about York University and missing most others.
Really, I would say my general observation is that the humour is pretty predictable. They make fun of hockey, politics and “eh”- nothing I didn’t see coming. So it makes you wonder, are Canadians just predictable people? Do we produce predictable humour, but also predictable literature? My last post about Thomas Wharton would say otherwise. But besides The Logogryph there is a fairly tame feeling to Can Lit. Though I hope if I keep reading I will prove this to be untrue. I bet Katy will disagree with me as well. I just need to find the gems!
So in conclusion, funny, but not the most hilarious book I have read. Not by far and mostly because it is so predictable.
Next (I will admit) I am taking a break from Can Lit to read Julie & Julia by Julie Powell- though not Canadian in any way, it is about cooking, so I think I will post about Canadian cook books, which are fabulous! Something different for you all to look forward to!
I just want to start this post by saying I have met Thomas Wharton (he is from Edmonton)- it was a long time ago, but he is a super cool guy who drives a minivan. Years ago, this minivan had a “Honk if you love Borges” sticker in it. How cool is that? Pretty freakin’ cool!
I have read other Thomas Wharton books that I love (Icefields being a favourite) and he is such a great writer. The thing with The Logogryph is you have to understand the format. At first, I was not enjoying it as much as I had hoped. I loved the story about the Canadian boy that ran through the book, but the other stuff was just short and disjointed. But then I reconsidered what I was reading and its purpose.
The Logogryph is like an annotated bibliography. It is a collection of bits that give a glimpse into stories about books. And it does a fabulous job of it. When you change your perspective from “I am reading a novel” to “I am not reading a novel, but a creative piece of fiction” then you can really understand what Wharton is trying to do.
I don’t have much to say about The Logogryph and that may be because I read it almost a month ago (I know- I suck at blogging) but it really is great and worth reading. So is every other Thomas Wharton book. There is nothing specifically Canadian about The Logogryph (unlike Icefields, which is super Canadian), but it demonstrates that even Canadians can produce cutting edge literature. It is just a great, creative, work of fiction. So go read it!
PS- When I was googling Thomas Wharton to make sure I spelt Logogryph correctly I cam across his blog, which is also on blogspot! Check it out here
-Tory (the bad twin who doesn't post much)