My progress through Gabrielle Roy‘s works has been slow but steady, and this month I requested one of the children’s books, which I held out for myself as a reward for finishing six of her novels.
My treat was to be Cliptail, but the only copy available in the public library was the French edition, so I read Courte-Queue instead.
(This is the final month in the 8th Canadian Book Challenge, hosted by The Book Mine Set from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015, and while I have enjoyed several of Gabrielle Roy’s books in the past year, I doubt I will complete them all by the time the challenge is closed.)
The majority of François Olivier’s illustrations are black-and-white images of rural and farm life, as viewed from the perspective of a cat with a short tail (due to unfortunate circumstances described on the story’s first page) but a handful are richly coloured.
One, in particular, draws attention to a significant human’s feet, something much more commonly in view of a four-legged creature than would be true from another human’s perspective.
Gabrielle Roy does a fine job of reorienting the reader’s perspective so that sympathies and awareness are readily aligned with the cats, and as part of that approach, the story does reveal a cruel truth of Courte-Queue’s experience, which contributes to a consistent tension throughout the tale.
Another charming series of cat tales which have populated my stacks recently are Lois Simmie’s Mister Got to Go stories, beginning with the launch story from 1995.
All three are strikingly illustrated by Cynthia Nugent and based upon the premise that a charismatic grey cat, who spends a single rainy night at the Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver, is told that he has “got to go” the following day.
In fact, however, he becomes so much a part of the hotel that by the series’ third book his sudden disappearance causes considerable distress for all involved (including, of course, Got to Go).
Another on-going reading project has been the Love Letters of Canadian Poets published by Goose Lane in Where the Nights Are Twice as Long.
Most evenings, I read a couple of letters, in that between return-home and make-dinner gap, in which I know that I do not actually have time to simply sit down and read, but I long to pick up a book all the same.
(This is surprisingly appropriate, as the anthology is as much about longing as it is about having one’s desires and dreams fulfilled.)
One element which has surprised me is the enjoyment I have gotten from reading Robert Service’s letters to Constance MacLean.
Those reprinted in the section devoted to letters written by lovers in their 20s were quite engaging, but I was thrilled to find that letters were still being written when he was in his 30s and although he has not been a favourite poet of mine, the love letters urged me to pull his collection of verses from the shelf.
From Phyllis Webb’s 1954 lines (say, “Oh my darling, tell me, what can love mean in such a world, and what can we or any lovers hold in this immensity of hate and broken things?”) to Priscila Uppal’s “I burnt my toast thinking of you today” more than forty years later, the variety of styles makes the collection consistently engaging.
Also in my stacks?
For instance, with an eye to reading the most recent installments in the series, I have gathered Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians (with China Rich Girlfriend in the wings), Elena Forbes Die With Me (the first Mark Tartaglia mystery, the most recent being this year’s Jigsaw Man, the fourth in the series), and Suzanne Young’s The Program (which must precede The Treatment and The Remedy).
Take the third book of L.M.Montgomery’s Anne series, Anne of the Island, which I am rereading so that I can properly participate in Lindsey’s #GreenGablesReadalong. Earlier this year I have been randomly pulling the early volumes off the shelf and indulging in favourite scenes (Gilbert and the slate) but it’s time to get serious so that I can discuss the sixth book (Anne of Ingleside) with the other readalong-ers.
Else, consider some ends.
Like the final Alice Munro collection in my read-through of her stories, which I began in 2011, which culminates in a reread of Too Much Happiness (I read her most recent collection, Dear Life, shortly after it was published in 2012.
How about you: how is your reading in this month of June?