Well, I’ve decided. (Decided what?)
Partly because the host’s reminder of the first round-up for participants has come around. Partly because I think I could have put off deciding for a year, so I felt a snap decision might be better, freeing me to obsess about next year’s line-up guilt-free.
Partly because I’m working on another way to obsess about reading the oeuvres of selected writers, which frees me from choosing a particular Canadian writer to focus on here as I did with Ethel Wilson’s works and biographies for last year’s challenge. Partly because I’m hardly reading, so I feel like the least I can do is plan to read later.
So, in the end, I’ve opted for another list of Canlit; not Rigelhof’s, although I will be spending more time with his recent Hooked on Canadian Books tomorrow, for another bookish Friday), but, ironically the majority of books I’m aiming for are still post-1984, as are the titles he discusses and recommends.
But I’m aiming for the books suggested by Aritha van Herk in the Good Fiction Guide (edited by Jane Rogers) in the small section devoted to Canada; I’ve had most of these titles on my TBR list for years, so apparently there’s something integrally challenging about these gaps in my Canlit reading.
The reasons why this list has inherent appeal for me — above and beyond many similar lists — is that so many of my ATF Canlit reads are included therein, a number of writers whose works are often overlooked are included herein and, also, van Herk is one of the first Canadian writers whose work I remember particularly enjoying as a late-teens/20-something reader; these factors make this list particularly intriguing.
If you’re interested, here are the twelve Canlit titles that van Herk recommends in the summary text box that appears in each section of this supremely-addictive reading guide:
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers (1966)
Marian Engel’s Bear (1976)
Timothy Findley’s Famous Last Words (1981)
Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel (1964)
L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908)
Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion (1987)
Carol Shields’ The Stone Diaries (1993)
And these four, which I’ve yet to read:
Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe (1990)
Robert Kroetsch’s What the Crow Said (1978)
Suzette Mayr’s The Widows (1998)
Jane Urquhart’s The Whirlpool (1986)
I have copies of all of them, except the Kroetsch novel (I have others of his), but more than ten years later (twenty even, in the case of Lee’s novel), I still haven’t managed to actually read these few. That’s a challenge, no?
These are the others she discusses in her article, which I have already read (and, without exception enjoyed):
Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman (1969)
Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace (1996)
Sandra Birdsell’s Agassiz Stories (1987)
Dionne Brand’s In Another Place, Not Here (1996)
Timothy Findley’s Not Wanted on the Voyage (1984)
Mavis Gallant’s Selected Stories (1997)
Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms (1994)
Barbara Gowdy’s We So Seldom Look on Love (1992)
Wayne Johnston’s The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (1998)
Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water (1993)
Joy Kogawa’s Obasan (1981)
Margaret Laurence’s A Jest of God (1966)
Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance (1996)
W.O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen the Wind (1947)
Alice Munro’s The Progress of Love (1986)
Alice Munro’s Open Secrets (1994)
Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient (1992)
David Adams Richards’ Nights Below Station Street (1988)
Carol Shields’ Larry’s Party (1996)
Carol Shields’ Various Miracles (1989)
And she also included these, which I’ve yet to read (although I’ve actually read one of the McLennan novels and habitually confuse which one of his famous works I’ve yet to read (which is a challenge all its own, one which might suggest I need to re-read the other):
Anita Baudami’s Tamarind Mem (1997)
George Bowering’s Burning Water (1980)
Tomson Highway’s Kiss of the Fur Queen (1998)
Robert Kroetsch’s Alibi (1983)
Hugh McLennan’s Barometer Rising (1941) OR
Hugh McLennan’s Two Solitudes (1945)
John Steffler’s The Afterlife of George Cartwright (1992)
Audrey Thomas’ The Wild Blue Yonder (1990)
Jane Urquhart’s Away (1994)
Thomas Wharton’s Icefields (1995)
That’s 13 books in total for the challenging part of this CBC 4 reading challenge, which is the perfect number. Now I just did the math, and 40% of my reading this year so far has been Canlit, but this is the challenging part.
And, now, on to obsessing about the next reading project. What kind of reading are you obsessing about these days? Or are you obsessing about something else entirely?