Bookmarking Canada 150 w/ Martha Sharpe of Flying Books

Posted by Drake, January 18, 2017

To mark Canada's 150th birthday we decided to bookmark a reading list of essential past, present and future CanLit as suggested by experts who spend a lot of their time reading or writing for a living. First, we talked to West Queen West neighbour and propieter of Flying Books, Martha Sharpe.

The book I'm going to set aside to read -- or rather, reread -- this year is The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant. It's one of those books that gives more with each reading, and I think maybe I'm still growing into it, so I'll see how far I've come along now that it's 2017.

Gallant knew people so well that she could transmit a character's entire personality in the slightest seemingly offhand gesture -- but then they couldn't have been offhand, as they're each so masterfully placed. I'll start reading a story, and will suddenly feel like I know this person she's describing, and I'll scan backwards looking for the precise moment that this deep knowledge of their whole being and presence set in, and I'll wind up back at the beginning. She does write great beginnings, by the way. Here's how In the Tunnel starts: "Sarah's father was a born widower." And you just know what she means -- he's set in his ways, dour, pessimistic, always already disappointed -- but Gallant gets all that across in six simple words.

She died almost three years ago; it's going to take me three hundred to absorb and fully understand everything she wrote.

Martha's list of most anticipated books:
Shot-Blue, by Jesse Ruddock

Little Sister, by Barbara Gowdy

The Lonely Hearts Hotel, by Heather O'Neill

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, by Scaachi Koul

The Last Word, by Julia Cooper

Boy, by Rachel Giese

Posted in: Canada 150

Tags: Canada 150  Literature