Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Great Wednesday Compare #7- Marilla Cuthbert VERSUS Morag Gunn

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy VERSUS Marilla Cuthbert), with a final score of 10-1 was Marilla Cuthbert.

What is that old saying? Hell hath no fury like a woman? Something like that. Anyway, it's time to finally say goodbye to Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, courtesy of Marilla Cuthbert. Not being a fan of Pride and Prejudice and not being attracted to Colin Firth, I can't say I'll miss him around these parts. Speaking of Firth, did you hear that he played Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones's Diary partly as an attempt to rid himself of the Fitzgerald Darcy connection? Umm, that wasn't the most brilliant of moves was it? It would be sort of like me wanting to shed my blogging identity and starting up a blog to report daily on how my progress is going.

Moving on. Vote in the comment section below before October 5th: Who is the better character?


Monday, September 27, 2010

Reader's Diary #652- Richard Comely (author) and George Freeman (illustrator): Captain Canuck Vol. 1

It was not quite two years ago that I began my love affair with the graphic novel. In hindsight it's a good thing I started with Seth's It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken. Had I started with Comely and Freeman's Captain Canuck, I'm afraid my graphic novel appreciation would have come to a screeching halt before it even began.

It's that bad. Worse than that bad. It's so bad I'm thinking of compiling a list of the worst books I've read since I began this blog back in '05 and I have to say, Captain Canuck is a strong contender to top that list.

Where to begin. Actually, that's a perfect place to start: the beginning. Unfortunately, the IDW Publishers couldn't figure out that basic concept. Captain Canuck came into being in the 70s and IDW has decided to unleash those first issues back into the Canadian wild. Except Volume 1 begins with issue #4 and continues to issue #10. Volume 1 begins with issue 4. What the hell happened to issues 1-3? And shouldn't those be in Volume 1?

Ah but that's the least of the problems. A few points should be discussed: the colouring, the artwork, and the writing.

In Richard Comely's introduction to this volume, he seems to focus a disproportionate amount of discussion on the colouring. According to Comely, he and Dick Thomas "came up with a technique that allowed for a wider colour range, colour blending and gradient tones." It was revolutionary, apparently. The colours, yes, were decent, and I can't fault the book on that front. Dang, looks like the Worst Book Mine Set Review Award may be slipping from Comely and Freeman's grip. But wait!

The art work by George Freeman, depending on the frame you're looking at it, might appear like any average superhero cartoon. If you can get past the stupid costume that is. White briefs? Sure they're a bit embarrassing, but come on, all the superhero guys wore those in the day. Maybe not white, but it's part of the Canadian motif, and the tights underneath will catch the skid marks anyway. No, the worst part is the head covering with the maple leaf on the forehead. I think it was Douglas Coupland who lamented how hard it is for Canadian kids to draw their own flag in school. The maple leaf is hard to draw and it's not any easier for Freeman, I suspect. The only consistency in it from one frame to the next is that it looks like a blood stain seeping through a bandage. The other character faces, I actually liked, especially in their 70's cheesy way. However, some of the postures are just grotesquely bad. There's one scene (p. 68), in which Captain Canuck's upper half aggressively confronts a man across a desk. His lower half, however, seems be headed out the door.

But the worst, the absolute worst, critique has to be of the writing itself. The spelling and grammatical mistakes (ex. their's) cannot even distract from how bad it is. Captain Canuck, who got his superhero strength from an encounter with aliens (unlike me who only ended up with Alien Herpes), so rarely exhibits any special power that I found myself forgetting what his powers were. And fighting drug dealers? A super-villain would have been nice.

Then there's the narration that needlessly describes scenes we can interpret quite easily for ourselves. In one panel, a fist is shown across Canuck's face, with blood squirting from his lip, and the narrator tells us, "But as he turns, Leavitt strikes hard!" In another Canuck is shown leaping through the air, his feet making contact with a couple of soldiers, and the word "Phwam" is emblazoned across their chests. Gee, what's going on there? "Before another word can be uttered two soldiers are downed in one swift move off his steed!" Which brings me to the next problem: the ridiculous amount of exclamation marks and appeals for our excitement, "In the next second the two brothers become a magnificent fighting duo!" Let me decide that! Or "What happens next can be described in a word...MAYHEM!" If it reminds you of Adam West era Batman, then clearly I haven't been harsh enough. I couldn't even enjoy this on a camp level. References to Churchill and Labrador, characters named Kebec and Redcoat, and a futurist Canada (well, okay, it's 1994 but they'd predicted Canada would be the world's superpower), far from inspiring any nationalistic pride, simply made me embarrassed that we ever produced something this terrible.

In Newfoundland, millionaire/crazy guy/founder of NTV, Geoff Stirling created his own superhero, Captain Canada. Captain Canada wears a Ski-doo helmet visor, could shed a few pounds, and terrorizes dolphins, but he could still kick Captain Canuck's butt:

Reader's Diary #651- Eva Moran: He Wishes This Were Something Else

(Photo by John Paul Kragg)

In Steven W. Beattie's review of Eva Moran's Porny Stories, a collection of short stories, he credits Moran for taking the uptightness out of Canadian sex writing. Her depictions, he says, are filthy, carnal, and sweaty.

Well, good on her, I guess, but my one issue with "He Wishes This Were Something Else" is with a sex scene. It's not bad enough to qualify for a Bad Sex in Fiction award, but it's still disappointing. "He Wishes This Were Something Else" is about a young couple, so a sex scene or two wouldn't be out of place, however, when Moran eventually gets there it's just wham, bam, no thank-you ma'am. You'll recognize the paragraph when you get there, it's the one where Moran rushes through the particular sex acts she's known for writing about as if there's a checklist taped somewhere on her laptop for quick reference. There, I'm still the hip sex writer, on with the story.

Outside of the that, "He Wishes This Were Something Else" was a great story. The story follows Carson who has begun dating a woman named Nikki, and it's Nikki that keeps the story interesting. I didn't like Nikki. Sure she had a troubled past, but it was nothing out of the realm of crap that many of us lived through. And certainly her way of dealing with it is also believable and not entirely uncommon. Carson looks at her as dating material, and so we're forced as readers to look at her through that lens as well. He seems to think she is more interesting than she is.

Towards the end, a vague although fantastically surreal ending, Carson seems to gain some sort of deeper understanding of Nikki. What he'll do with that understanding remains to be seen. However, I can't help but notice that Nikki doesn't seem to be searching for any insight into Carson. My advice to Carson would be to run.

Any story that makes me feel this strongly about the characters can't be all bad.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trivia Sunday- Four Score

Today's trivia theme is pretty simple. Name the four components.

As always, feel free to do all ten at home, but only answer one in the comment section to allow four others a chance to play along.

1. The four houses of Hogwarts
2. The four ghosts that visited Ebeneezer Scrooge
3. The four novellas in Stephen King's Four Past Midnight
4. Four Eugene O'Neill plays to win a Pulitzer
5. Fantastic Four members
6. Four lines that open William Blake's "The Tyger"
7. Four word M.G. Vassanji novel title
8. Four kids of Narnia series
9. Four off to seek help from the Wizard of Oz
10. Four Toni Morrison novels to be Oprah Picks

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Great Wednesday Compare #7- Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy VERSUS Marilla Cuthbert

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy VERSUS Roland Deschain), with a final score of 7-3 was Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Though Roland Deschain, aka the Gunslinger, put up an admirable fight last week (ex. Pooker's comment about Deschain on a motorcycle or horse while Darcy rides a unicycle whilst sporting a parasol), Mr Darcy won out. I suspect he owes a debt of gratitude to a certain Mr. Firth. I have to say, I enjoyed the Gunslinger series, or at least parts of it, more than Pride and Prejudice. However, I stopped at book #4, Wizard and Glass. The Wizard of Oz stuff in that book seemed so silly, I came to think of it as Roland Jumps The Shark. But then again, we were debating the characters, not the books. And while Pooker certainly makes a point, I do question whether or not Roland isn't too masculine, too much of a forced cliche. It'll be interesting to see what Ron Howard does with the script.

Moving on. Vote in the comment section below before September 28: Who is the better character?


Monday, September 20, 2010

Reader's Diary #650- Jesse Stuart: Split Cherry Tree

As a teacher I don't often like to read books about teaching, at least not in my spare time. Don't get me wrong, I love my job. It's just that I'm more escapist in my reading choices than that. But I picked Jesse Stuart's "Split Cherry Tree" from a list of frequently anthologized short stories, without any knowledge of the subject matter.

"Split Cherry Tree" is about a boy named Dave who has to stay after school for a few days to pay off a debt for climbing, and subsequently breaking, a cherry tree. He's concerned that his father will not understand and will be quite upset considering that Dave has to work on his father's farm after school and will be late to do his chores. Dave's assumptions are correct and his father marches off to the school to straighten things out.

At the surface there's a message about teachers and parents needing a better understanding of one another, but I don't think Stuart delved too deeply under the surface and the quick changes of hearts seem simplistic at best. At least the contrast in characters was interesting.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trivia Sunday- Writing for kids? How hard could that be?

I read over at Chris's Bookarama last week that Obama has written a book for children. I realize that he's written books before, but it started me thinking about all those celebrities who have jumped into the children's book game. After all, how hard could that be? Here are some reviews of children's books written by celebrities. For one point, tell me the celebrity in question. For additional 2 points, tell me the title.

As always, feel free to do all ten at home, but please only answer one in the comment section below. It'll allow for nine others to play along.

1. "...let's not be blinded by the fairydust: if __ had not written the book, it would not have been reviewed. Its interest is as an accessory for those curious about ___. And it can, if you like, be read as an allegory for her own life. But I am most intrigued by its aspirational wistfulness, its bid for Englishness. It was strange bordering on perverse to see ___, at her party, impersonating a fragile primary-school teacher in flowery frock. Why, I wondered, does she want to join this particular flowerbed? Perhaps because she is an actress playing at what she can never be - a JK Rowling..." - Kate Kellaway, The Observer

2. "A welcome debut from an accomplished actor, the remarkable ___. Limericklike rhyming text recounts the tale of a musical prodigy [...] Encore!" - Kirkus Reviews

3. "...Predictably, our hero braves the scorn and cruelty of classmates resistant to a fresh face. Finally, he finds a friend in a girl sensitive enough to reach out to him. Not much of a story, but enough to remind young listeners once again that different and unknown are not reason enough to turn away." - Terry Schwadron, The NY Times

4. "While ____'s fame as an actor may get this adoption story special attention, it deserves recognition in its own right [...]It does not delve into the complexity of adoptive dynamics, but simply affirms family love, the pleasure parents feel about new babies, and how pleased children are to hear the story of their birth."- Ruth K. MacDonald, School Library Journal

5. "...The overly long text begins with eight-year-old Kate noticing a boy who looks 'different.'[...]Because of ___'s name, this will get a lot of publicity, but more kid-friendly books include Nan Gregory's How Smudge Came to Town (1999) and Alden Carter's Big Brother Dustin (1997). " - Booklist

6. "___ writes without a hint of the razor-sharp comic instincts he brings to his acting, and the result is a maudlin discourse on what constitutes Truth with a capital 'T.' Pardon me for thinking kids face greater hazards and let-downs than Dad’s fib about the fate of missing teeth."- Anne Levy, Book Buds

7. "In this meager offering, a young narrator (a ___ look-alike with short legs) describes his father, who likes to do things in a big way. Dad decides to build a patio complete with rotisserie, and the boy gleefully rides the wave of his enthusiasm[...] Every scene is so over the top both visually and verbally that there's no subtlety of characterization or meaningful introspection. The garishness of the narrative is matched by the full-color, Mad Magazine-like illustrations where people appear as larger-than-life caricatures. Some youngsters may be carried along on the crest of this wave. More insightful readers will recognize the ensuing emptiness." - Martha Topol, School Library Journal

8. "our heroine is picked on at her new school, but with the help of new friends, camp Rudy and Crazy Trevor - allegedly inspired by ____'s own best pals George Michael and Gordon Ramsay - 'good overcame evil and we totally came through'. It's all quite good fun actually, but with prose like that I don't think the likes of Anne Fine or Michael Rosen need fear for their laurels at present." - Stephanie Merritt, The Observer

9. "The good news is that ____ has written a second children's book about grandparenting, a field in which there are far too few entries. The book is a fitting follow-up to his first, written before the birth of his granddaughter and called I Already Know I Love You. The bad news is that he hasn't overcome the prediliction for awkward phrasing that sometimes marred his first book."- Susan Adcox, About.com Guide

10. "Baseball superstar ____ may be a great home-run hitter, but he's not a writer; this tale of hitting the game-winning run ____ is not only cliched but also uninterestingly related." - Horn Book Review

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Great Wednesday Compare #7- Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy VERSUS Roland Deschain

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Hermione Granger VERSUS Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy), with a final score of 5-4 was Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

With a tie last week, the deciding vote comes down to me. It might come as some surprise that I'm voting for an Austen character over a Rowling character. I'm not exactly a fan of Pride and Prejudice. Then again, my appreciation of Rowling is only marginally higher. I've still only read the first three Potter books. But, if I'm being frank here, I'm just tired of Hermione in this contest. Plus, if we're being honest, Austen's legacy is greater. To be fair, no one can say how long into the future Rowling's will last. I suspect Harry, Hermione and Ron will stand the test of time, but this is no time to test. It is time, however, for another competitor...

Moving on. Vote in the comment section below before September 20: Who is the better character?


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Passing this along...

A message from the CBC LITERARY AWARDS

Less than 2 months left until the deadline for this year’s competition!

Greetings writers!! It’s that time of the year again. Time to compose or polish off those works destined for this year’s CBC Literary Awards competition. The Awards Team is anxiously awaiting your original and unpublished works (short story, poetry, and creative non-fiction) by November 1, 2010.

Submit online!

Like us on Facebook!

The CBC Literary Awards is Canada’s only literary competition celebrating original, unpublished works in both official languages. There is a first prize of $6,000 and a second prize of $4,000 in all 3 categories courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts. In addition, the winning texts are published in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine and on our website, and the authors and their winning entries will get exposure on the CBC.

Visit our new website (www.cbc.ca/literaryawards) and get inspired! There you find regularly updated writing tips from the pros, as well as interviews with former winners and jurors. You can also read last year’s winning entries and find resources in your province that can help you with your writing. We hope to make our website a wonderful resource and place to connect with other participants. So be sure to bookmark the page and check back often.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

The Awards Team

Literary_Awards@cbc.ca

1-877-888-6788

Monday, September 13, 2010

Reader's Diary #649- Sherry Isaac: Sweet Dreams

I'd first heard of Sherry Isaac over at Brian Henry's Quick Brown Fox blog. Brian, a creative writing instructor (and editor and writer), features many of his past students on his blog and it's a great source for those of us looking to find new authors. Sherry Isaac was one of those featured whom I'd not heard of and decided to explore a little further. Isaac, it turns out, has wisely begun her own website, and provides links to some of her short stories, public reading schedule, and works in progress. It was here that I found my short story pick for this week, "Sweet Dreams," appearing at the New Mystery Reader Magazine site.

According to Isaac's website her short stories "share the common thread of everyday life sprinkled with a dash of the unexpected." I can't think of a better way to describe "Sweet Dreams."

I was in the mood for a dose of domesticity this week. Debbie and I have been house hunting (for something with a bit more room) and the opening couple of paragraphs of "Sweet Dreams" really appealed to me. Since moving out from my parents house some 16 years ago, I've not lived in the same building for longer than 3 years. Something more long term, a place where you can plant some memories sounds appealing to me right about now.

But like Roald Dahl taught us in "Lamb to the Slaughter" sometimes we get a little too comfortable and let our guard down. The second I started realizing something was amiss in Isaac's story I jumped to all sorts of conclusions, mostly of a paranormal nature. While nothing supernatural ends up happening, what does I'll leave to you to discover yourself. It's a quick, fun story in its own dark way.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Reader's Diary #648- Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegowski: Tall Tales

What's a critically acclaimed and commercially successful graphic artist to do when his epic series ends? Why, resurrect the old gang and run them into the ground of course. There's a handbook, a prequel, a collection of shorts, and even a set of prose novels in the works.

Most Bone fans are probably excited by this. I am a fan and I am not. Critics had nothing but love for the Charles Vess illustrated prequel Rose. I despised it. Now comes Tall Tales, a collection of comic short stories mostly revolving around legendary Boneville character Big Johnson Bone.

At least Smith is doing the illustrations again, but I question how much involvement Sniegowski had in the writing. I'm not overly excited for the Sniegowski penned Bone: Legacy novels, scheduled to be released next year.

The tall tales included in this volume are mostly in the vein of Chuck Norris jokes, with Big Johnson Bone replacing Mr. Norris. Legends, of course, are often a hybrid of fact and fiction, and perhaps that's the excuse intent. However, the charm and humour quickly wears off. And as a small bone of contention, what's with the name Big Johnson Bone? I get that cartoonists often slip innuendo and subtle jokes into their work for the adults in the audience, usually over the heads of the children. But "Big Johnson Bone" is way too juvenile for me. Ha, ha, he's named after a penis. Like cartoonists planting the word "SEX" into the sky in The Lion King (if that's even true), it just smacks of immaturity. If jokes are going to planted for adults (and it's not a requirement), at least make them witty.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

the Great Wednesday Compare #7- Hermione Granger VERSUS Fitzwilliam Darcy

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Hermione Granger VERSUS Robert Langdon), with a final score of 9-0 was Hermione Granger.

I wonder if Dan Brown fans are also into Celine Dion. The Da Vinci Code has sold over 80 million copies. Celine Dion has over 175 million dollars in album sales. And yet I've never met a Dan Brown fan or a Celine Dion fan. That's a lot of people not to have met at least one. Then again, maybe such people belong to another dimension and I lack the sensory organs to be aware of their presence.

I thought that maybe one Brown fan might grace our presence last week. Langdon was, afterall, the main character of his novels, while Hermione was always a sidekick. That's got to count for something, right? Apparently not. Or perhaps there was a conspiracy afoot...

Moving on. Vote in the comment section below before September 13: Who is the better character?


Monday, September 06, 2010

Reader's Diary #647- Mona Gardner: The Dinner Party

Usually I prefer to get a photo of the authors whose short stories I discuss for Short Story Mondays. This week I simply couldn't find one. In fact, I could find very little information on the author, Mona Gardner, which is odd considering the popularity of her story "The Dinner Party." Granted I hadn't heard of the story until last week, but my wife Debbie mentioned it when we talked about short stories that we remember having to read back in our school days. My curiousity was piqued so I went looking for it online. A quick Google search reveals that it's still a quite commonly used story in middle school and the complete free text is available all over the place.

After reading it, I still wasn't clear on why it remains so popular. Or why it stuck out in Debbie's memory. It's a quick story (less than 2 pages), about a dinner party in India. There's a debate about whether or not women have moved away from feebly screaming atop her chair at the sight of a mouse or if men still have superior nerve control (that women as a whole might never have really been this helpless doesn't seem to have been considered). A woman at the table is seen whispering to a servant boy who quickly goes to place a bowl of milk on the veranda. I'd go on, but any more would be spoiler. However, the point, unsurprisingly is that women do have nerve control.

Even back when people thought this was worthy of debate, it's not much of a story, even for one that seems to have only been written for its moral. The ending isn't a surprise and the characters are flat and hardly developed at all accept for some quick personality traits assigned to them the same moment that they're introduced, assigned to further the author's obvious agenda.

So why is it so commonly taught in schools? I asked Debbie what her teacher had done with the story to make it so memorable. It turns out nothing. Debbie had a severe phobia of snakes back then (it's since been downgraded to a fear), and the thought of a snake... oh, crap, I've almost gone and spoiled the ending after all. Oh well.

(Did you write a story for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below. Also, if you have any information on Mona Gardner, I'd love to hear it!)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Reader's Diary #646- William Shakespeare: King John

Not one of Shakespeare's better known or often performed plays, I didn't really know what to expect with King John. I've not been a huge fan of his history plays and at this point of my slow progress through The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, I've come to dread them. I throw one in every now and then simply so I won't be stuck with all those King plays at the end.

While I didn't hate King John and it wasn't too difficult to follow, it probably won't change my mind on the King plays.

While some characters stand out more than others (King John, Constance, Pandolph), no one is as compelling as say an Iago, Lady Macbeth, or even Queen Margaret). I'm not sure why this is, but I suspected it had something to do with the balance of lines. So I went searching for the stats of line numbers and found this wonderful site which breaks down all of his plays by number for all your comparison needs. Unfortunately, it didn't really help support or refute my theory. By line number, Constance and Pandolph did not have huge parts. On the other hand, King John did have the most (followed by Philip the Bastard and Hubert). I guess it's not the number of lines, but what you do with them, and no character in King John inspires any feeling stronger than mild distaste or slight respect.

On the other hand, I did enjoy the fatalistic message coursing through the veins of the play. There are quite a few twists and turns, but they always seem to end up where they started or at least no better off. Fatalism scares me. Someone mentions it and I want to run through a patio door, just because that can't possibly be part of my fate. Or can it?

Constance aligns with King Philip of France to get Arthur into, according to her, Arthur's rightful position as King of England instead of King John. France and England are about to war when the Bastard convinces them to marry King John's niece to King Philip's son and avoid war. However, Pandolph then convinces France to war with England anyway, for religious reasons, and we're back to square one.

Obviously some characters seem to have some sway on the surface, but after a few more such turns and returns, you sense that everything was inevitable.

There were also a few quotes in here that I quite liked. My favourite? "Life is as tedious as a twice told tale." Makes me want to break out the black mascara.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Great Wednesday Compare #7- Hermione Granger VERSUS Robert Langdon

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Hermione Granger VERSUS Little Red Riding Hood), with a final score of 6-4 was Hermione Granger.

I wasn't sure who was going to win last week. On the one hand, as voters pointed out, Hermione's character was so much more developed over the course of 7 novels. On the other hand, and I'm surprised that more voters didn't mention it, Little Red's been around for much, much longer. Hundreds of years, in fact. Will Hermione be remembered this long after the fact? And Little Red's such a pivotal part of the story (a story with a moral even). Is Hermione's contribution to the Harry Potter series as great? Plus, when you consider all the reincarnations of Little Red (as some voters mentioned last week), you could argue that her character has been just as developed, just not all into one consistent character. Will Hermione spawn this kind of cultural phenomenon?

Anyway, the hooded one has gone off to grandma's and it's time to move on...

Vote in the comment section below before September 7: Who is the better character?


The Canadian Book Challenge 4- 2nd Roundup!



Two months down!

Welcome to the 2nd round-up for the Canadian Book Challenge 4, where we get to check out all those Canadian books you read and reviewed in August.

Before we get to that, have you heard about the most recent controversy with Annabel Lyon's The Golden Mean cover?
I find it almost amusing. In the world of book banning, I thought Canada was pretty much a small player. The liberal ones. Open-minded and accepting, you know? But the Golden Mean? A man's butt? It's even from the side! It's not like it's a close-up of the guy's sphincter. I'm guessing B.C. Ferries doesn't sell this book either:

I mention this because last month I asked the Canadian Book Challenge participants to send me their photos and stories of meeting Canadian authors. I met Annabel Lyon back in June and she was a very sweet woman (our kids are roughly the same age so we swapped parenting stories). I didn't get a photo taken with her as I'd forgotten my camera and she insisted on me getting nude atop a horse. However, over the past few years in Yellowknife, as followers of my blog probably know, I've been fortunate enough to meet a handful of people whose writing I admire. Since I've blogged about them before, I won't bore you again but here are a few highlights:

(Steven Galloway, Joseph Boyden, Cathleen With)

Enough about me. Here are some participant stories:

Steph, over at Bella's Bookshelves has met a great many great authors, and I have to admit being a little envious: Margaret Atwood, Thomas King, Alistair Macleod, Al Purdy and many more of my idols. To find out who else and the anecdotes that accompany these meetings (the Ann Marie MacDonald one is a hoot) read her post here.

Lizzy at Lizzy's Literary Life met Argentinian-Canadian author Alberto Manguel and Filipino author Miguel Syjuco (now living in Montreal) and was lucky enough to get a photo of the two of them together. To see that photo, and read how David Foster Wallace fits in, read her post here.

I also had a wonderful conversation with Emilie over at C'est la vie about the awkward moment of asking a for a photo. Here's her chickening out photo "with" Margaret Atwood:

Amusing as that photo is, fortunately her friend (the one behind the camera), finally convinced her introduce herself:
Emilie tells me that more details of this meeting are forthcoming on her blog.

Jonita at the Book Chick writes that while she hasn't met any Canadian authors yet, she has come up with a wishlist:
1. Catherine McKenzie (author of Spin)
2. Lori Ann Bloomfield (with whom she'd struck up an email correspondence and discovered that their parents live just 5 minutes apart)
3. Heather Wardell (a self-published author with some pretty interesting ideas, according to Jonita)

(My own wish list right now-- and it changes often would include Michael Crummey, Stacey May Fowles, and Leonard Cohen)

Nicola at Back to Books has written a post about going to her very first book signing to meet The Day the Falls Stood Still author Cathy Marie Buchanan. Just getting up the nerve to go was a very big deal for her. Find out why and whether or not her bravery paid off by checking out her post.

Teena from Teena in Toronto writes that the only celebrity she's gotten her picture taken with is Weird Al. She acknowledges that he is is neither an author nor a Canadian. I acknowledge that I'm jealous beyond belief. Wait... this just in... it looks like he's going to be an author after all. According to his blog, his first children's book is scheduled to be published this March by HarperCollins.

Teddy from So Many Precious Books, So Little Time also met and posed with Margaret Atwood and Michael Crummey. She met them at the Vancouver International Readers and Writers Festival, as well as John Irving who for some reason, no one was allowed to photograph. See more photos and details here.


Heather from Books and Quilts met a quartet of teen and young adult authors at the Words Worth Books' Turning Pages Literary Festival back in May: R. J. Anderson, Lesley Livingston, Alyxandra Harvey and Kelley Armstrong. Check out a picture and all the details here.

And I think that's all the responses I received. If you did send me something, I apologize for my lack of organizational skills, I may have lost your email. Now, as I promised, there's a special prize for one lucky winner chosen randomly from those that contributed to last month's special request...drumroll.... Teddy Rose! Congratulations, you've won an autographed copy of Norbert Rosing's The World of the Polar Bear:
Norbert Rosing isn't Canadian by the way, but the bears in this book are. (As are the publishers, Firefly Books). The photos, taken in Churchill, Manitoba are stunning. I've not met Rosing, but I may have met some of the bears. In '01, my wife and I were fortunate enough to see wild polar bears in Churchill:

I apologize for the grainy picture, but it was 9 years ago. It wasn't a digital photo and I don't have a scanner, so you'll have to settle for a picture of a photograph. If you ever get a chance to go to Churchill to see the bears, I'd recommend it above anything else in Canada. We saw over 50 bears that day and were even licked by one. Did you ever see the Tundra Buggies on National Geographic shows? They have these cool balcony things on the back that have steel mesh floors. If you're lucky, as we were, the bears come right up underneath it to sniff your feet. And if you you put your hands flat against it (I wouldn't recommend sticking your finger through), it will lick it. An amazing experience, being tasted.


Next month, I'll finally be giving away the Random House Awards Prize Pack. Let me know (by email) before September 30th, if you've read any author that won a Canadian literary award in 2010 (include the name of the author and/or book and the award won). It has to have been reviewed online in either July, August, or September of this year, and it's only open to Canadian Book Challenge 4 participants. A winner will be chosen randomly from those that qualify-- but you have to let me know that you qualify! The prize includes:

Fauna
by Alissa York


The Beauty of the Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb


Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart

Ape House by Sara Gruen






Finally, I've got a few more awesome prizes to announce in the months to come including books from both Harper Collins and Goose Lane Editions. You won't want to miss them!

And now, the real reason why we're here: The Round-up. What Canadian books did you read and review for the Canadian Book Challenge 4 in August? Let everyone know in the comments below.

Remember:
- Make sure you tell me how many you've completed so far so that I can record it in the sidebar progress report
- It doesn't count as complete until the review is done!
- When people leave links, try to visit one another's blogs and read what they had to say. Comment. Encourage. The discussion of Canadian books is what this challenge is all about.