Sunday, 27 October 2013

Sunday October 27th, 2013 International Festival of Authors

Thunder Bay Public Library, Lakehead University and Northern Woman's Bookstore are once again proud to be local sponsors/supporters of the International Festival of Authors, 3rd Annual Lit on Tour reading happening November 5 at the Airlane Hotel.  This is a fabulous opportunity for local and regional residents to be "up close and personal" with world renown authors.  When the authors visit as part of the festival, not only do they enrich the community through their public readings but they also present a "master class" at Lakehead University  providing insight and knowledge transfer to English students and local writers alike! For 2013, we have the additional infusion of a visit by the Humber School of Writers which will be conducting a weekend mini-writing workshop event through author Joe Kertes (a Dean with the Humber School).  Add to these events, the long-standing efforts of the Northern Ontario Writer's Workshop and Sleeping Giant Writers Festival and Thunder Bay has achieved the status of a literary destination!

This year we will have the pleasure of readings by Vincent Lam, Ania Szado and Robert J. Sawyer with the evening emceed by the ever gracious Lisa Laco of CBC Radio One 88.3FM.  It is sure to be a great night - tickets are just $10 and available at the Waverley and Brodie libraries and the Northern Woman's Bookstore.

Here's more about the authors visiting this year and we hope to see you there:

Dr. Vincent Lam is from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. He is an emergency physician and a lecturer with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, and has also worked in international air evacuation and expedition medicine on Arctic and Antarctic ships. Lam’s first book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize and has recently been adapted for television and broadcast on HBO Canada. Lam presents his most recent novel, The Headmaster's Wager, the story of Percival Chen, a gambling, womanizing headmaster at a prestigious English school in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

Robert J. Sawyer is the only Canadian to have won all three of the top international science fiction awards: the Nebula Award, Hugo Award and John W. Campbell Award. He has published over 20 novels, including Triggers and the novels of the WWW trilogy. His novel Flashforward was adapted for an ABC TV series of the same name. Sawyer presents his most recent novel, Red Planet Blues. Protagonist Alex Lomax is a lone private eye in a Martian frontier town who stumbles upon clues to a decades-old unsolved murder – and a journal that might lead him to a legendary Martian fossil mother lode.

Ania Szado is the author of Beginning of Was, which was shortlisted for a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and nominated for the international Kiriyama Prize. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Journey Prize and the National Magazine Awards. Szado presents Studio Saint-Ex, which finds The Little Prince author, Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, within a tempestuous love triangle in WWII Manhattan’s glittering French expat community and emerging fashion scene.

Barbara Philp 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sunday October 20, 2013 Runaway with Alice Munro

On October 10, Canadian short story writer Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, deeming her the “master of the contemporary short story”. It is fitting that at the age of 82, Munro should receive the recognition, acknowledging her for the diverse body of work she has created. The Nobel award places Munro amongst the company of great writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, and Toni Morrison. This prize also makes Munro the thirteenth woman and the first Canadian to have been given the award. Quite the honor!

Known as a contemporary Anton Chekov, Munro writes about the lives of woman from all ages, set in the heart of the “Southern Ontario Gothic”. Munro creates living, breathing characters that experience varying circumstances, from the daily mundane to the extraordinary. Through her tales, Munro writes about how certain life events can shape, illuminate and change the human experience.  

The first collection of short stories that Munro wrote was Dance of the Happy Shades, published in 1968. This was the literary world’s first exposure to Munro, and it made quite the impression. This series began Munro’s fascination with exploring the lives of women and men in quiet, rural Southern communities leading modest, ordinary lives and dealing with situations uniquely powerful. Munro is notable for giving great depth and dimension to her characters, without relying on theatrics. For her first published work, Munro won a Governor General’s Award, her first among many to come.

Munro followed up her debut with Lives of Girls and Women. Here Munro expanded her interest in writing about women by breathing life into Del Jordan, the protagonist who appears in this volume of cyclical short stories.  As a whole, Munro explores the themes coming of age, and again life in a small town. Munro brings much life and honesty to Jordan’s experiences; from her early teen foils, to her ever-growing disdain of small town life.

In The Moons of Jupiter, Munro expands her style by writing about an older age group, while exploring the themes of memory and love. The most beguiling of entries comes in the form of “The Turkey Season”, where an adult woman reminisces about a past adolescent experience as a turkey gutter at a processing plant. Here Munro uses her signature observational prose to great effect: a young woman as an outsider trying to make sense of her new surroundings.

In Hateship Friendship Courtship Loveship Marriage, Munro moves away from infatuation and examines long lasting love and the how the past can influence the future. In “Family Furnishings”, a writer begins to lose respect for a once close family member due to an unresolved family secret. In “The Bear Came Over The Mountain”, an elderly philanderer must come to terms with his wife’s recently diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease.

Of Munro’s most recent efforts include Runaway and Dear Life. In both volumes, Munro continues her streak in telling stories of how circumstance or twist of fate can put a person’s life course in a different direction. More than ever, Munro ponders how strange, sensual, and dangerous ordinary life can be.    

Petar Vidjen

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Sunday October 13, 2013 Remembering Tom Clancy

The passing of a renowned author is a hard hit for their readers and the libraries that carried their work. Tom Clancy (1947-2013) started out in the insurance industry but dreamed of mixing writing with his love of all things military. Over the years, Clancy’s books (over two dozen in total) inspired several television and film adaptations with famous celebrities taking on the role of his best known character, Jack Ryan.

For those unfamiliar with Clancy’s writing, his usual territory could be found in spy and military thrillers set during or after the Cold War. His books are known for the level of detail and realism throughout their pages. In addition to fiction, Clancy wrote non-fiction including military history and biographical works. More recent endeavours took him into the writing and development of video games and the gaming industry. A recent article in the Globe and Mail lauded Clancy’s skills in storytelling, characterization and plot.

His first book, The Hunt for Red October, was released in 1984 and only gained momentum as the years went by. Clancy earned a devoted following of readers and fans with this title and the resulting blockbuster film in 1990. This masterpiece of military fiction follows the theme of a great espionage coup and the chase for a top secret Russian submarine. 

Popular releases soon followed in 1987 (Patriot Games) and 1989 (Clear and Present Danger). Clancy’s final book is scheduled for publication in December 2013 and will be titled Command Authority. “There’s a new strong man in Russia but his rise to power is based on a dark secret hidden decades in the past. The solution to that mystery lies with a most unexpected source, President Jack Ryan.”

Fans of Tom Clancy’s work might also want to try out similar authors such as Dale Brown, Vince Flynn, and Frederick Forsyth. And as an added insight into the larger than life personality of Tom Clancy, did you know he was a part owner of the major league baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles; or that he owned a tank, yeah that’s right...a tank.

Jesse Roberts

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sunday October 6th, 2013 Discovering Tartan Noir

The description of a gruesome murder taking place in cold, dark stone streets or in an isolated country-side would have many people guessing that they were reading something Nordic but it could mean a mystery with a more familiar brogue.  American author, Elmore Leonard coined the term “Tartan Noir” to describe the dark mysteries that began emerging from Scotland in the late 1980’s.  These novels feature flawed heroes struggling with inner conflicts as well as fighting crime.
The most familiar author of the genre is Ian Rankin. Beginning with “Knots and Crosses”, Rankin introduced the curmudgeonly and emotionally damaged police detective, John Rebus. Rebus is one of those characters you truly grow to love; challenging the system to seek justice, while suffering a toll on his own soul.  After 17 Rebus novels, Rankin chose to retire the character and write other novels, but the popularity of Rebus forced Rankin to reintroduce Rebus to satisfy fan demand. The most recent book in the series, “Standing in Another Man’s Grave”, features Rebus together with Rankin’s other main protagonist Matthew Fox.
While John Rebus patrols the streets of Edinburgh, author Denise Mina has chosen the industrial city of Glasgow in which to set her mysteries featuring journalist Patricia “Paddy” Meehan or police detective Alex Morrow. The story lines in a Mina novel are usually psychologically complex and as a native Glaswegian her intimate knowledge of the city and its peculiarities give the readers a unique insight into the story.  Her last Alex Morrow novel, “Gods and Beasts” begins with a robbery at a busy Glasgow post office that leaves an elderly man dead and sends Alex into the world of graft and political corruption.
Heading north to the “granite city” of Aberdeen, author Stuart MacBride delves into the dark side of crime, with his protagonist Detective Sergeant Logan McRae. MacBride lets his characters indulge in the gallows humour that helps maintain a little sanity in a dark situation.   Having barely survived a murderous attack, McRae carries both emotional and physical scars that can sometimes hamper his work for the Grampian police. “Close to the Bone” is the latest McRae novel and focuses on the occult style murders that may really be the beginning of something even worse.
If mystery in the Highlands calls, then the 1950’s Inverness set novels by A.D. Scott may appeal. Joanne Ross is a working woman and a single mother at a time when both were viewed with disdain, especially in the tiny, interwoven communities that populate the Highlands.  As a journalist Ross becomes involved in seeking the truth for the dead. Beginning with the novel “Small Death in the Great Glen”, Scott lets Ross and the team at the Highland Gazette seek the truth in a sea of lies.
Quintin Jardine returns to Edinburgh with his detective Bob Skinner, who first appeared in print in 1993 with the book, “Skinner’s Rules”.  When we first met Skinner, he was a senior member of the Edinburgh CID, a man jaded by time and his job. With each successive novel, Skinner develops as a character, bringing new dimensions to the tragedies that surround him.  “Pray for the Dying” finds Skinner struggling to find the culprit behind a public assassination that finds the victim and the killers dead at the scene, while at the same time trying to make sense of his marriage falling apart.
Other standouts include Val McDermid who used Fife for her book, “A Darker Domain”. Peter May in the Lewis trilogy. Set in the Outer Hebrides, Detective Fin MacLeod finds himself returning home to a world of dark secrets, traditional loyalties and murder. Finally, Ann Cleeves’ “Shetland Island Quartet”, which are true thrillers. So grab your library card and explore the darker side of Scotland.
Lori Kauzlarick