Seniors Book Club October Selection

Image result for has seen the wind by w o mitchell

The Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, October 11 in the Training Room to discuss Who Has Seen the Wind by W. O. Mitchell.

About the book…

When W.O. Mitchell died in 1998 he was described as “Canada’s best-loved writer.” Every commentator agreed that his best – and his best-loved – book was Who Has Seen the Wind. Since it was first published in 1947, this book has sold almost a million copies in Canada.
As we enter the world of four-year-old Brian O’Connal, his father the druggist, his Uncle Sean, his mother, and his formidable Scotch grandmother (“she belshes…a lot”), it soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary book. As we watch Brian grow up, the prairie and its surprising inhabitants like the Ben and Saint Sammy – and the rich variety of small-town characters – become unforgettable. This book will be a delightful surprise for all those who are aware of it, but have never quite got around to reading it, till now. (Publisher)

W.O. Mitchell, the only Canadian author recognizable by initials alone, was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan in 1914. Educated at the University of Manitoba, he lived most of his life in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta, where for many years he was the most renowned resident in High River.

During a very varied career Bill Mitchell travelled widely and was everything from a Depression hobo to the fiction editor of Macleans. A gifted teacher, he was visiting professor at the University of Windsor for several years, and a creative writing instructor at the Banff Centre for many summers.

His best-loved book was Who Has Seen the Wind. Since its publication in 1947 it has sold over half a million copies in Canada alone, and is hailed as the greatest Canadian book on boyhood. The classic edition, illustrated by William Kurelek, became a bestseller in 1991. Complementing that book is his 1981 best-seller How I Spent My Summer Holidays, hailed by some critics as his finest novel, although Since Daisy Creek (1984) and Ladybug, Ladybug…(1988), Roses Are Difficult Here (1990), For Art’s Sake (1992) and The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon (1993), illustrated by Wesley W. Bates, were also well-received best-sellers. Besides The Kite (1962) and The Vanishing Point (1973), he was also noted for his two collections of short stories, Jake and the Kid (1962) and According to Jake and the Kid (1989). Based on the legendary CBC radio series, both classic story collections won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. (Publisher)

W.O. Mitchell died in Calgary in 1998.

CanLit Canon Review #11 (Toronto Review of Books)

Amy’s Marathon of Books (blog posting)

W.O. Mitchell blows up an outhouse (an interview with Peter Gzowski)

W.O. Mitchell talks Christmas presents, 1976

About W.O. Mitchell

An interview with W.O. Mitchell about his life and Who Has Seen the Wind 

 

Seniors Book Club September Selection

House at the edge of nightThe Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, September 13 in Forsyth Hall to discuss The House at the Edge of Night, a novel by Catherine Banner.

About the book …

Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten, but not far enough to escape from the world’s troubles. At the center of the island’s life is a café draped with bougainvillea called the House at the Edge of Night, where the community gathers to gossip and talk. Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children—three sons and an inquisitive daughter—grow up and struggle with both humanity’s cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy.

Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness.

Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times, the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories—and this magical novel takes you there. (Publisher)

About the author …

Catherine Banner was born in Cambridge, UK, in 1989 and began writing at the age of fourteen. She studied English at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, before moving to County Durham where she worked as a secondary school teacher. She has previously published a trilogy of young adult novels, The Last Descendants. She currently lives in Turin, Italy, with her husband.

Her debut adult novel, The House at the Edge of Night, tells the story of the 2008 financial crisis and 95 years of European history through one family and their bar on a tiny Mediterranean island. It has been published in 22 languages, and was listed as a Kirkus Reviews and NPR best book of 2016. Her second novel will be published in the summer of 2018.

Catherine is a member of Italian PEN and PEN Writers’ Circle. She is also the writing consultant for Project VOICE, a not-for-profit creative writing project which aims to provide a platform for development, peace, social care and humanitarian workers to tell the stories of their work in their own countries, in their own words. (author website)

An author interview

A UK publisher’s Q & A

A Penguin Random House Reader’s Guide

National Post book review

NPR book review

“Innocents uncovered” – an essay by Catherine Banner

“What getting published at 16 taught me about becoming a writer” by Catherine Banner

 

 

Seniors Book Club June Selection

kays-lucky-coin-variety-9781501156120_hrThe Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, June 14 in the Training Room to discuss Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, a novel by Ann Y.K. Choi.

About the book …

This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence.

A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety evocatively portrays the life of a young Korean-Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family. (Publisher)

 

Ann Y.K. Choi immigrated to Canada from South Korea in 1975. She attended the University of Toronto where she studied English, Sociology, and Education. She is also a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, and National University’s Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing. Published by Simon & Schuster Canada, her debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was a 2016 Toronto Book Awards finalist and one of CBC Books’ “12 Best Canadian Debut Novels of 2016”.

For over 15 years, Ann has been a teacher with the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) working primarily with English language learners, students in Special Education, and students with academic and social-emotional needs. She has served on many committees and groups that address equity issues and student well-being.

As the current chair of the YRDSB Network of Educators for Korean-Canadian Students (NEKS), Ann is committed to providing support for educators who work with students and parents/guardians of Korean-Canadian heritage, as well as to promote opportunities for community building. Ann also serves as a mentor for Arts & Science students at the University of Toronto interested in connecting with alumni established in the Arts industry and is a speaker with Passages Canada. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter. (https://annykchoi.com/about/)

Author website

An audio interview & print summary (with CBC’s Shelagh Rogers)

A Gnu Journal interview with Ann Y.K. Choi

Publisher’s Discussion Questions

A Toronto Star book review

A Globe and Mail book review

Yu-Rhee versus Mary: does the name matter? by Ann Y.K. Choi

Ann Y.K. Choi’s essay on getting published

A Global News video clip

A Wikipedia article about the Korean War

 

 

 

 

Seniors Book Club May Selection

417ltjtvpnl-_sy445_ql70_The Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 on Wednesday, May 10 in the Children’s Open Corner to discuss Twopence to Cross the Mersey, a memoir by Helen Forrester.

About the book …

When Helen Forester’s father went bankrupt in 1930 she and her six siblings were forced from comfortable middle-class life in southern England to utmost poverty in the Depression-ridden North. Her parents more or less collapsed under the strain, father spending hours in search of non-existent work, or in the dole queue, mother on the verge of a breakdown and striving to find and keep part-time jobs. The running of the household, in slum surroundings and with little food, the care of the younger children, all fell on twelve-year-old Helen. Unable to attend school, Helen’s fear that she was to be trapped forever as drudge and housekeeper caused her to despair at times. But she was determined to have a chance and struggled, despite her parents, to gain an education. (from the Publisher)

About the author …

Helen Forrester was born in Hoylake, Cheshire, the eldest of seven children. For many years, until she married, her home was Liverpool, a city that features prominently in her work.

Throughout her teenage years, Forrester worked for a charitable organisation in Liverpool, which provided background for her novels Liverpool Daisy, A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin, and Three Women of Liverpool. After surviving the Blitzing of Liverpool and losing two consecutive fiancés to the Second World War she met and, in 1950, married Dr. Avadh Bhatia; her life with him in India provided background for Thursday’s Child and The Moneylenders of Shahpur. The couple travelled widely, eventually settling in Edmonton, in 1955, where Dr. Bhatia became the director of the Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Alberta.

The best-selling memoir of her childhood was Twopence to Cross the Mersey. It was later turned into a successful musical. Living in Alberta provided background for Forrester’s novels The Latchkey Kid and The Lemon Tree.  She died on 24 November 2011 in Edmonton, aged 92.

In 2017, the author’s son, Robert Bhatia, published Passage Across the Mersey, the story of his remarkable mother and the personal journey that took her India and ultimately to Alberta.

Books in the Series

Twopence to Cross the Mersey (1974)

Liverpool Miss (originally published as Minerva’s Stepchild) (1979)

By the Waters of Liverpool (1981)

Lime Street at Two (1985)

Passage Across the Mersey (Published by Robert Bhatia in 2017)

10 things I admire about my mother, Helen Forrester

Helen Forrester obituary in The Guardian 

Helen Forrester obituary in The Telegraph

How true love led Helen Forrester to leave Mersey for Indian exile

Photos of Liverpool in the 1930’s

 

Seniors Book Club April Selection

Our Souls at nightThe Seniors Book Club will meet in the 2nd floor Training Room on Wednesday, April 12 to discuss Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf.

About the book …

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters.
Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.
Their brave adventures—their pleasures and their difficulties—are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature. (From the publisher.)

About the author …

Alan Kent Haruf was an American novelist and author of six novels, all set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado.

Life
Haruf was born in Pueblo, Colorado, the son of a Methodist minister. He graduated with a BA from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965, where he would later teach, and earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973.
Before becoming a writer, Haruf worked in a variety of places, including a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation hospital in Denver, a hospital in Phoenix, a presidential library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, as an English teacher with the Peace Corps in Turkey, and colleges in Nebraska and Illinois.
He lived with his wife, Cathy, in Salida, Colorado until his death in 2014. He had three daughters from his first marriage.

Works
All of Haruf’s novels take place in the fictional town of Holt, in eastern Colorado, a town based on Yuma, Colorado, one of Haruf’s residences in the early 1980s. His first novel, The Tie That Binds (1984), received a Whiting Award and a special Hemingway Foundation/PEN citation. Where You Once Belonged followed in 1990. A number of his short stories have appeared in literary magazines.

Plainsong was published in 1999 and became a U.S. bestseller. The New York Times‘ Verlyn Klinkenborg called it “a novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely, that it has the power to exalt the reader.” Plainsong won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and the Maria Thomas Award in Fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Eventide, a sequel to Plainsong, was published in 2004. Library Journal described the writing as “honest storytelling that is compelling and rings true.” Jonathan Miles saw it as a “repeat performance” and “too goodhearted.”

On November 30, 2014, at the age of 71, Kent Haruf died at his home in Salida, Colorado, of interstitial lung disease.

Our Souls at Night, his final work, was published posthumously in 2015 and received wide praise. Ron Charles of the Washington Post called it “a tender, carefully polished work that it seems like a blessing we had no right to expect.”

Recognition
1986 – Whiting Award for fiction
1999 – Finalist for the 1999 National Book Award for Plainsong
2005 – Colorado Book Award for Eventide
2005 – Finalist for the Book Sense Award for Eventide
2009 – Dos Passos Prize for Literature
2012 – Wallace Stegner Award
2014 – Folio Prize shortlist for Benediction

Kent Haruf : the complete final interview

A Wall Street Journal interview about the book (video)

Our Souls at Night discussion questions

A NY Times book review

A Guardian book review

A Los Angeles Times obituary

A UK Telegraph obituary

A Q&A with the book’s editor

Our Souls at Night movie