"The kind of pleasure you can get from reading is like no other in the world. People even get pleasure out of reading bad books, and I deplore this, but that is only because those books are not to my taste." ("Why I Read" by Wendy Lesser)
"Cockroach" by Rawi Hage
This novel takes place during one month of a bitterly cold winter in Montreal's restless immigrant community, where a self-described thief has just tried but failed to commit suicide. Rescued against his will, the narrator is obliged to attend sessions with a therapist.
You hear about his past life in a war-torn country and his current life on the streets of Montreal, where he lives on the edge, imagining himself to be a cockroach sneaking into homes.
The main character has no name- perhaps he is "Cockroach". p. 257: "He was a cocktail of emotion, a kind of purgatory that no medical paper had ever described."
I forced myself to read this book because it was a choice for Canada Reads 2014. The argument for the book was that it represented the immigrant experience. It seemed more like the experience of mental illness to me.
This book was too dark with no positive characters or lightness in the story.
"The Beautiful Wife" by Leon Rooke
Plot: Marchusa was an employee of President Marcos of the Philippines. When Marcos escaped the country, Marchusa was sent on a bicycle, entrusted with the Vatican Pumps (shoes that concealed some of Marcos' stolen wealth). There are several unusual characters in this novel. The best part is their names- Yimmi, Exmoor Dees, Ve Va Straight and brother Finn, Perchance Quickly and son Childe, Monsieur Epee, James Taterfield.
A very complex, post-modern, experimental book. The author is part of the story and dead people mingle with the living.
The author Leon Rooke is the founder of the Eden Mills Book Festival and he is a very interesting, creative person. I was prepared for something unusual and didn't completely hate the book, but my book club did!
"The Slap" by Christos Tsiolkas
At a barbeque given by Harry and Aisha, Harry's cousin slapped Hugo, 3, who was out of control. Hugo's parents sued, but lost the case. The story is told by eight of the characters. I enjoyed the format and basic idea but the novel was filled with sex to the point that I felt it was pornographic.
The author is gay and there is a lot of descriptions of male anatomy. I did enjoy the assortment of characters but the language was too foul to enjoy.
We discussed this book at the Kootenay Book Discussion in Nelson, British Columbia. The discussion of this book was heated! Some people hated it and others thought it was an important book. They felt that the title was saying to the world- wake up and understand what is happening in the world. That made me very depressed. If the world is anything like this, we are in trouble.
There was not one reasonable character in the novel- all were rude, crude and aggressive.
Everyone is taking drugs, drinking and using foul language. I was most upset after the discussion. In fact, I had a nightmare that night about some of my grandchildren. I was trying to save them. Horrors!