These lists are everywhere — from Papercuts to Amazon to Quill & Quire and The Atlantic — so it seemed only natural to throw my two cents in. After all, I read a lot. A lot. But then I started thinking about it, and I’ve mostly read my students’ work for 2008, and it hardly seems like a good idea to do a ‘Favourites’ for them. Ahem.
So, here’s my list — it’s not as long as some, but they are the ones I felt strongly about this last year, when I wasn’t reading first drafts from keen, intelligent students.
The Boys in the Trees by Mary Swan
The voice, the use of language and description, the layering of POV, the slow revelation of mystery, the seamless historical detail, the use of alternate forms of storytelling, the — spoiler alert! — we never actually discover the truth to what happened in this small house, in this small town: I loved everything about this slim, spectacular book.
The Dream World by Alison Pick
I’ve been a fan of Alison’s work since we did a reading together years ago in Calgary. She writes challenging, dense, complex poems that sit with you for days after you have put the book down.
Double Lives ed. Cowan, Lam & Stonehouse
Admittedly, I only first read this because my friend Jane Silcott was included — her essay won the CBC Literary Awards Non-Fiction prize in 2006 –but I found myself drawn into these essays very quickly. Disparate voices, but a real strength and craft in an often challenging form.
Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott
An engaging voice, a slow unravelling of connected lives, luminous prose — what’s not to like?
Who By Fire by Diana Spechler
Forgiveness and big, messy families — religion and violence and all that implies — haunting.