MARTIN JOHN

ANAKANA SCHOFIELDmartin

From the first page you know something is wrong with Martin John. Is he intellectually challenged or is it something more serious, something worse. The author expertly gradually  reveals the truth about him. John is not an easy book; Schofield’s portrays a character who’s inner life is seldom seen, a sexual deviant.

 “Martin John has made mistakes. Check my card. Rain will fall. Harm was done. It put me in the Chair.”

““Flashing is a very angry act. Coats can drift. Open. That’s what coats are like. That’s what women like, open coats and a quick face full of him. He likes it too. He likes what they like.”

His mother, “mam,” doesn’t “want to hear it” when her son calls and talks nonsense. Keep your head down and avoid all women, she cautions. The overbearing mam resorts to tying her sick son to his bedroom chair to protect him, and others, from his predatory act.

A woman was assaulted by Martin John in a dentist’s waiting area when she was only 12. Now, 20 years later, “whenever she is nervous for her children, she remembers.” She had tried to report him, but the receptionist refused to corroborate her story. “It was a time when people didn’t see stuff. That was the time it was.”

Schofield’s style of writing in short, brief sentences is unusual pointing to the unconventional differences that are Marin’s psyche.

Martin John has been nominated for the Giller Prize.

MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES

my grFREDRIK BACKMAN

Elsa has the most fabulous granny. Granny is her superhero; “Every seven year old deserves a superhero.” Granny has created myths and fairy tales for Elsa.“… Miamas is Granny and Elsa’s favourite kingdom, because there storytelling is considered the noblest profession of all. The currency is imagination; instead of buying something with coins, you buy it with a good story. Libraries aren’t known as libraries but as “banks,” and every fairy tale is worth a fortune.”

They have there own mystical language only the two of them speak. Granny sends Elsa on quests and adventures. Best of all Granny is a fierce warrior when it comes to protecting her granddaughter. Granny has been telling fairy tales for as long as Elsa can remember. In the beginning they were only to make Elsa go to sleep, and to get her to practise granny’s secret language, and a little because granny is just about as nutty as a granny should be. But lately the stories have another dimension as well. Something Elsa can’t quite put her finger on…’

When Granny dies, Elsa is sent on a quest delivering letters of apology to all the people in their building. As she completes her request Elsa learns that the myths and fairy tales are rooted in the reality that surrounds her.

Laugh aloud funny, achingly sad, always touching Grandmother is not to be missed.

SWEETLAND

sweetMICHAEL CRUMMEY

Sweetland is an ode to the dying Newfoundland way of small town or harbour life and the intrepid souls who lived there. In 2012, the government has offered the citizen of Sweetland $1oo,ooo each to resettle else where. The condition is all must comply. Moses Sweetland, is one of two holdouts refusing to take up the government’s seemingly generous offer. He is determined to stay, no matter the cost. His obstinacy prevents his friends and neighbours from collecting the government’s money, tearing apart the tight-knit community as a result. Sweetland is an old curmudgeon. The book’s cast of characters is delightful. The challenges to survival on the sea and on the coast are chilling.

“They never lost their way or seemed even momentarily uncertain of their location. They traveled narrow paths cut through tuckamore and bog or took shortcuts along the shoreline, chancing the unpredictable sea ice. Every hill and pond and stand of trees, every meadow and droke for miles was named and catalogued in their heads. At night they navigated by the moon and stars or by counting outcrops and valleys or by the smell of spruce and salt water and wood smoke. It seemed to Newman they had an additional sense lost to modern men for lack of use.”

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

TA-NEHISI COATES

Between is both a treatise on racism in the US and a memoir. Coates wrote itcoates as a  letter to his son, who he is assisting to make sense of blatant racial injustice and come to grips with his place in a world that refuses to guarantee for him the freedoms that so many others take for granted. “I write you in your 15th year, and you know now, if you did not before, that the police departments of your country have been endowed with the authority to destroy your body. . . . I tell you now that the question of how one should live within a black body, within a country lost in the Dream, is the question of my life, and the pursuit of this question, I have found, ultimately answers itself.”  With all the young black men who have been killed recently, with little or nothing being done to the perpetrators, Coates tells his son: “Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body — it is heritage.” “We are captured, brother, surrounded by the majoritarian bandits of America. And this has happened here, in our only home, and the terrible truth is that we cannot will ourselves to an escape on our own.” “The destroyers will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions.”

It is a bleak view. “But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.”

“To be black in the Baltimore of my youth was to be naked before the elements of the world, before all the guns, fists, knives, crack, rape, and disease. The nakedness is not an error, nor pathology. The nakedness is the correct and intended result of policy, the predictable upshot of people forced for centuries to live under fear.”

It is a powerful book. As I read it I often compared the racism in the US to the racism here in Canada against First Nations people. We too have a long way to go.

A WORK OF ART

MELODY MAYSONETwork

Tera is an artist like her dad. She has always worked hard for his approval. He has sculpted her and her abilities at the expense of the mother who he calls crazy. The father is manipulative and cunning, pitting his daughter against her mother. He convinces not only Tera that her mother is crazy, but also the mother herself. Tera is willing to do anything, even when it feels wrong, to win her father’s approval. Tera has been accepted with scholarship to a prestigious art school in France. She finally sees the pride in his eyes. Her world is coming together until her father is arrested for child pornography.  Tera puts her entire future on hold to prove his innocence. In the process she starts to doubt he is innocent. As she explores her budding sexuality memories that hold secrets from Tera’s past come to light. Nothing is right anymore and Tera must find her way through the mess of her life.

Well written Art is a page turner.