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October 17, 2008

More Books Worth a Look


Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden 

Three years ago I wrote about Joseph Boyden’s award winning book Three Day Road which went on to sell 100,000 copies and is apparently going to be made in to an upcoming movie.  It was a best seller in France, Italy and Germany.  It is the story of two young Cree snipers from northern Ontario who fought in WWI. 

It turns out that Boyden had a trilogy on his mind when he wrote Three Day Road and the second book is now out.  The new book Through Black Spruce and the next book will tell the multigenerational story of the Bird family from Moose Factory and Moosonee

The new book is already on the long list for the 2008 Giller Prize.  I bought a copy recently and thoroughly enjoyed it.  There are two narrators – Bill Bird is the old and dying son of the sniper Xavier in Three Day Road.  Bill became a push pilot.  The other narrator is a niece, Annie Bird.  Their two stories are interwoven throughout the book. 

Annie spends a lot of time trying to find her sister Suzanne who has disappeared.  The story which tells a lot about some aspects of native life is a gripping read. 

Boyden’s parents both had native blood and he strongly identifies with native people.  He visits the James Bay region several times a year where among other things he gets involved in sweat-lodge ceremonies.

Boyden wrote a long critical article in the September 29th issue of Macleans about the Ontario Power Authority’s plan to build dams along the Moose River.  The Moose Cree First Nation were not involved in the hearings in spite of the severe impact of the dams on their way of life. 

Boyden met his wife Amanda in New Orleans where they now teach and write.  She has just published a novel Babylon Rolling.These books are available at bookstores and libraries 

Portrait in Light and Shadow (2007) by Mona Tippett 

Yosuf Karsh “the most prominent portrait photographer of the twentieth century” worked in Ottawa out of the Chateau Laurier hotel near the Parliament Buildings for convenience  for most of his life.  The new book that anticipated his centenary in 2008 was produced with the full cooperation of his family.  Karsh’s history is fascinating and the book describes it in detail and includes many photographs.  Karsh died in Boston in 2002.  His brother Malak is also a well known photographer. 

Karsh learned his photography in Boston early in his career and returned there for 5 years before his death in 2002.  Karsh’s collection of negatives and prints is in the Canadian National Archives and his equipment is in the Canadian Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.  His portraits are in Museums around the world.  His famous Winston Churchill portrait is considered the most reproduced photographic portrait in history. 

 Karsh 100: A Biography in Images Exhibition opened recently at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and runs until January 19, 2009. 

As a Grey Owl fan my favourite Karsh photo is his photo of Grey Owl.  It appeared on the cover of one of his many  books.  

Portrait of Grey Owl by Yousuf Karsh

A Couple of Chisholm Township Connected Books Available 

John Leach, who lives on River Road in Chisholm Township has written 4 books including his latest The World We Want (2008).  The book is partly a biography of his interesting and long  life, with a section on his poetry and one on his philosophy of life.  An entertaining and enlightening read.  The book is available from John at 705-752-5708. 

Hugh Timmerman with copy of his book Bombers in the Night Sky (2008) D. Mackey photo.

Hugh Timmerman a former resident of Chisholm for years before he moved to Meaford has written a fascinating book about his life in Holland in WWII.  The research is thorough and the graphics are fascinating.  This personal story touches on those aspects of war that impact on the ordinary citizen and are often forgotten.  The book Bombers in the Night Sky is available on the unique books-on –demand  website www.lulu.com/content/1230633.  Allow a few seconds and the cover will show up.  Click on the right of #1 and the  first 12 pages appear.  If you wish to purchase click “add to cart” and follow theinstructions and the book will arrive in 10-15 days. 

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