Pacific Avenue

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Bland cover, or layered allusion to Disney's racially-charged "Song of the South"?  You decide.

Bland cover, or layered allusion to Disney’s racially-charged “Song of the South”? You decide.

Anne L Watson’s Pacific Avenue is one of those novels that would be easy to dismiss as mere romance.  However, that would be unfair.  Pacific Avenue is also a story about young adulthood, racial prejudice, middle-class expectations, and the psychological effects of war.  Kathy is young, white, and middle-classed; the daughter of an idealistic college professor and a closet-racist of a housewife.  Lacey is middle-aged, black and poor; an under-payed secretary whose own daughter has just left for college.  The pair serve as narrators for the story that ensues, Kathy recounting the story of a failed interracial relationship with Richard Johnson; and Lacey providing an alternative view point on the same.  One of those stories, then?  Yes, to some extent.  Watson’s novel  falls strongly into the realm of literary fiction.  In some intangible way, it reminds me of Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.  Unlike last week’s novel, this is just the sort of story I enjoy.  So without further ado…

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Music of Sacred Lakes

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"Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings In the ruins of her ice water mansion". -Gordon Lightfoot, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

“Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the ruins of her ice water mansion,
Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams,
The islands and bays are for sportsmen.”
-Gordon Lightfoot, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

While Laura K. Cowan’s Music of Sacred Lakes doesn’t actually make mention of Lightfoot’s iconic song, I think that it is a fitting introduction to her novel, not only because it is literally music of the lake, but because like Music of Sacred Lakes, the song is lyrical with just a touch of the Gothic. Continue reading

An American Abroad

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I definitely judged this book by its beautiful cover.

I definitely judged this book by its beautiful cover.

Kay Bratt’s Red Skies is a difficult book to review; while I enjoyed the story, I felt that was constantly running up against Bratt’s writing style. My first thought was that Bratt had forgone a necessary step in the editing process, but this novel does have a copy editor credited. Maybe I harbour some hidden resentment towards Bratt for misidentifying Anne of Green Gables American?  In any case, this is a literary fiction piece that comes close, but doesn’t quite hit its mark. Continue reading