Tell Me Pleasant Things: Stories by Lindsay Wong

The most surprising and original book I’ve read in ages.

Gloriously perverse and wonderfully weird. I’m reluctant to elaborate because I think the best way to approach this book is as I did, with zero advance knowledge or expectations. I started reading it on the train to OLA and had grabbed it simply because I had an advance copy laying around, liked the cover, and thought that short stories would be well suited to the trip. And then, whoa!

From the author of The Woo Woo, a Dewey Diva pick and Canada Reads finalist.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr6665889

 The Longest Suicide: The Authorized Biography of Art Bergmann by Jason Schneider

Possibly the most unlikely recipient of the Order of Canada, our nation’s punk poet laureate has been shaking up the music scene here for half a century.

Largely unheralded, known by some solely for his roles in Hard Core Logo and Highway 61, Bergmann helped lay the foundations of the Vancouver punk scene in the 70s, playing in and leading bands like The K-Tels, Young Canadians, the Mount Lehman Grease Band and Los Popularos, along with solo work. Kitchener author Jason Schneider (Whispering Pines) has delivered a resonant deep dive into an important but little known chapter of Canadian music and cultural history.

Adult Non-Fiction Paperback pr6732579

The Nineties: A Book by Chuck Klosterman

Novelist, cultural critic and essayist Klosterman takes a look at the last decade before social media, wifi, and streaming services.

Ironic slackers desperate to never appear like they were trying culturally dominated during a time of landlines, newspapers, and TV antennas. While you might not agree with everything Klosterman sometimes posits with smug conviction (he’s one of those geniuses you want to punch in the face occasionally), he does have a theory or explanation for everything, generally more plausible than not, and is brilliant at tying everything from AOL to OJ, Allan Greenspan, Bill Clinton, Tarantino and Tiger Woods, together into a coherent whole. The world we live in now germinated in the 90s, and Klosterman is great at showing that.

On another note, I think this is the first History book I’ve ever read where I could clearly remember the times and everything discussed. I truly hope his publisher has said to him “OK Chuck, The Nineties was great, how about you tackle the aughts now?” Now there’s a book I’d be eager to read.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr6976599

The Kind Worth Saving by Peter Swanson

Boston PI Henry Kimball takes on a case from a student he taught in his former high school teacher days, who suspects her husband is being unfaithful.

Flashbacks to that earlier time period, for the client, Kimball, and another important character we meet drive the story, which becomes less straightforward as it progresses. Kimball shares a lot of genre cliches (ex-cop, crosses ethical lines, ladies’ man) but also doesn’t (a stalled poet that writes a lot of limericks, and if he ever carries a gun I can’t recall it). The story moves quickly, even with the flashbacks, but not in a breathless airport thriller sort of way.

I read this because I’m a bit curious about the trend towards new installments in long dormant series. The first in this one, The Kind Worth Killing, came out eight years ago; I’d not read anything by Swanson previously, an author whose star seems to be on the rise. Even if I had read the first book in the series, how well would I remember it by now? No matter, as this works flawlessly as a standalone. I’m not completely sold on the series or author, but admit to being intrigued enough that I’m sure to read another, and it’s easy to understand Swanson’s success. Not all genre readers want a comic book with unbelievable characters, implausible stories, and ludicrous amounts of violence. The Kind Worth Saving is the kind of book you can actually imagine happening

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr6888049

Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up by Selma Blair

A celebrity memoir by the actress best known for roles in Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde and Hellboy.

Along with work as a model and more recently an advocate for the multiple sclerosis community, this isn’t the sort of book that I’d typically read. What brought me to it was hearing the author interviewed on CBC’s q. To hear it is to want to read the book.

I was glad I did because Blair has genuine chops as a writer. While her life has been rife with the fairly common celeb tropes of addiction, trauma and sexual abuse, her candour and humour in telling the story is warm and compulsively readable. She’s able to have regrets without feeling sorry for herself, and she’s enough of a storyteller to engage you even without having seen any of the movies she’s done, or being the sort of person that reads People magazine and watches Entertainment tonight. She shouldn’t really be such a breath of fresh air, and yet she somehow is. I hope she’s able to keep writing, and for the umpteenth time I’m thankful to CBC Radio for all they do to promote books, authors and reading.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr6622211

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