Book Review: The Son of a Certain Woman by Wayne Johnston

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Book Review: The Son of a Certain Woman by Wayne Johnston

10.30.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

son of a certain woman

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Category: Fiction

Author: Wayne Johnston

Format: Hardcover, 444 pages

Publisher: McClelland & Alfred A. Knopf

ISBN: 978-0-345-80789-2

Pub Date: September 17, 2013

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Summary from the Publisher:

Here comes Percy Joyce.

From one of Canada’s most acclaimed, beloved storytellers: The Son of a Certain Woman is Wayne Johnston’s funniest, sexiest novel yet, controversial in its issues, wise, generous and then some in its depiction of humanity.

Percy Joyce, born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in the fifties is an outsider from childhood, set apart by a congenital disfigurement. Taunted and bullied, he is also isolated by his intelligence and wit, and his unique circumstances: an unbaptized boy raised by a single mother in a fiercely Catholic society. Soon on the cusp of teenagehood, Percy is filled with yearning, wild with hormones, and longing for what he can’t have-wanting to be let in…and let out. At the top of his wish list is his disturbingly alluring mother, Penelope, whose sex appeal fairly leaps off the page. Everyone in St. John’s lusts after her-including her sister-in-law, Medina; their paying boarder, the local chemistry teacher, Pops MacDougal; and…Percy.

Percy, Penelope, and Pops live in the Mount, home of the city’s Catholic schools and most of its clerics, none of whom are overly fond of the scandalous Joyces despite the seemingly benign protection of the Archbishop of Newfoundland himself, whose chief goal is to bring “little Percy Joyce” into the bosom of the Church by whatever means necessary. In pursuit of that goal, Brother McHugh, head of Percy’s school, sets out to uncover the truth behind what he senses to be the complicated relationships of the Joyce household. And indeed there are dark secrets to be kept hidden: Pops is in love with Penelope, but Penelope and Medina are also in love-an illegal relationship: if caught, they will be sent to the Mental, and Percy, already an outcast of society, will be left without a family.

The Son of a Certain Woman brilliantly mixes sorrow and laughter as it builds toward an unforgettable ending. Will Pops marry Penelope? Will Penelope and Medina be found out? Will Percy be lured into the Church? It is a reminder of the pain of being an outsider; of the sustaining power of love and the destructive power of hate; and of the human will to triumph.

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Book Review by Zara from The Bibliotaphe Closet:

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The Son of a Certain Woman by Wayne Johnston, a novel longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize this year, is a subtly shocking story of a child’s journey to young adulthood in the small and isolated town of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The son of a certain woman is infamously known as Percy Joyce, the boy with a benign version of the fictional syndrome, “False Someone Syndrome (FSS),” which burdens him with dark “port wine stains” on his face and “local gigantism” where parts of his body are oversized, and in his case, his hands and his feet.

But aside from his physical “disfigurement,” he’s surrounded by two very different groups of people who hold strong, conflicting, and polar beliefs.

There are those who live with him in the privacy of 44 Bonaventure Street: his voluptuous mother, Penelope Joyce, best known for her exaggerated beauty, her hedonistic beliefs, and smart, yet sharp tongue; Medina Joyce, his illiterate, yet street-wise, masculine aunt whose fear to ride in moving cars fails to deter her from a passionate love for his mother; and Mr. MacDougal, affectionately known as “Pops,” his family’s house boarder and introverted chemistry teacher at the all-boys Catholic high school across the street, Brother Rice.

And then there are those, who, under a cloak of religiosity, work hard in influencing and eventually controlling the fate of Percy Joyce’s prodigal return to the Catholic faith from: Archbishop Patrick James Scanlon known to many as “Uncle Paddy,” whose theological guardianship of Percy begins from his use of Percy as an example in his Sermon on the Mount analogy, and continues on with consistent letters of correspondence during the holidays, and discreet instruction to Director McHugh for Percy’s special exemption in punishment and care; to McHugh’s strict and fearless tutelage on the Catechism of the Catholic Church in preparation for Percy’s baptism (“The Big Do at the Big B.”); and the unexpected support from Sister Mary Aggie through prayer cards of “Saint Drogo,” the Patron Saint of Unattractive People, though ostracized and sent to a mental institution known as “The Mental”; and the judgement and scorn from not only the whole of the town, but of Sister Celestine and her cruelty, the principal of the all-girls’ school, Holy Heart.

While the narrative is easy to read, the story’s subject matter is intrusively shocking from all sides of the belief spectrum. Readers are coerced into an emotional adventure, raising strong questions of right and wrong without any clarity due to the complexity of not necessarily the issues themselves, but the complex nature of the story’s characters. But, readers will be exposed to the fiery injustices and sorrows in the book as well as its comedic, almost absurd contexts, which sometimes begs the question of the book’s and its characters’ believability. What is for certain is the intensity in which readers may respond since the plight of Percy Joyce is no ordinary one.

But, pity is not on the menu in this novel as expected, nor is righteousness a natural phenomenon. The judgements in the book are harsh as well as misguided and the moral fibre stretched so thin, almost anything goes—and does. What is most frightening about the context of this novel lies in its extremities and the willingness of its characters to encompass these extremities to meet their desires.

“Give me myth or give me death,” is Percy Joyce’s coping mechanism, survival tactic, his motto, his hyperbolic, personal life theology, which in turn becomes the conflict and the source of the novel itself. The book on a whole is myth as survival and the stories the characters tell themselves are told to justify the choices they make, what they are willing to do, as well as sacrifice to uphold their secrets and their obsessions.

The corporeal judgement of the town towards the Joyce household showcases not only their cruelty, close-mindedness, but guilty lust for beauty, sensuality, and sex. Their judgement of Penelope’s sex appeal is indicative of their impassioned need to repress their own and obvious lust for it.

Yet, the insistent angst against the church on behalf of Penelope Joyce, while not entirely wrong in her right to the freedom of religious and lifestyle choice, does wrongfully insist itself on young Percy with the intention to determine her son’s fate, while disregarding that he may actually have one, a choice or an opinion of whether or not he’d like to become a member of the church.

And the culprits of Brotherhood in Director McHugh and Archbishop “Uncle Paddy,” seem well-bent on rather than defending the meek by reprimanding its community in its consistent ridicule and judgement on Percy and Percy’s mother, seem keen on manipulating his situation to ensure a way to use and control Percy in order to defend or advocate their religious beliefs.

While the novel speaks heavily on the issue of moral innocence and righteousness, there doesn’t seem to be any character in the book free enough to claim their own innocence.

And while the novel speaks to serious subjects and its moral implications, the characters themselves and the comedic absurdity of the plot at times reminds us to not take life all that seriously.

Percy, with his port-stained-face, disfigured lip, and gigantic hands and feet, is town scapegoat, gifted storyteller, harbourer of secrets and hierarchical sin, and religiously incarnated saint. It’s a tall order. But, no one knows this more than him, who has been duly inflicted and blessed with “False Someone Syndrome.” It’s myth or death, after all—and Percy is a survivor.

 ***

Characters:  4stars

Pacing: 4 stars

Cover Design: 4 stars

Plot: 3.5 stars

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Zara’s Rating

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A special thanks to Random House of Canada  on behalf of Alfred A. Knopf for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an unpaid, honest review.

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About the Author:

wayne johnston
Wayne Johnston

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Wayne Johnston was born and raised in the St. John’s area of Newfoundland. His #1 nationally bestselling novels include The Dive Ryans, A World Elsewhere, The Custodian of Paradise, The Navigator of New York and The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, which will be made into a film. Johnston is also the author of an award-winning and bestselling memoir, Baltimore’s Mansion. He lives in Toronto.

– From book jacket.

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Links:

Wayne Johnston’s Official Website

Like Wayne Johnston’s face on Facebook

Follow Wayne Johnston on Twitter

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Do you think Penelope Joyce is actively to blame for the community’s judgement of her and her obvious sensuality? Why or why not?

Do you think Percy Joyce’s lust for his mother is indicative of his isolation, ridicule growing up as a young boy with FSS? Or a fear that he has no hope of ever successfully seducing a woman in future?

Is “Pops” a weak-minded man who’s influenced by Director McHugh to do his bidding or is he a man willing to do anything (including dismissing Medina and Penelope’s relationship) in order to experience the love and desire he feels for Penelope even if it means unrequited love?

What do you think happened to Percy’s absent, biological father, Jim Joyce? If you could imagine, where do you think he would be and what would he be doing?

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Waiting on Wednesday. 10.23.2013

 

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Waiting on Wednesday

10.23.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Even if I already own more than 3000 books in my personal library and have only read a small portion of them, the seduction of a new book still compels me to check hot lists and visit bookstores on an impromptu basis. Can I buy them all? Um…no. But, I can certainly wish for them, wait for them, or put them on hold at my local library. Here are a couple of books I’m looking forward to next month.

Week of November 4:

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan, published by HarperCollins.

valley of amazement cvr

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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, published by HarperCollins

this is the story of a happy marriage

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The Rabbi Who Found the Messiah by Carl Gallups, published by WND Books

rabbi who met the messiah

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Week of November 11:

Loud, Awake, and Lost by Adele Griffin, published by Random House Children’s Books

loud awake and lost

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Lion vs. Rabbit by Alex Latimer, published by Peachtree Publishers

lion vs rabbit

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The Secret Garden: Deluxe Hardcover Classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett, published by Penguin Young Readers Group

secret garden deluxe

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Week of November 18:

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson, published by HarperCollins

someone elses love story

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Report from the Interior by Paul Auster, published by Holt, Henry & Company

report from the interior

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Paris: Portrait of a City by Jean Claude Gautrand, published by Taschen America

paris portrait of a city***

Acorn by Yoko Ono, published by Workman Publishing Company

acorn

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Paper Daughter by Jeanette Ingold, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

paper daughter

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What books are you waiting for?

Out of the books listed above, which are you most interested in reading and why?

What are your book recommendations?

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Top 10 Tuesday: Author Names I Love

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Top 10 Tuesday: Author Names I Love

10.22.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Today’s original Top 10 list is Fictional Characters’ Names I Love, according to The Broke and Bookish blog who hosts this popular meme, but when I was brainstorming names of fictional characters I love, I kept returning to the idea of author names that I love instead. And you know me, I’m usually compelled to run with the ideas I come up with regardless of the rules.

It’s tough to separate a person’s name from the person himself, but for today’s Top 10 Tuesday, it’s a task I’ll do my best to choose.

What’s in a name? For me, quite a lot. Just ask my husband. When it came time to naming our children—I created a three-to-four-page Excel list with three columns!

For me, a name should not only be beautiful to say on the tongue, have a significant meaning(s), but also be aesthetically pleasing in print. If anything, I’m drawn to eloquent, ethnic, and original names.

Most importantly, a name should be indicative of someone’s personality, while I know that once named, a person’s character can stem from the use of his or her name from birth.

For example, it’s my belief that a “Stacy” and an “Alexandria” may have very different life experiences and attitudes, not only because they are different people, but because their names can exude very different personas. It’s a thought. I believe I would be quite different in personality if I were named “Suzy” instead of “Zara.”

Here are not only some of my favourite authors, but author names I love:

1. Anouk Markovits

Anouk Markovits is the author of one of my favourite novels called, I Am Forbidden. Its origin is Inuit and Native American and means favour and grace.

2. Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy’s beauty is as eloquent as her lyrically, cultural novels such as The God of Small Things and The Folded Earth. Arundhati is of Hindi origin and means goddess of the night, sky, and stars.

3. Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini is the renowned author of the books, A Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and most recently, And the Mountains Echoed. Khaled is Arabic and means eternal.

4. Vladimir Nabokov

This name is synonymous with its famous and sexually charged, passionate love story, Lolita. The name, Vladimir,  itself is richly Russian, originates in Slovakia, and means prince.

5. Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami’s absurd, contemporary tales, and titles are as creative and imaginative as the meaning of his own name. His books include The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, South of the Border, West of the Sun, Norwegian Wood, and 1Q84. Haruki originates from Japan and means shining brightly. Haruki Murakami’s name and personality shines very brightly as one of my favourite literary stars.

6. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

The first time I came across The Sufferings of Young Werther, it was not only a highly recommended book by a friend because of its passion, but also a thoughtful gift. Johann, a new form of John, originates from Germany and means God is gracious. He certainly is, since Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe’s name is a rich and gracious name indeed.

7. Allistair Macleod

Allistair Macleod is the wonderful writer of such books as To Every Thing There Is a Season, No Great Mischief, and Island: The Collected Stories. His name, Allistair, is Scottish, is a form of Alexander, and means, The Defender of the People.

8. Jhumpa Lahiri

It’s difficult for me to separate my love of this author from her actual name. She’s one of my favourite writers and the author of the highly acclaimed novels: The Namesake, Interpreter of Maladies, Unaccustomed Earth, and most recently, The Lowland, and Ms. Lahiri’s name is wonderfully exotic. Jhumpa originates from Sanskrit, is predominantly used in India, and means pet name.

9. Javier Marías

Javier Marías is considered one of the best contemporary Spanish authors and a novelist of the short story genre as an example in his book, A Heart So White. The name, Javier (in this context), originates from Spain and means new house.

10. Pittacus Lore

Obviously, this name is a pen name only. Who would naturally name their child, “Pittacus” without some serious hesitation? Pittacus Lore is the author of the young adult series, I Am Number Four. Pittacus was the son of Hyrradius, and one of the Seven Sages of Greece who was victorious in the battle against the Athenians. A fantastical name, wouldn’t you agree?

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If you could give yourself a pen name, what would it be?

Of all the names listed above, which one is your favourite?

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Stuffing the Bibliotaphe Closet. 10.21.2013

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Stuffing the Bibliotaphe Closet

10.21.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

This meme “Stuffing the Bibliotaphe Closet” was inspired by the original meme that I participated in and which many of you may be familiar with: “Stacking the Shelves” hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. My posts will take the format of books and bookish items (including SWAG) that I have:

  • received from publishers and/or authors for review
  • purchased
  • received as a gift or prize through winning a contest

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Books for Review:

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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A special thank you to Random House of Canada for:

I’m Your Man: My Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons, published October 29, 2013

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, published September 24, 2013

The Harem Midwife by Roberta Rich, published October 29, 2013

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Books I Bought:

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, published September 16, 2009

A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe, published May 29, 2012

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(c) Photo by Zara D, Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D, Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace, published April 1, 2000

The Film Club by David Gilmour, published September 13, 2007

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(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Dreams of Joy by Lisa See, published February 7, 2012

February by Lisa Moore, published February 1, 2010

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(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates, published November 20, 2012

The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy, published April 24, 2012

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Books I Won:

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich, published March 26, 2013

Worst. Person. Ever. (Galley) by Douglas Coupland, published October 8, 2013

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(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish, published August 1, 2013

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens, coming February 25, 2014

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(c) Photo by Zara D, Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
(c) Photo by Zara D, Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The Cartographer of No Man’s Land by P.S. Duffy, coming October 29, 2013

Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall, published by Peirene Press

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What bookish goodies did you get this week?

Out of the titles listed above, which ones would you be most interested in reading and why?

***

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Thanksgiving 2013

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Thanksgiving 2013

10.15.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Like many special occasion holidays that prompt family gatherings, it can be a stressful, if not lonely time for those who either don’t have family or friends with whom to celebrate, nor a healthy financial income to support such festivities. For many, this is the case on Thanksgiving.

While my family and I were never actively traditional in celebrating Thanksgiving with a turkey and its trimmings, we did on occasion, gather together with a large group of family and friends.

This year, however, my parents were away on a two-week cruise visiting 10 countries, while my father-in-law and mother-in-law were a distance away at Kingston with plans already made with other relatives. My sister had plans to celebrate with her in-laws and my brother was away on an acting tour in upper Canada, which will keep him away until Christmas.

Which ultimately meant, this year, my family and I were on our own.

So, I took the opportunity to take my children apple picking for the very first time!

Based on a great recommendation, we visited Carl Laidlaw Orchards  on a Saturday morning, which not only opened itself to our entire family including our dog, but was also relatively close to where we live, which meant a short travel time, and an opportunity to pick apples all day.

Carl Laidlaw Orchard Farm. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Carl Laidlaw Orchard Farm. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The kids getting ready to pick apples for the day at Carl Laidlaw Orchards. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids getting ready to pick apples for the day at Carl Laidlaw Orchards. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Me and Max enjoying our wagon ride around the apple orchard. (c) Photo Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Me and Max enjoying our wagon ride around the apple orchard. (c) Photo Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Michael reaching for an apple, (which was a big deal for him since he's extremely scared of heights and climbed up a ladder anyway). (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael reaching for an apple, (which was a big deal for him since he’s extremely scared of heights and climbed up a ladder anyway). (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Xara picking the apples she could reach! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara picking the apples she could reach! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Carl Laidlaw Apple Orchard. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Carl Laidlaw Apple Orchard. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The kids proud of their work. They picked half-a-bushel! Say, "Apple!" (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids proud of their work. They picked half-a-bushel! Say, “Apple!” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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For a nominal fee for a family of four (including our dog), we were able to pick a half-a-bushel of any apple variety in the orchard, which ranged from Ada, Gala, Matsu, Smoothie, Golden Delicious, and Red Delicious on that day. The price included a taste-testing of the varieties available, wagon rides to each plot, a free stroll on the grounds, a recycling bag for your apples, and a half-a-bushel of apples you get to pick yourself.

While we originally wanted to pick some Red Delicious apples, there weren’t too many to pick from the trees, so we opted for the next best thing, Golden Delicious apples, just a patch away.

 The kids were excited to ride the wagon (which we rode twice) and pick apples of their own choosing. While my son braved his fear of heights by climbing a wooden ladder to reach apples from the top of the trees, my daughter was more than happy to pick those apples she could reach at the bottom. And our dog, Max? She enjoyed the wagon rides the most.

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And rather than have a huge Thanksgiving dinner, we opted instead to have a quiet Thanksgiving lunch picnic at one of our favourite parks. It was a gorgeous, cool, and clear fall day, perfect for enjoying some time together outdoors. (It also meant, Mommy didn’t have to sweat it out in the kitchen trying to make a huge turkey!)

On the way to Gage Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
On the way to Gage Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Gage Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Gage Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Xara looking for more popcorn chicken at our Thanksgiving picnic at the park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara looking for more popcorn chicken at our Thanksgiving picnic at the park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Me, enjoying the sights and the beautiful, fall weather. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Me, enjoying the sights and the beautiful, fall weather. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Big oak tree. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Big oak tree. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Gorgeous, clear day at the park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Gorgeous, clear day at the park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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While the children enjoyed playing in the playground at the park, my husband and I enjoyed some down time having a picnic while our dog resisted from chasing every squirrel that she saw.

Instead of having a gluttonous Thanksgiving meal, we focused instead on the significance of the holiday itself, which was to purposefully be grateful for all we have—and at the very least, we were able to spare the life of one lucky turkey!

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How did you celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

What are you most thankful for?

***

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My 2013 Giller Prize Shortlist Prediction

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My 2013 Giller Prize Shortlist Prediction

10.08.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

It’s been an exciting time since the Longlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize was announced.

For bibliotaphes—especially Canadian bibliotaphes—it is a highly coveted and prestigious award in Canadian literature. It awards its winner with a $70,000 monetary prize and recognizes the excellence in Canadian fiction.

And this year’s jury couldn’t be more qualified with such distinguished writers and readers such as Margaret Atwood, Esi Edugyan (last year’s Giller Prize winner for her book, Half-Blood Blues), and Jonathan Lethem.

The Longlist was announced on September 16, which has given the jury less than a month to chisel the list down to its much-awaited announcement later TODAY!

Here’s the Longlist of books that are hopeful to make the cut:

Dennis Brock’s Going Home Again

Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda

Lynn Coady’s Hellgoing

Craig Davidson’s Cataract City

Elizabeth de Mariaffi’s How to Get Along with Women

David Gilmour’s Extraordinary

Wayne Grady’s Emancipation Day

Louis Hamelin’s October 1970

Wayne Johnston’s The Son of a Certain Woman

Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs

Lisa Moore’s Caught

Dan Vyleta’s The Crooked Maid

Michael Winter’s Minister Without Portfolio

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For book and author details, visit here, the Scotiabank Giller Prize page.

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My Prediction:

What do I look for in favouring a book over another?

  • Is the prose effortless?
  • Does the narrative have depth?
  • Is the story compelling?
  • Are the characters flawed in such a way that they are still likeable?
  • Does the story create a sense of empathy in my reading?
  • Does the book’s theme or issues comment or make me think about society, perhaps provoking dialogue or action to change?
  • Does the book move me?
  • Is the book indicative of what it means to be a Canadian?

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In answering some of those questions, here are my predictions for this year’s Giller Prize Shortlist:

  • The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
  • Cataract City by Craig Davidson
  • Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady
  • The Son of a Certain Woman by Wayne Johnston
  • Caught by Lisa Moore

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Be sure to come back and see if I was right!

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