Category Archives: uncategorized

A New Blog! The Bibliotaphe Closet Is Closing and Moving to Zara’s Closet

Welcome to Zara’s Closet!

A Place Worth Rummaging Through

blue stencil door

02.22.2016

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

A closet is a wonderfully, small, enclosed space one can rummage through—or hide in. Now, what you find there, ranges in varying styles and tastes depending on which closet you happen to fall (or sneak) into.

The closet bears for us, a place to house our clothes, our bags, our shoes, our knick-knacks, our dirty laundry, even our metaphorical “skeletons” and secrets: perhaps old photographs, the ones which exist as hardcopy prints in black and white as old testimonies to an oral past told to us by our grandmothers, and those photos yellowing with age from the vintage 70’s in which our parents listened to the Bee Gee’s on an eight-track and snapped instant pictures with a Polaroid camera.

Closets are more than a highly acclaimed storage space, but can be a place of refuge in a game of Hide and Seek, a place of solace when tears require solace, or a place where men and women decide who they will be for the day by the clothes and shoes they wear—at least to the rest of the voyeuristic world.

As a seasoned blogger, I spent some time building a book blog called, The Bibliotaphe Closet, with the intent of encouraging literacy through the review of new books, the announcement of literary events, and the support of a vibrant, enthusiastic, reading community.

But, while my lifestyle has taken a passionate change to include a number of other interests on top of literature— it was suggested to me by a friend to perhaps begin a new blog that could showcase these new interests under one umbrella, rather than attempt to host multiple blogs at one time.

Good friends are worth listening to. And so here I am…opening another door to a new closet.  And I’m excited to share its contents with you!

Family

What better way than to share some advice on my experience with young children when I have two youngin’s of my own? Anything from play dates, to crafts, to places that are not only kid-friendly, but kid-loved.

Beauty

Or showcase the latest and greatest cosmetics that I come across when I’m craving for a new lipstick that we all know we don’t really need, but would be so disappointed to live without…right, ladies?

Books

There are books, too, lining my staircase waiting to be read and reviewed; stories that not only speak to the intimacies of our own fears and challenges, but also speak to a larger consciousness in our society. I would love to talk about that with you.

Coffee

And since I’m an avid Starbucks, coffeehouse rat, there are gift cards to hunt for and collect, as well as coffee-based drinks to taste and review for the masses. Maybe you’re obsessed with Starbucks like myself? Or maybe you’d much rather drink mud-water than buy from a trendy corporation that charges a buck per coffee bean…plus the namesake of your first-born child? (I’m kidding.)

Cooking

While I confess I’m not a natural in the kitchen, I do need to eat and eat healthy—which means, like you, I’m always on the lookout for a great-tasting, uncomplicated, yet nutritious recipe to fill my tummy and impress my husband and kids—a recipe that potentially doesn’t blow my budget or take me 10 hours to make before I change my mind and run off to a fast-food restaurant just because I don’t have the time!

Fitness

This goes hand-in-hand with living an active and healthy lifestyle. For those that don’t know, I weighed more than 200 lbs.  six months ago and have successfully shed the unwanted pounds in lieu of a lean, strong body through hard work, dedication, a balanced diet, and tons of exercise.

If you’ve ever struggled with poor body image or would like to shed a few pounds in order to get a little bit healthier—no matter what state your body is in now—I’m here for you as an advocate of fitness and healthy life choices. (I’m also here when you feel like eating everything in your kitchen, plus your neighbour’s kitchen—at 11:30 p.m.—because I, too, have been there!)

Paper

But, I’m not always at the gym either. I also like to spend time penning words to paper—literally—sending correspondence to penpals across the globe. If you like all-things paper and know what washi tape is (or would like to), there’s information on that here, too.

I’m also a writer. You can get all the juicy details about that on my bio page, but aside from hosting this blog, I’ve been known to publish a few pieces here and there, as well as pull all-nighters begging my muse to give me the right words (and stamina) to finish a chapter in a prose-fiction piece, or utter the eloquence and hidden metaphors bellied into a poem that I’m compelled to pluck onto paper.

If you’re a story writer or a poet, or simply love words and language, there will be a cranny of stories and poems for you to enjoy here while you visit.

Fashion

Or perhaps you’re keen on keeping yourself well put-together? (Because, really, who doesn’t want to look good?) Or perhaps you are innately drawn to beautiful things and luxurious brands?

I love the art and style, clothing and accessories afford me in presenting myself to the world and I’m more than happy to share the latest trends (and the best deals) with friends!

***

If you’ve ever rummaged through a closet, it’s always a delight to discover something you never realized was there before. At Zara’s Closet, there’s going to be piles of things to look at, go through, and think about.

And because it’s an entirely new closet, it’s moving to an entirely new address, too!  Please come and follow me there as The Bibliotaphe Closet will soon become inactive.

And you’re welcome to stay as long as you like.

I have no qualms if you find something that interests you and by browsing, reading, and commenting, you get a little joy, too–or even a little help along the way.

This is, after all, my closet—but I promise my readers to always leave the door wide open.

Welcome—and come on in!

***

Zara

zara - grey black fedora

2015: A Fresh Start for the Bibliotaphe Closet

January 12. 2015

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis / @zara.tokiniha

It seems the doors of the Bibliotaphe Closet have been shut for about a month without much of an explanation from me. That’s what happens when you lose your keys, or in my case, a handle on a reading and writing schedule that worked quite effectively until I unexpectedly picked up a new obsession—pretty stationery, washi tape, mail art, snail mail, and penning letters.

After I agreed to an interview and feature on the Penpal of the Week website as well as having won a free three-month membership to the League of Extraordinary Penpals (LEP), a warm and active online community; I have quickly transformed from an occasional letter-writing penpal to approximately three correspondents to a fully engaged writer and snail mail addict who has unbelievably gained the interest of 50+ penpals within Canada, the U.S.A., and around the world.

Translation —> You will most likely find me in a paper craft store running for the bins that carry a myriad of pretty stationery sets, peony notecards and notebooks, a slew of rubber stamps, kawaii stickers, and an uncertain amount of decorative washi tape, sticky notes, and planner inserts.

Incoming mail from Diana in Australia: instructions on how to make fabric tape and a vintage Paperdoll postcard. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Incoming mail from Diana in Australia: instructions on how to make fabric tape and a vintage Paperdoll postcard. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

I have gone so far as to:

  • create my own envelopes and postcards
  • renovate my study into a small craft room that now stores all my snail mail and mail art supplies
  • install hooks into the wall to display my washi tape
  • create my own midori planners and journals based on a number of YouTube instructional videos
  • buy my own digital shipping scale to weigh my mail packages by the gram
  • memorize postage rates by domestic, US, and international locations
  • bribe “Santa” for a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen with a fine nib
  • visit my mailbox on a strict rotation of three hours to check for incoming deliveries
  • and carry my mail, blank stationery, and pens with me everywhere I go just in case I have time to pen a letter
My creative writing space. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My creative writing space. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

That said, books and reading are still very much on my priority list. One does not usually forget their first love. But, as people grow, interests, too, tend to expand and develop (at least that’s what I tell myself since books have been left on the shelf).

With that in mind, I also hope to post stories about snail mail, mail art, and paper crafts on this blog. I may even have to consider revamping my blog’s site name, but I haven’t decided yet.

But, for starters, I encourage readers to set realistic reading goals for the year. This can be easily done through the HarperCollins of Canada 50 Book Pledge Program online, which acts as a database and personal tracker for a large reading community through a “To Be Read,” “Read,” and “Wish List” bookshelves.

As a preview, the first few books I look forward to reading and reviewing in 2015 are:

Alphabetique by Molly Peacock

alphabetique

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The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

strange library

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Little White Lies by Katie Dale

little white lies

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The Jaguar’s Children by John Valliant

jaguars children

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If I Fall, I Die by Michael Christie

if i fall i die

***

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

vanessa and her sister

***

While I suspected there would be time during the holidays to read, write, and even pen letters, there was instead a perpetual food binge and all forms of lively procrastination.

The New Year rolled itself in and just last week I celebrated my 40th—cough—birthday! (But, more on that in another post.)

Regardless, now that it’s 2015, I’m happy to reconsider some new personal goals and resolutions, as well as give The Bibliotaphe Closet a contextual renovation and a clean, fresh start.

Here’s to more reading—and writing in the New Year!

***

What are your reading goals for 2015?

***

zara - vintage

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving 2014

October 14.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

In previous years, Thanksgiving was a time to anticipate a tabletop filled with a traditional feast: turkey as its centrepiece, mashed potato with cranberry sauce, roasted, buttered corn, thick lasagna, a creamy potato salad, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, a little wine, and rich coffee with dessert.

But, the price to pay? A day or two in the kitchen, a potentially aggravating sit-in dinner with a few abrasive, tactless family members who are always compelled to criticize either your job, your spouse, your children, your looks, or your lack of any, and a bloated gut or terrible hangover from a few hours of enjoyable gluttony.

Thankfully, that did not happen this year.

This year, my husband and I, and our two children, rented a car for a few days, packed our bags, and travelled to Kingston, Ontario, to spend our Thanksgiving weekend with my father-in-law and mother-in-law, who we haven’t seen in a long time with our last visit to them over four years ago.

On our way, we stopped at Fairview Mall for an emergency bathroom break and happily discovered a LEGO store for the first time. My eldest son, Michael, a 10-year-old boy passionately obsessed with LEGO had a spaz attack! We spent a good half hour in the store checking out the latest box sets, admiring the coloured LEGO wall at the back, and building our own customized  mini-figures.


Michael with LEGO block at LEGO store, Fairview Mall. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael with LEGO block at LEGO store, Fairview Mall. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Together, we built three customized mini-figures for purchase, one meant to be a replica of my son with his medicine pouch and a weapon of choice to battle the “zombies” of the future Zombie Apocalypse; a Fairy Pie Godmother who brings pie to all LEGO-loving children of the world; and Gardenia, an avid reader, writer, and gardener:

The LEGO mini-figurines we customized on our unexpected trip to the LEGO store: Michael, The Pie Fairy Godmother, and Gardenia. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The LEGO mini-figurines we customized on our unexpected trip to the LEGO store: Michael, The Pie Fairy Godmother, and Gardenia. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

The car ride was loud and enjoyable except for the traffic we were unfortunate enough to get stuck in while on the 401. Still, we gladly took the opportunity to stop at a service station at Trenton to have lunch before arriving to Kingston.

The kids in the car on the way to Kingston. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids in the car on the way to Kingston. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

[caption id="attachment_8859" align="aligncenter" width="660"]The kids making faces in Trenton, at our On Route service station. We had Tim Horton sandwiches and soup for lunch. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved. The kids making faces in Trenton, at our On Route service station. We had Tim Horton sandwiches and soup for lunch. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Once there, it was not only a relief to finally arrive, but to see my in-laws after so many years. There were happy tears, hugs, and a thoughtful dinner waiting for us.

Mamá and Esly talking over dinner. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Mamá and Esly talking over dinner. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

While I was originally nervous about visiting them in respect to not seeing them in a number of years, but also because of the language barrier, once we arrived, their gracious hospitality and love made it so much easier to settle in—and stay.

We stayed for three days and two nights!

Each day was an opportunity for us to relax in our pyjamas, talk—really talk—and laugh, and ultimately spend quality time together as a family, which I found touching and rejuvenating.

Michael with his grandpa, Papá Ramiro—both in pyjamas. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael with his grandpa, Papá Ramiro—both in pyjamas. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Hugs for grandpa! Papá Ramiro and Xara after breakfast. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Hugs for grandpa! Papá Ramiro and Xara after breakfast. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

The wonderful gift of my father-in-law and mother-in-law is not only their strong, personal faith, but how their faith is alive and active in their lives. Papá, who is a retired pastor, does more than spend his time preaching empty words without consequence or validation. His advice is not only usually faith-based, but sound because he is a living testament of what he believes in. Mamá, too, lives out her faith by action, not simply words. To have spent time with them even for a little while was to be a part of God’s loving grace.

Mamá. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Mamá. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

It is so refreshing to be a part of such an open and loving family.

On the one hand, Mamá and Papá, have very little financially. They don’t desire a large home, nor a luxury car of which to boast about to friends and family. They travel about once or twice a year to El Salvador, not for a vacation for themselves, but rather an opportunity to give to the poor and needy while there. And they feel no compulsion to own “bigger and better,” worldly things. They live quite simply and are always content with what they have. But, it isn’t because they can’t afford a lavish lifestyle—it’s because their mindset does not focus on the importance of materialism as one of their priorities.

And yet, they have so much of themselves to give emotionally. They are open and direct, but without the need to be condescending, critical, or controlling. While they want what’s best for their son, me, and their grandchildren, they always speak and act with love, kindness, and understanding.

Papá and Esly spending time together talking on the balcony. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Papá and Esly spending time together talking on the balcony. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

We did not have a giant turkey for Thanksgiving or a lavish feast of any kind. Instead, we ate homemade soup with beef and vegetables, pupusas (a Salvadorean dish made of masa flour and mozzarella cheese with cortido, a cabbage, carrot, vinaigrette topping), mashed red bean, Salvadorean cheese, fried plantain with cream, and coffee and tea biscuits for dessert.

I spent some of my time braiding Mamá’s hair while the kids enjoyed running around the small apartment, and my husband helped Papá with the installation of Spanish accent shortcuts onto his computer/keyboard.

We also had the opportunity to see my brother-in-law, Eli, and visit his new home in Kingston. The kids took such a liking to his jokes and playfulness that they want to sleep over at his house next time we visit!

My brother-in-law, Eli, with Esly discussing politics at the dinner table. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My brother-in-law, Eli, with Esly discussing politics at the dinner table. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

Aside from family time, I was also able to visit the artsy core of downtown Kingston. I discovered a nice, little bookstore called, A Novel Idea, where I picked up a Montreal Book Review publication, some Kingston Writers’ promotional cards, a few bookmarks, Kingston Art buttons, and some postcards.

All in all, it was a much-needed getaway from the city, an opportunity to enjoy a long car ride and the autumn sights, to spend some quality time with my husband’s family, and to also get some stationery shopping done, as well as some letter writing to a number of my penpals.

The view overlooking the conservation site from my in-laws’ balcony. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The view overlooking the conservation site from my in-laws’ balcony. Kingston, Ontario. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

The kids enjoying their long weekend trip to see their grandparents in Kingston. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids enjoying their long weekend trip to see their grandparents in Kingston. October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

***

This year, Thanksgiving was so much more than about eating turkey. It was as it’s meant to be, a time for thoughtful reflection and a time for giving sincere thanks for family, friends, good food, great company, and the love and grace of God and His many blessings.

Whatever faith you may have or however differently you may celebrate, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration this past weekend! While I need not worry about a turkey gut, I’ve had my fill of other delicious foods and time well spent.

Happy Thanksgiving!

***

How do you usually spend Thanksgiving?

What was most memorable about your Thanksgiving celebration this year?

If you could so something differently for next year, what would you like to do?

What are you most thankful for?

***

zara - selfie 1

Congratulations to the Poets Who Made the 2014 Griffin Trust Poetry Prize Shortlist

04.08.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

The Griffin Trust was founded in April 2000 by Chairman Scott Griffin, along with Trustees Margaret Atwood, Robert Hass, Michael Ondaatje, Robin Robertson, and David Young.

The annual Griffin Poetry Prize awards two literary prizes of $65,000 each and an additional $10,000 to each shortlisted poet who reads at the annual Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Readings in Toronto. A Canadian prize is given to a living poet resident in Canada; an international prize is given to a living poet from any country in the world.

– From The Griffin Trust Official Page

In perfect timing to coincide with April as National Poetry Month, the Griffin Trust announced the 2014 Griffin Trust Poetry Prize seven finalists on the shortlist today:

 

International Shortlist

Pilgrim’s Flower • Rachael Boast
Picador

pilgrim's flower

 

Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire • Brenda Hillman
Wesleyan University Press

seasonal works with letters on fire

Silverchest • Carl Phillips
Farrar, Straus Giroux

silverchest

Colonies • Mira Rosenthal, translated from the Polish
written by Tomasz Rozycki

Zephyr Press

colonies

Canadian Shortlist

Red Doc> • Anne Carson
Jonathan Cape and McClelland & Stewart

red doc

Ocean • Sue Goyette
Gaspereau Press

ocean

Correspondences • Anne Michaels
McClelland & Stewart

correspondences

 ***

Are you a poetry reader and/or writer?

What do you love most about poetry?

What do find the most challenging about reading/writing poetry?

Who is your favourite poet?

What book of poetry would you have liked to see make it on the shortlist?

Of the seven finalists above, which book do you predict will win the Griffin Trust Poetry Prize?

***

zara cat stamp

Book Review: Falling Out of Time by David Grossman

03.24.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

falling out of time

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Category: Prose Poetry

Author: David Grossman

Format: Hardcover, 208 pages

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

ISBN: 9-780-7710-3640-8

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

***

Summary from Publisher:

David Grossman, a writer whose exceptional humanity, grace, and sheer brilliance as a storyteller have earned him acclaim around the world, has created an inspiring, compassionate, and genre-defying drama — part play, part prose, and a fable of pure poetry — to tell the story of bereaved parents setting out to reach their beloved lost children. It begins in a kitchen, in a small village, where a man is speaking with his wife about their loss. He announces that he is leaving, and he embarks on a walk in search of his dead son. Slowly, more and more people are drawn to him, joining him on his ever-widening circular journey around the town. Little by little, the reader realizes that the people of this anonymous town are also mourners, each having to endure their own bereavement.

Inspired by the tragic loss of David  Grossman’s own son, in combat, Falling Out of Time asks, Can one overcome death by sheer speech or memory? Is it possible, even for a fleeting moment, to free the dead from their death, to call to them and make them present once more? Grossman’s answer to such questions is a hymn to people from all walks of life — from a Net-Mender to a Duke — who ultimately find solace in their community of shared grief and in a kind of acceptance they could not have reached without coming together.

– From Chapters-Indigo website

Book Review by Zara

from The Bibliotaphe Closet:

Falling Out of Time by David Grossman is a 193-page long prose poem that laments and explores the devastation of grief for parents of children who have died.

The characters are unnamed except for their roles in the book: The Walking Man, The Woman Who Left Home, The Town Chronicler, The Town Chronicler’s Wife, The Midwife, The Cobbler, The Net-Mender, The Centaur, The Elderly Math Teacher, the Duke.

Perhaps their ambiguity is purposed to broaden their mourning from a personal experience to one that is communal since many children died in the village in which this novel takes place. Perhaps their namelessness is in answer to the identity they have lost since the travesty of the death of their children.

A reader must come to this novel with an active patience, a keen and quiet attention, perhaps even the willingness to read the novel twice. Though the novel is not long, nor difficult, its language is poetic and written in such a way that the reader must actively piece together the story’s plot and to whom each speaker addresses.

While the story wallows in the depth and length of its language and the transition from one speaker to another is not always smooth enough to be made clear, the book is filled with a number of lyrical lines of verse that speak the eloquence of a poem.

The novel reminds me of Walt Whitman’s exhaustive yet famous poem, Song of Myself, its tone fully absorbed in its subject—but in this book its subject is not the self, but rather the grief of death.

And like grief, the pacing of the novel is long, the language, context, and emotional feel of the novel, all-consuming. Its message is wailed throughout the novel. Its emotional devastation depicted in the characters’ self-destructive thinking, their solemnness, their communal action.

The book is almost a soliloquy, written as such, except spoken by each character mostly to him or herself. And at times the reading can be exhausting as it is depressing, but so is grief, which is most likely what David Grossman intended.

There is a strangeness, too, a fantastical aspect to the novel, languid in its dreamlike state, its characters’ hypnotic misery. And the act of circling, an endless circling, as if on a journey that does not end, but continues in an eternity, is how the book and its characters unravel themselves—and a little of their grief.

It is their children that are eventually named, identified, spoken, and declared. How the dead become living and breathing entities in the novel, so as to emphasize the hold of grief and mourning.

While this novel is not for those who has little patience for poetry, it does deserve a careful and attentive read. It is linguistically and emotionally driven, more of a grave essence than a fully-bodied plot since grief takes hold of the mind more than it does anything else, this novel, too, is a testimony to grief, to loss, to the ramifications of unwilled survival.

It captures the gravity and emotional drama—even its exaggeration—and injustice of death as it does the willingness of those bereaved to perpetuate their own suffering. While not necessarily a beautiful book since death can be none of those things, it is a painful and harsh rendering of what loved ones can be compelled to do in search for understanding of their loss.

And even though the novel is merely 208 pages, its subject weighs it down with a burden large enough to give it difficulty, quality, and substance.

Falling Out of Time is an ode to death as much as it is a necessary comment on life and the afterlife.

***

Characters: 3 stars

Pacing: 2 stars

Cover Design: 3 stars

Plot: 2 stars

Poetic Language: 3 stars

***

Zara’s Rating

z ring - smallz ring - smallz ring - small

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A special thanks to Random House of Canada on behalf of McClelland & Stewart for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

***

About the Author:

David Grossman

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Leading Israeli novelist David Grossman (b. 1954, Jerusalem) studied philosophy and drama at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and later worked as an editor and broadcaster at Israel Radio. Grossman has written seven novels, a play, a number of short stories and novellas, and a number of books for children and youth. He has also published several books of non-fiction, including interviews with Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Among Grossman`s many literary awards: the Valumbrosa Prize (Italy), the Eliette von Karajan Prize (Austria), the Nelly Sachs Prize (1991), the Premio Grinzane and the Premio Mondelo for The Zig-Zag Kid (Italy, 1996), the Vittorio de Sica Prize (Italy), the Juliet Club Prize, the Marsh Award for Children`s Literature in Translation (UK, 1998), the Buxtehude Bulle (Germany, 2001), the Sapir Prize for Someone to Run With (2001), the Bialik Prize (2004), the Koret Jewish Book Award (USA, 2006), the Premio per la Pace e l`Azione Umanitaria 2006 (City of Rome/Italy), Onorificenza della Stella Solidarita Italiana 2007, Premio Ischia – International Award for Journalism 2007, the Geschwister Scholl Prize (Germany), the Emet Prize (Israel, 2007)and the Albatross Prize (Germany, 2009). He has also been awarded the Chevalier de l`Ordre des Arts et Belles Lettres (France, 1998) and an Honorary Doctorate by Florence University (2008). In 2007, his novels The Book of Internal Grammar and See Under: Love were named among the ten most important books since the creation of the State of Israel. His books have been translated into over 25 languages.

– From Goodreads

Links:

Find David Grossman on Wikipedia.

Be David’s fan on Goodreads.

***

Have you ever suffered the grief of losing someone you love to death?

How did you best cope with your personal grief?

Do you prefer prose or poetry? Why?

What is your favourite collection of poetry? Your favourite poem?

Have you read Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself?” What did you think?

***

zara cat stamp

Our Family’s Furry Friends

03.11.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Two weeks ago my family had quite the scare—the news of the potential passing of our family dog, a Shih Tzu-Poodle mix, named Maki. She’s been with us for 14 years since she was just a fur ball of a puppy. In dog years, she’d be about 98-years-old.

You can imagine then what it’s been like in our family the past few weeks—the worry, the grief, the incessant tears. We had already emotionally tried to prepare ourselves for the worst: her passing.

And then by a miracle—my mother can testify to this since she was the one who fervently prayed for Maki’s well-being—Maki’s health turned around for the better.

She had originally not eaten for more than a week, and was so weak she was unable to walk, nor wag her tail in greeting, while she struggled with laboured breathing, and blood in her stool. We had thought for sure at 98-years-old it was her time to go and even considered putting her down in order to alleviate her suffering.

Thankfully, when she was taken to the vet for a check-up, we discovered she only suffered from a severe flu and temperature, a bad eye allergy reaction, and aside from poor teeth and a heart murmur, she had only lost one pound, and was generally considered to be quite healthy for her age!

My family was in tears again—but this time, in relief and joy.

And so, with this news I wanted to share and showcase with my readers a little bit about the animals we love, those who have become an important part of our entire family:

***

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

Name: Maki, named by my sister, after “Futomaki,” a Japanese sushi roll because of her black and white colour.

Breed: Shih Tzu – Poodle cross, 14-years-old (human years) / 98-years-old (dog years)

Birthday: April 23, 2000

Belongs to: (Caesar, Africa) Garcia Family

Personality: Debutante. Very dainty. Somewhat of a snob (most likely due to her poodle lineage) especially when it comes to meeting male dogs. Loves walks. Tries to act tough by barking loud especially when meeting or hearing other dogs or greeting the postman or postwoman at our door. Scared of rain and thunderstorms. Irritated with loud noise. Indifferent to playing “fetch.” Loves the kids: Michael (9), Xara (4), and Elias (2). Loves belly and ear rubs.

Favourite treat: Baby carrots, tangerines, sausage, dog treats. Prefers to eat dog food if watered down with water.

Favourite trick: “Sleep” and “Paw.”

***

bronx 1
Bronx. (c) Photo by Riza Garcia-Yarra. All rights reserved.

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Name: Bronx, named after the dog in the Gargoyles cartoon.

Breed: Boston Terrier, heavyweight class, 9-years-old (human years) / 63-years-old (dog years)

Birthday: April 3, 2005

Belongs to: (Riza, Joe, Elias) Garcia-Yarra Family

Personality: Loves people and other dogs; tends to lie in front of people and when you trip over him, you are the one who gets hurt and he doesn’t budge; has tendency to sit his butt on peoples’ feet; hates baths; infamous for his “SBD” farts, often mistaken for a warthog due to intermittent snorting sounds.

Favourite treat: Mini carrots, apple slices

Favourite trick: Sits and waits for treats and food until you give the “take” command; protects Elias when you pretend to point a gun at him.

***

Bizou. (c) Photo by Justine Tira-Lee. All rights reserved.

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Name: Bizou, which means “little kiss” in French.

Breed: Coton De Tulear

Birthday: August 9, 2003, 11-years-old (human years) / 77-years-old (dog years)

Belongs to: (Justine, Wai, Tai, Paxton) Lee Family

Personality trait: Clown 

Favourite Treat: Greenies

Favourite Trick: Leg up

***

Parker. (c) Photo by Myra Tira-Garrett. All rights reserved.
Parker. (c) Photo by Myra Tira-Garrett. All rights reserved.

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Name: Parker, after “Peter Parker” from Spiderman

Breed: German Rottweiler – French Mastiff cross, 7-months-old (human years)

Birthday: August 24, 2013

Belongs to: (Myra, Rick, Gavin) Tira-Garrett Family

Personality trait: Playful, loving, enjoys long walks at the dog park, picking up Gavin from school, calm, submissive, doesn’t realize how big or heavy he actually is, thinks he’s a lap dog, loves to make new friends (with all species).

Favourite Treat: peanut butter training treats, broccoli, kale, carrots, cheese, cucumbers

Favourite Trick:  He hates rolling over because he’s so big, but he loves his new “trick,” hugs, as he puts his paw on your shoulder for a warm embrace.

***

Frankie. (c) Photo by Belen Garcia-Munoz. All rights reserved.

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Name: Frankie, named after Frank Sinatra

Breed: Chihauhua

Birthday: Unknown, adopted by another family who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Belongs to: (Belen, Ben) Garcia-Munoz Family

Personality trait: “very scared little rat,” pees on people he doesn’t like, loves to go to the park to play ball, loves the sun, hates showers

Favourite Treat: hamburgers like his Uncle Ben

Favourite Trick:  Used to love to wake up Uncle Ben who has now passed away.

***

Penelope. (c) Photo by Carmen Abad. All rights reserved.
Penelope. (c) Photo by Carmen Abad. All rights reserved.

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Name: Penelope

Breed: Yorki

Adopted: March 8, 2014

Belongs to: (Carmen, Ramon) Garcia-Abad Family

Personality: Will soon find out

Favourite Treat: Will soon find out

Favourite Trick: Will soon find out

***

(c) Photo by Carmen Abad. All rights reserved.

***

Name: Starr Bonita

Breed: Bichon Frische

R.I.P: April 1998 – March 2, 2014 / 16 years-old (human years) / 112- years-old (dog years)

Belongs to: (Carmen, Ramon) Garcia-Abad Family

Personality trait: Protective of family and loving.

It is with great sadness that Starr, The Garcia-Abad’s beloved Bichon Frische passed away on March 2, 2014 at 3:10 p.m. from old age. She was blind and deaf since November 2013, but was still able to recognize and love her owners, Carmen and Ramon Abad. We love you and miss you, Starr! We trust you’re at peace now at the “Rainbow Bridge,” where we will all look forward to meeting you again.

***

While I don’t have photos of these animals, these pets who are no longer with us, are also very much loved:

Pirate, a German Shepherd, who belonged to my father as a child, was best known for his intelligence and for rescuing my grandmother from an intruder. He was unfortunately struck and killed by a truck in the Philippines.

Grace, a white and gentle hamster who belonged to my brother as a child, passed away. It was the very first time my brother had to come to terms with losing someone.

Bee, an orange and white gerbil who my sister and I bought as teenagers on a whim. She was skittish and squeaked often. She was later adopted by my grandmother who loved her company. She passed away from malnutrition.

Hisako and Jaws, two goldfish who belonged to my son, Michael at the age of two. Hisako means, “Son of a poem,” and ironically Jaws was the mild one of the two. They both passed away the same year they were adopted.

Diamond, of the Garcia-Abad family who passed away.

Turbo, of the Abad-Negrich  family who went missing.

 ***

Do you have a family pet? What kind? What is his/her breed and name?

If you don’t own a pet, which one do you think you’d like to perhaps own one day?

***

zara cat stamp

It Seems I’m Turning into a Cat

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It Seems I’m Turning into a Cat

12.11.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Have you heard of the lady who lived with twelve cats? Well, when I was in college, I was certain that I would be one of those women. Sadly to say, I later discovered that I’m extremely allergic to cat dander. Being near one or going to someone’s house with a cat will only guarantee an outbreak of hives, choking, lack of breath, and potentially my permanent demise—death.

Melodramatic? Absolutely. I’ve never had a good relationship with cats. They pounce. They scratch. And their dander is deadly. So, instead of living a life of solitude in an apartment full of cats, I found instead, a hypoallergenic husband. It wasn’t intentional, it happened, as most things do—unexpectedly.

That said, while I can’t be near cats, I’ve recently come up with a much healthier alternative. While it was also not intentional, it seems I’ve fallen in love with the leopard. Or more specifically, anything with leopard print.

Call it a fashion trend; I call it my latest obsession. Here are a few items in my personal collection:

Leopard "Fierce" t-shirt. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Leopard “Fierce” t-shirt. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

What Is the Difference Between a Leopard and a Cheetah Anyway?

Many people are unable to differentiate between the leopard and its counterpart cat, the cheetah. I admit, I used to confuse them, too. But, with this simple comparison chart, readers will never confuse the leopard from the cheetah again.

Leopard

leopard

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  • yellow fur with black rosettes
  • hunts during the night
  • stockier with shorter legs than a cheetah
  • 428 to 476 lbs.
  • speed: 97 km/hr
  • 2-4 in a litter

Cheetah

cheetah

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  • tan fur with black spots
  • hunts during the day
  • taller and leaner than a leopard
  • 46 to 160 lbs.
  • speed: 121 km/hr
  • 3-5 in a litter

***

Which big cat are you?

Do you have an obsession other than books?

***

zara bird autograph

Typhoon Haiyan and the Devastation in the Philippines: How You Can Help

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Typhoon Haiyan and the Devastation in the Philippines:

How You Can Help

11.11.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAleis

Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d, nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d. – William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride, 1697.

—And someone certainly scorned Typhoon Haiyan for she raged at approximately 378 km/hr, with gusts up to 443 km/hr winds, and reached a mammoth size of up to 16 feet high, being called one of the largest and strongest storms ever recorded in the world, which ravaged the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Friday, a typhoon 3.5 times more forceful than Hurricane Katrina, which hit the U.S. in 2005.

Whatever Typhoon Haiyan was angry about, she certainly wasn’t afraid to let the world know about it—especially the Philippines, which was ravaged with a ferocity that CBC describes as leaving “[c]orpses hung from trees, …scattered on sidewalks, or buried in flattened buildings.”

The hardest hit was made on the city of Tacloban, southeast of Manila, where infrastructure has been levelled, clean water gone, electricity out, and thousands left homeless. The estimated death toll is expected to reach about 10,000 people in the provincial city alone. While 800,000 people were already evacuated in preparation of the storm, the dramatic number of deaths far exceeds what the Filipino government was anticipating.

Overall, more than 660,000 people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan and the situation in the Philippines remains dire with emotionally distraught citizens left to loot the remains of anything they can find. With hospitals flattened, supplies gone, and medical staff suffering the effects of the typhoon themselves, people have been forced to create makeshift “hospitals,” by treating themselves without anaesthetics, lying on the ground with countless others—most who wait for rescue, food, clean water, a place to sleep, and any form of shelter—even a mother gave birth in the midst of such emergency, her baby born into a devastation the people in the Philippines has described as “hell.”

While many humanitarian charities have promised to bring aid, including Canada’s own government, which has generously donated $5 million dollars in funds to bring help to the ground, as well as match any individual’s donation to a charity supporting the efforts in the Philippines, help has been slow-going especially since access to those in need have proven to be very difficult with many of the roads now gone.

With more than 620,000 Canadian-Filipinos living in Canada, we are the third largest Asian-Canadian group in Canada after the Indian and Chinese communities. While Filipinos personally worry about the health and welfare of their own families left behind in the Philippines, some unaware of their whereabouts or whether or not they are dead or alive, most of us can only sympathize with the thousands who have been displaced by the rage of Typhoon Haiyan.

But we can do more.

***

If you are in the city of Brampton area, please contact my family’s church pastor, Fr. Romeo Tolentino at St Marguerite d’Youville Parish at frromeotolentino@yahoo.ca:

URGENT APPEAL TO ALL

ON  BEHALF OF THE VICTIMS OF SUPER TYPHOON YOLANDA (HAIYAN) &
7.2-MAGNITUDE  EARTHQUAKE IN THE PHILIPPINES

Within a time span of less than a month,  the Philippines was hit by a couple of devastating calamities: a 7.2-magnitude  earthquake in central Philippines and the super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, the  biggest and the most dangerous storm with wind gusts of up to 275 kph, that  slammed the Philippines. As a result of these two devastating disasters, more  than 10,100 people are so far confirmed dead, and about 4 million people have  been adversely affected in varying extents – from utter destruction of their  properties to losing everything they own including their loved ones.

The  survivors/victims of these tragic catastrophes presently need immediate help  with the most basic needs to survive and to start rebuilding their lives. We  strongly suggest that we respond immediately with the following:

1.  Financial/monetary assistance
2. Canned goods
3. Clean and usable dry  goods: blankets, clothing, bed sheets, footwear, tarpaulin, etc.
4. Rice and  grains in sealed/unopened sacks/containers
5. Over-the-counter medicines:  Aspirin, Tylenol, Imodium, Vicks Vapourub, Polysporin, wound dressings, cough syrup, etc.

-Canned goods  and medicines MUST NOT BE EXPIRED.
-Please make cheques and money orders  payable to:
OUR LADY OF THE ASSUMPTION CHURCH – TYPHOON/EARTHQUAKE  RELIEF
-Cash donations must be placed in a sealed envelope with the donor’s  name & address.
-TAX RECEIPTS WILL BE ISSUED TO FINANCIAL & MONETARY  DONORS.
-We also need donors to pay for the relief goods boxes at $65.00 per  box.

By our generous donations and our prayers unified in Christ, we can  meaningfully hope that the victims/survivors experience the grace and love of  God during these very difficult times.

Thank you very  sincerely,

Rev. Fr. Ben Prieto Ebcas, Jr.,
Pastor, Our Lady of the  Assumption Church &
Director, Archdiocesan Filipino Catholic Mission
416-787-4547 padrebenjr@hotmail.com

***

For those who do not live in Brampton, please give to registered Canadian charities for the Philippines Crisis Matching Fund. Ottawa will match every donation that is made. Donations will be accepted until Dec 8.

For more news and details on how you can donate, please visit CBC News.

***

As a Canadian-born Filipino, my heart goes out to my brothers and sisters in the Filipino community who have had to suffer the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

Not only are my fellow Canadian-Filipinos thinking and praying for you and your loved ones, the global community is watching with a sympathetic and close eye on your suffering and your needs, and are banding together to provide as much aid as they can, as quickly as they can.

We love you, we’re thinking of you—you’re not alone.

***

zara bird autograph

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

***

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

***

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.

***

Book Review by Zara from The Bibliotaphe Closet:

***

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

z ring - smallz ring - smallz ring - smallrsz_1rsz_one-half

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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.

***

 

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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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

***

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

***

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?

***

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

***

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

***

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