"A girl was never ruined by books," my mother used to say. I've spent most of my life trying to prove that wrong.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Means Book List Time

Been discussing what to read in the 2016-2017 season of the book discussion groups I lead in Montreal-area libraries.  Here's the list of suggestions so far, in no particular order:


The Green Road by Anne Enright
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
               or Half of a Yellow Sun
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
The Golden Son : a novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout
The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
The Children Act by Ian McEwan
Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler
The Plot against America by Philip Roth
Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
The Sweetness by Sande Boretz Berger
Lost Boy by Camilla Lackberg
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
Martin John by Ankana Schofield
The Storyteller by Jody Picoult 
Go Set  A Watchman by Harper Lee
Fates and Furries by Lauren Grof
Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan
February by Lisa Moore
Euphoria by Lily King
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes  


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ithaka and Various Journeys

In addition to the usual daily living stuff, I've been become deeply involved in research for a new book, to be called Unidentical Twins.  It's about States and states that have a lot in common but which are different, and working on it is fascinating and absorbing.  Therefore, I've not thought much about this blog.

However, I do find time for a few frivolous things, and this week I've found myself involved in a literary chain letter, inviting poems and book recommendations.  My thought was that perhaps I could get some good recommendations for the book discussion groups I lead: this is the time when we start drawing up next seasons' lists.  The poetry I didn't care much about.  But this was shared this morning, and while I'm not a poetry lover, I am swept away.  I guess it's more or less the way I've come to approach life.

Ithaka
By Constantine Cavafy

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What Musicians Think about River Music


It's always nice when people that you write about like what you write.  I'm no musician, and one of the big unknowns about River Music was what musicians might think.  In fact, I was so unsure that I went out of my way not to ask musicians I knew what their opinion was.

But to my great delight, the reaction of musicians has been spontaneous and very positive. Here are three:

From pianist Jana Stuart: 

"Mary, I just finished River Music. I could not put it down. I related so much to the character of Gloria Murray and the plight of the young pianist. I loved it to pieces. "


From Madeleine Owen, lutist and artistic director, Ensemble La Cigale:

"Gloria, is tough and not always likable and yet, I had to recognize some of her  difficult choices as merely typical of what a musician, especially a woman, has to do in order to succeed in the competitive world of music."

And Cléo Palacio-Quintin, flûtiste-compositrice says: 

"River Music nous emporte dans le flot d'une vie musicale riche en émotions. Dans un rythme fluide, Mary Soderstrom transcrit avec finesse la passion intime d'une interprète pour sa musique...difficile de poser le livre avant la fin."