The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant – Review

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ladynextdoorThe Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant

By Michel Tremblay

Genre: Fiction

My first encounter with the genius that is Michel Tremblay came in the theatre while watching Les Belles Soeurs and from the moment the curtain rose. His characters are quirky and often very witty, they are women that you wish you shared a neighborhood. Once the “BINGO” scene happened I could do nothing but love Tremblay and his cornucopia of Quebecois women.

The next time I encountered Tremblay it was a beautiful tribute to his mother that passed away before she had the opportunity to any of Michel Tramblay’s works enacted on the stage. For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again is a stellar work of art that shows a man’s love for his mother. Since seeing this show I’ve wanted to read a novel composed by Tremblay. If you ever get the opportunity to see anything by Tremblay take it…at any cost (if I can out to the Shaw Festival this summer I will be seeing Albertine in Five Times).

When I saw that The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant was going to be a part Canada Reads 2009 I was thrilled to read the novel. It was full of the same wonderful characters I came to love on the stage. I will admit that there were times that I had difficulty getting with the novel but once I got over the barrier I devoured the novel. I enjoyed the novel but I wouldn’t say it should your first encounter with Canadian literature because there is better stuff out there.

Michel Tremblay is one of Canada’s often forgot literary treasures and shouldn’t be left behind with other great Canadian French writers like Roch Carrier. The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant is a novel that should have been part of Canada Reads many times over but it’s not the novel that should get the accolades of THE novel all Canadians should read but the author is someone everyone should, no needs, to discover.

What others are say about The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant:

Roughing it in the Books gives info on the cover and a review worth reading.
http://www.roughingitinthebooks.com/?p=262

The Keepin’ it Real Book Club seems to have similar thoughts as I did on this novel.
http://kirbc.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/the-fat-woman-next-door-is-pregnant-by-michel-tremblay/

Reader of the Stack has some insightful comments on the novel.
http://www.readerofthestack.com/tag/sheila-fischman

As usual if you’re interested in having your reviewed listed here send an email to thatsthebook@gmail.com

The Book of Negroes – Review

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bookofnegroesThe Book of Negroes

By Lawrence Hill

Genre: Historical fiction

Winner of Canada Reads 2009, The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

This is the book of conversation this month for the new CBC Book Club, it’s no wonder why this book was selected since it did win Canada Reads 2009. This was the book that I said would win the competition before it even began. I knew it would win because it entered the competition with lots of literary cred because it was already the winner of the Commonwealth Prize and it was up for Giller Prize.

Now, I will admit here that I didn’t want to enjoy the book because I like to see the underdog win and I also like to think that part of Canada Reads is to bring people to new novels. But once I started reading the novel I couldn’t help but like it. There are times that I really enjoy this genre but other times I just find it to be too cumbersome. This novel was a great read and I found myself constantly looking forward to what would happen to Aminata next.

The one downside of this particular novel was actually how good Aminata had it while a slave in America. It seemed like, for the most part, he owners were quite good to her. She was taught to read and became rather influential with her second owner. This part made me rather sceptical about the novel but this is a rather minor complaint given the first owner did demean her. I was surprised how well read she became over the course of her years in America. It seemed to me that her time in Nova Scotia was worse than her time in America which I found rather shocking. I had no idea this is what life was like for an African at that time in Canada and even more surprised they helped setup the first colony of free slaves in Africa.

If for nothing else this novel is full of history, with many new insights of the time. I didn’t know where the title came from and had no idea such a document existed. And the idea (I don’t know how factual this part is) that such a document would have been recorded by an African even more shocking.

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill is a wonderful novel that should not only be read by all Canadians but all people. The novel is full of history and it has the ability to entertain as well which is a great feat the author accomplished. Great novel and if you get the chance to read The Book of Negroes go for it.

Here are others that have reviewed the book, if you’d like to be included in this list feel free to send me an email with a link to your post:

kiss a cloud seem takes a wonderful look at this book.
http://kissacloud.blogspot.com/2009/02/book-of-negroes-by-lawrence-hill.html

Beattie’s Book Blog looks at the historical side of this novel.
http://beattiesbookblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/book-of-negroes-lawrence-hill-doubleday.html

I didn’t mention in my review that book can found by a different name outside of Canada. If you aren’t from Canada and want to read The Book of Negroes look for Someone Knows My Name.

Readers in the Mist give a great summary of the novel with some thoughts on the book.
http://readersinthemist.blogspot.com/2008/12/someone-knows-my-name-published-in.html

Pickle Me This has a great review of this novel.
http://picklemethis.blogspot.com/2009/01/pickle-me-this-reads-canada-reads-book.htm

Weekly Review # 10

This past was a rather eventful week in the Canadian book work with Canada Reads 2009 having taken place.  As usual I had a lot of fun listening to the panelists discuss the books up for the top prize.  Now I’m sure many people are hitting the book stores and local libraries for copies to the winning novel, The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.  Now that Canada Reads is over for another year CBC has finally come to their senses and have started a book club, which so far seems fantastic!

While being engrossed with the Canada Reads contest I also got some reading completed this week.  I finished Michel Tremblay’s The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant which I had difficulties getting into but in the end I’ve enjoyed the novel.  That makes for three books completed for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.  I also have the other two novels that were on the Canada Reads 2009 short list.

I also finished my first giveaway and there were some great novels suggested by those that entered the giveaway.  From that list I’ve already gone out and purchased one of the books on the list, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson and I’m really excited to get reading this book.  But before I get to that one I have a couple other books that I’m reading right now for book club purposes, Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh and An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

This past week I also managed to finish the graphic novel Watchmen.  It was alright but I’m sure I’ll give a more substantial review than that later this week.  I wanted to finish it before I watched the movie this weekend.  And I found the movie to be mediocre at best but that’s also for another time.

This week I hope to get An Abundance of Katherines finished as well as finishing John Updike’s Rabbit Run, which has been put on the back burner for a while so I hope to get the last few pages finished this week.

Until next time happy reading.

And the Winner is…

So, I took a little trip to random.org to select the winner of My First Giveaway and it turns out the winner is Alyce from At Home With Books.  I hope you enjoy The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.  It was a great book that I’ve yet to review but look for that yet to come.

Thank you to everyone that entered.  I had a lot of fun so I’m sure to do this again sometime soon.

Now that Canada Reads 2009 is over I’m really excited to see that CBC has decided to start a book club!  I’m really excited to see what happens with this book club because it looks like it’ll be very interesting with lots of supplementary materials for the books they’ll be reading.  The first book is obviously The Book of Negroes it should be interesting to see what others have to say about the book.

Canada Reads – Day 5

cov-outlander-outToday is another sad day with the end of Canada Reads 2009.  And, as all previous episodes, we started with the revelation of the previous days vote.  It ended up, and I must say I was kind of surprised, that The Outlander by Gil Adamson left.  Which left Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes against Fruit by Brian Francis.

Once the discussion started for the day it became vary obvious which book was going to come out victorious.  The question about scope, I think, resulted in the real down fall of Fruit.  It’s important for the book of Canada Reads to have a rather large scope because it does seem to make more appealing for the largest audience.  I did enjoy The Book of Negroes but I really didn’t want to have that one win because it’s already extremely popular.  Perhaps that’s not the best reason for wanting a book eliminated but I think there are so many wonderful Canadian books out there that aren’t recognized for the greatness contained between the covers.

So, it’s true The Book of Negroes is the winner of Canada Reads 2009.  Congratulations to Avi Lewis for advocating for this book and Lawrence Hill for writing this wonderful novel for all of Canada and the world to enjoy.

cov-fruit-out1 bookofnegroes

Now you know what book you’ll win if you enter my first giveaway.  The contest closes tonight at midnight.  A comment will be selected at random and it’s open to everyone.  The winner will get a new copy of The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.  The best of luck to all that enter.

Canada Reads – Day 4

cov-ladynextdoor-outToday I morn the loss of Michel Tremblay’s novel The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant from the possible contenders in Canada Reads 2009.  I know that I said I mentioned in the comments of yesterdays post but since then I’ve read more of the book and I’m loving the characters in the novel just as I love many of the other characters Tremblay has introduced me to.  The final decision came down to Sarah Slean (how could you Sarah?) because a tie needed to be broken between Tremblay’s book and The Outsider by Gil Andamson.

I’m going to start today with a bit of a rant, so excuse me for a moment while I get this off my chest.  We’re getting near the end of Canada Reads 2009, only one day to go, and Jian Ghomese is still asking everyone, still in the running, to summarise their novel.  I think the people that are listening have heard enough about these book and do not need to be told again what the novels still in contention are about.  I really hope that last two don’t have to do this again tomorrow.

The big question today was what book brought you something new, something you didn’t know or a new experience?  Great question posed by a great host.  It seemed that many learned something, not surprisingly from Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes.  I would have to say that I learned the most from this novel as well, I had no idea that Freetown in Sierra Leone was founded by free slaves that got to Nova Scotia/New Brunswick from the USA.  I found the final chapters of that novel to be the most interesting.

Others answered the question by saying they learned a lot about Sarnia from Fruit.  But then again who knows all that much about Sarnia to begin with?  Ghomese’s question caused everyone to do some thinking and really got me thinking.  I didn’t really think that learning something new is all that important when suggesting a novel to a nation.  I tend to think that the more someone knows about a particular subject the more they would get out of a novel dealing with that subject.  I think I would have got more out of The Book of Negroes if I knew more about it before reading it.

I’m now curious to see if The Outlander will come back from it’s near defeat today.  I’m really interested to see what happens tomorrow and which two books will be the ones duking it out for the coveted title.  Now this probably isn’t the best reason for not wanting a book to win but I don’t want The Book of Negroes to win because it’s already got so much attention, I’d like to see something else get the spot light introducing Canadians to a new book.

Canada Reads – Day 3

cov-mercy-outWell the third day started off with the revelation of the vote that took place at the end of yesterdays episode. And with three votes David Adams Richards’ Mercy Among the Children is the first book to be proverbially put out to pasture. This is the book that scares me the most to read, from what I’ve heard on Canada Reads 2009 it’s not sounding that all intriguing. But I’ll still be sure to read it anyway.

Now today’s discussion that provided the best discussion was when Jian Ghomeshi asked the panelists what character resonated the most with them. I was a little surprised that many had to say that that character was either Peter Peddington from Fruit or Aminata from The Book of Negroes. From what I’ve been hearing from the panelists they didn’t seem to like Fruit but I could be wrong.

It’s hard to say what’s going to happen tomorrow but we do know that book number two will be out of the running. The two books I’m most rooting for The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant (not really for the book because it’s becoming difficult to keep reading, rather, for Michel Tremblay’s other works they are fantastic) and Fruit are still in the running. The book that seems to be getting the least attention is The Outlander and I’m not sure why that is. I’m really keen to read that book, it’ll probably be the next one I get in the group.

Well, I’m off to finish The Book of Negroes. Only 70 pages to go and it’s great, but I don’t think it’s the book that all of Canada should read.

Canada Reads – Day 2

When Canada Reads starts up it seems to be over just as quickly. With that in mind I try to savor every minute of the debates. Today, again, I feel that we have a wonderful group of people on the panel and I really like Nicolas Campbell’s strategy.

In day two there seemed to be a lot of discussion about Fruit. Now I don’t have a problem with that but most of the discussion seemed negative. Now Campbell and some others on the panel don’t think Fruit is a book they couldn’t recommend to everyone. This would be a down side to the book, but I think that the Canada Reads 2009 pick should be something that challenges readers in someway, which I think Fruit does. The concept of talking nipples is fantastic and it’s the most memorable part of the novel so I’m not really sure why Jen Sookfong Lee thinks she needs to mention that all the time.

Nicolas Campbell has a wonderful strategy. His strategy, and he’s said it himself, is to draw the panelists attention away from his book (The Outlander). I guess that’s because if you don’t talk about it the negatives cannot come out. But I’m alright with that, from what I’ve heard about the book I’m really excited to read it now.

The first blow came at the expense of David Adams Richards’ Mercy Among the Children. This seems to be getting quite a bit of negative press on Canada Reads, almost as much as Fruit. It has been getting so much negative feedback that I’m not really looking forward to the book, it’s getting to the point where it’s looking like reading it will be a daunting task. I’ll try not to let that bother me when I get to it

So, where does this take us on the Canada Reads 2009 journey? Well, the panelists voted for the first book out. We aren’t going to find out exactly what that book is until the beginning of tomorrows instalment. I’m afraid that the first book out will be Fruit by Brian Francis but I hope it’s not. I really think the panelists need to see the book for what it is and appreciate the quirky qualities it possesses. It also seems that The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay is leading the pack, which is great. The characters are wonderful, and I don’t think Tremblay could write a bad character if he wanted even the worst person he’d write about would have some kind of endearing quality.

It’ll be interesting to see where the panelists take us tomorrow.

Canada Reads 2009 – Day 1

Today was the first day of Canada Reads 2009, is there a better day in the year?  I have my doubts.  It’s always exciting to hear what the defenders of each book has to say.  In case you don’t already know here are the books and their defender:

  1. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill defended by Avi Lewis
  2. The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay defended by Anne-Marie Withenshaw
  3. Fruit by Brian Francis defended by Jen Sookfong Lee
  4. Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards defended by Sarah Slean
  5. The Outlander by Gil Adamson defended by Nicholas Campbell

As seems to be the most logical question when trying to select a book a whole nation, particularly one as vast Canada, should those defending the books were ask what makes a novel great, and why you would want all Canadians to read it?  This is a great question and it has made me think about what it is that makes a book stand out for me.  I really don’t know what it is, but I think there are couple of things that definitely contribute to greatness in novels.

First I think it has be entertaining.  If the novel isn’t able to keep my attention, and this can be difficult sometimes, I cannot finish it.  So, I guess this would be the most important aspect in making a great novel.  It also has to evoke some kind of emotion.  The books that are most memorable are ones that have stirred strong emotions.  I’m sure each of you could think of at least one thing that makes for a great novel.  What would that be?

It seems from the way the discussion progressed today that The Book of Negroes may not be the hands down winner I thought it would be.  When asked which novels were the ones they liked the least all but two were mentioned by the panelist.  Right now it seems that the front runners may be The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant (which is one of the two books I’m really rooting for) and The Outlander.

Tomorrow the voting starts.  Each book is eliminated until the winner is named.  I’m really excited to see who will join the pantheon of past winners.  Tomorrow should be another fascinating debate, until then keep reading.

Fruit – Review

2456928072_52e0779c22I’ve been really slow on the uptake here. I’ve finally read my first book for The 2nd Canadian Book Challenge, Eh! Not only have I read this book for this particular challenge but I’m also reading this for Canada Reads 2009. I hope to get all the Canada Reads 2009 books but I know they probably won’t be finished before the winner is selected but that’s alright.

fruitFruit

By Brian Francis

Genre: Fiction/Humor

I’m not really sure what to say about this book. It was amazing and I laughed out loud several times while reading this. It got so much attention that people at work have been asking to borrow the book. So it’ll start making its rounds, in fact someone else has the novel already.

The story is told by the teen aged Peter Paddington who is over weight and believes his nipples are evil. Peter is such a well developed character I could see him and hear his voice from the opening statements in the novel, “My name is Peter Paddington. I just started grade 8 at Clarkedale Elementary School. Six days a week, I deliver the Sarnia Observer and the other day, my nipples popped out.” Throughout the novel Peter tells us everything that is going on and what he thinks about the people and situations.

It’s no wonder that this book was one of the selections for Canada Reads 2009. I’m really keen to see what Jen Sookfong Lee (the defender of Fruit by Brian Francis) and the others on the panel have to say about this wildly humors novel. This was a great choice for my first book to read in the Canada Reads 2009 competition. I’ve also started The Book of Negroes and it’s fantastic but not even close to being in the same category as Fruit.

I’ve decided to do a google search to find some fellow reviewers of the books I’m reviewing and will be posting links to their review. If you’re interested in checking out their reviews just click the link. Also, if you’re interested in having you’re review added to the list this can be done by emailing the link to your review to thatsthebook@gmail.com. Here are the reviews I’ve come across on my google search for Fruit:

The Book Zombie a fellow Canadian reviewed this book for Canada Reads 2009 as well.
http://bookzombie.blogspot.com/2009/01/tss-canada-reads-highlight-on-fruit-by.html

The Keepin’ It Real Book Club has a witty review of the book.
http://kirbc.wordpress.com/2008/11/30/fruit-by-brian-francis/

Reader of the Stack is another blogger that’s read Fruit for Canada Reads 2009
http://www.readerofthestack.com/canada-reads%20/canada-reads-2009-fruit-by-brian-francis

Pickle Me This is yet another Canada Reads 2009 reader.
http://picklemethis.blogspot.com/2009/02/pickle-me-this-reads-canada-reads-fruit.html

If this a book that’s been of interest to you remember you could be the winner of the winner of the Canada Reads 2009 novel by entering my giveaway.