The eh List for April 2012: Some Great Expectations

February 23, 2012 | Joseph

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The eh List for April 2012-02-21

There is so much going on in April, that I'm breaking this into sections. Here is what we have planned for the first couple of weeks of April, TPL's Keep Toronto Reading month.

Suzette Mayr visits Runnymede on April 3 at 7 pm with her powerfully sad and humorous  Monocerous, a heartbreaking look at the days and weeks following the suicide, in chapter one, of a gay teenager.  What follows isn’t a news report: it’s a careful, blow by blow deconstruction of the effects of the suicide as they ripple through the lives of the teachers, students and parents affected by the tragedy. A timely book rendered with care and intelligence.

Esi Edugyan’s latest book, Half-Blood Blues, imagines a possible history of jazz. A history which is very much like the history which we know, but which enjoys the music and myth of Hieronymus Falk, the most influential jazz man of them all. This fictional Falk was arrested in Nazi-occupied Paris and died shortly after being released from a concentration camp in Poland. One recording of his spectacular sound exists, barely, but it was enough to carry the myth of Falk to  the stratesphere where  Satchmo, Ellington and Parker hold center court.  Edugyan writes beautifully, catching the shimmer of the language of the 1930s’ Jazz Cats and Kittens, and the ethos of invention and creation among the musicians. Edugyan turned heads with her nominations for the Governor General’s Award, the Man Booker Award and the Giller Award, the latter of which she won, but crack the spine of this one and you will see why there is so much fuss.  You can meet Ms. Edugyan at North York Central Library on April 4 at 7 pm and at Toronto Reference Library at 12:30 on April 5. At TRL, she will be interviewed by novelist Susan Swan.

Canada’s most loved and hated politician may well be one man. In fact, many Canadians both loved and hated the same man at the same time. Pierre Trudeau was not someone you could feel neutral about; he infuriated as much as he made a nation proud to have him as a leader. The only point of agreement among Canadians is perhaps that he was enigmatic. Max and Monique Nemni pull back the covers from some of that ambiguity, but they also set some of it in concrete. Trudeau Transformed is a definitive book by people who left nothing to the imagination, and who investigated every possible lead in understanding him. Why did he consider himself a ‘Citizen of the World’? What did he mean by posting a note to this effect on his student dorm room door in Boston, and what were the factors leading up to his adoption of this position, when did he renounce it, and who might have spoken to him about it in between?  Surely this is too much information to know about most of us... but when the subject is a man whose opinions still inform much of Canadian politics 20 years after his death, the Nemnis give him the rigorous attention he deserves. Meet the Nemnis in either Official Language: In French at Northern District Library, April 17 at 7 pm and in English on April 18, 7 pm, North York Central Library.

 A World Elsewhere is Wayne Johnton’s latest. In it, Landish Druken, the son of a Newfoundland sealer forswears the rubber boots, the sow’ester and the fortune that goes along with owning a sealing dynasty. Using a thinly veiled Vanderbuilt family and their famous Biltmore castle as the central cast and set for the action, Johnston gives the reader an eye-opening ride through the lives of the exceptionally wealthy and their ‘help’.  As usual, Johnton gives us very readable text, and sets hilarious dialogue and clever language games above the heads and onto the lips of his odd and variable cast of characters. Meet Wayne Johnston at Northern District Library on April 18 at 12:30 noon.

 You could probably stump Holger Petersen. You could ask him for an appraisal of Hieronymus Falk’s devastating solo in the Hot Time Swingers only hit song; THAT might stump him. (Unless he is a Can Lit devotee, of course;  because Falk and the band and the song are fictions from Esi Edugyan’s novel Half-Blood Blues). But stumping Petersen on the subject of music, particularly ‘roots’ music, is going to be difficult without resorting to fiction. The founder of Stony Plain Records and host of CBC’s Saturday Night Blues has finally committed all that talk to paper. Talking Music includes interviews with some of his most important and intriguing musicians, including: Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldar, Long John Baldry, Eric Burdon, Alan Lomax, Ike Turner,  Mavis Staples and Ry Cooder.  Meet Canada’s itinerant Bluesologist at S. Walter Stewart library on April 18 at 7 pm and on April 19 at Cedarbrae at 1 in the afternoon.

Nahlah Ayed is an international correspondent who has been based largely in the Middle East. Ayed reported for CBC news around the Middle East, and has been stationed in Amman, Baghdad, Beirut and now, covering the pro-democracy movement, she is based in Toronto. Ayed is from Winnipeg, a graduate of University of Manitoba, and has received accolades and awards for her reporting and investigations. Ayed will speak about her new book, A Thousand Farewells at the Toronto Reference Library on April 19, at 12:30.

Watch for more great eh List readings during April and May!

Another Story Bookshop is now our official eh List Bookseller. They will attend all events to sell the author's new works.