Fishing the River of Time – Tony Taylor

24722132This is a wonderful meandering memoir of fly fishing, salmon, the importance of wilderness, environmental follies and meeting a grandson for the first time. 80 yr old Taylor flies to Vancouver Island in British Colombia from Sydney to meet his grandson to introduce him to his passion of fly fishing. While he waits for grandson and son to appear, he thinks back to his first sojourn by Lake Conichiwan. I learnt about how both countries are grounded on massive granite basoliths yet, while one country had an abundance of nature, the other did not. Why? Well, Canada is the land of the Great Lakes and Australia is … not. Why such an abundance of nature on a naturally acid rock? Interesting and educational musings while fishing. I also learnt that hooking a fish through the mouth doesn’t hurt it as the mouth is cartilage … I must say I was relieved to learn that. But there was one thing that bugged me … Why write about the guilt of long distance flying when he was blithely driving about in a car quite often without any thought about the environmental impact?

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Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist – Sunil Yapa

29098211I found the torture and brutality used by the police against the WTO protesters hard to read. These horrible actions should never be forgotten, but unfortunately I had. I had to go back to news reports about the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle and what they were protesting about. This news report from The Guardian is really informative and well worth reading. After I read it, I was horrified at the bullying tactics used by the US against poor countries as well as Europe. No wonder people were angry about what dirty deals were tried. I was glad that the African countries had banded together to resist the US robbing them blind.

The novel itself is told first person through a number of actors – three police (one the chief), the pc’s son, two protestors and a WTO delegate from Sri Lanka. The story is choppy and there is a lot of focus on police violence. I found out that the original novel was longer and on a laptop which was stolen from the author and these parts are the rescued parts that were worked on. This doesn’t explain the choppiness though. Sentences are either short and snappy or long and trying to evoke emotion. These didn’t evoke any emotion in me because the violence became the focus. It was hard for me to read because I am soft hearted and can’t stand cruelty against any animal (including humans). Funnily enough, medical images of surgery or other procedures don’t bother me (mostly). I also thought to myself that not only were the police reduced to thugs, they had become militarised and since then, police violence in the US has been the norm.

I don’t think this was a particularly well written novel, but it did something important: it reminded a lot of people about the WTO protests and why they happened.

Wicked Stitch by Amanda Lee

I brought this book into hospital with me thinking – a cozy mystery, this should keep my22891389 mind off things. It did until I got to ‘… the both of …’. Then it started to annoy me. Then there was a second act of bad grammar – ‘… the both of …’ again!! Then the relationship between the main character and her detective boyfriend was just too sickeningly sweet. Ugh! The dog and rabbit making friends was sweet, but got a little too much and really, what sort of hunting dog makes friends with a rabbit? I hated the condescending nickname the boyfriend had for the main character, and the food they were eating sounded ick. All those croissants with chicken salad filling, not to mention all the pizza and other junk! How obese are these people? Pity because the mystery part was good but not enough to rescue this. I could go on but maybe I should stop my rant here before I get all annoyed again. You can bet that I am not going to read another in this series, or anything by this author.

Wayward by Blake Crouch

17920175I seem to be in the habit of reading books that are midway or the last of a series. However, it didn’t matter that much to me for this one. Wayward is a page turner, but there were some things that annoyed me about it. Firstly, there was a lot of short sharp sentences¬† like this:
xxx
xxx
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that were designed to build tension. They worked initially but then they started to appear too often which meant the tension evaporated. Secondly, evolution doesn’t work that fast. 2000 years into the future and humans will probably be the same (if we haven’t destroyed the earth by then). The creatures made me think of polar bears. They also reminded me of the Eloi from The Time Machine (so many time travel stories echo the HG Wells classic – I guess it can’t be escaped). Humans are also very hard to control – just look at any news story. The creepiest control story I’ve read so far is 1984, and this is because it is so close to contemporary authoritarianism (totalitarianism / fascism) that it is totally believable. But control only lasts for so long as so this story proves. The question I was always asking myself about this was what was the big man getting out of all this? I couldn’t see any benefits or pluses or… Plus, the big man’s surname was always distracting me because that is the surname of the systems guy at the department where I work. That sort of affected the tension for me too.

The ending leaves you on a cliff-hanger and the edition I got from my local library had a small sneak peek at the opening of the final installment. It didn’t grab me enough to want to find out what happens.

Close Range: Brokeback Moutain and other Stories – Annie Proulx

There is so much I liked about these stories. Brokeback Mountain is the famous one due to 1629the film (which I haven’t seen) and it is a sad raw tale about two men and their love for one another, their denial of desire and the grief that follows. My two favourite stories are Job History and Blood Bay – just fabulous stories with great endings. I love the sparse storytelling style which sort of puts me in mind of the Alistair Macleod short story collection I read some years ago. Both authors have no nonsense style of writing about people battling to build lives in harsh climates. The people are used to hard living and hard dying and all the hardness but loveliness inbetween. Proulx shows a deep emotional attachment to Wyoming in these stories, just as Macleod did with his stories about life in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I will be picking up the next volume of Proulx’s Wyoming stories soon.

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