Globe Books
 

November 21, 2019

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Globe Book Club continues with our next column examining themes in Jacqueline Baker's novel The Broken Hours. This week, author Andrew Pyper looks at what spectres lie at the true heart of literary horror. What are your favourite horror novels, and why? E-mail us and we'll include a selection of comments in print and online. Today's newsletter also looks at the latest Trump tell-all book A Warning, written by an anonymous White House senior official. And we sit down with Amitav Ghosh to talk about the challenge of writing about climate change in his latest novel, Gun Island. We'll see you next week with more on the Book Club.

 
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Long reads
 
Globe Book Club: The inner workings of horror
  Globe Book Club: The inner workings of horror
 

Andrew Pyper

 
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Book news
 
New Trump tell-all book A Warning, written by anonymous senior official, sparks booksellers’ frenzy
  New Trump tell-all book A Warning, written by anonymous senior official, sparks booksellers’ frenzy
 

David Shribman

First came Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House by one-time White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, full of lurid tales of secret recordings and accusations that President Donald Trump was a racist. Then came Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House, where communications aide Cliff Sims portrayed a White House of “venality, stubbornness, and selfishness.”

 
But neither of those volumes, nor others that followed, created the buzz, or the booksellers’ frenzy, produced by another Trump insider account, A Warning, publishing Tuesday and written by an author who dares not be identified. Of the author of this newest, and perhaps most damaging volume, we might appropriate the title of Kenneth O’Donnell’s 1972 adoring insider memoirs of the John F. Kennedy presidency and say, We hardly knew ye.

 
 
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Acclaimed Montreal author Heather O’Neill wins $50,000 Writers’ Trust Fellowship
  Acclaimed Montreal author Heather O’Neill wins $50,000 Writers’ Trust Fellowship
 
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British scholar Julia Lovell wins McGill-run history prize for book on Maoism
  British scholar Julia Lovell wins McGill-run history prize for book on Maoism
 
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Book reviews
 
Marina Endicott’s The Difference will break your heart (over and over)
  Marina Endicott’s The Difference will break your heart (over and over)
 

Sarah Laing

  • Title: The Difference
  • Author: Marina Endicott
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada
  • Pages: 392
On the decks of a merchant ship – the Morning Light, out of Yarmouth, N.S. – an extraordinary transaction takes place. Just off the Pacific island of Pulo Anna, a group of men have rowed out to the ship from their island nearby to trade with the ship’s crew. They are thin, repeating over and over “poor, poor,” determined to sell their shells for tobacco. Somehow, what is exchanged instead is one of their own: a seven- or eight-year-old boy named Aren, sold to the Captain’s wife for the price of four pounds of tobacco … negotiated down from five.

 
This scene – based on a true story that Marina Endicott’s piano teacher told her as a child – comes 150 pages into The Difference. Thus far, this has been a novel of nautical adventure, tracing the journey of Kay Ward and Thea Grant, half-sisters sailing the world on the latter’s husband’s ship. That Thea – a woman of faith, a teacher, a dutiful daughter who put off marriage to raise her younger sister – would impulsively make another woman’s child her property is both a shock and, somehow, not.

 
 
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Sally Armstrong’s Power Shift is ambitious in scope but hampered by hazy generalizations and inaccuracies
  Sally Armstrong’s Power Shift is ambitious in scope but hampered by hazy generalizations and inaccuracies
  • Title: Power Shift: The Longest Revolution
  • Author: Sally Armstrong
  • Genre: CBC Massey Lectures
  • Publisher: House of Anansi
  • Pages: 304
Sally Armstrong’s CBC Massey Lecture about the unfinished revolution for women’s rights begins with a flyover history lesson. After noting archeological research suggesting women had equal status in primitive societies, she covers the rise of patriarchy in agrarian communities 10,000 years ago, and women’s place in ancient Greece and China, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Age. An overview of 20th-century feminist movements segues into a list of more recent touchstones that will be familiar to anyone who’s been halfway paying attention: #MeToo, #TimesUp, the pay-wage gap, intersectionality, fourth-wave feminism and so on. Later sections delve into sexuality, including slavery and rape; the suppressive role of religion; and women in politics and the workplace.

 
 
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In The River Battles, Mark Zuehlke vividly chronicles the culmination of Canada’s Second World War campaign in Italy
  In The River Battles, Mark Zuehlke vividly chronicles the culmination of Canada’s Second World War campaign in Italy
 

Ken McGoogan

  • Title: The River Battles: Canada’s Final Campaign in World War II Italy
  • Author: Mark Zuehlke
  • Genre: Non-fiction
  • Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
  • Pages: 470
In July, 2014, Canadian historian Mark Zuehlke received an e-mail from Italy.

 
A history institute based in Ravenna was inviting him to give the keynote address at a conference celebrating the 70th anniversary of “the liberation of many towns in our province, Ravenna. ... All the towns were liberated by Canadian Regiments toward the end of 1944.”

 
In his preface to The River Battles, the B.C.-based Zuehlke notes that several years before, after taking a quick look, he had concluded that the pitched battles which occurred in northern Italy could not sustain an entire book. Now, however, confident that those encounters could drive a 30-minute talk, he accepted the invitation. He began researching and found himself swamped and astonished by “accounts of fierce battles fought in a complex landscape criss-crossed by rivers and canals ... [and] countless stories of individual courage and sacrifice.”

 
 
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Maude Barlow’s Whose Water Is It Anyway? Taking Water Protection Into Public Hands teaches us there is hope amid the global environmental crisis
  Maude Barlow’s Whose Water Is It Anyway? Taking Water Protection Into Public Hands teaches us there is hope amid the global environmental crisis
 

Michael Valpy

  • Title: Whose Water Is It Anyway?
  • Author: Maude Barlow
  • Genre: Non-Fiction
  • Publisher: ECW Press
  • Pages: 160
Maude Barlow, the Canadian who has become one of Earth’s great defenders of clean, free water, calls her fourth book on the subject – Whose Water Is It Anyway? Taking Water Protection Into Public Hands – a work about hope.

 
 
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Good reads
 
In Amitav Ghosh’s frightening, beautiful novel Gun Island, everything old is new again – or else
  In Amitav Ghosh’s frightening, beautiful novel Gun Island, everything old is new again – or else
 

Denise Balkissoon

Tight, intricate plotting buoyed by loose, lyrical storytelling is at the heart of what makes an Amitav Ghosh novel so excellent. Both skills serve the author well in his latest, Gun Island, for which he set himself the challenge of writing a beautiful story about humanity’s biggest problem – climate change.

 
This is Ghosh’s eighth novel, and second time taking on the topic. His last work, The Great Derangement, was a non-fiction argument that only collective insanity explains humanity’s refusal to deal with the crisis. In it, he lamented the art world’s hesitancy to engage with the issue. He didn’t realize it would be quite so tricky attempting to do so himself.

 
 
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The Flyer Vault chronicles 150 years of Toronto’s music scene through a vast collection of posters
  The Flyer Vault chronicles 150 years of Toronto’s music scene through a vast collection of posters
 

Brad Wheeler

 
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