Globe Books
 

July 18, 2019

 
 
Long read
 
Is Sara Peters’s I Become A Delight To My Enemies the most audacious audiobook yet?
  Is Sara Peters’s I Become A Delight To My Enemies the most audacious audiobook yet?
 

Sarah Hampson

Sara Peters is on the phone, talking about I Become A Delight To My Enemies, her voice by turns hesitant, pointed, self-deprecating, dark, funny. “I think of it as a novel, I suppose,” the 36-year-old begins, when asked how she would categorize the work. “I wanted this book to be poly-vocal and I wanted the form of each piece to be reflective of the speaker,” she says. “I was also thinking of how to undermine any notions of linearity.”

 
A mixture of poetry and prose, with no page numbers, the book marks the debut of Strange Light, a new imprint at Penguin Random House (PRH) that illuminates “experimental” and “boundary-pushing” works. (As part of its debut, Strange Light also published Max Porter’s second novel, Lanny, a story about a boy who is drawn by a menacing force and vanishes from an idyllic English village.) A brainchild of the editorial team behind Hazlitt, the award-winning digital magazine at PRH, Strange Light is a bold, creative gambit – an indie-style initiative in the bosom of the largest trade publisher in the country.

 
The subject matter, while in some senses timeless, is also very much of the present moment. I Become is a book of voices, disembodied, all of its characters from a nameless town where they experienced sexual abuse and terror. Contributing to the sense of secrecy and shame, some of the text appears occasionally as marginalia, like whispered comments from the periphery of a town’s main square. No two pages are alike. The text is often in fragments, abruptly cut, as if the speakers are hesitant about how much they should say.

 
If the print version was a work of meticulous design the audio version was a leap of faith, weaving the voices of 15 actors to create the feeling of an agitated, toxic town.

 
 
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Book news
 
Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is back, still relevant and worthy of celebration
Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is back, still relevant and worthy of celebration
 

Nathalie Atkinson

A facsimile of Virginia Woolf’s handwritten Mrs. Dalloway manuscript draft – complete with substantive revisions, alternate novel opening and ending written in the author’s signature purple ink – was published in June for the first time. It’s canny timing, because in recent years, a grassroots movement has also begun to observe an annual Dalloway Day in the same month, as a tribute to the prolific writer of essays, criticism and novels.

 
Since her death in 1941, Woolf’s legacy has moved beyond literary circles into popular culture, from memoirs (Katharine Smyth’s All the Lives We Ever Lived) and even menopause self-help books (What Would Virginia Woolf Do?) to Hollywood movies such as The Hours. In the sharp new comedy Booksmart, a handwritten sign on a teenage girl’s bedroom door proclaims “A room of one’s own.” It’s equal parts warning and anthem, and a fitting detail for an ambitious high-school senior: The powerful essay of that name by Virginia Woolf is one of the great proto-feminist polemics.

 
 
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Rolf Knight, 83, wrote dozens of books about the reality of the working class, eschewing romanticism
  Rolf Knight, 83, wrote dozens of books about the reality of the working class, eschewing romanticism
 

Tom Hawthorn

Rolf Knight abandoned an academic career of great promise to write histories of the working people in his home province of British Columbia. He produced a dozen books while earning a living of sorts as a taxi driver.

 
Mr. Knight, who has died at 83, laboured mostly in obscurity, though his books are now praised for the insights they offer into working life.

 
Eight years ago, his memoirs of the bustling Vancouver waterfront was reissued as part of a celebration of the city’s 125th birthday. For the quasquicentennial, his Along the No. 20 Line was one of 10 out-of-print books to be reprinted.

 
 
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Three literary ways to cool off in the next few weeks
  Three literary ways to cool off in the next few weeks
 
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Book reviews
 
The characters in Elise Levine’s This Wicked Tongue have substance that will stick
  The characters in Elise Levine’s This Wicked Tongue have substance that will stick
 

Jade Colbert

  • Title: This Wicked Tongue
  • Author: Elise Levine
  • Genre: Short Fiction
  • Publisher: Biblioasis
  • Pages: 172
The publisher of This Wicked Tongue suggests Elise Levine’s new collection bears stylistic kinship with the short fiction of Joy Williams and Karen Russell. For those unfamiliar with these writers, here is a small taste.

 
 
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Mike Jay’s Mescaline is a history of the psychedelic and its influence on Western culture
  Mike Jay’s Mescaline is a history of the psychedelic and its influence on Western culture
 

JP O'Malley

  • Title: Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic
  • Author: Mike Jay
  • Genre: Non-Fiction
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Pages: 304
On a placid June morning two years ago, I embarked on a creative and spiritual voyage into the abyss that began by swallowing a potent cup of liquid LSD. The initial effects were almost identical to Mike Jay’s lucid and vivid descriptions of mescaline on the body and the brain in the opening pages of Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic.

 
 
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Good reads
 
Francis Fukuyama’s new book on identity praises Canadian multiculturalism amid debate on Indigenous reconciliation
  Francis Fukuyama’s new book on identity praises Canadian multiculturalism amid debate on Indigenous reconciliation
 

Paul Christopher Henry Webster

When Justin Trudeau swept to power in 2015 with a mandate to unify a perennially schismatic country, his vision of a pro-feminist, environmentally conscious government bent on Indigenous reconciliation was widely applauded by liberal democrats. Unlike in the United States, where bitter divisions among powerful interest groups fractured Democratic voters and propelled Donald Trump to power, Trudeau neatly glued together a progressive consensus of the sort American liberal democrats such as Francis Fukuyama – one of liberal-democratic capitalism’s best-known champions since his 1989 essay The End of History made him famous – could only dream of.

 
In his latest book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Fukuyama ascribes Trump’s election to identity politics, which he describes as “one of the chief threats” to liberal democracy. Faced with activist movements for women, racial minorities, the disabled, immigrants, gays, lesbians, transgender people, disgruntled white people and Indigenous people, liberal democrats are too divided to cohesively win and hold power, he warns. “Unless we can work our way back to more universal understandings of human dignity,” he writes, “we will doom ourselves to continuing conflict.”

 
 
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The Enthusiast: How kids’ audiobooks bring my family together
The Enthusiast: How kids’ audiobooks bring my family together
 

Alex Bozikovic

 
Architecture Critic
Reading to someone is an intimate act. The connection between your voice and their ear, the shared experience of transferring language from shapes to sound, is special. Storytime, in our house, has always been sacred.

 
But in the past four years, my family has made a discovery: Hearing someone else read a story, and doing it together, is almost as powerful. Even when a smartphone and a speaker are involved.

 
 
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In case you missed it
 
Six thrillers to help while away the hot days of summer
Six thrillers to help while away the hot days of summer
 

Margaret Cannon

 
Full Story
 
 
Portugal River Cruise
 
Join Globe and Mail Publisher & CEO, Phillip Crawley and Editor-in-Chief, David Walmsley as they host the second sailing of our Portugal River Cruise from July 31 to Aug. 7, with an optional 2-day add on in the stunning capital Lisbon. The trip begins in the spectacular city of Porto where we embark on a journey through the beautiful Douro River Valley. All the while, Globe journalists will narrate the best the region has to offer!
 
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