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Tue, 09 Mar 2010 02:29
Thomas Trofimuk is a Canadian writer of poetry and fiction. He's been published in literary magazines across Canada, and on CBC radio. His first novel, The 52nd Poem won the George Bugnet Novel of the Year Award and the City of Edmonton Book Prize at the 2003 Alberta Book Awards. His second novel, the critically acclaimed Doubting Yourself to the Bone, was named as one of the Globe and Mail's top 100 must-read books for 2006. His third book is Waiting for Columbus...
Thomas is a founding member of Edmonton's Raving Poets movement, a weekly open-stage poetry series that combines performance poetry with improvised music, in a lounge. Thomas writes on a regular basis for his own website: "writer, gardener, failed Buddhist". He lives (and writes) in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife and daughter, and a small annoying black cat.
Here is Thomas's Tuesday Top Ten:
Shibumi by Trevanian
This book was a wonderful exploration of the anti-hero. Nicholai Hel is the perfect anti-hero, a man who holds fast to ideas like honour, integrity, loyalty, friendship and "shibumi" before any of the "isms". Loved this book when it first came out and recently bought a first edition. This is a philosophical, espionage thriller like none other. Though it was first published in 1979, it holds up very well today.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
This book is like training wheels for a lifetime of serious reading. Its length is not intimidating. The language is Hemingway at his pithy best. The story, deceptively simple and powerful -- a down-on-his-luck Cuban fisherman in an excruciating battle with a huge marlin in the Gulf Stream.
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
The guy invented a new language, a new mythology, and a new religion. It was not an easy read but I'm still thinking about it years beyond my reading. This post-apocalyptical speculative adventure in understanding your own past so you don't make the same mistakes was a delight.
Salamander by Thomas Wharton
I started reading this book a couple days before going on a backpacking trip into the Rocky Mountains. When it came time to pull the pack on and head into the back country for six days, this book went with me. I couldn't leave it behind. Yes, it was a heavy luxury, but worth it. The book opens in a burned-out bookstore in Quebec City just prior to Wolfe and Montcalm's clash on the Plains of Abraham. It moves us back to the Battle of Belgrade in 1717 and then plunks readers inside a castle on the Hungarian border that's been as a labyrinth -- a labyrinth that is cleverly designed to be perpetually in motion. Enter one Nicholas Flood, a young English printer of novelty books who's been summoned for a seemingly impossible assignment -- to create an infinite book, a tome with no end. A beautiful book about reading.
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
To pick up Durrell after reading Hemingway was, for me, jarring. Durrell's lush descriptions -- so loaded up with luxurious images on top of impossibly rich images, intersecting with this dark exploration of love -- really resonated with me. There were times while reading this quartet when the smells and sounds and tastes came into the room with me... Amazing.
Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
I was thrilled when I heard about this quasi-memoir from Vonnegut, a writer I've been reading all my life. I scooped up an advance reading copy from a friend at a book store and Vonnegut certainly did not let me down. This writing is intimate, tender, funny, articulate and rip-your-heart-out sad. It's Vonnegut shining his sharp, witty light on the human condition. Profoundly human and moving.
Not just a book for Muslims. This is a book for anyone who wants to take a stab at understanding Islam. This is a thoughtful, articulate exploration of one woman's courageous journey toward coming to terms with her own faith. You know those questions about if you could pick three people living or dead to have dinner with, who would you pick? Well, Irshad Manji is on my list.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Loved this book for its for the scene in which the main character, Tomas, is faced with a decision about a woman, and wishes for three distinct lives; the first two to live both alternative decisions and the third, to observe those two lives and choose the best one. An unrealistic wish but I totally understood that desire. Set in the time frame of the Prague Spring to the USSR's August 1968 invasion and its aftermath.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
This is a beautiful and disquieting novel -- more a sutra of four damaged lives thrown together in an Italian monastery at the end of WWII. An eloquent lesson in what lyrical prose can be. A haunting, poetic novel.
Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen
Erotic, humorous, and provocative poems combined with equally fascinating line drawings makes this one of my favourite books of poetry. Cohen is at times so beautifully self-effacing. These pieces are gorgeous intaglios from an absolute master.
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