Well, my book. Duh.
But seriously, I figure I should take today’s #BookADayUK prompt as an opportunity to tout a book I read and loved but that didn’t seem to get as much love as it could have (or should have). Of course, getting book sales data is not my bailiwick. I might as well look into a crystal ball.
So, here’s what I decided to do.
As you know, if you’ve followed any of the links I’ve included in these #BookADayUK posts, I use Goodreads to keep track of what I’ve read over the past few years. (You can see the shelf of books I’ve read here.) I looked at my most recent reads and noted the number of ratings and reviews they’ve gotten. (By the way, I typically advise taking the ratings/reviews given there with a margarita-sized dose of salt. Whew, the snark! And I’m not even talking about reviews of my own stuff, which have been largely positive or at least benign.) Out of those, I found two that haven’t received very many reviews, and they’re both books (in the case of one, a novella) that I absolutely loved.
I should start with a caveat that I know Kim McCullough. We’re both graduates of the University of British Columbia’s MFA in creative writing program. I picked up Clearwater when I got word in the fall of my second year that it had been published. With the push to get my thesis done (along with edits on my second novel), I didn’t make time to read it until I was back in St. Louis.
And what a great book it is.
Claire Sullivan quickly settles in to her new home at Clearwater Lake in northern Manitoba, especially once she befriends Jeff Carson, a quiet mixed-race loner who lives with his parents in the other half of the Sullivans’ duplex. Together, the teens roam the wild, isolated beauty of the nearby lakeshore and forest, forging a deep friendship based on loyalty and trust.
As peaceful as things seem on the surface, Claire and Jeff are both battling powerful undercurrents at home. Claire worries that her sister, Leah, who has been sexually assaulted, is sinking into a drug-fuelled depression, while Jeff finds it difficult to stand firm in the face of his father’s increasingly brutal temper. (from Goodreads)
Giller-winning author Joseph Boyden had this to say about McCullough’s writing: “Kim McCullough writes with such clarity and grace that the reader doesn’t so much enter these at once familiar and yet foreign worlds, as slips into them. McCullough’s an emerging writer Canadians should be keeping an eye on.” Canadians and anyone interested in engaging, beautifully written fiction.
Tom Mendicino is another writer I know. I read his debut novel Probation before I met him at the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival—there are times it seems like all my roads begin and end in New Orleans, and that’s not a bad thing. I loved Probation, and when I heard that Tom had a novella coming out as an e-book from Kensington, I really looked forward to it:
Charlie Beresford would rather be doing anything this summer than hauling furniture for a moving company. Come September, he’ll be leaving for college, away from the awkwardness of Augustinian Academy, away from his father’s constant hints about prospective girlfriends. Then Kevin Conroy—the Mighty KC—joins the moving crew. A star baseball player bound for the big leagues, Charlie is shocked when cool, confident KC suggests hanging out, especially when KC asks him to stay over—and the happiness their connection brings Charlie.
But the summer is changing Charlie—putting muscles on his skinny frame, compelling him to face hard truths, showing him how it feels not just to lose your heart but to break someone else’s. Funny, sweet, and moving, Tom Mendicino’s insightful coming-of-age story perfectly evokes that moment when you stop living life from the safety of the bleachers—and finally step up to home plate.
I devoured this in one sitting. I love Tom’s writing style, his characterizations, and the sense of longing this story evokes. Part two of the story, Travelin’ Man, is coming soon. I’ll be ordering it.