Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant
One of the highlights of my summer reading so far, this book recounts the experiences of a young woman, Audrey, called back from the west coast (US) to Newfoundland when her father falls into a coma. She has to leave her tortoise, Winnifred, with friends and good chunks of the book revolve around her checking in with her friends about the tortoise, and her longing to be reunited with Winnifred. The remainder of the book involves Audrey's discoveries about her family in some very humorous ways.
This book is rather difficult to describe, but it is very funny, particularly for people who like words, and poignantly insightful about family life, all in the same breath. It kept me completely engaged with a quick moving plot and terrific wordplay. Random House has an excerpt that lets one get a feel for the writing. Grant has a unique voice and won the 2010 amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award for 2010. Well-deserved.
Girl Crazy by Russell Smith
I loved Russell Smith's columns on men's style in the Globe and Mail, and so was interested to check out his fiction. This novel follows Justin, a thirty-ish English instructor at a community college in Toronto who stops to assist a young woman in distress, waiting for an ambulance on the street. He ends up accompanying her to the hospital, they become friends, and quickly more. This woman has, lets call them, issues, and his infatuation with her leads him into involvement with the underbelly of the city.
The story is simple and the reader can easily see what's coming ahead. Smith writes well, but his protagonist is obsessed with sex, seeing women's undergarments through their clothing, the effect of air-conditioning on female anatomy, etc etc. This constant stream of lingerie sighting is tiresome and after the first couple of times, unnecessary. We don't need it every time the man sits in a cafe or wanders down the college hallway. I enjoyed the unfolding of the relationship, but Justin seems unable to see what is staring the rest of us in the face. Presumably, this is where the title comes from.
A quick, unsophisticated read. Not for the (sexually) faint of heart.
Borrow it from the library if you think it would appeal. Not a buy.