From Ink Lake: Canadian Stories
edited by Michael Ondaatji
Vintage Canada, Toronto, 1995
From my book shelves. I suppose this is a bit of a cheat for the Canadian Book Challenge, as I haven’t read every story yet, but I keep this on my night stand and often pick it up between novels. It is one I will keep forever.
This collection, which I have had for some time, is how I first became interested in reading Canadian authors. I had read Ondaatji and Atwood, of course, but I don’t think I realized they came from the North. This book introduced me to Alice Munro through Miles City, Montana, Alister Macleod through As Birds Bring Forth The Sun and Carol Shields through Scenes. There are so many other authors I can’t list them all. As an introduction to Canadian literature it is worth searching for this one.
The Meagre Tarmac by Clark Blaise
Biblioasis, Emeryville, Ontario, 2011
From my TBR pile.
I had never heard of Clark Blaise before seeing this book nominated for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller prize. It turns out Blaise founded the postgraduate Creative Writing Program at Concordia University, served as the Director of the International Writing Program at Iowa from 1990 to 1998, and is the President of the Society for the Study of the Short Story. He is married to author Bharati Mukherjee and has spent time traveling in India.
The Meagre Tarmac is a novel made of linked stories strung together like an assortment of beads, exploring the places where tradition, culture and change meet. First and second generation Indo-Americans face intimate struggles of immigration and identity, trying to find home. What do they cling to and what do they leave behind?
Initially it was difficult for me to accept stories of East Indians written by a white North American, but I believe Blaise’s connections through family and travel bring truth and compassion to his writing. He is a master story-teller, this is a beautiful collection and I will search out more of his work.