Chernobyl Prayer is one of the most difficult books that I have ever read. It even took me a year to read it due to stopping and starting and the time I needed to take just to breathe through the amount of raw hurt and fear that she painstakingly documents.
We happened across Raoul Peck’s film I Am Not Your Negro one February night while flipping through the channels. TVO was airing it as part of its yearly Black History Month’s selections. It’s a film that I would not hesitate to name as essential, and it’s what was responsible for my introduction to James Baldwin’s work.
Her style is simple and direct. It speaks to the reader in a very distinct way. When you read her prose, it’s like Didion is sitting across from you in a sitting room late at night, talking about things that people often find difficult to speak about.
They are clothbound and beautiful with the perfect size of margins and type. Both books nestle into a sturdy slipcase with gold type and a full colour illustration of Sawyer tricking one of his peers into doing his chore for him, painted by Norman Rockwell.
When I think about the reader I am now and what influences guided me to become so interested in literature, I inevitably remember this book. It was one of the books I carefully preserved when I grew up. It still sits on my bedside table as an adult.
Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy was one of my favourite sets of books when I was growing up. I especially loved books that presented stories and the folklore they were based on.
I often read as much about American politics as I do about the politics about my own country. Though it feels like I’m on the outside looking in when I read books like this, it to some extent feels closer than is comfortable as well.
The real shining piece of this book is the ghost and the setting. The whole world of the opera house comes alive as the ghost wrecks havoc and extracts vengeance. This is a review of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l’Opéra).
Reading correspondence is not quite the same as reading a novel, obviously, but it can be just as valuable when it comes to understanding a writer, their work, literature of the period, or the general customs of the time period. Writers writing about writing can be a very enlightening read. This is a review of Letters to a Young Poet.
When Greenwood is asked to list her symptoms, she keeps repeating that she can’t read and she can’t sleep. She is studying English for her post-secondary education, and reading as well as words define her life. When she can no longer read, what’s left of her world falls apart, and it drives her to attempt suicide. This is a review of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.