Angie Abdou

I write this column as I fly home from Burlington, Vermont where I attended The Face of the Game, a symposium held in conjunction with the Women’s Hockey World Championships at the University of Vermont. The panel on which I participated focused on representations of women in hockey literature, and my own discussion centred on Cara Hedley’s Twenty Miles, the first Canadian novel to feature women’s hockey.

Workbook is an aphrodisiac. Better than raw oysters.

On February 6 Valerie Compton and Rosemary Nixon will be speaking at the Fernie Heritage Library about their recently released books: acclaimed novels that also work as emotionally heightened meditations on motherhood and loss.

For and Against is my favourite kind of poetry collection. Rather than hiding behind clever postmodern tricks, McCartney takes personal risks and delivers meaty poems with emotional heft. She, to steal a phrase from Hemingway, writes hard and clear about what hurts.

The Man Booker Prize is an annual award given to the best work of fiction in the British Commonwealth and Ireland. Alison Pick’s Far to Go is one of three Canadian books recently long-listed for the 2011 Booker, a great honour which was just the incentive I needed to pull it out of my towering to-be-read pile. I’m very glad I did. Pick’s story held me firm in its grip from the first sentence to the last, her characters as real to me as my next-door neighbours.

If you read one new book this summer, make it Monoceros by Suzette Mayr. Since I had kids (over four years ago now), I simply can’t just sit and finish a whole book in a weekend anymore. Too many tasks and people fight for my time and attention; a weekend devoted to reading has become an impossibility. Occasionally, though, a book will be so compelling that it inspires me to accomplish the impossible.