East Side West Side: CAGE MATCH.
Why are you acting so messed up towards me? Is it something I said? My constant grousing that Vancouver is a way more hospitable place (well, maybe not during the last few weeks, but STILL)? Is that why I can't hear myself over the ice pellets pounding on the roof? Can I make it up to you or whatever?
How about if I tell you how much I love Ontario writers? Alice Munro? KILLER. Though I just couldn't get into her newest book, The View from Castle Rock. The general consensus seems to be that the first section is pretty dense, and I'm sorry, but if I don't love something within 50 pages, I move on. But I still remember reading Progress of Love when I was about 13 and pretty much losing it over her insight, her plainly descriptive language, the way she sees into the hearts of her characters in a way that makes you re-evaluate your life and your relationships through the reflections of these made-up people.
I've cheated on you, Ontario. I admit it. I got caught up in the granola-infused authors of the West Coast, and I'm sorry. But seriously, man, check them out. Carol Windley's amazing book Breathing Under Water and her new short story collection Home Schooling are addictive. She has this knack for the slightly supernatural, for sticking creepy ghosts and imaginary children in backyard corners and under the ocean, this way of describing the below-surface details of life on Vancouver Island that pull you right in. She juxtaposes her characters' somewhat depressing daily lives with the humbling, terrifying beauty of the mountains and the ocean and that green green landscape that's almost too much to handle.
It's a coastal cage match of epic proportions, I know. I don't know whose side I'm really on. The fact that Brian Doyle lives right here in Ottawa might be the tie-breaker; I was mildly obsessed with Angel Square and Up to Low as a kid, his dryly witty poetic language and his funny-sad stories. There's a tenderness in Doyle's writing that's all the more pronounced because it's found amid such weird, hilarious metaphors. I read Mary Ann Alice last year when I knew I was moving to Ottawa, and his description of the Ottawa Valley made me feel less sad to be leaving the mountains behind. Not to mention the way he captures the raw vulnerability of a teenage girl; Mary Ann Alice's voice is so earnest it almost embarrasses you to read it. In a good way.
There's beauty wherever you plant your roots in this vast country of ours. Except right now, in the parking lot of the Library of the Future, where my poor little car is slowly turning into an ice block. At least we can drink the tap water.