A book rec!
It's been a long time since I could become so engrossed in a book, so captivated by a set of characters. Of course, a lot of the new-to-me stuff I've been reading lately has all been fanfic, which isn't quite the same, but oh, I'm in love with this book and I'm not even halfway through. I'm talking about Midnight Cab by James W. Nichol. He's a Canadian playwright and has been since 1970 but it's his first novel. It's so, so good. I picked it up on a whim while Christmas shopping -- I was buying my grandmother a thick tome on Tarot and wandered over to the English-language section (I shouldn't be allowed in bookstores, man, I never leave empty-handed). I dithered for a while over a few Philip K. Dick novels that I haven't got yet, then decided I wouldn't be taking many books back to Toronto with me and looked for a 'throwaway' book that I could just read and leave behind. I don't know if I'll be able to leave this one, though.
The story (which is actually based on a CBC radio series) revolves around Walker Devereaux, an orphaned child left clinging to a chicken-wire fence by his mother. At nineteeen, he sets out for Toronto to find out all about his family and its past. Walker and his best friend Stewey kind of remind me of Harry and Ron, except, you know, they're Canadian and the resemblance is purely visceral. The female lead is one of the most unique and strong female characters I've encountered in a while -- that's all I'll say as I don't want to spoil it in case you decide to get the book but she's just really, really well-drawn. Nichol has an insight into people's darker sides to rival Stephen King's, and as a testament to that, the villain of this book is just fucking brilliant.
The prose is sparse but compelling, the writing rich in detail without being purple or overly stylised. This was the first time in a while that I genuinely smiled over a clever turn of phrase in a book. It was about a group of sandpipers skittering along, "looking for all the world like they were late for work." *squirms happily* There's nothing quite like sitting in a crowded food court, making your way through Kung Pao chicken and suddenly having to set your chopsticks aside and smile because you're simply moved to do so by the book you're reading. There are some passages that are breathtakingly evocative, more than once I was catching myself thinking, "this is what I want to be able to do with my writing, this right here." And you know there's no better compliment to a writer than another writer saying "I want to write like you do."
Apropos, it's a fairly old title, first published in Canada in 2002. I work a lot with data from all over Ontario and I guess part of the appeal for me was that I recognised a lot of the place names in this book; it's going to make work a little more bearable now because he really takes you there and I can now picture the places and remember the book whenever I work with data from there. He also captures Toronto surprisingly well for someone who isn't a native (he's from Stratford) -- like New York or any other big city, Toronto lives to its own beat and it can be challenging to capture that if you haven't felt it (and to feel the beat of a city is a time-consuming endeavour, I've found).
So, yes. Suspenseful story, rich characterisation, pretty writing. *recs like whoa*
Sheepage, because I was tagged by gibbous (aka She-Who-Puts-Out-Hits-On-Innocent-Memes)
RULES OF THE GAME:
- Post five weird/random things about yourself.
- At the end, choose a few people to take this quiz.
1) When I woke up today, I couldn't feel my right arm. I must have slept on it for a long time, it was all floppy and rubbery and stuff, like there were no bones in it. Now I know how Harry must have felt in CoS. It was mildly panic-inducing. :-s
2) I still have my red Pioneer tie from the days of the Soviet Union. I still remember how to tie it properly, even. o.O
3) Our building in Tallinn was made up of concrete slabs that were covered with tiny stones (for what purpose, I have no idea). It was great fun prying the little stones off with your fingers and flicking them at passers-by.
4) My first U.S. celebrity crush was on Jeannette Goldstein (Vasquez from Aliens). After that, Edward Furlong. (I had crushes on Russian performers before that, obviously, but few of y'all would know them :P)
5) For the longest time, I used to play the "wish cig" game, wherein you flip the first cigarette from a pack, put it back in the pack and smoke it last (then make a wish as you light it). I stopped doing that about 3 years ago but to this day, I instinctively reach to flip that first cig over whenever I open a new pack.
Tagging: no one, because I am the Meme Killa.