Before we begin the 8th Update of Critical Monkey, I would like to send a personal shout-out to our very own Steve Zipp. Steve is the author of Yellowknife, a terrific slice of twisted Canadian absurdity that is currently being argued for in the National Post's counter-programming to Canada Reads, Canada Also Reads. I won't get into a rant on the merits of Canada Read's choices here - too much has been said already, and by smarter people than me. I'll leave it at this: the point of Canada Reads was to get Canadians to read certain books. Books that have been huge best-sellers and/or trend-setting game changers should be ineligible on the face of it, regardless of that book's individual merits. If 'everybody' has already read a book, why push it again?
The Post has put together a wonderful mix of novels to argue over, and Steve's debut work made the list. But Steve has his work cut out for him - check out the list of nominees and defenders:
• Writer and critic Steven Beattie defends My White Planet by Mark Anthony JarmanMan, that is some harsh competition. Defending Yellowknife is John Mutford, a blogger and well-rounded person with excellent taste in literature. John's heartfelt defense, with nods to Mikhail Bulgakov, can be found here.
• Author Tish Cohen defends The Day The Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
• Singer/songwriter Andy Maize defends Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis
• Poet Jacob McArthur Mooney defends The Last Shot by Leon Rooke
• Author Lisa Pasold defends You And The Pirates by Jocelyne Allen
• Author Neil Smith defends Come Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant
• Author Zoe Whittall defends Fear of Fighting by Stacey May Fowles
I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing Steve good luck, and only my crushing depression at not being nominated myself keeps me from sending him a poke on Facebook.
And now - the leaderboard!
Acceptance (seven reviews)
Depression (six reviews)Lori L
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Roses of Glory by Mary Pershall
Spock's World by Diane Duane
A Texan's Honor by Leigh Greenwood
Star Wars: Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer *ineligible for contention*
Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
The Whiteoaks of Jalna by Mazo de la Roche
The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Anger (five reviews)Corey Redekop
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
The Justice Riders by Chuck Norris
Jake and the Kid by W.O. Mitchell
Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson & Martin Dugard *ineligible for contention*
Guilt (four reviews)Jeanne
Empire of Lies by Andrew Klaven
A Merry Heart by Wanda E. Brunsetter
A Washington, D.C. by Robert J. Hensler
It's Not that I'm Bitter by Gina Barreca
Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey
Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
Double Cross by James Patterson
Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)
Bargaining (three reviews)
Denial (two reviews)Betty
Generation Dead/Generation Dead: Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters
A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Shock (one review)Alison
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Wow, Depression has been achieved by two contestants! The aforementioned Steve breaks through with the high-toned effort of Charles Dickens, and Lori cracks the barrier by reading (and enjoying) a Janette Oke! Coming up fast on the outside is Scrat, suffering through the mild indignities of Nora Robert's alter-ego.
As for myself - a bad month, I fear. I started reading a Richard Marcinko, but had to stop for fear the testosterone that filled the pages would leak out and stain my carpet. I simply could not read past ten pages of the garbage. I lack the strength, The Murder of King Tut really did a number on me. Honestly, I think it may have harmed my soul. I plan to rejuvenate myself with a trip back to childhood to read a classic that escaped my eyes: next up, Treasure Island!
Now, I didn't have a prize for this update, but I'm going to throw in an ARC of Alan Bradley's The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag for the next month. All new entries will be eligible.
Four more months, everyone! Can we all meet the deadline?
Good luck, and god save us all.