Couldn't help but see some similarities between the books. Coincidentally, both happened to be chosen by Margaret J. In each, the main characters are confronted by challenging circumstances and by the stories' end, have a shot at redemption. Not quite a Hollywood "happily ever after," but they're given respite. In each, the heroes of are saved by the love of their sport... transported (please forgive the pun) by something that gives greater meaning to their own solitary struggles. Both were simply and profoundly written. And perhaps most surprisingly, both were unanimously enjoyed (usually there are at least one or two dissenters with subject matter that borders on controversial).
On Tuesday, the BPYC book club was discussing Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese. This was a strong contender and 'People's Choice Award' in the 2013 Canada Reads. The story was bleak: life as a native in residential schools followed by the downward spiral of an alcoholic. Death and abandonment. Childhood abuse and racism. In this novel, hockey was the sport that worked its magic:
"The game is always the same, it's speed and power. Hockey's grace and poetry make men beautiful. The thrill of it lifts people out of their seats. Dreams unfold right before your eyes, conjured by a stick and a puck on a hundred and eighty feet of ice. The players? The good ones? They're the ones that can harness that lightning. They're the conjurers. They become one with the game and it lifts them up and out of their lives too."
The next night, I hosted the Book Babes in my backyard, and had chosen The Art of Racing in the Rain. This had been one of my favourite books of the previous year, which also happened to be a BPYC Margaret's pick (May 2012). To say bad things happen to Denny is an understatement. False accusations of statutory rape, child custody battles, financial ruin, the death of a spouse to cancer and the death of his beloved dog. Yet the story is interlaced with joy, humour and wisdom. I like books that can be read simultaneously on many levels, and this is definitely in that category.
We joked it would make a great movie - a chick flick and a dick flick combined in one. Race car racing to appeal to men, a bit of romance to appeal to women, told from the point of view of a dog to appeal to dog lovers. Here, it is racing that gives life lessons:
“Your car goes where your eyes go. Simply another way of saying that which you manifest is before you.”
I was happy to share a favourite book and my backyard with the Book Babes. The Beauty Bush even held on to a few of its petals to honour the occasion.