The writ­ers and need-to-de­vour books you’ll cozy up to this sea­son.

ELLE (Canada) - - Radar - BY SARAH LAING


A much-awarded Cana­dian nov­el­ist cel­e­brated for her lyrical, haunt­ing semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal fic­tion, Camilla Gibb has stepped into the realm of non-fic­tion with This Is Happy, a page-turn­ing mem­oir about what hap­pens when dreams dis­solve (in Gibb’s case, hav­ing her mar­riage fall apart while she’s preg­nant) and the funny ways that life can re­build it­self. WHAT IT’S ABOUT “What­ever loss we ex­pe­ri­ence in the present has its an­tecedent in what has come be­fore. It’s also about the un­ex­pected in life: what arises and how we con­struct a fam­ily out of the ashes.” WHAT IT’S NOT “I don’t want it to be seen as a gay mem­oir, be­cause I don’t think it is. I think it’s a story of loss and life and fam­ily; the fact that I was in a same­sex mar­riage is ir­rel­e­vant.” WHAT IN­SPIRED IT “After my mar­riage ended, I hadn’t writ­ten a thing. Lan­guage felt very hol­low; I couldn’t pin it down. I’d been read­ing Ian Brown’s Boy in the Moon, a mem­oir about life with his spe­cial-needs son, and it was ab­so­lutely ex­tra­or­di­nary. I ac­tu­ally emailed him to ask how he found bright­ness in his sit­u­a­tion, and he said that he didn’t have any an­swers but that I needed to write. So I be­gan keep­ing a record of how things un­folded.” WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF IT “In my lim­ited ex­pe­ri­ence, peo­ple don’t ask me ques­tions [about this book]; they tell me sto­ries. That’s the most re­ward­ing part for me: It makes peo­ple re­flect on their own lives and the peo­ple they call fam­ily.”

The Heart Goes Last by Mar­garet At­wood The grande dame of CanLit is back with an­other dystopian tale, this time about an up­side-down world where the good guys are im­pris­oned and the bad ones go free. (And, no, it’s not non-fic­tion.)

Pu­rity by Jonathan Franzen Pu­rity “Pip” Tyler (the al­lu­sion to Great Ex­pec­ta­tions is no ac­ci­dent) is on a jour­ney to the darker edges of the vir­tual world, be­gin­ning with an in­tern­ship at a South Amer­i­can In­ter­net think tank. h

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hall­berg This epic de­but novel is set in 1970s New York. It be­gins with a shoot­ing in Cen­tral Park and ends with the 1977 black­out. It’s a cin­e­matic, sprawl­ing story of life in so­ci­ety’s un­der­belly.

Av­enue of Mys­ter­ies by John Irv­ing Juan Diego’s life be­gins on the edge of a Mex­i­can rub­bish dump and ends with him liv­ing the “Iowan dream.” What hap­pens in be­tween is a page-turn­ing med­i­ta­tion on des­tiny, luck and love.

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