Short stories, bad seed

Pat St. Ger­main rec­om­mends a pair of ti­tles.

The Sudbury Star - - YOU -

Co­conut Dreams Derek Mas­caren­has Book*hug Press

An epic work in short-story form, Derek Mas­caren­has’ Co­conut Dreams tran­scends space, time and cul­ture in 10 in­ter­con­nected tales re­volv­ing around two gen­er­a­tions of the fic­tional Pinto fam­ily. The book opens with a fa­ble-like story re­count­ing the birth of Felix Pinto and a hair-rais­ing ad­ven­ture that pits him and his child­hood friend, Clara, against a trio of adult vil­lains in Goa, In­dia.

Flash for­ward 48 years, and we meet Felix and Clara’s chil­dren, son Ai­den and daugh­ter Ally, as they ex­pe­ri­ence the uni­ver­sal joys and ter­rors of a sub­ur­ban child­hood a world away, in Canada.

Along with field trips and first kisses, sub­tle racism creeps in, with one threat that ends in vi­o­lence. They grow up with stories about fam­ily le­gends, but when Ai­den trav­els to Goa, it’s as a for­eigner, a co­conut — brown on the out­side, white on the in­side.

Mas­caren­has im­bues his stories with hu­man con­nec­tion, whether through chance en­coun­ters, brief friend­ships or un­break­able fam­ily bonds.

The Golden Boy of Crime: The Al­most Cer­tainly True Story of Nor­man “Red” Ryan Jim Brown HarperCollins Canada

Nor­man (Red) Ryan was a bad seed. Born into a large work­ing-class fam­ily in Toronto, he was prone to vi­o­lence and thiev­ery at an early age. A string of violent rob­beries and a prison break in the 1920s and ’30s earned him a nick­name, “the Jesse James of Canada.” But it was his tal­ent for de­cep­tion that ul­ti­mately brought him the great­est in­famy. Sen­tenced to a life term in the Kingston Pen­i­ten­tiary, he be­friended a prison priest, re­nounced his wicked ways and be­came a poster boy for rehabilitation.

Cham­pi­oned by the press, along with politi­cians and even some mem­bers of the po­lice force, he won early pa­role and led the life of Ri­ley on the out­side, all the while car­ry­ing on a se­cret side­line as a murderous bank rob­ber.

Cal­gary-based Jim Brown ex­plores the cul­ture of celebrity that let him, al­most, get away with it.

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