Trevor reviews The Beggar’s Garden; Kimbofo on The Sisters Brothers

The shortlist announcement is not far off; the Shadow Jury continues reading away. Our short story expert, Trevor, has positive thoughts about The Beggar’s Garden by Michael Christie (full review is here) — here are his opening thoughts:

The Giller Prize does it again: The Beggar’s Garden (2011) is another excellent short story collection, and another from a debut author. The author’s blurb says that Michael Christie “worked in a homeless shelter in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and provided outreach to the severely mentally ill.” His experiences there have made there way into this collection with striking emotion and clarity.

The Beggar’s Garden is made up of nine short stories, each centering on someone dealing with some form of mental illness or homelessness or both. Each story stands entirely on its own, though throughout Christie has them slyly referencing each other. No story was a failure, though I have to admit that I liked the ones in the first half quite a bit more than the ones in the second half. That said, I’ve gone back to those early stories and found that they not only held up to my memory but have strengthened

Kimbofo, meanwhile, has reviewed The Sisters Brothers (full review here). Her opening thoughts:

Canadian author Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers has been shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize and longlisted for this year’s Giller Prize.

It is the kind of book that could best be described as an enjoyable romp. It’s billed as a Western, but I saw it more as a road story — with guns and horses.

Set during the California gold rush of the 1850s, it is narrated by Eli Sister, one half of the Sisters brothers of the title, who makes his living as an assassin. But Eli is not your average killer for hire — he has a sensitive side, troubled by his weight, worried he’ll never find a woman to settle down with and constantly dreaming of a different life, perhaps running a trading post “just as long as everything was restful and easy and completely different from my present position in the world”.

His elder brother Charlie is more what one would imagine as a typical killer — he is ruthless, is attracted to violence and doesn’t suffer fools. But he’s also an alcoholic and his love of brandy means he spends a lot of his time on the road nursing horrendous hangovers.

All three Shadow Giller bloggers have now reviewed The Sisters Brothers (which is shortlisted for the Booker Prize, in addition to its Giller longlisting). Trevor’s review is here, KfC’s here.

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4 Responses to “Trevor reviews The Beggar’s Garden; Kimbofo on The Sisters Brothers”

  1. Deborah Serravalle Says:

    Hey Kevin,

    I heard you on CBC today with Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapter and really enjoyed your interview.

    This is quite the book blog. Congrats!

  2. KevinfromCanada Says:

    Hi Deborah: Shelagh has produced a record day of hits on the blog — thanks for your comment and please keep coming back and commenting as well.

    • Deborah Serravalle Says:

      Kevin,

      I’m glad the interview went well and your blog received coverage. I’m going to take some time and read your reviews and I will certainly comment again.

      If you have an opportunity, check out my blog at http://www.deborahserravalle.com. I’ve only started writing reviews, however, from what you said during the interview I believe we enjoy similar reads. Certainly our approach and purpose in writing the review is the same.

  3. KevinfromCanada Says:

    For those who might be interested, here is a link to the podcast from Shelagh Rogers’ The Next Chapter — http://www.cbc.ca/thenextchapter/episode/2011/10/17/tnc-special-kevin-from-canada/ . It is a discussion of how this blog came to be, some of KfC’s objectives, the history of the Shadow Giller and thoughts on both this year’s Giller and Booker Prizes. Good fun for me, at least.

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