Monday, May 25, 2009

Robert Harris's Fatherland

Just finished Robert Harris's book, Fatherland. It's a great thriller. He re-writes history and postulates a world where Hitler won the war. In it people don't know anything about the millions of Jews who were gassed. After all, the truth of the Holocaust was uncovered by the Allies. The German people were led to believe that the Jewish population had been moved out to the wilds of the conquered East. In a world where Hitler wins the war - it's Stalin's Holodomor that becomes the ugly Holocaust.

But Stalin was on the victor's side and so he got to manipulate the truth. Thus, there are no monuments remembering the famine of 1932,  or the lost children of the kulaks. There's no guilt in the former Soviet Union about the past. No collective sense of responsibility.  Still, truth has a way of finding its way out.  Just takes a long time.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Colleen Sydor

When I participated in TLA last year I discovered the fun, the frenzy, of collecting ARCs. One of my co-panelists, Linda Joy Singleton, was an experienced ARC collector and I just followed along. It wasn't hard to get the hang of it. Grab.  I'd so many ARCs I had to ship them home separate from my luggage. 

And I still haven't read them all. 

One ARC that I finally read, caught my attention when it recently won the Manitoba Book of the Year Award (older books for children category). It's Colleen Sydor's novel debut,  My Mother is a French Fry and Further Proof of my Fuzzed-Up Life (Kids Can Press). This is an edgy book, and very funny. The fifteen year old protogonist, Eli, talks - or should I say, rants, about her mother and school. She's quieter about the other things - like a first boyfriend and a nagging guilt about a little sister.  The book is totally deserving of this award. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Victory Day

It's been five years since I explored my family's connection to Ukraine. We'd  spent the first weekend in Zhytomyr caught up in the Victory Day celebrations. It's a big event marking the defeat of the Nazis in the USSR.

From my hotel window I could see one of the tank monuments commemorating the event. The ex-Soviet Union is big on monuments.
Even tiny villages have big monuments. I doubt there's family that didn't make a direct sacrifice for Mother Russia. If you dig into the statistics, you learn that the Soviets lost way more people in WWII than any other country.  

I like the contrast in this tank photo. The church in the background, the tank in front and the old woman walking by. Mother's Day weekend here in Canada. Yeah. Cruel ironies - mothers, tanks, churches. 

Oh, and I see that today in Moscow the military is still flexing its muscles.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30654932/

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Felines

I don't take photos while I do my daily walk as a letter carrier. But I see a lot - the kind of stuff you don't see if you're driving by. For example, you wouldn't see the little grey fur ball that's been hiding under some stairs since Christmas. So scared of people, no one, neither the stair owners, or me, could catch it. The stair owners started leaving it food daily and this beautiful, angry little feline managed to survive our bitterly cold winter.  Now it's spring and guess what?

The cute little charcoal grey kitten is pregnant! Life is tough on the street. Especially for young cats in heat.  Life is tough for cats any time, though. One of the chapters that got cut in my upcoming book was about some kittens that were to be drowned. The procedure - as my mom explained - was to put most of the newborn litter into a sack with some rocks, tie it up and dump in the river. 

What could be sadder than unwanted life? Our fat, fixed feline is a happy cat - even when she's meowing her complaints and being miserable.