Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them.The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.
Matthew holds degrees in creative writing from the University of Victoria (BA) and Bath Spa University (MA).
As well as Deloume Road (published in 2010 by Knopf Canada and Jonathan Cape UK), he has also published creative non-fiction in several Canadian periodicals, and worked as a teacher, freelance editor and writer in South Korea. He now lives on Vancouver Island, where he teaches creative writing as a sessional instructor at the University of Victoria.
Without further ado, here’s Matthew’s Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
Tough one. Thirty or so titles jumped to mind, but the one I couldn’t shake this week was All-Star Superman — Volume 1 (issues #1–6). I know many of you will think it an odd choice, but hear me out. The narrative begins with Superman intercepting a space shuttle from Ray Bradbury’s 1953 short story The Golden Apples of the Sun, a literary reference brought to life in full colour by the very talented Frank Quitely.
A disclaimer: normally I despise Superman comics. He’s invincible unless you have kryptonite (which all villains apparently have access to), handsome, smart and wears underpants on the outside of his pyjamas. Oh, and hey, could someone perhaps keep an eye on Lois Lane for more than three minutes at a time? Evil doers just might want to use her as ransom. Morrison’s take, though, offers something very different: the Man of Steel with only one year left to live. Highly recommended.
I remember reading Cannery Row in my early twenties and thinking, “Damn it, why couldn’t I have been born in California?” The coastline and Salinas Valley sounded so interesting, so full of narrative possibilities. Now I realise (of course) that Steinbeck’s genius was in turning the nuances of a place he knew well, which could have been any place, into great art.
Cannery Row gets less attention than The Grapes of Wrath or East of Eden, but it’s more accessible, tighter in some respects, and, for my money (along with Sweet Thursday), one of the best short novels ever written. My novel, Deloume Road, was heavily influenced by it, and, though I fall sadly short of his standards, he’s the reason I decided to write about where I’m from (Vancouver Island), rather than trying to add to the crowded pantheon of brilliant novels set in New York or London.
Again, so many titles come to mind, many from my dear Great White North, but I’d like to draw attention to Emily Mackie’s And This Is True, in which we are introduced to Nevis Gow, the novel’s fifteen-year-old protagonist and narrator, who lives in a van with his father. On a macro level, the book is about love gone wrong, about a boy trying to understand the world near and far. Mackie is already a master of the slow reveal, and, sentence for sentence, I felt And This Is True was perhaps the most beautifully written novel of 2010 (along with David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet), and was disappointed to see it left off the Guardian First Book Award and Booker lists. Sceptre created a first-rate book trailer for the novel, which you can check out on YouTube. Also note that the hardcover of the novel has a paper dust jacket that unfolds into a piece of art/map, which I thought was pretty damn cool.
Thanks, Matthew, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
I’ve not read any of them, but Cannery Row is on my wishlist (ever since RobaroundBooks chose it as a favourite read for Triple Choice Tuesday). I’m also intrigued by And This Is True…
What do you think of Matthew Hooton’s choices? Have you read any of these books?