Friday, February 21, 2014

EMANCIPATION DAY

I have joined a book club.

It is something I have wanted to do since participating in CBC Radio’s book club a few years back.

I love to read and discuss what I have read.

The challenge was finding a book club that had men. It would appear they are pretty rare. I always assumed that there were male book clubs out there. But maybe I've been wrong.
  
In the movie Date Night .with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell, they are in a co-ed book club, but the guys only go to to please their wives.

As I searched for a co-ed book club, I quickly realized that most book clubs are populated by women and they read mostly fiction. 

I read a lot of non-fiction but over the past couple of years my library has expanded to include more and more fiction. I have begun to read books that are nominated for literary awards or I have found interesting discussions about on literary sites. The Booker Prize, The Govenor General’s Award, Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada Reads, The Costa Book Awards have generated a rich treasury of great reads. In fact, I have become an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction.

On Boxing Day over brunch, I was discussing the lack of book clubs for men. One of the guests said she was in a book club and I should consider joining. The first thing I asked was, are there any other men? The answer was no. Turns out that I went to university with a couple of the girls and decided to join. I mention it to a friend who loves to read and discuss books who said he would join as well. Fortunately for us the group was interested in a “male” perspective and was not sexist!

Bob and I are looking forward to discussing this month’s selection, Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady. It has a Newfoundland connection, Canadian Navy musician Jackson Lewis is station din St. John’s where meets and marries a local St. John’s girl .

Here is what Amazon.ca has to say about the book:

How far would a son go to belong? And how far would a father go to protect him?

With his curly black hair and his wicked grin, everyone swoons and thinks of Frank Sinatra when Navy musician Jackson Lewis takes the stage.It’s World War II, and while stationed in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Jack meets the well-heeled, romantic Vivian Clift, a local girl who has never stepped off the Rock and is desperate to see the world. They marry against Vivian’s family’s wishes–hard to say what it is, but there’s something about Jack that they just don’t like–and as the war draws to a close, the new couple travels to Windsor to meet Jack’s family.

But when Vivian meets Jack’s mother and brother, everything she thought she knew about her new husband gets called into question. They don’t live in the dream home that Jack depicted, they all look different from one another–and different from anyone Vivian has ever seen–and after weeks of waiting to meet Jack’s father, William Henry, he never materializes.

Steeped in jazz and big-band music, spanning pre- and post-war Windsor-Detroit, St. John’s, Newfoundland, and 1950s Toronto, this is an arresting, heart wrenching novel about fathers and sons, love and sacrifice, race relations and a time in our history when the world was on the cusp of momentous change.

I really enjoyed this book. The race relation issue struck close to home because of the recent debate/discussion about aboriginal ancestry in this province. Who would have have ever thought that upwards of 15% of the population of our province is now believed to have aboriginal heritage?

Many of those that did ensured the secret was locked away. Imagine, checking into your Irish roots to learn that your great-great grandfather married a Mikmaq, but no one ever told you? It changes your entire-self image! Anyone would want to know more about their family tree. A heritage denied by my ancestors because they were ashamed.

Despite our European dominated culture, there was a much larger aboriginal component than we might have ever thought. The reasons for that were many. From misplaced shame, a lack of knowledge of family trees and poor record keeping over the generations, the knowledge was lost. In recent years people have become fascinated with their ancestries. More and more of us want to know where we came from, how we got here, what our family health records reveal. Our roots are important to us.

I’ll post more about Emancipation Day including a book review after my inaugural book club discussion.




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