Gift Guide Week: Martha Sharpe

December 1, 2016

Quick recap: we've tapped five members of the literary community to write these gift guides for your wishlisting pleasure. You'll want to check out the picks of today's recommender, bookseller Martha Sharpe of super-cool microbookstore Flying Books, because she does this already with her "choosily chosen" book flights.

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We could recommend books until the cows come home here at All Lit Up, but for gifts you'll love to give this holiday season, we deferred to the experts. From November 28th-December 2nd, tune in for recommendations from a book designer/poet, a festival director, a novelist, a bookseller, and an editor.

 

The Party Wall
Catherine Leroux (Biblioasis) 

This book is unlike anything I’ve read in a long time. I think Catherine Leroux must breathe different air from the rest of us. She creates a sensibility as unique as the situations in which she places her characters. We meet, in order, two sisters, then a mother and her estranged son, a husband and wife, and then a brother and sister – each of these pairs experiences a trauma that forces out a truth that alters their world. The magic is all in Leroux’s subtle pacing, imaginative leaps within and between storylines. I read that Leroux’s inspiration for each pair’s story came from news stories, and maybe that’s why this book feels as strangely enigmatic as the truth. Lazer Lederhendler’s Governor General’s Award-winning translation is exquisite.

 

Double Teenage
Joni Murphy (BookThug)

I loved this novel, which reminded me of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend for its depiction of the friendship between Celine and Julie, and of Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick for its unvarnished portrayal of young women dealing with the crap the world doles out to them on the regular. Joni Murphy weaves in the femicides in Ciudad Juárez and the Pickton pig farm in BC, creating a tense atmosphere – but centre stage is jointly occupied by Celine and Julie, who discover art and academics and love while trying not to get torn apart because patriarchy. And it has the best last line of any book I’ve read this year.

 

The Hidden Keys
by André Alexis (Coach House Books)

Part of Alexis’s quincunx-in-progress, which includes last year’s Giller Prize-winning  Fifteen Dogs, I love this book for its depiction of Toronto in a way I don’t think I’ve ever read. Scammers like Tancred Palmieri and junkie heiresses like Willow Azarian really can be in each other’s orbit here, and Alexis clearly knows this. I mean, I feel like I’ve met them, and maybe I’ve even sold books to them (if they didn’t steal them). And knowing these wildly original characters – as well as Parkdale – so well, he can fling them together in this buoyant but gritty and subtly poignant mystery. Anyone who loves a good puzzle will enjoy this book.

 

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Martha Sharpe is the owner of Flying Books in Toronto. Formerly, she was the editorial director of Simon & Schuster Canada and the publisher of House of Anansi Press.

 

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Thanks so much to Martha for recommending these three stellar books at the height of her own busy bookselling season. Be sure not to miss out on our other gift guide recommendations,  here.


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