2021 Gift Guide: Amanda Leduc
Today we get gift-guided by Amanda Leduc—author of The Centaur's Wife and communications coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity—who shares recommendations for Dune-heads, baseball appreciators, eco-conscious young people, and more.
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Tune in this week as we share book recommendations from some of your favourite authors.
For your sports-loving neighbour who laughed when you went to university for writing and said, “They give out degrees for that?"
The Only Way Is The Steady Way
by Andrew Forbes (Invisible Publishing)
By the time I finished The Only Way is The Steady Way, I was ready to enshrine baseball as something as crucial to human spiritual development as church. (Perhaps even more crucial. Do I go to church anymore? No, I do not.) And I don’t follow baseball at all. Andrew Forbes’ latest book of essays, out now with Invisible Publishing, is a love song to his ongoing fascination with baseball but also to much more than this—to family, to aging, to youthful dreams and the way that we inevitably must learn to let some of those youthful dreams go. Life gives you everything, and then it takes it away. Thank goodness we have this book to hold it all for us a little while longer.
For your favourite gruff uncle who “tells it like it is” and is increasingly, worryingly, nattering on about political correctness and how “no one can say anything anymore”
Tongues: On Longing And Belonging Through Language, edited by Leonarda Carranza, Eufemia Fantetti, and Ayelet Tsabari (Book*hug Press)
The world around us is built by language—by what we say, hear, and think, and the expectations woven into the words we use every day. And nowhere is this more apparent than in this new anthology from Book*hug Press, a collection of twenty-six essays that explore what it means to belong to and shape a world through words. From Kamal Al-Solaylee’s essay on losing his mother tongue through to Adam Pottle’s wrestling with drifting in the space between spoken language and signed, from Karen McBride’s ruminations on land language through to the minestrone of mixed language and dialects in Eufemia Fantetti’s gentle yet muscular words, this anthology is an exploration of the ways in which can, and do, continue to say everything—a nod to the ways that language shifts and changes and takes the world right along with it. Get this book for those in your life who worry that the world is becoming smaller and ever more constricted and show them: actually, the world is changing and becoming more with every word we speak.
For your younger brother who just watched Dune and is now obsessed with sandworms and other strange creatures
Even That Wildest Hope by Seyward Goodhand
I see your sandworm, and raise you the Galatrax—an adorable, furry woodland creature whose meat—eaten raw, while the animal is still alive—will provide nourishment for you, the weightlifter. The stories in Wildest Hope are filled with the oddest of odd characters, people and animals who nonetheless remain instantly recognizable—all-too-human, all-too frail. This collection is an accounting of the utter impossibility of being alive in the world—the strangeness of how we love, and who we love, and the things we will do to find solace. Dive into these stories as you wait for the next instalment of Dune to hit screens—Goodhand’s stories are so wonderfully rich and dense you’ll be feasting on them (no Galatrax around) for years.
For your young niece/nephew/nibling who worries about climate change every time they see the news, or look outside and sees wildfires, or flooding, or storms
Reversing Time by Charlotte Mendel (Guernica Editions)
In Reversing Time, Simon discovers a talisman and a secret family history—he can travel the length of his lifetime, into the future and back, and is being tasked with saving humanity from extinction. No pressure! In this fast-paced young adult novel, we learn how sometimes even the smallest of actions can have enormous, far-reaching consequences. Like the small actions we take today to mitigate climate change and hope for a better future, the hope contained within this book—set in the brisk, action-forward shape of a page-turner—can also push us all forward to continue making change.
For your Marvel-loving parents (they’re retired now, and they get to catch up on what everyone’s been watching!) who were thrilled to see a Deaf actress in The Eternals
Phantompains by Therese Estacion (Book*hug Press)
From ogres and witches through to the duwende (gnomes) that live inside hills in the Philippines, Phantompains uses haunting imagery and searing language to explore the dreamlike state of illness, recovery, and adapting to life in a new body. Therese Estacion explores grief and disability in ways that feel fresh and new on every page—a remarkable feat, given that so many of the stories and folktales she weaves into her collection have been around for centuries. Phantompains is a stunning, genre-defying achievement—a body of work that takes all that’s recognizable and makes it into something new and different, and in so doing helps the reader to new ways of seeing the world. In this rapidly changing world in which we live, the ability to see anew is crucial—what a gift, truly, to have writers like Therese here to show us how to do exactly that.
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Amanda Leduc is the author of the novel THE CENTAUR'S WIFE (Random House Canada, 2021) and the non-fiction book DISFIGURED: ON FAIRY TALES, DISABILITY, AND MAKING SPACE (Coach House Books, 2020), which was shortlisted for the 2020 Governor General’s Award in Nonfiction and longlisted for the 2020 Barbellion Prize. She is also the author of an earlier novel, THE MIRACLES OF ORDINARY MEN (ECW Press, 2013). She has cerebral palsy and lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where she serves as the Communications Coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), Canada's first festival for diverse authors and stories.
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Thanks so much to Amanda for this stellar list of books for all kinds of giftees on your list. Stay tuned this week for even more recommendations and follow along with the hashtag #ALUgiftguide!
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