Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Good to a Fault

The most painful phrase for a librarian to ever have to utter is: "I don't know." Librarians, or this one anyway, like to think they know a little bit about everything. Even a short spell working at a busy reference desk will school you in all sorts of interesting things (and things you really didn't need to know as well). But in the case of Giller nominee Marina Endicott I'm forced to say: "I didn't know." I didn't know Endicott is an Albertan. I didn't know her excellent second novel is published by a new Alberta literary publisher, Freehand Books. I didn't know Endicott was reading at Audrey's just last week. And worst of all for a lifetime Globe & Mail reader, I missed the Saturday September 20th Globe Books section and didn't know T. F. Rigelhof gave Good to a Fault a rave review:

'''Thinking about herself and the state of her soul, Clara Purdy drove to the bank one hot Friday in July. The other car came from nowhere, speeding through on the yellow, going so fast it was almost safely past when Clara's car caught it. She was pushing on the brake, a ballet move, graceful - pulling back on the wheel with both arms as she rose, her foot standing on the brake - and then a terrible crash, a painful extended rending sound, when the metals met.'

So begins Marina Endicott's Good to a Fault. Does any reader need more encouragement than this to pick up a copy of this superior novel .. and read it to find out what happens next?

... Marina Endicott is really funny, a sweet-natured but sharp-eyed and quick-tongued social observer in the Jane Austen-Barbara Pym-Anne Tyler tradition, who can wring love, revulsion and hilarity from readers in a single page.

... She's worked as an actor, director and dramaturge, and written three plays, and all of this stage experience pays off in writing that is exceptionally tight and compelling. Good to a Fault has the same kind of relentless, unstoppable expectancy as Barbara Gowdy's Helpless, so it's not surprising that this novel is earning accolades from writers such as Elizabeth Hay, Lyn Coady and Annabel Lyon.

... Freehand Books is a new and national publisher of literary works that's decided to establish itself in Calgary rather than Toronto. Endicott's Good to a Fault is one of four books being published simultaneously in its inaugural season. Another, Saleema Nawaz's story collection Mother Superior, gives it a formidable one-two punch on this season's Must Read fiction list."

Fortunately someone at the Library knew about Endicott, for we've had a copy circulating since September. In Alberta, only Lethbridge and Jasper public libraries can match us on that (Calgary and Edmonton public libraries have many copies on order). I note that the University of Alberta - for which institution Endicott teaches creative writing - has zero copies on order. Ahem. [Anyone can do this all-Alberta check by the way. Search most Alberta libraries' catalogues all at once at the TAL Online site here. Sometimes you need to double check at the U of A library site as well, here.]

Read more about Marina in the Edmonton Journal today. Interesting factoids: her husband is a Mountie whose first posting was in Meyerthorpe (1992-97).

And thank you to the commenters in my last blog post for letting me know the error of my ways!


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