With one year to the day of posting my own book recommendations and summer just around the corner, for this May edition, I decided to instead turn to our talented team of writers here at Montreal Rampage. Here is what our writers recommended!
Mike Carrozza, “Is This Thing On?”
A Bad Idea I’m About to Do by Chris Gethard
Chris Gethard is one of my favourite storytelling comedians. Knowing his cadence and hearing his soothing voice in my head as I read this really contrasted the aggressive and heartbreaking stories contained in this collection.
Mindsploitation by Vernon Chatman
One of the oddest things I’ve ever read in my life. Chatman has shown me that there is no limit to the silliness we can achieve. The book is Chatman messaging internet services that promise to write essays for you for a fee, however every assignment he gives them is absurd and fake. He leaves in their responses unedited, with baffling spelling errors and turns of phrase that have never been heard of. His emails are also extremely funny. I highly recommend this.
Kasher in the Rye by Moshe Kasher
Moshe Kasher offers up a memoir about his life up until the age of 16, which may sound boring but is definitely not. He’s gotten into trouble and had plenty to deal with. During the epilogue, I wept openly on the metro and yelled “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!” at a young couple laughing at me.
A.C. Onoff, staff writer
The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
Source material for the Harrison Ford movie of the same name. Sickened by how America lives nowadays, a brilliant inventor deport his wife and four kids to the Honduras jungle to start over. The oldest of his sons narrate his family’s misadventures led by a borderline mad but genius father. I liked the movie and went for the book to get a bit more of the philosophy underlining the story. Became somewhat of a bible for me. Really. If you are able to connect with the paternal, you should understand what I mean.
The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant.
Did you know that a 50 meters tall golden spruce grew on the Charlotte Islands off the BC shore? A tree no one ever saw anywhere else in the world, with luminous glowing needles? A tree revered by the native for centuries? And that in 1997, on a cold winter night, a former timber company scout turned environmentalist named Grant Hadwin accomplished a tour de force: walked through the forest, swam across a freezing river with a chainsaw, chopped the five metre diameter tree down and went back to his motel… The guy vanished on his way to court. At the start, I felt the prose was a bit too poetic, but the subject, and the story behind it is truly mesmerizing.
Karan Sinj, staff writer
Open City by Teju Cole
This is a unique prism into the world of identity, culture, history and ones place in the world they inhabit. Through the wandering eyes of a doctor who walks the streets of New York, we are introduced to a world that we all inhabit as a collective and see around us every single day… yet are unable to acknowledge it. It was a fantastic read!
Room by Emma Donaghue
The story of a mother and child held hostage in a small room for many years. Through the POV of the son Jack, Room is a gripping tale of Jack and his Ma, as they struggle to survive in a room as hostages and finally plan their escape. Room is the world Jack inhabits, as he learns to understand everything about it and beyond.
Among the Believers by Salman Rushdie
The book sees the writer travel through Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia, tracing the history of Islam and its contemporary state in these countries. The travel book seems so relevant in attempting to understand one of most debated religions of our times. Though written 35 years ago, it seems to open a window into Islam that still is.
Julie Rose, staff writer
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
Palmer discusses her life from being a university student to now. She opens up about her trials and errors in her career and personal life, shedding light on how the most conventional way is not the only way. Her stories teach trust and vulnerability in a way that instills faith in humanity, should we allow it. From being a human statue, to being able to make a living from her music, she never takes power from the hands of her audience. She makes them a participant on her journey. A beautiful portrait of humanity is this book.
Stephanie Weiner, staff writer
Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
Welsh American siblings have been somewhat frozen in their grief following the mysterious death of their mother during a tornado as children. It’s a story of the healing power of family and time. Great characters!
Rachel Levine, Editor-in-Chief
Holy Fools + 2 Stories by Marianne Ackerman
Read local! Marianne Ackerman’s book of three stories is hard to explain a short summary, but is enjoyable page after page. In Holy Fools, Francis Peter Wright gets caught between a lawyer’s love triangle, incarcerated media magnates, a contemptuous housekeeping couple, a landlord, and a corpse. It picks and plays with Russian literature tropes in the far less vicious world of Montreal present. No One Writes to the Professor follows the plight of a doctoral student with an unfinished thesis looking for legitimacy through an ex. Finally, Albert Fine is about the fear of the other as predator, with protagonist Len Walmsley never quite sure who to trust when his hired man is not as expected. Check out Ackerman’s book for its humour as well as its unpredictability.
Thank you to everyone who gave their book recommendations!