“Rockburn” – the CPAC

Ken Rockburn has been hosting programs at CPAC (Cable Public
Affairs Channel) since 200l – giving two shows “Talk Politics” and
“Rockburn Presents”. This book takes interviews mainly from the second
group. If you enjoy Rockburn on air, this brings back many memorable

John Doyle, of The Globe and Mail, praises Rockburn in a Preface
to the book for his skill at the long-form interview. It is true that
he gives his subject time to express himself, without interruption, and
this often results in intimate, heart-warming moments. Peter Gzowski
returns in all his wit and fun in one of the last interviews he gave
before his death in January 2002. Rick Mercer talks frankly about
being funny. Dennis Lee tries to explain how he feels a poem like
dancing, before it turns into words.

There are good pieces by Julie Payette, the Astronaut, also by
Cindy Sheehan, the American mother who tried to stop the war in Iraq
after she had lost a son there.

There is nothing sentimental about this book. It does however
appeal to any nostalgia we may have for recent years just past and some
truly interesting Canadians — from playwrights and actors to an
architect and visionary. Very easy to pick up…and well worth reading.

Book Review by Anne McDougall

“Whitethorn Woods” by Maeve Binchy

In “Whitethorn Woods”, Maeve Binchy writes about the new Ireland
where bustling commerce has taken the place of sleepy rural towns. But
this collection of short stories goes to the heart of a number of
families in Rossmore where the old beliefs and customs still rule the
day and bring conflict in their wake.

In this particular town exists an old statue in the heart of
Whitethorn Woods, put up in honor of St. Ann and long visited as a
wishing well by people from far and wide, searching for a husband,
longing for a baby, and so on. A new highway is threatened, which
would demolish the beloved statue. The family priest, among others, is
involved . Binchy gives the inside story in her winning, unsentimental
style and we are drawn in to their lives completely .

This Irish writer must be one of the most inventive story-tellers
alive today. Her novels and short stories, written since l982, have
won her the Lifetime Achievement award at the British Book Awards in
l999. A number of them have been adapted for cinema and television.

This book does not tackle the political effects of the European
Union on Ireland. It does not deal in a heavy way with the questions of
faith and religion on people’s lives. In a deft, humorous way it lights
up these questions through characters that you get to know and don’t forget.

Review by Anne McDougall

“The Raw Shark Texts” by Steven Hall

Disappointingly, the cover for the Canadian edition does not feature
the inkblot artwork of the original – which ties the title to the
Rorschach tests, an important link. The Raw Shark Texts is an
excellent novel from first-time novelist Steven Hall. If you are
tired of books that spoon-feed the reader and ties up every loose
end, this is the book for you (It’s also reminiscent of books like
Fight Club). It lets the reader think and figure for him- or herself
what really happened. This reads almost like a movie script (in fact,
the book has already been optioned for a film), as it starts with
vague unease and blasts into full-tilt action – a great summer read.

“Fire in the Blood” by Irene Nemirovsky

This is a short novel by the best-selling author of “Suite
Francaise”. You will find the same brisk, clear writing and incisive
study of human nature, as well as a surprising and endearing love story.

The setting is a small village in the French countryside.
Generations of farming families know all about each other and very often
keep these secrets hidden. The story-teller, Sylvio, is one of these,
until a totally unexpected murder uncovers a chain of events in his past
that brings him out of his reverie.

Like “Suite Francaise”, this manuscript was only recently
discovered by Nemirovsky’s biographers, and in fact was found in the
same suitcase ,saved by her daughters, that gave the world “Suite

It is a pleasure to read such beautiful moody pictures of this old
French world and I find the characters well-drawn and completely

Review by Anne McDougall

“Consumption” by Kevin Patterson

This is an up-close look at White and Inuit people living together.

A beautiful Inuit girl, Victoria, marries but never really accepts
the Scot, Robertson, who runs the Hudson Bay store at Rankin Inlet.
She had contracted tuberculosis at age 6 and was sent south to Montreal
for care at a sanatorium. When she returned l0 years later, she
was torn apart by the two cultures, in spite of Robertson’s general
acceptance by the community, as well as their three children.

The author is a doctor and has practised for a number of years in
the North. He writes sharply and sensitively about the physician in
this book. He also has great understanding of the Inuit who had spent
some l0,000 years “on the land”,i.e. the tundra stretching back from the
west side of Hudson Bay ,and had trouble with schools, store-bought food
instead of walrus meat, prefabricated wooden houses which in high winds
are not as snug as an igloo.

The tension builds to considerable violence, which is not resolved
until the end of the book. The characters are very sympathetic and
though Patterson doesn’t pretend to solve the difficulties of our living
together, he paints a picture which makes the reader very much hope we do.

Review by Anne McDougall