To celebrate the summer of 2017, we are pleased to present an ongoing series of reading recommendations/reminiscences by Goose Lane authors past and present.
Today: Joan Thomas (Reading by Lightning)
I watch quite a bit of junk television, but I'm never tempted by the sort of book people call "a beach read." When I'm working hard at my own writing, especially, I am really picky. Maybe I'm afraid banal sentences are contagious.
In June I spent a few weeks in Ecuador, where my new novel is set. I came home with my head swimming, and now I'm trying hard to hammer out the last 100 pages of my book. So I'm not reading a lot except for memoirs and other books that pertain to my story.
The only novel I've read this gin-and-tonic season is Light Years by James Salter. I picked it up randomly in the library and was drawn in by the brilliant introductory essay by Richard Ford (in the 1995 Vintage edition—the novel itself came out in 1975) in which Ford calls Light Years "a novel that radiates gravity, great intelligence, and verbal virtuosity on every page." It does: I read it slowly, savouring every scene, full of admiration for how deftly Salter dissects American culture, how he tunes us in to the existential import of ordinary moments.
And the images! And the way he writes about sex! Please, let James Salter be contagious.
Joan Thomas's first novel, Reading by Lightning, was published by Goose Lane Editions in 2008. It won a Commonwealth Prize and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and was nominated for the International IMPAC-Dublin Literary Award. Curiosity, published in April 2010 by McClelland & Stewart, was named a Quill and Quire Book of the Year and was nominated for the ScotiaBank Giller Prize. The Opening Sky was awarded the 2014 McNally Robinson Prize and was a finalist for the Governor General's Award. In 2014, Joan was honoured to receive the Writers' Trust of Canada Engel/Findley Award for mid-career achievement.