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Pique Newsmagazine staff review this year's best book bets



Twelve Books of Christmas

Books are always a good bet as Christmas gifts, whether it’s a board book for a six-month-old niece, a graphic novel for the alt teen, a novel for an aunt or poetry for grandma. In this expanded version of Bookmarks, Pique Newsmagazine staff review some of the new books published this fall that will make more than satisfying choices for under the tree.

A Three Dog Life

By Abigail Thomas

Harcourt Books, 2006

182 pages, $27.95

Reviewed by Vivian Moreau

Some people live unperturbed lives: a steady career, safe home, well-adjusted children. But every now and then one of those uneventful lives runs smack into a catastrophe and that’s where the real living unfolds.

Such is what author Abigail Thomas encounters when her journalist and editor husband, Rich, is struck by a car while walking the dog one morning, incurring a massive brain injury.

After many surgeries Abigail tries to care for Rich at home but then with resignation has him confined to an institution. She moves from their urban New York City home to be closer to him and visits regularly the man who can’t recall what happened a day or even an hour ago. Subject to fits of rage and despair yet blessed with a gift for poetry Rich is not the husband Abigail married yet is still a different kind of remarkable.

This is not a memoir to read so you can sigh and say thanks for your own unstartled existence. It’s a book that makes you question your depth of morality but also one that acknowledges tender mercies. A short but not inconsequential collection of essays that overlap and interweave in just under 200 pages, A Three Dog Life is quick to read but one with a delicate, reverberating resonance.

Every Inadequte Name

By Nick Thran

Insomniac Press, 2006

71 pages, $11.95

Reviewed by Vivian Moreau

“It’s hard not to get published as a poet in Canada, if you’re any good,” Canada’s former poet laureate George Bowering once told me — a polite way of saying perhaps too much dreck is published in Canada.

But Nick Thran is one of those gifted young Canadian poets especially deserving of being published. Every Inadequate Name is a more than adequate debut collection that speaks about everything from inane thoughts at the laundromat to the joy of hands around morning coffee mugs. A West Coast poet now living in Toronto, at 26, Thran is one who knows how to say a lot with the slimmest of words, as he does in Bird Time: The streetlight’s lamp on the cherry tree dresses/the night in a pink feather boa./It all looks ridiculous from where I’m standing./That’s part of the reason I called.

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