When I left for my job interview (screening) on the mainland last week, I needed a book or two to keep me company. The stack by my bedside were all related to keeping chickens and making pickles, plus a couple heavy tomes from the GLBTQ Reading Challenge that I really couldn’t deal with (Trumpet is just so sad, people… How are you getting through it?!! I gave up!). Wanting the comfort of something familiar, I looked to my shelves of books that I’ve already read.
What I needed was something inspirational, a story about making it, or at least trying to make it, even when you feel like puking and your lips are scabby with stress-induced cold sores… My eyes landed on Sarah Hall‘s The Carhullan Army. I first read it when it was shortlisted for the Tiptree Award (which it won!), and found it so perfect and dark and freeing and terrifying. Would that make me feel better or worse, in my current context, I wondered? Better, something inside me said. Much better.
Yes, it was perfect. Fighting the patriarchal systemic oppression in a dystopic future society is hard, and by comparison, being chosen to compete for a coveted trades apprenticeship is easy-peasy.
I also brought along Derrick Jensen‘s How Shall I Live My Life?: On Liberating the Earth From Civilization, which I find to be a welcome detour from Jensen’s other more philosophical musings: This volume returns to his talent for thoughtful interviews with awesome people, and is great for every day inspiration.
I finished The Carhullan Army on Thursday afternoon, on the way to the panel interview. Afterwards, I had some spare time in downtown Vancouver before my friend PBall was picking me up, which I was happy to spend at MacLeod’s Books.
MacLeods is the sort of used bookstore that simultaneously infuriates and delights me, because it is so completely packed with piles and piles of books. The shelves are overflowing and there’s stacks every where you look, even on the floor in front of the shelves, blocking the view of their contents. I asked for memoirs and was told that they are incorporated throughout the store, according to theme. What…? Okay, I suppose I can see the sense in that… But as a browser simply looking for someone’s recollections of their somewhat interesting life, it’s not a particularly useful system. That said, I found a book about women singers (in the Music section!) that I thought I’d enjoy (turns out it’s terribly written, but I’ll still try to finish it), and then bought Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue, and a copy of Sarah Hall’s first book, Haweswater.
I also eavesdropped as a woman came in with a wishlist, and was impressed to see that the staff were able to find most of what she wanted. Given the chaos, it was an impressive feat.
Slammerkin wasn’t quite what I expected, and I’m glad I didn’t read it before the job interview, because it’s not exactly… Triumphant. Well, I suppose some may say The Carhullan Army isn’t either, but to my mind it is. These are the sorts of discussions I’d like to have with a book club, as I’ve mentioned here before, but since that’s not something I’m likely to get going in the near future, I’ve joined Goodreads… Please be my friend.