1. April 1st (no it's no April Fool's joke:)
Short Grain Writing Contest; Entry Fee: $35; Prizes: $1,000; $750; $500 x 2.
For more information, please check out their website.
2. April 15th. From the Shadows Poetry Contest; Entry Fee: $5/3 poems; Prizes: Cash, Membership, Chapbook Publication & Certificates. See their website for details.
After listening to Canada Reads I determined to read more Canadian novels.
I picked up a few at my local independent bookstore, The Bookmark (great store btw - do check it out if you're in downtown Halifax!!)
Last night I finished The Birth House and started The Best Laid Plans.
About The Birth House by Ami McKay:
In Courtney Klein's review of the Birth House, she began: "Every novel has a message to share, but sometimes the message can come on too strong. The Birth House lacks subtlety and becomes almost overbearing to read."
I'm torn by the quote because, on one hand, I agree that instead of letting the message present itself subtly to the reader, the author's opinion shines through the storyline and can prove a little distracting from the plot. Then again, that might not be such a bad thing since the other main weakness I found in The Birth House was its predictable plot points (marrying Hart & falling for Archer - whose characters, like the other men, were somewhat flat).
On the other hand, this is a debut novel with MANY fine points, including its writing, which seems to have fallen under the radar amongst the chatter of controversial midwifery and such. McKay is a no-nonsense writer who writes without artifice despite the historical opportunity for flounce and flourish. At its core, The Birth House is a beautiful story with strong female characters. Others have mentioned it, but oh, what's not to love in our techno-age about that rough cut thick paper with all the newspaper clippings, letters, invitations and recipes added in, much the way I imagine a diary or scrapbook would have been kept in that era. And that, together with the fiestiness of Ms. Babineau, is what really drew me in. Set against the historical backdrop of World War 1, the Halifax Explosion (and even the Great Boston Molasses flood), the way Ami Mckay made use of all the stylistics to support the historical content made me want to keep reading despite the fact that I felt the narrative weakened in the last third.
All in all, I enjoyed The Birth House (especially timely given the debates going on in Halifax on the topic of midwifery). I would LOVE to see a second edition with an alternate ending that delivers as much spunk as the rest of the novel. In reading about McKay's passion for music, I also can't help wondering whether she might produce another novel set against a musical history backdrop. . .
Pick up some Canadian Fiction!!!!!