February 2012: A Good Man

I’ve been trying my best to keep the books on this list Canadian without stretching the point. How did I take this long to get to Guy Vanderhaeghe? Well may you ask. Maybe because this book wasn’t published until September 2011, and it’s ‘officially’ a genre I never read. Actually have never read. Sure, I read Riders of the Purple Sage when I was in my 20s, and All the Pretty Horses when it was first published. But those don’t really count do they? I mean, Zane Grey’s masterpiece, and Cormac McCarthy. Hardly westerns. Oh, and I did, in about 1969, read Charles Portis’s True Grit, but I was only 14 at the time, and I was on holiday, in Herne Bay (Kent, UK) where the choice in the bookshops was pretty limited. I think these are the only Westerns I’ve ever read. So how come I’ve read two ‘Westerns’ in less than six months? (This and The Sisters Brothers, which I can’t smuggle into a Book of the Month choice, because I bought it (oh shame) online at Indigo. Well, actually because the setting is only tangentially the point. A Good Man happens to be set in the West, at a certain point in the histories of Canada and the US, but it’s definitely literary fiction, not a Western.

Sadly, the McClelland & Stewart imprint, Canada’s last big publisher, has been swallowed up by one of the big six (Random House Canada) since this book was published. Let’s hope the imprint will continue to push excellent Canadian writing by excellent Canadian authors like Mr. Vanderhaeghe.

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