Wednesday, June 04, 2008

New This Month: The Order of Good Cheer by Bill Gaston

Bill Gaston is a well-proportioned rolling stone, gathering no moss and picking up steam. In half a dozen books and short story collections, Gaston has gone from triumph to triumph and though he has not yet won all of the prizes available to him, he’s made a pretty good dent. And every couple of years, he writes another spectacular book, one gets the feeling that the prizes that have not yet been won are just waiting for him, ready to help him move to that inevitable place: the one that’s been waiting for him among Canada’s best known and loved authors.

His latest book, The Order of Good Cheer (Anansi), is just out and it’s spectacular. In fact, you get the feeling that this could be The One. This could be the year Gaston goes all the way. The book -- and Gaston -- are just that good. The writing is wonderful, the characterizations strong and the premise? Simple and clever and unbelievable and comfortable all in one go. It’s an ambitious book but Gaston sets his sights all the way up and pulls it up and out with panache.

Alternating narratives take place in 1607 and 2007. The things that connect the characters from both timelines are not magical but, in way, they could be. And both contemporary and historical protagonists share concerns for the environment -- for their surroundings -- and the good things in life. The truly good things, that is: the ones that don’t change over time. So not plasma televisions or the latest cut of Warcraft.

We loved Sointula. We adored Gargoyles. We were swept away by Mount Appetite. But The Order of Good Cheer was difficult to set aside and will be impossible to forget. You’ll be hearing more about this one.



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