It’s a celebration of Edmonton today as Edmonton’s Public Library wins the 2014 Library of the Year award. It’s the first time the award is being given to a Canadian library and EPL completely deserves it. I’ve lived in several Canadian cities and many Canadian towns, and Edmonton’s library system is by far the best. I congratulate and give virtual hugs to all the librarians putting so much hard work into making our city a better place to live and read.
I struggle with Edmonton at times. There are certain aspects that drive me to daily ranting (the public transit system, the city planning, the just plain aesthetic ugliness outside of the river valley), but I continue to live here, and enjoy living here, because of the people and the ridiculously large artistic can-do spirit that lives in this prairie city. Whenever you try out an art form here, you find out that it has the best facilities for that art form of nearly anywhere in Canada. Its improv theatre is world renowned, its theatre in general is world renowned (Fringe!), its bellydancing is world renowned, the library system, the fine arts, the music scene (Folk Fest!), the list goes on and on, including Edmonton’s many fine authors. Even the book bloggers have their own club (see link on right)!
I read one of those authors just a few weeks ago:
Thomas Trofimuk’s Waiting For Columbus.
A man arrives at an insane asylum in contemporary Spain claiming to be the legendary navigator Christopher Columbus. Who he really is, and the events that led him to break with reality, lie at the center of this captivating, romantic, and stunningly written novel.
Found in the treacherous Strait of Gibraltar, the mysterious man who calls himself Columbus appears to be just another delirious mental patient, until he begins to tell the “true” story of how he famously obtained three ships from Spanish royalty.
It’s Nurse Consuela who listens to these fantastical tales of adventure and romance, and tries desperately to make sense of why this seemingly intelligent man has been locked up, and why no one has come to visit. As splintered fragments of the man beneath the façade reveal a charming yet guarded individual, Nurse Consuela can’t avoid the inappropriate longings she begins to feel. Something terrible caused his break with reality and she can only listen and wait as Columbus spins his tale to the very end.
I was completely enthralled by the idea of this book. I loved the concept of someone guarding themselves by believing they are another person, I loved how the supporting characters had to draw out the man behind the persona, and in the end, I loved the reasoning behind why he chose Columbus. Sadly, there were certain elements of this books that didn’t quite sit right with me. I didn’t find Consuela to be a fully fleshed out female character, and as we spend quite a bit of time with her, that was a bit disappointing. There were also certain traits of hers that I didn’t find believable. I also didn’t totally get into the setting of the book. It is set in Spain, but I just didn’t feel the Spain-ness, if you know what I mean. But the book is full of sensual and poetic language, and though I wasn’t completely enraptured, I was glad I stuck with it as the end paid off. Many people have really enjoyed this book, so please feel free to ignore my criticisms and pick up a copy and immerse yourself in a well-written, fun read.
I think one of the main things I enjoyed about the book was how it got me thinking about who my mind might choose to make me if I suffered enough of a psychological break. It would make sense to me that my mind would do this, as I spend so much of my time immersed in imaginary worlds. There’s a large part of me that believes it would be Whedon-based. Buffy? Zoe? I’m laughing as I write this, but there’s a good chance it would be Jayne. I don’t know why, but Elizabeth Taylor was one of the first names that popped into my head when I started thinking about this. I assume your mind would pick different people based on the trauma. If you need to feel strong again, an action hero would make sense. If you need to feel child-like again, it might be someone like Anne (of Green Gables fame) or Stargirl (from the Spinelli book of the same name). Anyway, it was a fun question to ask myself, so I thought I’d ask all of you who you think your mind would choose for you.