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Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Book Review: Late Nights On Air

So in all the hub bub of last week and the weekend I never got to tell you that I successfully finished my book! Yes, I managed to read Late Nights on Air in one week.

I found myself gripped in it. Set in Yellowknife, NWT, in the mid 1970's, the story explores a host of characters who work at the CBC Radio Station before TV made it's way north and in the days of the inquiries and hearings over whether or not an oil pipeline should be built across the Territories. It's a time of change and turbulence.

Elizabeth Hay's writing style is interesting. She weaves the story like a river cutting the plain. It meanders, snakes back and pushes forward, sometimes gently, sometimes ruthlessly. She writes the story in a way that reflects the natural environment- sparse and beautiful and changing. Her characters are equally compelling. They are complex and mysterious, fallible and bold. They are real in that they are very much made of their pasts, revelling in memories both tender and sad. They seek a future for themselves. And like most of us, they have ideas and dreams but usually have no idea how exactly they're going to get there and make it happen.

It made me think a lot about choices and how so much can hinge on the smallest of them. How a simple decision in one moment doesn't just irrevocably change your own life but also the lives of those around us- for better, or for worse. This story gives you space in your own life to reflect on how you got where you are now and where you're going. It gives you space to be reflective in only the way a story set in sparse wilderness and a small northern city can.

So... did I enjoy the book? Yes! Would I read it again? Undoubtedly, as I feel I'd like to take it at a slower pace and revel in and immerse myself in the story as it unfolds, even though I already know the ending. Would I recommend it to others? Yes! Especially if you have absolutely no knowledge about "The North", that mysterious place above the 60th parallel that incites and inspires and endures.

So one down on my list of Giller Prize winners. Up next is M.G. Vassanji's The Book of Secrets. I haven't had a chance to start reading yet and it's due in a week but I think I'll renew it and take it with me on my trip. Where am I going you ask? Oh yeah, I'm working on our company conference again this year and will be whisked away to our beautiful wintry National Capital: Ottawa. 4 hours on the plane each way should give me a chance to get some solid reading done.


Hillary said...

That sounds like a wonderful book -- I'll put it on my to-read list. Thanks for sharing!

Here from ICLW...

Melissa said...

the book sounds great! have a safe trip!!