Saturday, December 10, 2011

Best of 2011 Countdown: #15


Hard Ground
Michael O'Brien and Tom Waits
UT Press

In the tradition of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, photographer Michael O’Brien with original poetry (yes that’s right) by Tom Waits is the stunning Hard Ground.

O’Brien’s considerable gift as a photographer has never been more apparent. In Hard Ground he dares us to look the other way as he illuminates the lives of the homeless.  Tom Waits is the perfect narrator to these photographs, as he has often been the voice of the voiceless, of the outsider.

There is no need to write how much I love this book, how truly original it is, or to point out its importance. I will let the words and pictures do that.
Tom Waits's poetry


The Cat's Table
Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje
From the author of the Booker Prize-winning The English Patient Michael Ondaatje's newest novel is a wonderful adventure.  The Cat's Table tells the coming-of-age story of Michael, a boy traveling on his own from Sri Lanka to England.  He's going to join his parents and to attend school, and the majority of the novel chronicles his journey on the ship traveling halfway across the world. (The "cat's table" is the table in the dining hall designated for those people with the lowest status on the ship; if the captain's table is the best, then the first mate's, etc, the cat dines in the corner by the kitchen.)  While on board, Michael views the world, makes friends with the other cat's table misfits, and learns to survive on his own.

The Cat's Table is semi-autobiographical, like much of Ondaatje's writing.  This book is one of the most heralded of the year, and for good reason.  He's a beautiful writer...and he's now a Canadian.  I love my Canadians.

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