Rogues, Rascals, and Scalawags Too
Written by Jim Christy
I bought this book because bold people fascinate me. In one tale, the author recollects upon a number of "urban fauna" he has encountered while traveling across Canada. One individual in particular stood out to me, as I swear I came across the same person in Winnipeg in the early noughts: a mature woman always dressed to the nines no matter the setting. The first time I observed her was in Portage Place mall. On that occasion, she wore bright yellow ski pants paired with a blue-and-white striped bathing suit, clearly bracing for any and all weather conditions that could arise. Her face was spackled with the thickest layer of stage make-up I had ever seen in my life; all wayward black eyeliner and ruby red lips pursed in a slight smirk as she surveyed over her subjects in the food court. Oddly, no one paid her any attention. I was mesmerized. And intrigued.
The second time I crossed paths with this unique creature, she was exiting a public bus but could have been stepping off the pages of The Great Gatsby. She wore a black sequined evening dress, carried a feathered stole, and had one of those long cigarette holders from a time when smoking was considered glamourous. Every step she took in her heels appeared laborious. I wasn't sure if it was because she had a difficult time walking or just wanted to give her public more time to breathe her in. Eventually she made it inside the Wal-Mart. When I mentioned this person to a colleague, they informed me that she was well-known local character and that all of the older gentlemen in the seniors home she resided tried to court her.
Be bold, be bold, and everywhere be bold.
Favorite line: "those with mundane lives insist on questioning the validity of those whose lives are remarkable."
Listen to the Squawking Chicken
Written by Elaine Lui
I regularly read the author's gossip blog, LaineyGossip.com, as the writing is smart and focuses more on the sociological reflection Hollywood imposes rather than straight conjecture. Her first book, a memoir (sort of), discusses her relationship with her mother affectionately dubbed the "squawking chicken" because of her loud, blunt way of speaking. The book is very enjoyable, its tone witty and conversational while full of insight towards the dynamics of mother-daughter relationships and Eastern philosophy.
Favourite line: "This force of a woman, with the most indomitable spirit I have ever known, a phoenix seemingly undefeatable, didn't want me to be like her at all."
How Paris Became Paris
Written by Joan DeJean
Before I begin this review, I must state that I have bias. My career path is in the design field and Paris is one of the great loves of my life. This book explores, in depth, the role that brilliant, innovative civil engineering coupled with a determination to be the very best has resulted in the city earning (and deserving of) the reputation as the greatest in the world. Joan DeJean is a master with verse, complementing historical overview with engaging asides.
I could not put this book down. I now want to track down the author's other works. Highly recommended.
Favourite line: "Technology and urban planning had thus created the notion of a cityscape, an urban landscape, a magnificent scene made by man rather than nature. Paris had no longer just an isolated monument or two worthy of contemplation ... When viewed from the [Pont Neuf} bridge, the Seine became a beautiful sight, and the complete urban footprint, the landscape of Paris, became a masterpiece."