A local author’s book blew away better-known competitors in the 2012 edition of the County Reads competition.
The Pity of the Winds, by Robin Timmerman, is a mystery at the heart of a demonstration wind turbine erected on the previous nesting grounds of red-tailed hawks on a Canadian lake.
Championed in the competition by Mark Despault, it is now officially the “must read” book of the year with 25 votes of the 71 cast online, in the bookstore and at the library.
The highest online voting tallies to date toppled the bookstore ballot favourites The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje (championed by Katy MccIntyre) and The Better Angels of our Nature, by Steven Pinker (championed by David Simmonds).
Adding votes cast at the library, The Cat’s Table ended in second spot with 18; Better Angels in third with 14, followed by The Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe, 9 votes (championed by Janet Kellough) and Fifteen Days, by Christie Blatchford with five votes (championed by Peter Lockyer) in fifth spot.
There were about 140 in attendance at this year’s County Reads event. Organizer Anne Preston is pleased the votes reflect about 50 per cent of the participants – the highest ever participation rate for the third annual battle of the books.
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Five County residents offered up perfect excuses to get between the covers – of some of Canada’s finest books.
County Reads, a program hosted through the Prince Edward Arts Council, hosted its third annual “battle of the books” competition during the PEC Author’s Festival .
Five County personalities each extolled the merits of one of the titles.
The public heard David Simmonds, Peter Lockyer, Mark Despault, Janet Kellough and Katy McIntyre champion their choices April 12.
It is now up to the public to decide which title will be named the “must-read” book of the year. Voting will be held online at www.peclibrary.org or by ballot at Books & Company, or any library branch. Voting closes May 13 at 5 p.m. and the winning title will be announced Tuesday, May 15.
Here is what they read:
Mark Despault: The Pity of the Winds by Robin Timmerman.
Meet young police officer Pete Jakes and wife Ali chose to come to Middle Island, population 4,500, where a proposed wind energy project has set the community into a tailspin. For millennia, Hawks Nest Point, a wind-swept rocky spear stabbing out into the lake, was literally left to the birds. Now an energy-hungry world has caught up with it. People want to harvest the wind. The Jakes find themselves setting up house amidst a weird potpourri of bird lovers, money-hungry real estate operators, and mysterious vandals in the night. Then tragedy strikes when a worker falls to his death from the demonstration turbine tower. Pete doubts the official “accident” verdict, but he must find proof for his suspicions. As Pete delves further into the motives and actions of the local islanders, tempers erupt and a murderer lurks under the wailing winds at Hawks Nest Point.
Janet Kellough: A Good Man, by Guy Vanderhaeghe
A Good Man weaves a rich tapestry of history with the turns of fortune of vivid and compelling characters. Vanderhaeghe entwines breathtaking, intriguing, and richly described narratives that contain a compelling love story, a tale of revenge and violence, a spectacular battle scene, the story of an incident in Welsely’s past that threatens his relationship with Ada, and much more. While raising moral questions, this novel weaves the historical with the personal and stands as Vanderhaeghe’s most accomplished and brilliant novel to date.
Peter Lockyer: Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death Inside the New Canadian Army by Christie Blatchford
It is a testament to Blatchford’s skills and integrity that along with the admiration of her readers, she won the respect and trust of the soldiers in Afghanistan. They share breathtakingly honest accounts of their desire to serve, their willingness to confront fear and danger in the battlefield, their loyalty toward each other and the heartbreak occasioned by the loss of one of their own. Grounded in insights gained over the course of three trips to Afghanistan in 2006, and drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews not only with the servicemen and -women, but with their commanders and family members as well, Christie Blatchford creates a detailed, complex and deeply affecting picture of military life in the twenty-first century.
Katy McIntyre: The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje
In the early 1950s, an 11-year-old boy boards a huge liner bound for England. At mealtimes, he is placed at the lowly “Cat’s Table” with an eccentric and unforgettable group of grownups and two other boys. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys find themselves immersed in the worlds and stories of the adults around them. At night they spy on a shackled prisoner — his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever. Looking back from deep within adulthood, and gradually moving back and forth from the decks and holds of the ship to the years that follow the narrator unfolds a spellbinding and layered tale about the magical, often forbidden discoveries of childhood and the burdens of earned understanding, about a life-long journey that began unexpectedly with a sea voyage.
David Simmonds: The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined, by Steven Pinker
Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’s existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, pogroms, gruesome punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps) all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned.
About the Author: