This book is a gem. Charting Bidini’s travels and adventures across far Canada’s north during a summer writing gig at the Yellowknifer, it’s also a lament for a dying form (newspapers), an ode to the northern way of life, and a volume chock full of true characters. Compulsive, recommended reading. Bidini is becoming our generation’s Pierre Berton.
I’m sure you’re all wondering what to read this year.
Well, here are 5 music-related books by Canadian authors that I think are absolutely essential.
Having read each of these several times, I recommend that you do too.
Michael Ondaatje – Coming Through Slaughter
Hands-down, Ondaatje’s best book. And it’s about jazz. I love jazz. Read this now.
Gordon Downie – Coke Machine Glow
Ah, Gordie, can he do no wrong? Awesome poetry from left field.
Dave Bidini – On A Cold Road
Bidini’s one of my fave Canuck writers anyway, and this one is a gorgeous, honest appraisal of life on the road in this big old lug of a country of ours.
Hawksley Workman – Hawksley Burns For Isadora
Hawksley’s the man, a poet, a rocker, a genius, and a freak, and this collection is a must.
Leonard Cohen – Stranger Music
Collects a whole bunch of Leonard’s writing. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Own this book. Make a shrine for it in the corner of your living room. Light some candles. Embrace.
This was actually a total score I got from BMV in Toronto on our trip in May. It’s just taken me this long to get around to reading it…
Dave Bidini – Writing Gordon Lightfoot
Dave Bidini is a hero of mine. Not only was he in the venerable Rheostatics, and maker of excellent solo records too, but he’s written a whole bunch of fantastic books too! Long may he run!
When I found this book on our trip to Toronto, of course I had to snap it right up. I am so glad I did. Written as letters to Lightfoot himself, this book is well-researched, funny, and full of memories. The story of one week in Lightfoot’s life in 1970, it’s Gord’s story, Dave’s story, and Canada’s story, from that time, too. A history lesson as much as it is a personal memoir, it’s compulsive, compulsory reading.
In looking this one up online, I was a little surprised to find quite a few negative reviews claiming that it’s a waste of time, poorly written, lacking substance. Did they read they same book I did? Can they not see it for what it is? He never claims it’s a biography of Lightfoot, just a snapshot of one short period, and his own stories and memories as a fan. Ah well, we’re all entitled to our opinions.
Me? I say get this, it’s a great read by an excellent writer in our current Canadian landscape.