I have been reading quite a bit of poetry lately, including Canadian poets of course. What is kind of odd is how I keep hearing about the canon of Canadian poets and honestly had heard of 1 of them before. The others are completely new to me. I had vaguely heard of Irving Layton, though probably more for his literary criticism than for his poetry. The other ones that keep cropping up were complete blanks to me: Milton Acorn, Raymond Souster, Louis Dudek and Al Purdy. After trying to rectify the situation by reading through their selected poems, I find Al Purdy the most up my alley, followed by Louis Dudek. The others aren't doing too much for me.
In any case, I am not going to review these books now (though I may eventually review Dudek's Poems from Atlantis). It's just what I have been up to that has been making it so hard to get to any new reviews. However, I was able to finish reading a book recently (on the ferry from Victoria actually): Derek Winkler’s Pitouie. This book is one of the ones I won from last year's contest. Pitouie is a novel about multiple con games, and it is probably impossible to describe them in any great detail without spoiling the book completely. It's best to think in terms of some of David Mamet's screenplays as a starting point for Pitouie, though one of the last cons reminded me strongly of one of the cons perpetuated by the Stainless Steel Rat (a character invented by the recently-departed Harry Harrison). The book is quite entertaining and a quick read. It is about a reporter from Waste Management Magazine, who is brought out to hear about an opportunity for Western businessmen to dump toxic wastes in a volcano in the center of the island of Pitouie (somewhere off the coast of South America). However, much like Mamet, when you start thinking too much about the details of any particular con, a lot of things stop making sense, particularly the half-truths told when outsiders must be recruited into the game. I actually have a somewhat serious objection to the plot but I can't raise it since even mentioning the objection would be a spoiler. So it's not exactly a review-proof book, but fairly close. I guess I may as well leave it at that. Actually, I will add that the reporter finally gets quotes from the businessmen he accompanied on his junket, and some of them seem pretty revealing (if somewhat cartoonish). Still, Derek Winkler's own bio suggests that he did some PR flak-ery, and this may be his way of getting back at the corporate world.