Between the Covers This Christmas
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(December 14, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Have you noticed how many Canadian actors have books out? Have you noticed it’s almost Christmas? In case you still have someone on your list you need to buy something for, and they know how to read, here are a few ideas from the Northernstars™ Bookshelf:
Elliott Page has a memoir out. It’s titled Pageboy and he writes about his early years growing up in Nova Scotia and coming of age as a young person handling all the difficulties of growing up at a time, and in a place, rife with intolerance. In a New York Times book review it was written that Page is “possibly the most famous trans man in the world.” This is a very heartfelt retelling of everything he was going through from a very young age. Think of Pageboy as an opportunity to really get to know someone you have only seen as a character in a movie.
Ron James, one of the funniest people I have ever seen, has a new book aptly titled All Over the Map, since he has spent decades traveling all over Canada doing what he does best, making people laugh…until it hurts. He is without question one of the great stand-up comedians of our time. Like Page, Ron James writes about growing up in Nova Scotia and his early struggles as an aspiring comic, but it is all told with humour and good fun. It’s a great read and was released over a year ago, but like everything these days, it can be found online.
Like millions of fans, I first watched Simu Liu on television in the hit series Kim’s Convenience. To use a tired old term, his rise to fame was meteoric. If you liked him in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, where he was the star of Marvel’s first Asian superhero film, you probably loved him in the billion dollar+ box office hit Barbie. His book is titled We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story. As one of the blurbs about the book states, “We Were Dreamers is more than a celebrity memoir—it’s a story about growing up between cultures, finding your family and becoming the master of your own extraordinary circumstances.”
Corner Gas creator and star, Brent Butt has a book out and it isn’t a memoir. It’s being touted as a #1 National Bestseller. I haven’t had a chance to read it but on Chapters-Indigo it says, “It’s 1994, and three stand-up comedians have embarked on a tour of smaller communities across a remote stretch of rural countryside. Dale is a forty-something comic from Chicago who’s on the back half of a mediocre career and thinking about quitting the business. Rynn is a twenty-something fast-rising comedy star from Dublin with a big Hollywood break on her horizon. The third performer is a local act, a late addition to the bill who has agreed to open the shows and do all the driving. He goes by the name Hobie Huge, and he is, indeed, enormous. His comedic ability, however, is not. He’s weirdly eager, annoyingly enthusiastic and brutally unfunny. All of which wouldn’t be so bad . . . if the brutality ended there. By the time Dale and Rynn realize Hobie’s true talents and disturbing motivation, it may be too late—and their tour becomes less about getting laughs and more about getting off the road alive.” The book is titled Huge.
Another novel is Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Fayne. Winner of the 2023 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and the Globe and Mail’s Best Book of the Year, Fayne is described as a tale of science, magic, love and identity. Set in the late 19th century on an estate straddling the border between England and Scotland, the subject is Charlotte Bell and her “…passion for knowledge and adventure will take her to the bottom of family secrets and to the heart of her own identity.”
Don’t miss Two White Queens And The One-eyed Jack from Heidi von Palleske. It begins on a hot June day in 1965 when two six-year-old boys, Gareth and Jack, compete to see who can climb higher up a tree. When Jack falls and loses his eye on a thorn bush, the accident sets off a series of events that will bind the boys together for the rest of their lives. The author John Irving said this about Two White Queens, “How the characters in this story are interconnected is a marvel of storytelling.” Like I said, don’t miss this book.
Rick Mercer has published his 7th book. A bit like Ron James, this funny person from down east has titled his book Rick Mercer: The Road Years, a memoir continued… It picks up where his previous memoir, Talking to Canadians ends. This book centres of the creation and production of the series The Rick Mercer Report. In addition to the set pieces everyone wanted to watch, what set this show apart was Mercer taking to the road, traveling from coast to coast to highlight people, places and events all across our vast nation. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read Talking to Canadians (but you will want to) The Road Years, a memoir continued… is a great addition to your collection and a terrific reminder not just of how much fun the Rick Mercer Report was, but of how fascinating our country is because of its people.
Seth Rogen’s Yearbook became an instant bestseller when it was released in 2021. It’s still on bookshelves (or in warehouses) and if you like books that make you laugh, this collection of personal essays will do that for you.
Two quick links to previously published Canadian actors in case you’re curious or a fan or know someone who is and you still have to get them something for Christmas:
Two more suggestions from the Northernstars™ Bookshelf, but these are books not from actors:
Montreal writer Michael Libling, who wrote a piece for us when his first novel was published, has a new book out with the intriguing title The Serial Killer’s Son Takes a Wife. Here are just three of many glowing comments about this highly skilled author’s 2nd novel:
The Serial Killer’s Son Takes a Wife is sharp, funny, thrilling, and endlessly original. Michael Libling gives Riley Sager a run for his money!”-Nicholas Kaufmann, bestselling author of The Hungry Earth and The Stone Serpent.
”By turns hilarious and terrifying… all rendered in Libling’s razor-sharp prose and piercing observations of small-town life that build relentlessly to a Grand Guignol finale. It’s the Coen Brothers meet Thomas Harris … and I can’t recommend it enough.”-Lawrence C. Connolly, Nightmare Cinema and Prime Stage Mystery Theatre.
”Only a writer as flat-out funny as Michael Libling could remind us that 99% of ‘slaughter’ is ‘laughter.’ And only a storyteller with the genius of Michael Libling could somehow, amidst gasps and giggles and plot twists galore, make us care.”-Paul Witcover, author of Lincolnstein and many others.
And last but far from least, our own film correspondent, Thom Ernst published a memoir in January of this year. Titled The Wild Boy of Waubamik: A Memoir, the publisher’s webpage states, “The residents of Waubamik know about the Wild Boy, a somewhat feral child, standing nearly naked in a rusty playground of weeds and discarded metal, clutching a headless doll. They know the boy has been plucked from poverty and resettled into a middle-class family. But they don’t know that something worse awaits him there.” In short, in this book, “Thom Ernst chronicles his life growing up with an abusive father in rural Ontario.”
Ralph Lucas is a former broadcast executive and award-winning director in high-end corporate video production. The founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca, online since 1998, he began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.