This month, our book club host was Emma, who selected a book of short stories set in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighbourhood, and populated largely with Polish immigrants, as the neighbourhood itself was for decades. It’s near Emma’s own new neighbourhood, so it was a great way for her to get into the feel of the place and introduce it to us, too. Good pick!
Emma, for those of you who don’t know her, is a parent blogger extraordinaire – one who still writes regularly, even while she’s also heating up twitter and bbm. The woman is tireless, I swear, yet extremely self-deprecating, which is wildly charming. Emma is the queen of awesome accessories, rocking a statement necklace like nobody’s business, and a master of the perfectly timed witticism both dry and sly. She seems quiet, but she’s very funny, and all of us in book club are busy conjuring up easy-birthin’ wishes for her coming delivery. (Good luck, Emma!)
And now, the book…
by Andrew J. Borkowski
ISBN: 978 1 770 86001 8
I’m not, honestly, generally into short stories. I find them irritatingly incomplete much of the time. This book, though? This book of intertwined stories is fascinating.
With each story giving a piece of a larger story, the book wanders through a few families with connections to the same street, and through some time, as children grow into adults, and histories unfold.
Wars figure prominently in the lives and pasts of these characters, having shaped their lives in powerful ways, displacing them and stripping them of homes, family, friends, and country, not to mention comfort and, in some cases, mental health.
The stories are strong, tales of the trials of families and individuals, and are infused with the flavours of the Polish culture and the details of the neighbourhood, lovingly rendered throughout. It’s a wonderful, worthwhile read, made even more special if you know the neighbourhood or have a Polish connection. I found the book one I dipped into a little at a time, enjoying the textures even when some stories were laced with pain that made for reading that was not light, but entirely worthwhile.