This week’s Top Five Wednesday question asked you to choose five books that take place in your country, state or city. After much discussion, Chelsey and I decided to focus on our hometown of Toronto. Little did we know that this was going to be one of the most difficult lists we would attempt, because off the top of our heads, we just couldn’t think of anything.
It took us a while, but here is our list.
The thing we want to know though, is why is all Canadian Fiction so dark and depressing?
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1. SCOTT PILGRIM VERSUS THE WORLD – BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY
There’s even a movie adaptation! Filmed in Toronto! Starring a pre Captain America Chris Evans!
It was great when the movie came out. The movie started with text: In the distant land of Toronto… Everyone in our theatre started cheering. For once Toronto gets to be Toronto on screen and not the cheap stand in for New York City.
The comic series is the exact same way. O’Malley went to great pains to make his backgrounds clearly identifiable as Toronto (to Torontonians). Different locations populate the panels from city famous landmarks like Honest Eds to street corners that some of us pass everyday.
This graphic novel series is a lot of fun. Scott Pilgrim takes pop culture and references it, spoofs it and critiques it in clever ways. It’s a really fun quick read.
2. THE GOLDEN BOOK OF FAERIE – O.R. MELLING
I gave this book to Chelsey a long time ago (in a galaxy far far away) during our grade 10 year in high school. This book was really weird for the both of us because it was probably the first book we’ve ever read that took place in Toronto. The Golden Book of Faerie collects a series of short novels following a group of characters who eventually come together to stop the end of the world. This book makes some throw away comments about Toronto, like how our subway stops are colour coded to their names.
The last story in the book took place in Creemore which is about an hour and a half drive outside of the city. After I gave the bookto Chelsey I ended up going on a day trip to Creemore. When I had read The Golden Book of Faerie, I had thought that Creemore was a made up place. As I walked around the town everything there was vaguely familiar. It took a while for everything to click.
3. THE FIONAVAR TAPESTRY – GUY GAVRIEL KAY
This series doesn’t exactly take place in Toronto, but it starts in Toronto. This was another of the first books that I read as a teenager that referenced my hometown and places in my hometown that I had been too.
If you like Arthurian Mythology then this is a trilogy that you should totally check out. This is a trilogy that I keep wanting to reread but never have time for it. I figure there is a lot in this trilogy that I missed out on because I was so young when I originally read it.
4. CONSUMED – DAVID CRONENBERG
I’ve recently gone through a nine month obsession with David Cronenberg. I read his autobiography, I went to hear him speak and finally I picked up his first (and hopefully not last novel) Consumed.
Consumed starts out on a global scale but eventually ends in Toronto. This novel like many of the others on this list references Toronto landmarks that I’ve spent a lot of time at. David Cronenberg is from Toronto and it feels like he’s trying to put the city back on the map, which we both appreciate.
Consumed is a smart, weird novel and I recommend it, but know this… it can get a little bit strange and by a little I mean balls to the wall, what the hell did I just do to myself strange. Think weird sex scenes and bugs.
5. A BOOK OF SPIRITS AND THIEVES – MORGAN RHODES
At the time of filming this video, this novel hasn’t come out yet. ABOSAT is the first novel in a spin off series, taking place in modern day Toronto and hundreds of years into the past of her fantasy world Mytica.
Check out my review of A Book of Spirits and Thieves here.
Canadian Fiction is some of the most depressing literature I have ever read in my life. Everyone has either been physically or sexually assaulted, families have horrifying deep secrets and people struggle with finding meaning in their meaningless existences. Everything is depressing as hell (except for you Scott Pilgrim, but you’re not without your dark undertones). I don’t know why.
I took a Canadian Literature course during university and the only thing from that class that really stuck with me was the Prof’s reasoning behind out collective fictional depression. To summarize: Canadian authors are taking the wild nature of the country and the untameable natural landscape and working through it in their fiction.
Think on that for a bit.
What are your favourite books that take place in your hometown or country? Tell us about them in the comments below! Until next week and next Wednesday, happy reading!