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Babble Book Club: Cool Water by Dianne Warren

Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

Babble Book Club's newest selection is Cool Water by Dianne Warren, an interwoven story about the inhabitants of a fictional Saskatchewan town. Warren has described this novel as her life's work as it is informed by the area she grew up in, the movies and books she consumed and partly her family history.

The final conversation will wrap up on Tuesday February 19 8:30 p.m. EST/5:30 p.m. PST where the book will be discussed in its entirety. As always the thread is open for everyone to discuss the book and ask questions as they ease along on their reading process.

This book is widely available online, in bookstores, at the library or through the publisher Harper Collins.

Check out the blog post for more details on the book and the discussion or leave the below.

Also here is some praise for the book:

From the Governor General's Literary Awards Fiction Jury:

In this exquisitely constructed novel, Dianne Warren makes each moment shine; her narrative flows seamlessly from character to character, all stunningly depicted. The implied silences of her elegant minimalism amplify the lush prose. Cool Waterimmerses readers in the difficulties and joys of everyday life. This is powerful writing—gut-wrenching and inspiring. Its drama is quiet, but in the end you hardly know what hit you.

From Winnipeg Free Press:

Warren demonstrates a finely tuned understanding of the importance of everyday life that is reminiscent of Carol Shields' abilities to transform the quotidian into something meaningful

From Quill and Quire starred review:

The novel takes up the stories of a dozen of the town’s inhabitants. Particularly well-drawn are the portraits of Norval Birch, Juliet’s bank manager, and Vicki Dolson, a struggling mother of six. Although the two never meet over the course of the novel, their lives are inextricably connected, in the manner of folks who live in a small town. Birch is aware of Vicki’s situation and empathizes with her; thoughts of her and her family consume him throughout his day. Vicki, meanwhile, moves through the novel, herding her kids and demonstrating her sweet, clueless-yet-knowing nature with every word she utters. The two characters are simply and truthfully drawn, and Warren avoids the kind of cloying “just folks” attitude that could so easily overwhelm such portrayals.


Comments

Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Okies. I will check this book out. Anyone notice if it's available in the public library here in Vancouver?


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

Bit of a departure read for me as well (or you seemed ti imply Catchfire). Also, when I checked the library, they had quite a few copies available at various locations.


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

I haven't yet started this book because I have been on a kick of finishing books that have been sitting on my shelf, unread. Also whever I finish a book it happens to be Sunday and the library isn't open so I start a different one -- vicious cycles.

Anyone starting reading yet?


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

I've got it on hold at the VPL. My first hold ever. Does that count?


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

Totally.

Sometimes I get confused with the whole 'holds' system and just wander into the holds section and see if my book is there. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's coming in from somwhere else, I just never know.

Oh, and in the US the book is called Juliet in August. Soooo different. I think they changed the town from Juliet Saskatchewan to Juliet Arizona.


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

I'm finding the names of the libraries confusing. There are so many of them, and most of them are not named after the neighbourhood they're in. Where's Doug Ford when you need him?

Also, that's funny about the US edits. I remember when Anne of Green Gables (I think? Maybe Little House on the Prairie?) Was moved to Minnesota or something so as not to offend patriotic sensibilities.


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

The funny thing is, I believe everything is exactly the same except the name -- is there a problem with saying Cool Water? No idea. 

I'm just excited this one is available in my neighbourhood library


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

Read the first 100 pages on the weekend. A mixture of stories with inter-related characters set in a fictional small Western town.


Left Turn
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Joined: Mar 28 2005

I think I'm gonna pass on this selection, as I'm still making my way through People Park.


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

Haha thanks Caissa. Any enjoyment from it thus far?


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

I'm half-way through. Some of the characters are starting to annoy me so the author has done a good job of making me care. Another book I wouldn't have chosen on my own so I am thankful to BBC for having chosen it.


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

I don't think this is a book I would have read on my own either, so it is nice to have the incentive. 

I like your point on characters and character that are annoying. It's curious when people write a book review (etc) and say they hate the book or that the writing was awful because they hating the characters. I think most of the time it is indicitive of good writing that the author is able to get you to feel that annoyance like you said, although it is completely possible to dislike a book despite good writing. I always think of anything Jonathan Franzen has ever written -- good writing, the characters usually drive me crazy, and I end up disliking the book, but hopefully not discrediting the work.

[I think I just don't like Frazen, but he writes interesting stuff. Another thread, another time.]

Anyways, I've read that the largest critique of this book is that not all characters are given the time they deserve, and some, unforunately fall by the wayside.


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

Oh and Left Turn, if you still want to discuss People Park, I'm all for it (and I think Catchfire too). Hop on the other thread if you want to chat! I'm really curious about everyone's interpretations of the book!


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

I was just beginning to feel one of the characters was falling by the wayside but we are returning to that situation with 40 pages to go. I guess the issue is whether or not there is some sort of closure with each of the interaconnected stories. I'll no the answer to that question this evening.

ETA: Finished the book last night. Some characters have epiphanies, some grow. When the story is over you just assume they go on with their lives. The book starts in the middle of their lives and ends in the middle of their lives.


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

Do you think it is worthy of all the accolades? I know that is a somewhat bated and potentially unanswerable question, but I'm curious. The reviews and critiques of this book and Warren's story-telling and writing ability seem very impressive. 

I picked up my Americanized version from the library on Saturday and am going to crack the cover tomorrow! I'm very excited to start!


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

I thought it was a good book not a great one. My wife read almost the whole book yesterday and will finish it tonight. I'll see what her thoughts are on completion. I'm currently reading Indian Horse and probably enjoying it more although it is a darker book. 


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

I just cracked the cover and read a bit of it last night. It sure is Canadian!


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

Indian Horse has been getting RAVES from everywhere, especially Canada Reads people.

@Catchfire, I'm looking forward to the Canadian-ness of it and the whole Sashatchewan backdrop thing. It's like old, cliched CanLit gone modern? 


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

Also my book is completely Americanized. 

There is no mention of Sashatchewan at all! Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of the book -- like isn't it supposed to be exploring Canadian identity?

I guess 'mercian's don't want to read Canadian experience (which I think is a load of crap).


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

Ms. C. wasn't sure what she thought of the ending.


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

Just started, and wow, yes, very Canadian with the pastoral style writing. 

Already can tell this is very outside of what I usually read -- the style, the content. Looking forward to getting into the meat of the novel when all the storylines start overlapping and I get to know the characters more.


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

As always, this is going to be a bit of a last minute read for me, the bulk of which being done today! I'm excited to hear about everyone's thoughts on the books either tomorrow at 8:30pm EST or before -- please drop your thoughts on the book in the thread whenever you please, especially if you are unable to make it tomorrow night.

This book is a bit different from what we have been reading lately, so I'm curious about what everyone thought!


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

WHOOPS! The conversation is in a week from tomorrow! I messed up the dates! APOLOGIES!

Next Tuesday February 19 8:30pm EST is final discussion! 

[phew no speed reading]


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

I'm really struggling through this read -- for whatever reason, I'm finding it really hard to pick up the book and read

I don't know if it is subject matter or the style, but so far I'm definitely not, like, in it. I like the storyline and flashbacks of Lester and Lee so far. I like the incorporation of the past, and almost the confusion it makes when reading about how to tell from present and past.

I wonder if it is just a gap in preference though -- I usually like a bit more 'comtemporary' style (apologies, I've been watching Canada Reads and this word came up a lot) and stream of consciousness style.


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

This is a book that probably reads better if you do it over a short period of time to mazimixe the 24 hour experience of the novel.


Kaitlin McNabb
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Joined: Oct 19 2011

That's a good point. I've been trying to stay on it, but it just keeps slipping away. For example, I'm not reading right now when I totally should be!


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Finally, an excuse for procrastination and consequent cramming!


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

There are no excuses for procrastination and cramming says the man who is reading Nietzsche for Monday's class.Smile


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Pish posh, Caissa. Just crib off this old babble thread!


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

No need, I finished it.  "On Truth and Lies in a Non-Moral sense."


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