Thursday, March 12, 2009


How do you choose a book to buy or borrow from the library? Assume that this is aimless browsing with intent rather than going with a certain book already in mind.

I realize that I must be attracted to the titles first. The last time I was let loose in the used bookstore, I headed straight for the mysteries. That's kind of the candy aisle for me. There's a huge selection at Characters and we had a lovely big credit to use up. So, I began at A and worked my way down the alphabet. By the time I got to the end my arms were full and I really felt I had enough for a while. But, right at the very end of the shelf down at the bottom were two books that immediately caught my eye.

The titles were: "Hands Like Clouds" and "Carry Tiger to Mountain". If you know tai chi, then you know that these are two moves from the 108 form. I am a novice tai chi student and these are two of my favorite moves. So of course, I was interested. The books were written by Mark Zuehlke and are the first of a series about a fictional coroner in Tofino. He may be fiction but the details of the town and all other descriptions are very real. I've finished them both now and the stories are complex and satisfying. The characters run the gamut of fully developed to caricature. But never cartoons. Even the caricatures strike a note of realism if you've ever lived in a small town in BC. And, clearly, the author loves the west coast of Vancouver Island. I found that I wanted to revisit Tofino which has happy memories for me.

His writing experience is essentially non-fiction and this shows in the amount of research and detail. It takes a bit of time to get into the first book but after a few pages the story grips and whirls you away. And his interest is in Canadian military history which also shows. He has one more novel published: "Sweep Lotus" which will now be an intentional search for me. Just another name to tuck in the memory.

1 comment:

Penny said...

Yes, I latched on to those books because of the title as well. Plus I'm always happy to read books by Canadian authors set in Canadian locations. I've found that I rely a lot on the cover art to decide if I will like a book or not. It tends to match the mood and style of the book.


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