monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

1 minute reading time (244 words)

"Creativity is a continual surprise" -- Ray Bradbury

This lovely quote has come to mind a lot for me the last few days. That's because I've been reading a wonderful book called Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch. Birch is a British novelist who has a lovely way with words and she keeps delighting (and surprising) me with her turns of phrase. I thought I'd mention a couple in today's blog entry.

Birch describes a lion as having the "face of a scholar." What I love so much about that comparison is that it's surprising -- it brings together two things we know (lions and scholars) but in a lovely unexpected way. And can't you just see that lion's face?

Later in the novel, the protagonist, Jaffy, wonders about what his own death will be like. I know it's a gruesome topic, but don't we all wonder about it sometimes? (I certainly do.) Here's what goes through Jaffy's mind: "What sound? What sight? The sky, dark or light? The side of the boat? Would I go hard or easy? What grief. More than anything else, what grief to leave the world."

Isn't that last line gorgeous? Doesn't it make you feel Jaffy -- and Carol Birch, too? I think they're both trying to tell us something really really important: that even with its challenges (believe me, Jaffy faces many in the book), living is a privilege.

I'm reviewing Jamrach's Menagerie for the Montreal Gazette. Will post a link when the review appears.


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Monday, 11 December 2023

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